Where we stay:
We stay at three
and four-star hotels, elegant Paradors, old monasteries that have been
converted to hotels and comfortable inns. All have old-world, Spanish atmosphere
yet with modern comforts.
All rooms in the hotels
which we use have a private
bathroom. Luggage is transported from
hotel to hotel. Our support bus is usually available for assistance at
various points along the way each day.
Roncesvalles We stay in the Posada
Roncesvalles located near the "Collegiata". The Posada is a charming
mountain inn with beamed ceilings, tiled floors, huge fireplace
in the bar and
antique furniture. Stunning views can be seen
in all directions - the Pyrenees mountains, the ancient Collegiata and
miles of wooded countryside.
Rooms are very comfortable and attractive and at night the only sound is
of the wind in the mountains. The chef at the Posada is famous for
trout and for his recipe for roast lamb with mountain
Olite/Pamplona The Parador of Olite is a 15th century
castle that is a Spanish national monument filled with medieval
treasures. Part of the castle has been converted to a magnificent 4 star hotel. It is spectacular
with heavy Spanish antique furniture, vaulted ceilings and tapestries on
the walls. The Parador is in
the centre of a quaint medieval town and we have a chance to wander the
streets and visit the wine shops as well as to explore the
castle. This is one of the most atmospheric of all the Paradors
of Spain and it is worth the trip just to stay here for a night.
Puenta La Reina The charming Hotel Bidean is located on a
narrow cobblestoned street which is the original "Camino de Santiago"
through the old village. The street looks much like it did 1000 years ago in the days of the
pilgrims and here we truly get the feeling of going back in time with
the medieval bridge at the end of the street leading to the
continuation of the Camino. The historic inn has recently been restored with wooden beams and
many antiques. Rooms are small but comfortable. The dining room is in an
old wine cellar that has been cleverly converted in a mixture of ultra
modern and medieval architecture..
San Milan south of Santo Domino de la Calzada in a
spectacular setting is the historic Hosteria Monasterio San Milan. Today it is a
beautiful 4 star hotel with all the modern comforts located in
what was once a medieval monastery. It is the highlight of our 15
night walk. The Monastery is a UNESCO Heritage Site and preserves
some of Spain's oldest manuscripts in Spanish and Basque.
The gourmet restaurant serves local specialties accompanied by
renowned Rioja wines.
Burgos The 3 star Meson del Cid is ideally located facing across
the historic plaza to the
front of Burgos' magnificent Cathedral in the heart of the city's historic quarter.
A former convent, the hotel has small but comfortable rooms, a well-regarded
restaurant and great views of the old section of town.
Carrion de Los Condes We stay at the wonderful old
Real Monasterio de San
Zoilo in a quiet location outside the town of Carrion de los Condes and right on the Camino de Santiago path.
The hotel is beautiful with its original 12th century cloister and a dining room
the original stone-walled refectory. The rooms are large and
old-fashioned with the original shutters opening onto the
cloister and courtyard. The only sound is the birds in the trees
in the courtyard and an occasional creaking floor. Rooms have
some of the original furniture but the beds are comfortable and
the bathrooms are modern. Soft Gregorian chants mix with the
clink of glasses in the bar.
Leon The 3 star Posada Regia is located just a block from the
Cathedral and in the heart of the historic quarter. The hotel has
antique furniture, beamed ceilings and lots of atmosphere. It has been
completely renovated and is very comfortable without losing its old
Astorga The 3 star Hotel Gaudi is a very comfortable
hotel located on the main square facing the Cathedral and
the fanciful Bishop's Palace which was designed by the famous Spanish
architect Antoni Gaudi. The bar is a gathering spot for locals and
serves a joltingly strong cup of espresso or a glass of local
wine. Just down the street one finds an array of chocolate shops
- Astorga was one of the first places in Spain to use chocolate
brought back by the Conquistadores from South America and it is
famous for its delicious chocolate confections.
