|Tour No.||Tour Name||Dates||Price||No. Days/Nights||Spaces Available
|Tour 1||Tenerife Island: Lava, Sea & Stars||3-9 April 2019||2425€||7||Sold Out!
|Tour 2||Camino de Santiago: On Glory Roads||8-18 May 2019||3475€||11||15 Space Available|
|Tour 3||Camino de Santiago: On Glory Roads||5-15 June 2019||3475€||11||13 Space Available|
|Tour 4||Camino Portuguese: Porto area to Santiago||2-8 July 2019||2275€||7||15 Space Available|
|Tour 5||Galicia: Food & Wine Journey||5-11 Sept 2019||2675€||7||8 Space Available|
|Tour 6||Camino de Santiago: On Glory Roads||25 Sept-5 Oct||3475€||11||13 Space Available|
To book a tour, please click here.
You both were the yellow arrows that welcomed …and guided us…
Truly a trip of a lifetime! A feast for the eyes, the body and the soul. A journey of discovery from beginning to end. You both were the yellow arrows that welcomed us and thoughtfully guided us through a place in time and history. Nancy, you have a gift for telling a story or aspect of history that makes I interesting to hear and retain. Jose is so thoughtful, considerate – You both were always there, but never hovering. Thank you!
Judy and Steve, NYC, USA
June 2017, Camino de Santiago
…Nancy & Jose- you are absolute legends..
I have done so much raving on to people about how wonderful On Foot in Spain & particularly Nancy & Jose were, that they should never need to advertise. It was all such a special experience as evidenced by our reaction as we walked into the Santiago Square – still gives me goosebumps….Nancy & Jose – you are absolute legends….
Bron & Michael, Vermont, VIC, Australia
May 2017, Camino de Santiago
You bring out the best in everyone.
Thank YOU for the most fabulous trip ever! What a wonderful trip and a wonderful group. I think you are able to bring out the best in everyone, so I suspect you have the best groups all the time. Thank you so much.
Julie, Bend, Oregon, USA (2nd Time Traveler)
Jan 2018, Tenerife
…calmly moved the group through the eleven days…
The eleven days we spent with you were just superb in every way. Nancy, I constantly admired the way in which you so calmly moved the group through the eleven days…I just loved all the history, anecdotes, information on just so many things& never did I tire of it. Your engaging style & warm, interested personality set the scene & it was this above all else which contributed to the great success of the trip. Your laugh is infectious & your beautiful smile memorable. Through your words & references to Pilgrims I found I was able to spend much time reflecting on my life, its purpose & experienced a feeling of peace & contentment & extreme gratitude….Meanwhile Jose performed his magic…I know & appreciate the great planning & fine tuning all that requires. You are a wonderful team & obviously loving union. Possibly it’s just that which makes your Camino so very special…a very big Thank you for providing us with a truly wonderful, memorable Camino.
Lu & MIchael, Melbourne, Australia
Sept 2016, Camino de Santiago
I feel stronger mentally, physically and spiritually.
Thank you for the opportunity to walk in beautiful places, make wonderful new friends, partake in gourmet picnics in unforgettable locations and for all your knowledge and care. This was a truly unique experience for me and I am amazed at what I learnt along the way. I feel stronger mentally, physically and spiritually. Thank YOU for enriching my life.
Lynne, Golden, Colorado, USA
Oct 2016, Compostela
Our walk along this special path was just as uplifting as our first time. Your passion for story telling & your unique connection with the Camino made the trip truly worthwhile. Heartfelt thanks to Jose for preparing those delicious lunches and taking care of us. We all arrive on this walk with our shortcomings, but the road and those we encounter plus our traveling companions offer many gifts which we cherish long after we’ve moved on. So thank you for this Camino!
B & S, London, Ontario, CANADA (2nd time Travelers)
June 2017, Camino de Santiago
…a fulfilling experience that finds a place in your soul.
Making this incredible journey along the Camino with Nancy & Jose exceeded our expectations. They are such caring people who freely share their hearts & knowledge. The tour is hard to describe – it’s a fulfilling experience which finds a place in your soul.
John & Lucille, San Jose, CA, USA
October 2016, Compostela
Preparation and attention to detail, second to none...
