GALIZIA E IL CAMMINO DI SANTIAGO

Galicia

Santiago de Compostela, the capital of Galicia, is the final destination on the Way of Saint James, the famous pilgrim route. For this reason alone it is worth visiting this region in Green Spain. You'll love its landscapes full of green wooded valleys, and its amazing beaches. All along the length of its coastline, bathed by the Cantabrian Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, you'll find areas of spectacular cliffs like those on A Costa da Morte, or the incredible Islas Atlánticas National Park.You can visit its numerous charming villages, both on the sea and inland, and cities such as Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Ferrol, Lugo, Orense, Pontevedra and Vigo. You'll marvel at its many monuments such as the Tower of Hercules or Lugo’s city walls, both designated World Heritage sites by the UNESCO.

Galicia’s delicious gastronomy is one of its strong points, and features a variety of typical produce and dishes, including its shellfish (Dublin Bay prawns, king prawns, king scallops, mussels, scallops, lobsters, crabs), veal, octopus “a feira” (with potatoes), gammon with turnip greens or the almond tart known as “tarta de Santiago”. And to drink what could be better than two of its most famous wines, Ribeiro and Albariño (which each have their own Wine Route) or the popular “queimada” (alcoholic spirits set alight in an earthenware bowl according to the typical ritual)?If you feel like relaxing, why not make the most of Galicia’s reputation as a land of spas and open-air hot springs? And if you fancy a little sport, you can always go to any of its golf courses, marine resorts… there’s a whole world of options to choose from.

The Pilgrim's Road to Santiago by bicycle is an exciting and unforgettable adventure

During the route, the cyclist will know ancient customs and welcoming people, will make new friends with which to share solidarity and feelings and will discover a unique nature.

Doing the Pilgrim's Road to Santiago means plunging into landscapes full of contrasts from plateaus to mountains, from fields to coasts, monumental sites, works of art in the way of cathedrals, bridges, roads and monasteries. But this experience goes beyond that. During this special trip throughout Spain, you will also share extraordinary experiences with pilgrims of all ages, coming from all over the world, in the hostels, on the track or on the road.

Choosing the route

It is essential to plan the route correctly before starting the trip. The first step is tracing out the route that leads to the Galician capital. There are several itineraries, although the French Pilgrim's Route, passing through the interior of the peninsula, is the most used by thousands of pilgrims every year on their way to Santiago. This network of pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela was declared World Heritage in 1993 by the UNESCO.

French Route

This is the most popular route. It begins in the Pyrenees and has two variants depending on where you choose to enter: Roncesvalles (through Navarre) or Somport (through Aragon). Both routes meet in the town of Puente la Reina, and then continue on through the territories of La Rioja and Castile-León towards Galicia.

Northern Route

This route was first used by the pilgrims to avoid travelling through the territories occupied by the Muslims in the Middle Ages. The greatest attraction is its landscape, as a large part runs along the coastline against a backdrop of mountains, and overlooks the Cantabrian Sea. When you get to Oviedo, you can either take the alternative Northern Route or the Primitive Route.

Planning the time

The route should be planned based on the rhythm, resistance and physical condition of each person or of the group. If you do not have much experience on long cycling trips, you should train before. But if you are in good physical condition, you can do stages of 80 to 140Km per day, although the ideal distance is 50Km a day. Keeping this rhythm, would mean doing the whole route in two weeks. If you do not wish to do the whole route, you can start from somewhere closer to Santiago. However, it is essential to do at least 200Km on bike to be an officially recognized pilgrim by a document called the Compostela, which you will receive upon arrival to the final destination and which proves you have satisfactorily fulfilled the pilgrimage route. During the trip, we recommend you alternate with some days of rest, to recover your energy and enjoy the most relevant sites of the route, there are plenty to see.

Preparing your luggage

Once the route has been chosen, the next step is packing your luggage. You should never pack too much, but we recommend you include spare parts for your bike (inner tubes, a tire, patches, wrenches, air pumps, a spray to remove grease, cloths); water; glasses; petroleum jelly to prevent blisters; a lock; a torch; appropriate clothes, including raincoat and gloves. And always wear a helmet and a reflecting waistcoat, specially when on the road. Do not forget a basic first aid kit, a sleeping bag, a washbag, sun protection, personal identification papers and a guide.

Starting out

Once the bike is packed, the route is planned and you are greatly excited, all there is left to do is to start out. Any self-respecting pilgrim should have a credential to validate in the different hostels and parish churches, proving you have fulfilled the Pilgrim's Route. You can get this document at the Association of Friends of the Road to Santiago found throughout Spain and abroad, in the Royal Collegiate Church of Roncesvalles and in the towns the pilgrim's road goes through. If you do not have the document at the start of your trip, ask at the tourist office of the town or village where you are. Please remember that, during the route, food and drink are crucial. It is important to carry some food in case of emergency (figs, nuts and dried fruit or chocolate); always have something to drink to avoid dehydration and never strain yourself: rest whenever necessary.

Enjoy the adventure

A new way of knowing Spain comes in motion. The route, perfectly indicated to avoid mistakes and constantly guide cyclists, offers villages, people, landscapes, festivities, gastronomy and countless artistic elements. It is a route full of contrasts, with exceptional nature reserves and natural treasures, including the Pyrenees; the banks of the Ebro river and its fertile market gardens; the great Castilian planes, with wheat fields covering the horizon; the ascent to the shrine Cruz de Ferro, which is 1,500m above sea level; and the pastures and green fields of Galiciaand Asturias. And throughout the route, mountains lined by tracks. Each twist and turn of the pilgrimage route hides a surprise, either landscape or monument.

Doing the Pilgrim's Road to Santiago by bike is, therefore, a splendid chance to live a unique adventure through an itinerary that has fascinated millions of pilgrims for centuries. All in all, it is a different trip by which you can discover a good deal of Spain and will get to know yourself much better.

 

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