Villafranca del Bierzo The lovely Parador
Villafranca del Bierzo is located at the
edge of the historic town. This is part of the Parador Hotels of Spain -
comfortable and atmospheric with excellent food including the sumptuous
buffet breakfast for which all Paradors are famous. Rooms are large,
comfortable and quiet. There is a lovely outdoor patio
surrounded by roses where once can have a quiet drink before
dinner or perhaps have a swim in the lovely indoor pool.
Parador Monforte de Lemos This 4 star Parador is situated at
the highest point of the town of Monforte de Lemos and is comprised of
the Keep, the San Vicente do Pino Monastery and the Condes de Lemos
Palace; the latter two house the Parador de Monforte. The origins of the
monastery date back to the 9th century, although the current building,
erected on the site of an earlier one, is Neo-classical and dates to the
17th century. The original doorway, with the shields of Lemos and the
Castro y Osorio and Enriquez families has been conserved. The
stark monastery has been restored and converted into a Parador with
50 rooms distributed around the central cloister.
Portomarin The 3 star Pousada de Portomorin is a
lovely, two-story inn set on a hill at the edge of
town and with wonderful views over a lake and the hills beyond. It was
built in the 1960's by the dictator Franco to encourage tourism
to his native area of Spain and no expense was spared in the
construction. Rooms are quiet, spacious and well-appointed
with huge marble bathrooms. The hotel has
three stars but we think it deserves more. The highlight of dinner here
is the flaming quemada drinks that follow dessert. There is a
traditional story that accompanies the drink whose origins come
from the folk-lore of the area.
Lugo We stay at the 4 star Hotel Mendez Nunez
which is located within the Roman walls of this historic
town. It is just a short walk to fascinating Roman Museum
and the main square,
Padron - we stay at the lovely Pazo de Lestrove A "pazo"
was the country estate of the Spanish nobility and usually consisted of
a stately manor house or castle surrounded by gardens. Once the country
escape for the Bishops of Santiago, the Pazo de Lestrove is now an
atmospheric country hotel complete with swimming pool. Air
conditioned rooms have private bathroom, TV, minibar.
In Santiago we stay at either the Hotel Virxe de Cerca
or the Monumento San Francisco.
The 4 star Hotel Virxe de Cerca is an 18th
century former Jesuit residence located in the old quarter near the Cathedral. In
the heart of the old quarter of Santiago near the Cathedral, it is an
atmospheric hotel that still has the stone
walls of the former monastery but now is a comfortable hotel
surrounding a pretty garden courtyard. Rooms are equipped with hairdryer, safe, satellite TV,
minibar, phone and air conditioning. Our final dinner is usually
in the pretty garden restaurant.
The 4 star Monumento San Francisco is located
150 m from the Cathedral, right in Santiago de Compostela’s
historic city centre. A restored convent, this magnificent
building offers the tranquility and silence of an 18th-century
Franciscan convent combined with all the services and comforts of
a modern hotel. Air
conditioned rooms have TV, safe, hairdryer,
minibar. Buffet breakfast is served in what is now the cafeteria
that was once a room for liturgical choral rehearsals. The
heated swimming pool is in what was once the convent laundry room.
Dinner is in the former
refectory - now a magnificent vaulted stone dining room and
the menu includes special recipes from the sisters' cook
Meals: Breakfast is always included (usually a buffet). Most dinners are
included except in the cities where there are are a variety of nearby
restaurants available. The dinners that are included are in a variety of
Parador dining rooms plus local restaurants allowing everyone to sample regional
cuisine. The food is excellent and
plentiful. Picnic lunches are included on the days when
restaurants are not available at mid-day. Walkers who have been on the
tour in the past agree that the picnics are wonderful with fresh gazpacho soup, crusty bread, local cheeses, a variety of local ingredients for
sandwiches and lots
of red wine. Spain is
famous for its fruit and vegetables. The avocados are superb,
the white asparagus memorable. Along the route there is often a chance to stop in a local bar
for a drink or for a steaming cup of Spanish coffee along with a
fresh pastry and there are ice-cream sellers tempting you on
warm days. Our walks traverse the famous La Rioja wine
region and there is plenty of opportunity for sampling.