Jose & Nancy – your preparation and attention to detail is second to none, your knowledge of the land, food & people is outstanding & you both clearly love and understand the history. This makes us want & yearn to come back again and again. The trip was a 10 out of 5 – we enjoyed everything & would have been happy to keep going as all our experiences were so enjoyable.
We can’t thank you and Jose enough for such an amazing week exploring Galicia - we had a wonderful time and thoroughly enjoyed every moment with you both. We were talking in the early hours this morning about our walk with you and going through each day remembering what we did and how seamless the days and evenings flowed and how natural the experiences were- by that I mean we really felt immersed in the Galician way of life- eating, working, drinking, family and history. This rich holistic experience that we feel so blessed to have had is thanks to your (you and Jose) love of your Galicia and this was heightened by allowing us to meet the local producers, winemakers, shellfisherwomen, chefs, bee-keepers allowing them to tell their stories and this made it personal to us and we remember them more so for this very reason.
Janine & Craig, Hornsby, Sydney, Australia (2nd Time Travelers)
Sept 2016, Galicia: Food & Wine Journey
The bar is set very high
Given that this is the first trip of this kind that I have ever taken, I was not sure what to expect. Now I believe that the bar is set very high. It was an experience of a lifetime which I will always treasure. I had looked at other tours when on the waiting list for a later OFIS tour, and am very pleased with waiting for this one …There is no possibility that I would have experienced the Camino as well as I have with this group, Jose and Nancy.
Marc, Apex, North Carolina , USA
Compostela, October 2016
….your kindness, caring and love of the country and of people….
Our time in Spain with you two was life changing. You instilled a desire to travel and get to the heart of the country and the heart of the communities. ….Having said all this, where we started our adventures in Spain, remains one of the best places we have ever been. It was one of the best places because of you and Jose and your kindness, caring and love of the country and of people. We desire to return someday and experience it with you again….You really impacted our lives.
Chris & Dale, Iowa, USA
July 2013, Galicia: From Sea to Mountain (Writing in 2017 reminiscing about their trip in 2013)
I wasn’t expecting…the emotional experience….
I wasn’t expecting it to be the emotional experience that it turned out to be. I would heartily recommend it to anyone thinking of doing the Camino, it was a truly fantastic experience in so many ways. I want to commend you both on offering such a wonderful experience and I hope to do one of your others tours at some stage in the future.
Jen, Hurlstone Park, NSW, Australia
June 2017, Camino de Santiago
…places we could never find…people we would never meet [on our own]
This trip, while quite different from the Camino trips, was the best. You took us to places we could never find and introduced us to people we would never meet. The hiking was hard, but you believed we could do it and helped us to discover that despite any doubts we may have had, we could….As usual Jose your lunches were great. You seem to have a gift for inventing dishes from simple components that please everyone, even non-lettuce lovers…I know this group was quirky, but you both rose to the occasion and managed the group well. I appreciate your deep knowledge about and love of your country, its history and culture. You are able to impart your knowledge on a broad range of topics. …On this trip, I thought about how much effort and preparation you make to ensure the trip is successful…I could really see that we were always in good hands.
Mark, Vienna, Virginia, USA (3rd Time On Foot in Spain Traveler)
July 2016, Galicia Hiking: From Sea to Mountain
…a priceless experience..
Definitely a 5! [out of 5] what one gets from a trip like this is hard to quantify. The selection of hikes, villages, restaurants is something I could not have put together myself. Nancy and Jose share their love of this region and its people and history so generously. That makes for a priceless experience.
Alison, Sebastopol, California, USA
July 2016, Galicia Hiking: From Sea to Mountain tour
Fuera de lo común..
Estan haciendo un trabajo fuera de lo común. No creo que haya otra compañía que ni siquiera este cerca. Les recomendaré a todo quien me pregunte o planee un viaje a España o Portugal. Espero algún día volver a viajar con ustedes.
Sara, Miami, Florida, USA (2nd Time Traveler)
July 2016, Portuguese Camino
…your ability to look after everyone so easily…
I loved our cultural immersion & the bus readings, music and the towns’ history – felt like I was living in the era of all events (maybe lucky I wasn’t! )….The group dynamics work because of your ability to look after everyone so easily…We just loved our time with you all and it makes me so sad you are so far away.
MIchael, New Zealand
July 2016, Portuguese Camino
…your knowledge…passion, professionalism & genuineness!
