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Camino Sightseeing

Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015
Camino Frances July 2017
#1
Hi all, this is my first actual thread so please be gentle,

I'm taking my dad on a drive roughly along the Camino Frances (from SJPdP up to Astorga, he's been to Santiago before) next week as his 80th birthday present, sadly he's not able to walk very far anymore so the Camino itself is out of the question.

My question is, what do people regard as must see sites along the way? I must admit that particularly on my first CF, when my blisters were so bad, I din't do much walking beyond the trail so I'm not as clued up as I could be. My dad's particularly interested in art, history, culture and vino but recommendations needn't be limited to that.

I'm looking forward to learning about all the things within a stones throw of a yellow arrow that I never even knew about.

Thanks,

Rob.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015
Camino Frances July 2017
#3
We will be staying in Pamplona so will certainly check them out, thanks.
 
Camino(s) past & future
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#4
Already next week? Before someone can say Gitlitz/Davidson and instead of listing a number of places: I think I would buy (or borrow from a library) a copy of the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide on Northern Spain. I don't have it, actually, but I have these guides for a number of other destinations and I find them excellent to get a good overview, in particular because of the illustrations.

Their "Street by Street" maps (I suppose they have them for Burgos and Leon at least) may be particularly useful if you can take your dad for short walks. Buen viaje!
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
#7
Some of the "sights" that come to mind are:
The churches in Eunate or Torres del Rio.
The cathedral in Burgos.
The church of San Martin in Fromista.
The mudejar churches in Sahagun.
The cathedral in Leon (I liked it better than the one in Burgos) and the San Isidro ceiling in the same city (the "Sistine chapel of romanesque art").
The episcopal palace in Astorga.
If you are stopping in Astorga, you won't make it as far as Ponferrada (mentioned by a previous commenter) or O Cebreiro.
I know that what I mentioned is basically a lot of churches. It is a pilgrim route, after all. I believe the Alto de Perdon is also accessible by car.
There is also the Museum of Human Evolution in Burgos and the archaeological site in the nearby Atapuerca.
 
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Deleted member 39850

Guest
#8
The Roman museum and the Gaudi museum in Astorga.
The day-trip to Atapuerca's archaeological dig site, and a visit to the Museum of Evolution in Burgos.

And perhaps if he enjoys it, a harbour-side celebratory seafood supper in Fisterra -- O Centolo was especially delicious (and I'm a girl from ocean-side so seafood is a big deal to me).
 
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015
Camino Frances July 2017
#10
Some of the "sights" that come to mind are:
The churches in Eunate or Torres del Rio.
The cathedral in Burgos.
The church of San Martin in Fromista.
The mudejar churches in Sahagun.
The cathedral in Leon (I liked it better than the one in Burgos) and the San Isidro ceiling in the same city (the "Sistine chapel of romanesque art").
The episcopal palace in Astorga.
If you are stopping in Astorga, you won't make it as far as Ponferrada (mentioned by a previous commenter) or O Cebreiro.
I know that what I mentioned is basically a lot of churches. It is a pilgrim route, after all. I believe the Alto de Perdon is also accessible by car.
There is also the Museum of Human Evolution in Burgos and the archaeological site in the nearby Atapuerca.
All great suggestions, for various reasons I've not made it into the cathedral in Leon yet but if it's better than Burgos it must be pretty special.

Thanks,

Rob.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015
Camino Frances July 2017
#11
The Roman museum and the Gaudi museum in Astorga.
The day-trip to Atapuerca's archaeological dig site, and a visit to the Museum of Evolution in Burgos.

And perhaps if he enjoys it, a harbour-side celebratory seafood supper in Fisterra -- O Centolo was especially delicious (and I'm a girl from ocean-side so seafood is a big deal to me).
Thanks @Morgan Holmes

Sadly won't be making it as far as Fisterra but will hopefully get some seafood along with scouting for the Norte in Bilbao where we arrive and then San Sebastian.

Rob.
 

Marbe2

Active member
Camino(s) past & future
2015 SJPD to Burgos
2017 Leon to Santiago
Pamplona to Santiago Mar. 2018
Burgos - SCDC (Oct 18)
#12
When are you going?
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (1989 and 2016), Portugues - from Porto (2018)
#14
All great suggestions, for various reasons I've not made it into the cathedral in Leon yet but if it's better than Burgos it must be pretty special.

