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The Way of Saint James

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The Way of Saint James

What is the Way of Saint James? How did it appear? Why is so important?

What is the Way of Saint James? How did it appear? Why is so important?

More than a pilgrimage is a spiritual journey within us, steps towards to self-knowledge.

The History of the Way of Saint James dates back to the time of the birth of Christianity.

In the middle ages pilgrims came from all over Europe on the road to Santiago de Compostela with the intention to pay a promise or any other religious intent. In this way they contributed to what would later be called the Way of St. James or, as it is known in Spain, “El Camino”.

After an impressive growth over the centuries it felt abruptly to the point of to be counted 40 pilgrims, during the 19th century.

But something happened that made the flame burn again and in 1999 an impressive number of 155,000 pilgrims were counted.

What happened?

This is a long story that I will tell in a few posts.

Keep tuned.

David Monteiro

Originally posted 2013-06-15 09:26:36. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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Torrija at Bailara Restaurant in Bidania, Basque Country – Spain

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Torrija at Bailara Restaurant in Bidania, Basque Country - Spain

Torrija is the Spanish name for French toast. So far so good nothing new.

Like any other dish you often may find the regular and occasionally you will find the superb and that is what this post is all about.

One of the hotels I often visit while guiding tours is the Iriarte Jauregia – http://www.iriartejauregia.com/en/ – and here you can find the restaurant Bailara where Enrique Fleischmann is the Chef. About the hotel, I promised to write in another post its magnificent history.

Many of you will think: What is there so special about a French toast?

Well …

Instead of regular bread, they use an award-winning brioche bread soaked in a custard cream and grilled, not fried.

The amber and yellow pearls are all done manually one-by-one. The yellow has a base of egg yolk dropped into a warm syrup so they will cook gently and the amber pearls have a base of syrup dropped into a cold cooking oil to crystallize without getting stuck with each other … just perfect.

The result is a French toast with a perfect structure, tasty, not too sweet, not fat, crunchy and while you are chewing you may have a very mild caramel flavor from the amber pearls …. ooooohhh the heaven exists 🙂

Enjoy it … I know I will 🙂

David Monteiro

Location: Bailara Restaurant, Bidania, Basque Country, Spain

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Walking and photographing in Picos da Europa – Spain

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Walking and photographing in Picos da Europa - Spain

It truly pleases me to write about walks that are usually not mentioned in travel books or magazines. It’s like sharing a small world I found.

Mentions about the walk from Bulnes until Sotres are rare and those I find once in a while do not say much.

This is a walk for photographers. It gives us three opportunities of getting impressive pictures and also be there at the perfect hours of the day … well … the weather conditions are a different matter, please be aware that this happens in a mountain environment so the weather can be a challenge to take into account.

About photography, one thing is to have the opportunity for a shot something else is to actually turn it into reality. For me is still a work in progress, fortunately, some of my guests were able to capture amazing pictures.

The trail goes from “Bulnes la villa” until Sotres, has 9,5 Km with a gain of 850 m in altitude and a 450 m of descent. Not too difficult, moderate level, perfect for photographers.

1st photograph – Overnight in Bulnes to captures the lights of the villages when they are turned on in the evening. You will have sunlight while having the lights of the villages. Be quick because the sunlight will go away quite fast due to the high mountains surrounding the village.

2nd photograph – At the end of the ascending part of the trail, you will see the majestic Naranjo de Bulnes at your right … can’t miss it, it’s huge … an impressive limestone massif with 2519 m high. The light is usually at it’s best around midday due to the mountain “verticality”.

3rd photograph – Just before starting the steep descent towards Sotres you will see a valley with quite a few constructions that you will understand that they are not for humans. In fact, they were built to protect the cattle during bad weather moments. The place is called Moyeyeres, is an “invernadero”. The best view is from far … but that is just my point of view.

I leave you with my suggestions and I will keep looking for the right moment … not too easy because I’m usually here with guests (not my moment) but I will have come here just to capture the moments.

Have fun, I know I will 🙂

David Monteiro

Location: Bulnes, Spain

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A hiking adventure at Sierra de Gredos – Spain

At 110 Km Norwest from Madrid you will find the landscape of the book “For whom the bell tolls” from Ernest Hemingway and a perfect location for a hiking adventure.