Not only was it your knowledge but it was your passion, professionalism & genuineness that stood out! The picnics were superb!
Pam & Robert, Rockford, Barosa, Australia
July 2016, Portuguese Camino
…thank you….from the bottom of my heart..
I do want to thank you both from the bottom of my heart for your care, attention to detail and generosity of spirit. At times it all felt overwhelming & I still do not have words for that – only to say, thank you.
Sam, Braidswood, NSW, Australia
June 2017, Camino de Santiago
…all done seemingly without effort..
We were continuously impressed by the wealth of knowledge Nancy imparted to us every step of the way! …All was done seemingly without effort, and you both seemed so calm all the time, and patient, but with a great sense of professionalism. Jose, you’re the greatest! Loved the variety of local cheeses, breads, sweets, etc but the Salads! The best!... This was one of the best trips we’ve ever done! Apart from the camino, which was very special and very unique, our guides were of the finest quality! We learned so much and did so much. Thank you for introducing us to a very special region of Spain! We’d love to come back again! We rate the trip with a 5++++++!
Linda & Tom, Portland, Oregon, USA
Sept 2017, Camino de Santiago
…your love for Spain has inspired us..
We came for the walk but learnt so much more. The interpretations at all we saw has opened my eyes. Your love for Spain has inspired us. Much love,
Leonie & John, West Pennant Hills, NSW, Australia
Sept 2016, Camino de Santiago
The Camino revealed unexpected opportunities….
I knew I was coming to hike. I knew I was hiking with a friend facing challenges, but I underestimated how that would affect me; The Camino revealed unexpected opportunities and I am proud of my choices and the way I made the journey. I am grate to have had the company of my fellow pilgrims and you, Nancy and Jose.
Joan, Beaverton, Oregon, USA
September 2016, Camino de Santiago
|Tour No.||Tour Name||Dates||Price||No. Days/Nights||Spaces Available
|Tour 1||Hiking Tenerife Island: Lava, Sea & Stars||15-21 Jan 2018||2325€||7||SOLD OUT!|
|Tour 2||Camino de Santiago (Pamplona to Santiago)||2-12 May 2018||3475€||11||SOLD OUT!|
|Tour 3||Camino de Santiago (Pamplona to Santiago)||6-16 June 2018||3475€||11||2 Spaces Available|
|Tour 4||Galicia: Hiking From Sea to Mountain||3-10 July 2018||1975€||8||1 Space Available|
|Tour 5||Galicia: Food & Wine Journey||3-9 Sept 2018||2625€||7||SOLD OUT!|
To book a tour, please click here.
Author: Nancy L. Frey, PhD Date: June 2004
Publication: Spanish Magazine, No. 5, pp. 16-26
Article Title in Publication: Coastal Corner
Galicia: A view from my room
By Nancy L. Frey, PhD
I live in a little Galician fishing village on the northern shore of the Ría de Arousa, one of the Galicia’s highly scenic tidal estuaries (called rías). From my window Galicia spreads out before me. In the harbour, the small red wooden dornas are haphazardly moored, moved only by the tides. Retired fishermen stroll up and down the boat ramps and head off to the local bar for an afternoon of intense card playing. On the port’s new side blue and white iron hulled fishing boats prepare to head off for another night in the open Atlantic. Making their way through a maze of rocky shallows and islands, small fishing boats, with a flock of seagulls in hot pursuit, return to port further inland passing a natural breakwater that separates the powerful ocean from the tranquil estuary where hundreds of mussel platforms serve as incubator for one of Galicia’s many seafood delicacies. Endlessly rolling green mountains gently rise out of the water and continue in folds as far as the eye can see. Dense forests hide the Megalithic burial chambers and Iron Age settlements found littering the mountaintops and hillsides. A few scattered villages, white amidst a sea of green, sprinkle the upper reaches while lower down a patchwork quilt of worked fields separated by stone fences and stands of trees surround the numerous towns clinging closely to the shoreline.