Thanks,

Rob.
The Burgos cathedral, beautiful as it is, strikes me as an overwhelming confection constructed over centuries. It has been described as "the richest anthology of medieval art styles and genres that you will find along the Road".

The Leon cathedral, on the other hand, was built in record time and has a singular Gothic purity to it. The immense amount of stained glass turns it into a towering jewel.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#15
In addition to others' good suggestions:
Santo Domingo de Silos, off the Camino a little South of Burgos, which is world fanous for it's Gregorian chant.
Just search the Forum as there have been a lot of mentions of it.
Also in that general area are the ruined monastery of San Pedro de Arlanza, and a treasure trove of old things in the Lara Valley: Dinosaur footprints, dolmens, and one of the oldest hermitages in Spain, Santa Maria de Lara. (These are all on or near the Camino San Olav.)
Also nearby - if you are a spaghetti western fan - is the set for the Sad Hill Cemetery in The Good The Bad, and the Ugly....)
Since you have a car you could swing South from Najera, meander down to the Lara Valley through the mountains, and then over to Santo Domino de Silos for Vespers (there are hotels in this small town). From there it's a short drive to Burgos.

Also a little off the Frances in Rioja are Yuso, Suso, and Cañas - all historically important and very interesting places.

Like @David Tallan , I prefer the cathedral in Leon to the one in Burgos. Both are impressive. But the pure Gothic of Leon - and the light through the windows - is sublime.

Oh - edit - and if you decide to follow the Frances and end up in San Juan de Ortega on the Equinox, you are in for a very special show in the church (scroll down to about the middle of the page in that link to the section headed 'The Temple').
 
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Camino(s) past & future
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#16
I think Leon vs Burgos is a good example why it is so difficult to name the “must sees” if one’s time for visits is limited. We don’t know what @Dorpie’s dad is most interested in and what he has seen already. When you know Chartres, Reims, Nôtre-Dame and the Sainte-Chapelle (in Paris) would you find Leon or Burgos more interesting to explore for example? I spent time in Leon Cathedral and enjoyed it but Burgos Cathedral was unexpected and extraordinary in so many ways. I’ve been there twice now and I would not be tired of a third visit (and no, aesthetically it’s far from being my favourite Gothic cathedral).

Another example is the Café Iruña in Pamplona which many visit because of Hemingway. We had lunch there because we were looking for a place to eat and I realised only later where we were. I don’t want to offend anyone but I personally can’t be bothered where he played piano or had a few drinks. I loved the place because of its interior and the fact that it was obviously patronised by locals ... and we did enjoy our meal. :cool:
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2015); Camino Norte/Primitivo (2016); Camino Frances (2017); Le Puy (June 2018)
#18
The Burgos cathedral, beautiful as it is, strikes me as an overwhelming confection constructed over centuries. It has been described as "the richest anthology of medieval art styles and genres that you will find along the Road".

The Leon cathedral, on the other hand, was built in record time and has a singular Gothic purity to it. The immense amount of stained glass turns it into a towering jewel.
I loved the Burgos cathedral for its beautiful ironwork, bright white interior and dome that in my opinion resembles a snowflake.
I loved Leon's cathedral for its many, many stained glass windows, reminding me of jewels. The most remarkable part to me about that, however, is that the nearly 1800 square meters of stained glass pieces of the windows were dissassembled and boxed up for 50 years while major architectural problems were worked on and resolved. All of the windows were then reassembled like perfect puzzles...amazing.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances (2012, 2014, 2015, 2016). Seville-Astorga (Mar 2017). Mozarabe (Apr-May 2018)
#20
The Museo Etnologico in Mansilla de las Mulas (just before Leon) is excellent, with most of the labels/descriptions in English and Spanish. It gives a good sense of the last few hundred years of ordinary life in the area.
 
