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Caminho de Santiago (St James Way)

PORTUGUESE ROUTE
           SELF-GUIDED
 

Itinerary:

Day 1 -  Porto
Arrive in Porto and check into a hotel in the old section. Porto is worth exploring.  Set on the banks of the Douro River (River of Gold) and near the Atlantic Ocean, the city is best known for its port wine that has been shipped around the world for centuries. The riverside old quarter of Ribeira is delightful with its picturesque, narrow streets. Fascinating sites include the Gothic church of St Francis built in 1383. Its columns are lined with gilded woodwork, cherubs, rose garlands and frenzied animals dripping with gold. Other sites include the romantic "Street of Flowers" with its wrought-iron balconies, as well as many port wine cellars offering tasting and the house where Henry the Navigator was born here in 1394.  Accommodation in a four star hotel in the old section of town.

Day 2 - Rates to Barcelos
This morning a taxi will pick you up at the hotel and transfer you to the village of Rates to start your Caminho walk. The route is the main interior Portuguese Caminho.. Today the trail is on forest track and rural road as you walk to the lively market town of Barcelos. Gently undulating woodlands and charming villages alternate and you cross well-preserved medieval bridges as ypu enter Barcelos with its attractive main square. Barcelos is well known as a center of local handicrafts - especially ceramics - and it is home to the legend behind Portugal's national symbol, the rooster. The legend originated here as part of a pilgrimage miracle.  Accommodation is in a pleasant hotel in the town centre.16km 

Day 3 -
 Barcelos to Ponte de Lima
Today
a taxi will take to Vitorino dos Piaes north of Barcelos where you continue the Caminho walk along a mix of shaded lanes and quiet country roads and we begin to see the classic EU Caminho de Santiago signs.  From a high point at Portela you see lovely views ahead of the Rio Lima valley. Your goal today is  Ponte de Lima, a delightful market town with a sleepy medieval atmosphere. It is worth wandering around its narrow cobblestone streets to admire the historic buildings. The riverside setting is lovely. Don't miss the 14th C Torre da Cadeia, the original prison tower or the church of S Francisco e S Antonio des Capuchos.  Accommodation is in a pleasant hotel in the town centre.   18 km 

For those who want a longer distance this day the entire section from Barcelos to Ponte de Lima is 33 km.  There is no accommodation along the way other than a few hostals.
 
Day 4 - Ponte de Lima to Sao Roque Rubaies
Leave Ponte de Lima via the medieval bridge over the Rio Lima.  It is then a
slow climb through Revolta. Pass Arcozelo where the hill gets steep. Near the summit find a cross where pilgrims traditionally drop a stone..Then it is down, down, down towards Cabanas on dirt tracks then quiet roads..On reaching Rubaies Sao Roque the accommodation is a simple guest house (rooms have private bath).  16 km

Day 5 - Sao Rocque Rubaies to Valenca
At San Roque
you start at the Roman bridge and continue on foot to Valenca passing along the shaded banks of the River Coura, up an easy ascent to Alto San Bento, then a pleasant descent to the Rio Pedreira and ending with a flat walk into Valenca. Accommodation is at the Pousada Valenca located inside the Fortelez (a medieval fortress) and tucked away in a tangle of cobblestone streets and picturesque squares. The stunning hotel has beautiful views of the valley and river separating Portugal and Spain. It also has an inviting swimming pool, terrace and bar for those who want to relax after a day of walking. 21 km

Day 6 - Valenca to Porrino
This morning cross into Spain  through the town of Tui with its impressive Romanesque Cathedral dating from 1120 and on to Porrino where the official 100 km Camino walk begins. Today's walk has a steep hill up to Monte Coronedo but the reward is a lovely view of the sea in the distance (and perhaps a cold drink and a good lunch).  At the end of the walk take a side trip of a few km by taxi to the coast to enjoy a sea-side hotel in Baiona.  16 km.
Accommodation can be upgraded to stay in the stunning Parador of Baiona,

Day 7 -  Porrino to Redondela
This morning return by taxi to Porrino. There is a steep climb from Mos up the "Road of the Knights"  (Rua dos Cabaleiros) and another at Monte Corndeo. At Parque Marco Maliario pass a Roman milestone marking the ancient military route Via XIX from Braga to Astorga. Here you catch sight of the Rio de Vigo and the sea. Continue on downhill to Redondelo, an attractive town with lively cafes and bars. Accommodation in holiday apartment (no restaurant but has restaurants nearby)    19 km
 

Day 8  -  Redondela to Pontavedra
This morning
continue walking from Redondela. The trail passes through eucalyptus forest and along the way pass a Roman milestone marking the ancient Roman road Via XIX which linked the coast to inland towns in the era of Roman occupation. Cross the Rio de Vigo to Ponte Nova and in the afternoon have a lovely rural walk to Pontevedra. This is a lively Galician provincial capital with a delightful medieval area. Accommodation is in a 3-star hotel in the central area (or an optional upgrade to the Parador)  18 km

Day 9  - Pontevedra to Caldas de Reis
From Pontevedra walk on small country roads and tracks. There is a gentle climb at San Mauro and from San Mauro continue to the spa town Caldas de Reis "The Royal Spa" where pilgrims bathe their feet in a fountain fed by natural warm spring water.  Caldas de Rei has been known since Celtic times for the thermal waters which have gushed from its ground.
Ancient monuments remain here and in a thermal spring is an altar from the pre-Roman age which is dedicated to the native god Edovio. Caldas de Reis was a major spa for Romans and has an abundance of Roman archaeological remains.  In Reconquista times it was known as Rex Calda and King Alphonso VII was born here.  Today it is considered to be the garden and health resort of Galicia. Accommodation is in a spa hotel where you can sample the thermal baths and have a dip in the pool.   23 km

Day 10
Caldas de Rei  to Padron
The route is on quiet country roads and natural pathways with a few gentle climbs.  The name Padron means "mooring stone". Just up river is Iria Falvia which is the town legend claims St James' body arrived in Spain two thousand years ago. Under the altar in Padron's Santiago Church one can see what is said to be the original mooring stone for St James' boat.  The legend is that St James preached the gospel in Iberia as well as in the Holy Land and that after his martyrdom his disciples carried the body by sea to Iberia where they landed at Padron and took it inland for burial. Historians agree this is quite possible. Another St James legend says that, decapitated in Jerusalem  by Herod Agrippa himself, St James' headless body was taken up by angels then sailed in a rudderless, unattended boat to Iria Flavia where a massive rock closed around his relics.   Accommodation is in a lovely Pazo (a restored traditional manor that was once the country estate of the Bishops of Santiago) 19 km

Day 11  - Padron to Santiago
The final walk is along pretty country lanes passing through Iria Flavia as well as other small villages and hamlets before arriving at the baroque sanctuary of A Esclavitude. On a hilltop to the left stands the mysterious, abandoned ruins of the hillfort Castro Lupario and a few kilometres later we come to the oldest wayside cross in Galicia. As we near Agro dos Monteiros it is now possible to see the towers of Santiago Cathedral. Finally, the Camino passes by the ruins of a castle and enters Santiago.  It is tradition to head for the Cathedral, hug the statue of St James, collect the Compostela certificate then relax and celebrate.  Accommodation is in a four star hotel in Santiago's old quarter near the Cathedral.  23 km

Day 12 - Tour ends after breakfast. 

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