Galicia forms the northwest end of Green Spain – the name typically given to the wet, verdant, temperate and highly scenic band of hilly countryside that faces the Atlantic along Spain’s northern shore and includes Asturias, Cantabria and the Basque Country. Three of Galicia’s four provinces (Lugo, A Coruña and Pontevedra) face the sea with vast inland extensions while landlocked Ourense shares an undulating border along the great Río Miño with Portugal to the south. Galego, one of Spain´s four official languages, is spoken throughout the region especially the rural areas. Despite the economic boom which swept across Spain since the 1970s, Galicia still retains a strong hold on its traditional roots - an economy tied to the sea, its rich grazing lands, and small scale agriculture in a rocky, unforgiving countryside. Unlike the Basque Country further east, which industrialized quickly and rapidly in the 19th century, Galicia continues to surprise for its lack of visible industry outside of the few urban centres. Widows dressed in black still usher cows along the busy secondary roads. Only 30 years ago Galicians in the eastern sierras stopped living in pallozas, round thatch-roofed dwellings, as they had since pre-Roman times. And, since at least the 13th century, the ubiquitous rectangular hórreos (granaries), topped with cross and phallic pyramid for fertility, have kept the winter’s store safe from rain and rodents. It is precisely this anachronistic rural quality that contributes to the allure of Galicia.
In Iberia Michener calls Galicia the ‘granite land’ and comments on the large of percentage of arable land occupied by stone walls. While exaggerated, due to the vagaries of geography, history, agricultural practices, and inheritance norms the dispersion of Galician villages is striking. When crossing Spain’s centre you typically drive through extensive fields of cultivated cereals and then reach a compact village wrapped around a prominent church. Not in Galicia. Galicia has some 32, 400 settlements – cities, towns, villages (pueblos), hamlets (aldeas) and even places (lugares) of two or three houses – each surrounded by small family plots, pasturelands, rough gorse and broom ridden hills and woods. While its total extension (some 29,000 sq km) accounts for only 6% of Spain’s whole territory, the number of settlements accounts for 48% of Spain’s villages, towns, etc! Land reform changed this pattern to some extent (that´s why you´ll see strange rectangular plots here and there).
I see this curious dispersion clearly from my window where many small ports hug the Arousa estuary’s long shore. Most Galicians live along the coast. Of Galicia’s seven major urban centres, four are coastal: A Coruña, Ferrol, Pontevedra, and Vigo. Only A Coruña and Vigo manage to reach 250,000 souls. A Coruña thrives as a major shipping port, province capitol, and cultural centre with excellent museums, the oldest Roman lighthouse in Europe and the expansive Riazor beach integrated into the urban landscape. A walk down A Coruña´s picturesque waterfront Avenida da Marina reveals Galicia´s best example of multi-paned, enclosed galerías or sunrooms – it’s a virtual wall of glass. Vigo maintains Galicia´s largest fishing fleet as well as the Citroen car plant giving it a busy, industrial feel. Head down to its historical quarter, though, and you´ll find outstanding seafood in the small bars on its Rúa Pescadería (Fish Market Street). The rest of the population concentrates in inland Ourense and Lugo. Finally, Santiago de Compostela, Galicia’s capital and important university town since the 15th century, has historically been the region’s religious and cultural heart. It’s the one town not to miss if you visit Galicia.
Compostela has attracted pilgrims and travellers since the 9th century when a local religious hermit discovered the remains of Santiago (known in English as the Apostle James, the Greater). News of the discovery quickly spread and soon faithful came in masses from all points of the Christian world creating the network of medieval pilgrimage roads known as the Caminos de Santiago. The pilgrimage’s popularity put Galicia irrevocably on the European map and was in large part the source of the region’s medieval splendour leaving the countryside filled with innumerable churches, monasteries and masterpieces of art and architecture in the villages and towns through which the pilgrimage ways pass. The pilgrimage reaches its apex of splendour in the Apostle’s city and on the sublime Praza do Obradoiro where the great powers that have influenced the city over the centuries all find a place: the Romanesque cathedral with its soaring Baroque façade; the magnificent 15th century Reís Católicos hotel founded by the monarchs Isabel and Ferdindand as a pilgrims’ hospice; the imposing neo-Classical Raxoi palace cum modern-day city hall; and the university’s Colegio San Xerome with its well-carved neo-Romanesque portal. Listen on the plaza (and down the historical quarter’s beautiful arcaded streets alive with outdoor cafés) and you´ll hear local street musicians playing the gaita (the Galician bagpipe) and benefiting from the acoustics provided by the arch of the Archbishop´s Palace. Music fans will enjoy the Galician folk groups Milladoiro and Luar na Lubre as well as bagpipers, Carlos Núñez and Susana Seivane. Many of the instruments played by these groups can be found in the Cathedral´s masterpiece of Romanesque sculpture, the Pórtico da Gloria, in which the 24 Wise Men strum, blow and animatedly usher souls to heaven.