Camino(s) past & future
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#21
What, we've just got one day left? And for how long?
  • the Papamoscas (Flycatcher) Clock in Burgos Cathedral; I think he springs into action at every quarter of an hour and more so at every full hour,
  • the white cockerel and chicken in their cage in Santo Domingo de la Calzada Cathedral and while you are there just turn round to see the memorial of Santo Domingo himself and reflect on the importance and influence of technology such as road and bridge building,
  • the huge gold covered retablo of the altar in the small church of Navarrete; while I have mixed feelings about the origin of the gold, it is an exceptional example of Spanish altar pieces of this kind in general; many pilgrims seem to walk past the church without stopping to enter. If I remember correctly, it's one of the many places where you put 1 € into a grey box somewhere to activate lights to be able to view it in detail, so keep 1 € coins ready; there is a small square outside with a restaurant/bar (Bar Deportivo) where I wouldn't hesitate to order a pilgrim's menu or other food,
  • upon recommendation from eminent forum members @SYates and @SabineP, we went to La Quinta del Monje in Burgos for tapas and were not disappointed. It was very crowded in the evening but less so during the day,
  • at the Cruz de Ferro, I was more intrigued by the big sun dial on the ground than by anything else; you stand on the box of the current month and your shadow shows the (solar) time; now in September you will need to add 2 hours to get local clock time.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#22
The video that David just posted reminded me: of course - not to forget Eunate!
Check the opening times, although it is impressive even just from the outside.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015
Camino Frances July 2017
#23
What, we've just got one day left? And for how long?
Haha, I like to keep you all on your toes. Going for 8 days, probably should have made it a little more but it is what it is, turns out doing Spain by car, in hotels for a week costs more than walking and using albergues for over a month and that's before food and drink comes into it.

Thanks for all the tips so far and don't worry about what my dad might like as @Kathar1na brought up, I'm just curious to know people's highlights and then I can filter through them.

Many, many thanks for planning my holiday for me.

Rob.
 
Camino(s) past & future
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#24
I'm just curious to know people's highlights and then I can filter through them.
Ah, my list of personal highlights would be somewhat different: it would include one of the paintings, the unique reliquary, the huge precious stone and other items in the tiny museum of Roncesvalles (only with a guide I think and only in Spanish), the immense sadness expressed in the figures and faces on the sarcophagus of Blanche of Navarra in Najera, the delightful and surprising details on portals and capitels of small churches or courtyards that barely get a mention in Brierley, the stunning display of madonnas in the museum attached to Pamplona Cathedral ... a fairly long list.

One thing I'd be keen to visit but I don't know how far off the Camino Frances it is would be this superfuturistic winery building - or is it a hotel? - somewhere in the vineyards of La Rioja.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Francés ('14/'15)
St Olav/Francés ('16)
Baztanés/Francés ('17)
Ingles ('18)
#25
Another off the Frances places: Haro, which is on the Vasco Interior just north of Santo Domingo de la Calzada. The capital of Rioja and known for its wine festival in the summer (June), so there would likely be plenty of places to stay.
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" camino
Porto to SdC May 2019
#27
Go to see the crucifix in the church at Furelos just before you get to Melide:
1537171146086.png
Igrexa de San Xoan de Furelos just north of the river.
Then you get back on the N547 and take your father to eat octopus in Pulperia Ezequiel Rúa Cantón San Roque, 48,
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" camino
Porto to SdC May 2019
#28
Thanks @as gaillimh I know about the wiberies, but not the festivals, will investigate.
You may be lucky enough to be on time for the wine festival in the Bierzo region - wine that makes Rioja taste like gnat's pee literally flowing down the gutter.
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015
Camino Frances July 2017
#29
Go to see the crucifix in the church at Furelos just before you get to Melide:
View attachment 46344
Igrexa de San Xoan de Furelos just north of the river.
Then you get back on the N547 and take your father to eat octopus in Pulperia Ezequiel Rúa Cantón San Roque, 48,
Melide might be a stretch, though believe me any chance to eat pulpo at Ezequiel's I will take. I was a bit limited by time so had to make some choices and have to get from Leon to Salamanca in one day. Going as far west as Ponferrada and then cutting down is already getting on for four hours of driving and if we're to actually look at things rather than just driving past them, the bulk of Galicia (my favourite region on the Camino, but one we've both visited before) will have to wait for another trip. But you never know, if we're feeling good and leave early enough it could happen.

It's actually crazy doing the planning and realising you could comfortably drive the entire Camino in one day :eek:
 
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015
Camino Frances July 2017
#30
Ah, my list of personal highlights would be somewhat different: it would include one of the paintings, the unique reliquary, the huge precious stone and other items in the tiny museum of Roncesvalles (only with a guide I think and only in Spanish), the immense sadness expressed in the figures and faces on the sarcophagus of Blanche of Navarra in Najera, the delightful and surprising details on portals and capitels of small churches or courtyards that barely get a mention in Brierley, the stunning display of madonnas in the museum attached to Pamplona Cathedral ... a fairly long list.

