Camino de Santiago 
(St James Way)
Guided walking across Northern Spain

12 nights or 15 nights 

Where we stay:
Our accommodation is in three and four-star hotels, elegant Paradors,  comfortable inns and old monasteries that have been converted to first class hotels.  All have old-world, Spanish atmosphere yet with modern comforts. All rooms in the hotels which we use have a private bathroom. 

Roncesvalles   We stay in the Posada Roncesvalles located near the "Collegiata". The Posada is a charming mountain inn with beamed ceilings, tiled floors, a 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 his fresh trout and for his recipe for roast lamb with mountain herbs.. 

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 Millan  South of Santo Domingo de la Calzada in a spectacular setting is the historic Hosteria Monasterio San Millan de la Cogolla. Today this former monastery is a beautiful 4 star hotel with all the modern comforts. It is a 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 located in the original stone-walled refectory. 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 world charm. 

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 Anton 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 you would like to swim in the heated indoor pool.

Parador Monforte de Lemos   This 4 star Parador is situated at the highest point of the town of Monforte de Lemos. 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 spectacular 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 here is the flaming quemada drinks. There is a traditional story that accompanies the drink whose origins come from the ghostly 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 books. Dinners always end with "Bishop's Cake" for dessert.

Meals: Breakfast is always included (usually a buffet). Most dinners are included except in cities where there are are a variety of restaurants available. The dinners that are included are in a variety of hotel and 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.

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