Looking south from my window, part of Galicia´s 1200km of rugged, indented coastline fringed by 50 islands, greets my eye. From the sky the Galician coast appears to be a piano keyboard with the rías separating the high mountains. The coast is typically divided into three parts: the densely populated and highly touristic Rías Baixas (Lower Estuaries); the most rural and undeveloped Costa da Morte (meaning Death Coast); and the Rías Altas (Upper Estuaries) which have the best surfing waves, Spain’s highest cliffs and share the border with Asturias. The crown jewel of the Rías Baixas recently became Galicia’s first national park (Spain’s fourteenth) - the Atlantic Islands National Park - founded in 2002 and composed of the Cíes, Sálvora and Ons islands. Most prized is the Cíes archipelago easily accessed by ferry in summer from Vigo or the summer resort town of Baiona. Known for their blinding white sand beaches, crystalline waters, great walking trails, and abundance of rare flora and fauna, two of its islands are connected by a sandy isthmus and stone walkway.
The Death Coast, named for its treacherous waters and shipwrecks, is home to Fisterra (or Finisterre in Spanish), the medieval end of the earth. In the untidy fishing port, sardines, brought fresh off the boat on ice, are grilled to perfection at one of the small bars. In the port’s roundabout, there’s a granite monument depicting a man holding a windowpane and a suitcase. He gives testimony to the long and sad history of Galician emigration in which 1.5 million Galegos have packed their bags and sought their fortune elsewhere since the 1880s. Galician handicrafts are kept alive in the nearby 14th century Vimianzo castle. All summer long basket weavers, potters (from the nearby pottery town of Buño), linen weavers, wooden shoe cobblers, lace makers and jet artisans are busy at work.
Along the Rías Altas a must stop is the Praia das Catedrais (Cathedrals Beach) during low tide when the ocean reveals a series of natural arches and caves. At San Andrés de Teixido, located on a steep cliff and one of Galicia’s most curious shrines, pilgrims leave wax body parts in hopes of a miraculous cure. As true of all the Galician mountains, semi-wild horses range here.
Annual round-ups (known locally as the Rapa das Bestas) are held all over Galicia and form part of the hugely popular cycle of fiestas or celebrations. Galicians have a knack of turning anything into a motive for a fiesta whether it be food (everything from pigs’ ears and barnacles to octopus and the delicious local green pepper Pimientos de Padrón), saints’ days (the most famous is the vibrant 25 July celebration of James in Santiago), historical incidents (a Viking attack in Catoira has been recreated since 1961), political protest, music (the International Celtic Music Festival in Ortigueira) or a traditional holiday such as Carnival (those of southern Ourense province take the cake especially Laza village). If you hear canon fire at any time, especially the summer, don´t be alarmed as that´s the Galician way of letting you know the fiesta has begun. My favourite fiesta comes up in July when seaports shut down to celebrate their patroness, the Virxe do Carme (Our Lady of Carmen). In Muros, her statue is processed out of the church to the port where fishing boats, decked out with flowers and brightly coloured streamers, await to accompany her in a circuit around the harbour as she blesses the sea. Fishermen on the boats throw floral wreaths to the ocean in her honour.
Life in the little port below my window is always a feast for the eyes. Gone are the days when the village beach reached the front doors of the fishermen’s houses and the dornas were sailed and achingly rowed in the rías. But, what hasn’t changed since time immemorial is Galicia´s fame as a seafood mecca. Each day I watch the white fibre-glass boats, painted bright red on the inside and powered by out-board motors, zip out to the nearby islands working Spain´s richest and oldest sea beds in search of tasty crustaceans, molluscs and cephalopods: almejas or clams (razor shell, wedge, carpet shell), berberechos or cockles, mejillón or mussels, ostras or oysters, vieira or scallops, zamburiñas - a delicious, petite scallop, erizos or sea urchins, crabs (diminuitive nécoras, robust buey or ox crab and the highly prized centollo or spider crab) as well as bogavante and langosta European and spiny lobster, chopo or cuttlefish, calamar or squid, and pulpo or octopus. Right now it’s percebe (goose barnacle) season. These succulent, finger-sized (and rather grotesque looking) crustaceans grab a huge price at the fish market and are usually ordered by the gram in restaurants. The clam and cockles season preceded the barnacle. To get clams men stand in their small boats for hours on end combing the seafloor while women work the estuaries at low tide bringing in cockles by the bucketful (sometimes carried on their heads!). In Santiago de Compostela the restaurants (there are at least 25 in about 50 metres of street) along the Rúa do Franco, such as O 42, display their tasty offerings in refrigerated window cases and let you hand pick your lobster or crab from the bubbling aquariums.