One thing I'd be keen to visit but I don't know how far off the Camino Frances it is would be this superfuturistic winery building - or is it a hotel? - somewhere in the vineyards of La Rioja.
Thanks @Kathar1na this is perfect!
 
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015
Camino Frances July 2017
#31
Another off the Frances places: Haro, which is on the Vasco Interior just north of Santo Domingo de la Calzada. The capital of Rioja and known for its wine festival in the summer (June), so there would likely be plenty of places to stay.
Ooh, anything wine related definitely fits the brief.
 
Camino(s) past & future
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#38
Gehry has explained that his aim was to incorporate the character of the region and its famous vintage within the building's exterior - the multi-coloured ribbon-like titanium facade reflecting the pink hues of Rioja, the silver foil shielding the cork, and the distinctive gold mesh which adorns all Marqués de Riscal bottles.

The hotel is on Booking.com but I didn't check the price. If you pre-book you can tour the winery for a surprisingly modest 16 € apparently: 16 € por persona. Incluye tour a la Bodega y cata de dos vinos: Marqués de Riscal Rueda Verdejo y Marqués de Riscal Reserva, acompañados de salchichón y chorizo riojanos.

Caution: I've not visited so don't take this as an endorsement. :cool:

According to Tripadvisor, a visit to this winery is the #1 of 10 things to do in the village of Elciego (inhabitants in 2017: 1,030).
 
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Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" camino
Porto to SdC May 2019
#42
Ha! Jeff, your comments are often just sooo funny!
No, it's true. 2001 I walked through Camponaraya (?) on the Sunday morning of a festival. People were leaving bars at 7am and heading straight to the vineyards to gather the crop. That large wine fountain on the left had obviously become overexcited the night before and red wine was trickling down the road alongside the kerbline
 
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Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015
Camino Frances July 2017
#45
Have a great time, @Dorpie and @Dorpie's dad! Are you taking the ferry to Spain or do you hire a car? And please tell us how it was and what you did see. I'm toying with the idea of a looong road trip to Compostela one day but no idea whether it will ever happen.
Thanks. And thanks to everyone else for their tips, we'll try and see as much as we can and I'll post the results either as we go or when we get back.

Is it evil of me that I'm so looking forward to driving up the hill from SJPDP to Orisson watching people struggle as we go?
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" camino
Porto to SdC May 2019
#46
Have a great time, @Dorpie and @Dorpie's dad! Are you taking the ferry to Spain or do you hire a car? And please tell us how it was and what you did see. I'm toying with the idea of a looong road trip to Compostela one day but no idea whether it will ever happen.
Well this is the way to go
1537259330737.jpeg

1537259384227.jpeg

They were doing a "Camino" of Paradores

1537259444762.png
Ending up in SdC

I'll drive if you don't mind navigating ;)
 

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" camino
Porto to SdC May 2019
#47
Thanks. And thanks to everyone else for their tips, we'll try and see as much as we can and I'll post the results either as we go or when we get back.

Is it evil of me that I'm so looking forward to driving up the hill from SJPDP to Orisson watching people struggle as we go?
Yes but we'll forgive you if you send pictures ;)
 
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015
Camino Frances July 2017
#48

Jeff Crawley

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Contemplating yet another "final" camino
Porto to SdC May 2019
#49
Oh wow, that would be a fantastic way to go. Sadly neither Paradores or vintage Mercedes are in my future. Volkswagen Golfs and barely 3 star hotels very much are. Still compared with general Camino comfort levels I'll have nothing to complain about.
KIA Station Wagon - but we can dream!
 

Via2010

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
06/07 & 12 Camino Francés, 08-10 Via de la Plata, 13/14 & 17 Camino Portugués, 18 Camino Primitivo
#50
Just to add to the previous suggestions:

The big wine-Festival in Logrono is around September 24 th.
On the square close to the cathedral in Logrono there is a children's game on the pavement (goose-game or "Gänsespiel") and there are some very nice art-deco buildings.

The following churches deserve a visit:
Eunate
Torres del Rio
Burgos Cathedral (and if you have enough time also the Monastery of Miraflores)
St. Martin in Fromista
The brick-churches in Sahagun
Leon Cathedral
O Cebreiro

The following places deserve a visit:
Pamplona
Alto de Perdón
Puente de la Reina
the wine-fountain and the Monastery of Irache
San Juan de la Ortega (on September 21st you can see a miracle of light in this church)
St. Domingo de la Calzada with the chicken in the church
Villamajor de Monjardín (with it´s moorish fountain)
San Ból, San Anton before Castojeríz and the Alto de Mostelares just after the village
Astorga
Cruz de Ferro and Manjarín
O Cebreiro (though a bit touristy, but it is the oldest church on the Camino).