If I remember well, I read the book “For whom the bell tolls” when I was 18 years old or something like that. At that age I was far from imagining that one day I was going to lead tours there or even to climb to its summit, the Almanzor.

When I read the book I was fascinated by the description of how the earth shacked when we made love with Maria, I admired the strength of Pilar and I could only imagine the mountains landscape in my dreams. One have to realize that back then there was no internet where I could go browse about Gredos, the closest thing I had was the local public library and there was not many books about such a place.

Anyway, this mountain range is like a mini Alpes, it really looks like it but in a much smaller scale. With its snowed granitic needles and its “U” valley one have the sensation of being in much higher mountain.

The highest summit is the Almanzor with 2,592 m (8,504 ft). If you want to know more about the origin of the name Almanzor, please visit: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almanzor

Sierra de Gredos is a lovely place to go for a walk, both during the winter or summer time.

Although during the winter is usually completely covered with snow, the walk from the parking area called Plataforma until the mountain hut Elola is well marked and there is always quite a lot of people doing it, especially during weekends.

But if you want to climb to the Almanzor summit or similar, you better know what your doing or hire a mountain guide. I can’t remember how many time I climbed this summit with clients and quite often we find people in trouble during the way up without proper guidance … please don’t do that.

Just the walk until the mountain hut is already a wonderful memory and in the mountain hut you will find something very important: beer 🙂

Have fun.

David Monteiro

Location: Hoyos del Espino, Spain

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River Ébron canyon – Spain

I love to think that there are trails that have a different objective than the walk itself and this one is a perfect example.

The river Ebron it’s an interesting case of a river that starts and finishes in the same river. It’s a tributary of the river Turia and in the same river has its mouth.

In its short path, the river Ebron crosses a canyon that was named “Estrechos del Ébron” (the Ébron strait)  and it was built here some funny iron infrastructures that allows people to walk in the canyon without wetting their feet.

Exactly, you will be able to walk almost on the water. The maximum height is about 1,5m high.

Funny isn’t it?

To access to the canyon area the trail was equipped with some iron structures that helps you “climbing” some rocks … very easy.

In the way in will find some places where you won’t resist having a bath in crystal clear waters.

Be sure to came here during a hot summer day because is the best time.

The canyon walls will provide the necessary shade and the water will be refreshing.

This is what I call a walk with a hidden agenda 🙂

Have fun.

David Monteiro

Location: Tórmon, Spain

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Mudejar Architecture in Teruel, Spain

Mudejar Architecture in Teruel, Spain.

In 711 AD Moorish troops crossed the Strait that today we know by the name of Strait of Gibraltar and in less than 20 years they conquered almost all the Iberic Peninsula with the exception of some Christian strongholds like the case of Covadonga up north in the Picos da Europa mountain range.

Obviously this occupation brought profound changes to the local Christian Visigothic civilisation. In terms of the architecture, nowadays we can visit some magnificent monuments left by this Muslim people like the Alhambra or the Cordoba Mosque.

This occupation last for around 700 years, if we count the time between the Guadalepe Battle in July 711 AD and the War of Granada that took place from 1482 until 1492 where the Moorish definitely defeated.

Immediately after the Moorish invasion the Christian started a process called “Reconquista”, reconquest that had the objective of regaining their lost territory. Apparently it started with a rebellion lead by Pelayo in 722 AD.

Well, from 722 until 1492 is the period of the Reconquista, around 700 years of a slow transition returning to a Christian society and is during this time and this process that a new architectural style emerges, the Mudejar style. It includes both gothic and Moorish architectural elements.

I truly love History and the period of the Moorish occupation is one of my favorite times in the Spanish History so is not too difficult to imagine how much I love Mudejar style.

Teruel is a city located halfway from Madrid and Barcelona, in the province of Aragon, and an extraordinary example of Mudejar architecture. I love to walk here and imagine how life was back then.

It worth to travel here … oooh yes it does. The Mudejar architectural style is classified as World Heritage by UNESCO (please check http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/378) and Teruel an extraordinary example.

There are plenty of monuments to visit in Teruel and there no need for me to list them here because the information is widely available. However there are three monuments that are my favorits:

The Lovers of Teruel – http://www.teruelversionoriginal.es/Turismo/home_eng.nsf/documento/los_amantes_de_teruel

The Historical Archive of Teruel . http://www.patrimonioculturaldearagon.es/archivo-historico-provincial-de-teruel

Torre de San Martin – http://www.patrimonioculturaldearagon.es/bienes-culturales/torre-de-san-martin-teruel

In future posts I will write about walking trails not too far from Teruel.