Archaeological evidence indicates that hunters and gatherers worked the rich tidal estuaries since at least 15,000BC digging up and scraping off the rocks delicious morsels-of-the-sea long before people were being buried in the fascinating megalithic (4000 to 3000BC) burial tombs (called dolmens) found preserved and scattered around the western half of Galicia or living in the nearly 5000 fortified villages (castros) inhabited by warrior Iron Age peoples (1800BC to 200AD), including the Celts, which completely cover the Galician territory. The mountain-top Castro de Santa Tegra looking down on A Guarda and Portugal as well as the impressive seaside Castro de Baroña are both worth a visit.
Galician seafood’s great fame is partly due to the simplicity of preparation. Forget about specialty stores or adapting recipes. Mussels and barnacles are steamed with water, salt and laurel leaf. Cuttlefish are floured, fried and served with a squeeze of lemon. Octopus (pulpo a la gallega) is boiled in huge copper pots, cut with scissors onto round wooden plates, drizzled with olive oil, and seasoned with marine salt and sweet and spicy red pepper (pimentón). Outstanding fresh fish (hake, monkfish, sea bream, sole and bass just to name a few) are typically grilled, served a la gallega (with olive oil seasoned with garlic and paprika), a la romana (egg battered and fried), or, the fisherman’s classic, caldeirada (a mixture of fishes and potatoes slowly stewed). If you want to take a taste of the sea home, the canned seafood produced here is also outstanding. Look for Luís Escurís Batalla’s excellent hand-packed products.
With this seafood cornucopia it’s easy to forget about Galicia’s inland offerings. Hearty pork dishes to kill any hunger reign: lacón con grelos (pork shoulder with greens), cocido (every pig part imaginable and chorizo sausage slowly boiled and served on heaping platters with cabbage), caldo gallego (broth soup with greens and potatoes). Empanadas (using both wheat and corn flour) are delicious meat pies filled with just about anything - outstanding local veal, tuna, cod with raisins, clams, or octupus. Galicia’s four cow’s milk cheeses, especially the creamy breast-shaped tetilla and smoked San Simón varieties, are not to be missed. Galicia also produces excellent white Ribeiro wines in the warmer, southern climes along the Río Miño and notable white Albariño wines in the Rías Baixas.
If I look out the back window, it could be anywhere in Galicia´s interior. Small garden plots divided by granite stone walls and planted with corn, potatoes and long leafy greens make a chaotic yet beautiful quilt of tilled fields. I see fig, lemon and laurel trees as well as two kinds of willow (one used to fashion baskets) along the brook. There are also stands of oak and fragrant pine and eucalyptus trees - the latter planted extensively (and to the detriment of the environment) for paper and pressboard. Ornamental gardens have excellent examples of magnolias, camellias, hydrangeas and rhododendrons – species all brought at the end of the 19th century and planted in the gardens of rich return emigrants and wealthy local families in their huge manor homes called pazos. Missing from the scene are chestnuts. The best examples are in my favourite lost corner of Galicia: the Serra de Courel mountain range which lies just south of the Cebreiro mountain pass in Lugo province. Great groves still thrive producing outstanding sweet chestnuts. Some of these nuts wind up roasting on Madrid´s streets in winter. Until the 18th century chestnuts were the major carbohydrate – and thrown into stews, boiled, eaten raw, roasted - before the easily cultivated potato became a dietary mainstay. In some regions of Galicia, potatoes are called castañas de terra (earth chestnuts).