In Melide you should try the Pulpería A Garnacha (it is less touristy, just 3 houses down the road from Ezequiel and recommended by the local police - their presence in a bar or restaurant is always a good recommendation for food and drinks).

I hope you and your Dad enjoy the journey

BC
Alexandra
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (SJPdP - Santiago) Spring (2016)
Portuguese (Porto - Santiago - Finisterre) Spring (2018)
#52
I highly support the recommendation you tour the archaeological site at Atapuerca (just before Burgos), and then the Museum of Human Evolution in Burgos. Both excellent and missed by most Pilgrims
 
Camino(s) past & future
Samos-Santiago (2015)
Samos-Santiago (May 2016
Porto-Santiago (May 2017)
Kumano Kodo (March 2018)
#53
This has been great as I’m considering doing something like this with 85-yr old family members who want to share the Camino experience and joy (and food and wine) with us but aren't able to walk the daily distances or carry a pack due to osteoporosis and arthritis.

Lots of great suggestions here for lovers of history, architecture and food. Gracias, Camino Amigos!
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF 2018
CNorte 2018
#54
Treat your dad and yourself to sleep at San Zoilo
http://sanzoilo.com/

I learnt that posh places like Patadores is less costly if you can manage (or happen to be) there during the weekend. Friday and Sat the price could be double and often fully booked by the local to have a weekend get away. We treated ourselves at San Zoilo for 80euro per night. And the Michelin star restaurant has a menu for 24euro. It was very delicious (including wine!)

Great that you take the time to spend it with your dad. Stay well
 
Camino(s) past & future
Santiago to Finisterre to Muxia 2013
Camino Frances May 2015
Camino Frances July 2017
#55
Pulpería A Garnacha Thanks again for all your wonderful suggestions. We're back now and I thought I'd give a quick account of our whistlestop tour. We flew into BILBAO and then zig-zagged to SAN SEBASTIAN, St Jean Pied De Port, PAMPLONA, BURGOS, GIJON, Melide, Astorga, LEON, SALAMANCA, Avila, Segovia and MADRID with those in caps being places we stayed the night.

First a few general observations. One thing that really struck me is that The Camino is long, hard and its tentacles really do stretch all across Northern Spain. Particularly driving back from Melide to Leon I was struck by just how mountainous the going is in a way that just didn't strike me as I plodded along day by day, so congratualtions to those who have made it, it's quite an achievement. Second I was interested to see the ebb and flow of numbers on the trail as the day progressed. As one who tends to start early and finish early I was really surprised by the numbers who were still on the trail deep into hot afternoons, no wonder my experience of bed availability seems so at odds with the experience of others, it's very easy to get caught in your own bubble of what the Camino is.

Now more specifically, I made a list of all your recommendations and tried to fit them in to about a quarter of the days we would have needed to cover them all, so I'm afraid some fell by the wayside. Things weren't helped by Easyjet breaking the wheel of my dad's wheelchair which while not essential would have increased our walking range. I'm afraid I didn't take many piuctures for the simple reason that I hate taking pictures.

Day 1. We were in Bilbao for just the first night but had a lovely tapas meal at the Mercado de la Ribera to get us in the mood before going to the Guggenheim in the morning which to my mind had a better building than the body of work deserved and I say that as a modern art fan. to be fair it didn't help that they were between major exhibitions.

Day 2. San Sebastian- Just there for the afternoon and evening staying a little outside in the beautiful Aiako Harria National Park. Had a fantastic, though not as Basque as I would have imagined from the menu, michelin starred meal at the Alameda restaurant.

Day 3. Left early for St Jean, which was absolutely packed, then drove up for a late breakfast at Refuge Orisson hoping none of the exhausted pilgrims hated me, I'm pretty sure in vain, as we jumped out of the car. Then it was back down and round the mountain, through Roncesvalles and on to Pamplona. Visited the cathedral (this will become a theme) and was underwhelmed. I was impressed again and dad for the first time by the pentagonal fort. The Museum of Navarra was interesting and our way out of the city the next day we passed the ring of activities we don't talk about and Hemmingway's bust.