Have fun.

David Monteiro

Location: Teruel, Spain

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Trekking Tours – what are

trekking04Trekking tours are tours where the participants will walk several days autonomously in mountain environment. By autonomously I mean having in one’s backpack all that will be needed for the tours days.

Well, in my trekking tours I usually use mountain huts to spend the night and is also where we can have our meals. I do not usually camp unless when the guests expressively ask for that.trekking05

The mountain huts are constructions, houses type, that can be found n isolated places in mountains as it is the case of the photo that if it sees here to the side.

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In these huts you can sleep in huge rooms that can hold 20, 30, or more persons, depending of the capacity of each hut. In some huts you will find bunks and in others you will find wooden decks with mattresses and blankets where you and sleep.

In each tour day you will have a certain trail to accomplish, usually until the next hut.

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The use of huts will prevent you from carrying all the gear and all the food, allowing you to enjoy more the landscape and the trail itself. In these huts you also have the possibility to meet other people that come from other countries and these sort of moments are something that always makes part of the stories we will tell later.

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The trails we will accomplish are adjusted to the difficulty level announced in the tours brochures.

Only for being a mountain trekking tour does not mean that will be d
emanding. If in the brochure is referred to be an easy level tour so it will be easy (for a common person) however if the tour is classified as strenuous so you can also count on that as well.

I will be waiting for you.Are you ready to join me for a trekking adventure?

David Monteiro

 

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Active vacations in the Pyrenees

We look at the Pyrenees as a great natural border between Spain and France, a border with about 400 km of mountains that frequent exceeds 2000m of height.

It is in this mountainous chain that you can find the highest peak of mainland Spain, is the Aneto peak with 3.404m high. This peak is located in Natural park Posets-Maladeta near the Benasque, a small village of the province of Huesca, autonomous community of Aragón.

The landscapes that we can find in the Pyrenees very are diversified and, if you consider the great differences of scenes between the stations of the year, the diversity will be even wider.

With more than 400Km’ extension and with such diversity of landscapes, I find always quite odd when someone tells me that knows the Pyrenees having been there once or twice … that is, at least, very strange… is the same as to know the Museum of the Louvre in one hour.

I do not intend to cover all the diversity and extension of the Pyrenees in this post, such task was ridicule, but only to awake your curiosity concerning these mountains.

In this mountainous chain you will be able to find several Parks, National and another type of protected Natural areas where each one of these areas has its proper beauty and you will easily find many reasons for a visit.

Between those protected areas, I will write more frequently about the following:

– National Park of Aigüestortes;

– National Park of Ordesa and Monte Perdido;

– Natural Park of “Sierra y Cañones de Guara” (Pre-Pyrenees);

– Natural Park of Posests and Maladeta

Also I do not intend to all cover the type of activities that you can do around here but only to tell a few stories and some curious things that happened during my tours.

I will be writing about walking, trekking, via ferratas, wine, gastronomy, History and culture in general.

I will also waiting to guide you in the Pyrenees to live some adventure.

David Monteiro

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Picos da Europa – Walking Tour

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PICOS DA EUROPA – MAGIC MOUNTAIN
moderate level walks

In the eighth century AD Christians gathered in these mountains fleeing from the Moorish invasion. This natural barrier has proved so efficient that it was from here that the Christians started to reconquer the lost territory, a movement called “Reconquista” (conquering the lost lands).postit

These mountain formations are located in the Cantabrian Mountains and they cover the Spanish provinces of Asturias, Cantabria and Castile y León.
The combination of its average altitude with its proximity to the sea allows you to simultaneously enjoy the view of snowy peaks while tasting delicious cheeses and wines on a sunny terrace by the sea.

picos001This tour was designed for those who love moderate active vacations. Days are filled with activities like hiking and guided visits that allow you to better enjoy the several locations and know the culture of this magnificent region.
For photography lovers there will be plenty of photo opportunities, from wide open spaces with mountains that rise to the sky to fabulous details.
I’m counting on you!