Heading up Lugo province is an old Roman city founded in a sacred forest once dedicated to Lug, a pagan god. Lugo’s claim to fame is its intact 3rd century Roman wall ringing its historical quarter. Named an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002, walking along the top of its 1.2mile perimeter gives a voyeur’s view into the chaotic city and its magnificent cathedral, dilapidated historical quarter, elegant 18th century avenues, private school yards, open fields, huge magnolias and the quirky evolution of slate (the province’s dime a dozen building material) tiles used to roof houses! Romans came to conquer these prized Galician lands once rich in gold, tin and silver. They ended up exploiting not only the gold and molluscs but also its thermal waters. Down by the Río Miño remnants of Roman thermal baths exist alongside the modern spa, Balneario de Lugo, where the water emerges at 43.8 degrees Celsius
If I listen, rather than look out my window, I hear another element of Galician reality: the cement mixer’s whir, the clanking of chains on huge mobile cranes and the sound of hammers busy at work. Next door an elegant 40-apartment, granite-faced complex quickly went up taking the place of rundown port buildings. Construction and real estate speculation are two very popular activities especially on the coast and the outskirts and bedroom communities of the major cities. Unfortunately, uncontrolled building has resulted in cases of unappealing urban sprawl and rural development with little aesthetic uniformity. Nonetheless, a wide array of properties from new and used coastal apartments and chalets (modern, usually, second homes) to 18th century pazos to chunks of undeveloped property (finca in the country and solar in the city) to run-down rural stone cottages and stunning multi-story houses in the centre of the region’s numerous historical quarters are waiting for either massive restoration or gentle fixing up. If you are looking for an affordable, run-down property in the boonies then head to the hills of Lugo or Ourense province where entire abandoned hamlets are for sale. The restoration of farmhouses, pazos and other buildings of historical import into rustic lodgings and elegant hotels, called turismo rural, has been a major thrust of the tourism industry. The Galician government provides grants to restore historical properties intended for this type of tourism. The website www.turgalicia.es lists all of these lodgings. Thirty minutes east of Santiago, find the elegant Pazo de Andeade and enjoy its peaceful ample gardens and outstanding kitchen.
Spain´s expanding economy of the 1990s provoked a building craze and explosion in the real estate market all over the country. In comparison to the rest of Spain, Galicia continues to be a good place to buy: the average price of used property in Spain in 2003 as a whole was 1330 Euros per sq m whereas in Galicia it was 852 Euros per sq m. In 2003 the price of second-hand property rose 17% on the national level while in Galicia it only rose 5%, the lowest in Spain.
To help facilitate the sale of property inmobiliarias (real estate offices) abound. Many of these companies have websites and display properties with photographs to facilitate your research. For example, the website www.tusinmobiliarias.com has listings all over the region and branch offices in Santiago, A Coruña, Pontevedra, and Vigo and publishes a free monthly newspaper with property listings. The more ample bi-weekly publication, Galicia Inmobiliaria, is available in kiosks for 1 Euro.
When buying an old house or undeveloped property be sure to check very carefully that what you are being sold corresponds with the paperwork documenting the property and that construction is permitted. Many properties, especially country fincas, have never been registered in the local registry and may only be documented through a will. A Galician law enacted in January 2003 regulates uncontrolled building to maintain an aesthetic norm outside city limits and in rural areas. In some instances, real estate agents have kept properties on the market that at one time were legal but are no longer according to the new regulations. The town hall in which the property is located can assist you.
One thing I haven’t mentioned is that I can’t enjoy the view from my window every day. Galicia is green for a reason and when the waves turn white and the winds and clouds threaten from the southwest, I know it’s time to batten down the hatches and enjoy a steaming bowl of caldo gallego inside while the winter storm roars on.
…the helping hands when the going got tough…
Such a special time! … The sights, the sounds; the misty morning light and starry sky at night at Axpe; the picnics, and idyllic settings; the going up and the going down of the trails; the enchanting forests and the panoramic rural and coastal views; the history, the myths, the saints, the culture and even the jokes!; the storytelling, the card games and the camaraderie of the group; and the helping hands when the going got tough. And so much more!
Lesley, Melbourne, Australia (4th time On Foot in Spain traveler!)