Day 4. Another early start, stopping first at Bodegas Irache just outside Estella to pick up a couple of bottles of wine out of gratitude for the free stuff I've had in the past rather than out of any expectation of vinicultural excellence. Still this stuff was perfectly good for the price.

1538122620775.png

Continuing on with the wine theme we picked up on a couple of your tips, firstly the wine harvest festival (thanks @as gaillimh ) which was going on at several of the local vineyards and second visiting one specific one, the Frank Gehry designed Marques De Riscal (thanks @Kathar1na ) to the north of Logrono. It's a spectacular building but not easy to get close to unless you're a guest of the €400+ per night hotel, this is all you could see on the wrong side of the guard house and locked gate. 20180921_125157.jpg

After a snack lunch there we continued to follow the camino to Burgos and checked in at Hostal RimBomBin which I'd highly recommend for anyone looking for a break from albergues, couldn't be more central, between Plaza Mayor and the cathedral. We visited the Cathedral ( thanks to @David Tallan and others) and I was once again astounded by the opulence and amazing domes. Dinner was among the various bars on Calle San Lorenzo and I discovered that @Kathar1na @SYates @SabineP and I all have similar taste in tapas as I discovered myself at my old haunt La Quinta del Monje on their say so having not remembered the name. Here's my dad sampling their wares.

20180921_200141.jpg

Day 5. Started with a search in vain for wheelchair repairs (I still don't really get why wheelchairs are a thing in Burgos but they seem to be) before a looooooong day of driving. Followed the CF as far as Fromista before heading north and meeting up with the Norte around Torrelavega. The pass over the Picos De Europa on the N-625 was one of the most stunning and beautiful roads I've ever been on. We finished the day in Gijon having followed some more of the Norte route, which I have been considering but I must admit I'm feeling a bit put off by what appears to be an awful lot of road walking.

Day 6. Another epic day of driving as we followed the coast to Ribadeo before dropping down to Lugo and then across to Melide for lunch at Pulpería A Garnacha (thanks @Via2010 ) , would say it was at least as good as Ezequiel and did seem to have a higher locals to tourists ratio. After lunch we followed the camino all the way in reverse to Leon, the water levels in Portomarin were shockingly low and you could clearly see the remains of the old town. We then battled through the hoardes of walkers making brief stops at O Cebreiro, Ponferrada to see the castle (thanks @Charlotte Helbig ) and Astorga for the Palacio Episcopal, cathedral and chocolate.

Before getting into Leon we took what to me was a very special detour to the tiny village of Cabanillas on the Camino San Salvador where a little over a year ago a friend and I having failed to see the splitting of the arrows leaving Leon had found ourselves horribly lost, hungry and thirsty. A not at all wealthy family shaded us from the August sun, fed us, gave us beers and even walked with us to the bus stop to get back to Leon, I'll never forget their generosity and as a small token of gratitude took them a bottle of the wine I'd bought in Estella and the chocolates from Astorga, it was a little awkward as their English is a bad as my Spanish and they were a bit embarrassed but I was so happy I did it.

Day 7. After a very comfortable night at the Hotel Monasteria Pax, we rose to a bright sunny morning and headed to Leon Cathedral and oh wow I was amazed and immediately understood why @David Tallan @VNwalking and others prefer it to the showiness of Burgos. I come from a city with a gothic cathedral and pretty good stained glass, Chester in the UK, which might explain why I hadn't bothered with Leon before but the ethereal beauty of that glass in the morning light was pretty much the closest I've ever come to believing in god.

The rest of the day was spent driving to the lovely city of Salamanca, vaguely following the route of the Via de la Plata another Camino, that at least from the road, did not immediately call to me.

Our final day was spent meandering across to Madrid with brief stops in Avila and Segovia both of which I'd have liked to explore more. Avila's walls are particularly impressive.

Sorry this post is so long but I was so grateful to all of you for your advice that I thought I at least owed an account of my trip. To those of you considering something similar I suggest giving yourself at least twice as much time, there are so many things we'd have loved to do that we just didn't have the time for and we rather wasted our freedom to stray far from the Camino path.

Rob.
 

Anamiri

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances
#56
I highly support the recommendation you tour the archaeological site at Atapuerca (just before Burgos), and then the Museum of Human Evolution in Burgos. Both excellent and missed by most Pilgrims
Yes that museum was a highlight, beautifully presented and laid out, we stayed there for over 3 fascinating hours. Glad you found it too.
 


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