OVERALL PROGRAM
Day 1 – Landing in Madrid – The capital city of Spain and also the largest Spanish city. You will be landing at the Barajas Airport where we will be waiting for you.
Day 2 – From Madrid to Cain – We will meet you at your hotel in Madrid to pick you up to Picos da Europa. During the transfer you will have the opportunity to have walk in Burgos where you can visit the Cathedral of Burgos declared World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Day 3 – River Cares Gorge – The famous “Garganta del Cares” (River Cares Gorge) perhaps the most emblematic walk around.
This is a moderate level 12km walk on uneven terrain where most likely you will find school children and/or families walking the trail.
Day 4 – From Bulnes to Sotres – “Bulnes la Villa”, a small village which can only be accessed using the funicular (our case) or walking the long hike up along the hillside. From Bulnes and walking by the “Coll Pandebano” we will arrive to Sotres. In the meantime we will take some pictures from the Naranjo de Bulnes.
Day 5 – Hermida’s Canyon – In between the Massif Central and the Eastern Massif we will walk along the river Deva on some trails used by the trout’s fishermen. The sounds of running waters are very relaxing and there are always possibilities to meet some local people.
Day 6 – Fuente Dé – The Fuente Dé cable car will take us to the plateau where we will start our walk to a mountain hut called “Cabaña Veronica”. These wide open views are breathtaking and quite different from previous landscapes which adds diversity to the tour.
Day 7 – Covadonga and Cangas de Ónis – A visit to Covadonga and Cangas de Onis is “mandatory” to know the region.
Covadonga is an extremely important site of the medieval Iberian history and you will also walk along its gorgeous lakes.
Day 8 – Return to Madrid – Driving to Madrid will give us the opportunity to spend some time in Leon, one of the fundamental kingdoms of medieval Spain. In 1188, the city hosted the first Parliament in European history.
Is also part of the Way of St. James (Camino de Santiago).
Day 9 – Departure from Madrid – You will be taken to the Barajas Airport.

LODGING LOCATIONS
Day 1 – Madrid – You will be arriving at the welcoming city of Madrid.
Day 2 – Caín – Cain is a tiny village in the heart of the Picos de Europa, with stone houses, located in the province of Leon, crossed by River Cares and is the place from where we will walk the Cares Gorge.
Day 3 – Poncebos – In this hidden location between mountains lies the dam and the Funicular of Bulnes. The funicular will help us easier the next day’s walk. From here we have the possibility to access to the Rio Cares and enjoy its crystal clear waters.
Day 4 – Sotres – After a journey through the interior of the park, getting to Sotres. With about 100 inhabitants, Sotres is the highest Asturian village within the Picos de Europa mountain range and one of the most remote locations.
Day 5 & 6 – Potes – Potes, this Cantabrian village is one of the best known in the region and is also a mandatory stop location.
Its historic center is formed by narrow animated streets by trade and local products. Tourists do not resist photographing its narrow streets and find every little detail. Despite a major fire in the late ‘30s, that almost destroyed the village, today’s the historic center of Potes is considered a Cultural History Site.
Day 7 – Cangas de Ónis – It was the capital of the Kingdom of Asturias until 774DC also has happened here in 722 the Battle of Covadonga where Don Pelayo won the Moorish occupants. More recently, in 1978, the city became again the capital of the Principality of Asturias.
Day 8 – Madrid – Your last night will be spent in Madrid. If you decided to stay a few days more enjoying the city so we will say goodbye. Otherwise on the day after we will take you to the Airport.

TOURS IN 2016
Tour Dates / Reservation Deadline
17th to 25th June / 18th April
07th to 15th October / 08th August
or gather your group and select the schedule with lower prices, ask me 🙂

WHERE WE WILL BE WALKING
In the red circles of the map below, you can find the locations where we will be lodged during the tour, covering the most emblematic regions of the Picos de Europa.
The walks and other activities will take place in between the red circles.

TYPICAL STRUCTURE OF A TOUR DAY
08:00/08:30 – Breakfast.
09:00 – Departure for the day’s activities.
09:00/16:00 – Activities of the day as per Detailed Program, including meal times.
16:00 – Arrival at the accommodations.
16:00/19:00 – Free time.
20:00/21:00 – Dinner.

There is a schedule for each day, as per the Detailed Program, however the Guide will follow it in a relaxed way.
Naturally, the structure is only indicative and each day will follow its specific schedule.

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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

How does it works?
Reservation forms and respective payment will be received until Reservation Deadline. Reservations are only considered effective with the respective payment.
If the minimum number of clients required for a tour is not fulfilled until the day after the Reservation Deadline I shall promptly return the Reservation fee in full.
If the minimum numbers of clients required for a tour is fulfilled on the day after the Reservation Deadline I will contact each client in order to receive the remaining values, as per “Price and Reservations”.
I will provide all required information’s in order to help client’s to prepare their travel.
Clients will be meet at the Madrid Airport upon their arrival and, at the end of the tour, they will be taken to the airport as well. Different arrangements will be agreed case-by-case.

Accommodations
Eight nights in double or twin room are included in the tour base price.
The chosen accommodations are small rural or mountain hotels usually classified as 2 stars or higher. Despite its simplicity of services, these sites have usual facilities such as private bath.
If you want to spend extra nights at the starting or ending location of the tour, we can provide you quotations for accommodations and other services that you require. If you want to hire services on your own, we will provide all liaison information’s you may require after confirming your reservation.

Meals
There will be three meals included in each tour day: breakfast, lunch and dinner. Please note some exceptions for the first and last days of the tour.
Breakfast: served by the hotel/accommodations where you will be lodged – from Day 2 to Day 9, breakfasts are included in the Base Price.
Lunch: depending of each tour day, lunch can be picnic style or in a local restaurant – from Day 2 to Day 8, lunches are included in the Base Price with no alcoholic drinks included.
Dinner: usually in a typical local restaurant with a “menu” regime, including one glass of juice, wine or beer – from Day 1 to Day 8, dinners are included in the Base Price.
Special arrangements will be dealt separately.
Specific dietary needs will be taken into account. Please refer your dietary requirements on your Reservation Form.
All tastings referred in the Program are included in the Base Price.

Luggage and backpack
Each client has a volume/weight luggage quota of 60 liters and/or 30Kg.
During the time of the walks or other activities you will have with you what you will need for the day. In the meantime your luggage will be taken to the hotel or will stay there depending if it’s a transfer day or not.
To carry your belongings during the walks or other activities you will need a 20 to 25 liters backpack.

Clothing, footwear and other individual items
We will be glad to provide you all the information you may need to help you to better prepare your travel.

Logistics and general support
There will be a logistical support vehicle allocated to the tour. All needed transfers listed in the detailed program are included in the tour price.
The walks were created to be Moderate Level, accessible to any person with any regular physical activity such as walking.
Throughout the day the support van may or may not be accessible because most of the walks will happen in trails where motorized vehicles can’t be used, except for emergency proposes.
So, by the time you will arrive to the hotel your luggage will be there waiting for you.

Detailed Program
The Detailed Program is part of the documentation that the participant receives when the tour is confirmed.

Plane flights
You can purchase directly your plane flights or through our travel agency partner, is your choice.
We will be glad to provide the respective quotations.

Please bear in mind: last minute reservations can result in increased costs and booking difficulties.

PRICE and RESERVATIONS
Tour Base Price – 1.650€
Includes: Accommodation (8 nights in double/twin room), breakfasts from Day 2 to Day 9, lunches/picnic from Day 2 to Day 8, dinners from Day 1 to Day 8 at menu regime, personal accident insurance, transfers from and to Barcelona Airport plus transfers between activities locations and all the tastings and guided visits referred in the Detailed Program.
Does not includes: plane tickets and everything else that is not expressly mentioned as included in this booklet.
Single room supplement: 200€
Reservation value and procedure: 600,00€ – Remaining amount paid in full until 15 days after Reservation Deadline.

CANCELLATION
The costs of cancellation are as follows:
90 days before 1st Tour Day – 0% of reservation
89-60 days before 1st Tour Day – 25% of reservation
59-45 days before 1st Tour Day – 50% of reservation
44-30 days before 1st Tour Day – 75% of reservation
29 days or less before 1st Tour Day – 100% of reservation
To cancel your reservation it is mandatory that an e-mail is sent from the same e-mail address used for the reservation. The amount will be transferred back to the same account used to the reservation.
Number of clients: Mín 6 and max 14 guests per tour.

INFORMATIONS AND RESERVATIONS:
e-mail: david.monteiro@montesevales.com
Telephone: +351 914 794 553

In case you have any questions don’t hesitate to call me or send me an e-mail, I’ll be glad to help.
All your questions are important.

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