Sept 2014, Basque Country
this Pilgrim’s journey was deeper, fuller and richer from the gift of On Foot in Spain
I will write something down the road on Facebook or the website for On Foot in Spain because I want others to know the gift of this journey from Nancy’s & Jose’s incredible knowledge shared about the special places on the Camino and the hikes designed to bring the Camino alive for each of us. Who could forget the wonderful picnic lunches each day unique to each region we traveled through (how I missed the picnic the day after I left you). All in all this Pilgrim’s journey was deeper, fuller and richer from the gift of On Foot in Spain and the love and commitment of Nancy and Jose to the El Camino de Santiago and to each of us on our pilgrimages shared.
Pat, Shingle Springs, California, USA
Sept 2014, Camino de Santiago
the group’s collective experience was enriched by the expert facilitation…
Nancy and Jose possess this wonderful talent of bringing people together in their trademark and subtle and gentle way. Meeting and getting to know this fantastic group of people was one of the many highlights of the walk. I am convinced that the group’s collective experience was enriched by the expert facilitation of Nancy, Jose and Sam. Thank you for making this such a fantastic experience …and for your skill and thoughtfulness.
Lisa, Sparta, Michigan, USA
Sept 2014, Basque Country
the warmth and friendship of your wonderful family
We not only survived your well planned walk through the beautiful Basque country but also really enjoyed every minute of it.
What did we enjoy the most? The trails were wonderful, the accommodation in the comfort bracket and sometimes really interesting, the universally proclaimed lunches, (carted and prepared by Jose,) the history and culture of this amazing Basque country and its friendly people and its special food and wine (especially Pinchos) the unforgettable lunch at Etxebarri and even your jokes all bring back great memories. However it was the warmth and friendship of your wonderful family and the amazing camaraderie of an eclectic walking group that stood out.
Suffice to say we had a wonderful time!
Barry & Maureen, Melbourne, Australia
Sept 2014, Basque Country
It was magical.
What a beautiful note, Nancy. It sums up well the tremendous experience of sharing the Camino with this very special group of people.
We all have much to look back on. You provided us with a marvellous, varied, and rich experience. Even without the small miracle of a highly compatible group of merry folk, it would have been a wonderful trip. WITH them -- and you and Jose -- it was magical.
Dale, Toronto, Canada
May 2014, Camino de Santiago Tour
Your love for this magical walk shows in everything you do...
I can’t thank you both enough for the wonderful time you gave me in showing me your Camino. Your love for this magical walk certainly shows in everything you do, and it is something that I will always remember and draw strength from.
Maureen, Sydney, Australia
June 2014, Camino de Santiago
Taken to the next level!
There's a saying in San Diego: "You can't have a bad day at the beach!" I would suggest that you can't have a bad Camino. I believe that anyone who travels the Camino will be positively changed either physically, mentally and/or spiritually.
However, if you are able to travel the Camino with Nancy and Jose that experience will be taken to the next level. You will come away with a much deeper understanding of what the Camino is truly all about. Nancy and Jose LIVE the Camino. It is their life's passion to instill in each of us their love of the unique history, the beauty of the natural surroundings, the fabulous foods, the vintage wines, the authentic culture and the genuine people who make up the Camino.
I have been taken to the next level, and would highly recommend this journey to you.
Joan, San Diego, CA , USA
Compostela, April 2014
You brought the best out in everybody and allowed us to be ourselves.
The tour had many dimensions for me – not in any order. Weather was fabulous, loved all the local wines and food. The variation of accomodationn. It was phyiscal, it had spirituality and history, we had a great group, it was fun ,relaxed and organised without being too structured_- congratulations to you both, you brought the best out in everybody and allowed us to be ourselves.
Jillian, Queensland, Australia
May 2014, Camino de Santiago
….warmth, kindness and generosity of spirit….
On a personal note, thank you for guiding us through this remarkable journey. It was a privilege for us to have you accompany us and share in your warmth, kindness and generosity of spirit along the Camino.
S & B, Toronto, Ontario, Canada
June 2014, Camino de Santiago
There are not enough thanks in the world!!!
Even after being home for only two weeks I am still processing the entire experience. It was more spiritual than I had expected, and I can see some potential long-term effects in how I view "Life" and my place in it. How wonderful that you are conduits for providing such experiences! Northern Spain was even more breathtaking than I had expected; the scenery, food, and most of all people! We had an exceptional group (your best, remember?) led by two dynamic and passionate human beings. There are not enough thanks in the world!!!
Colleen, Newburyport, Massachusetts, USA
Sept 2014, Camino de Santiago Tour
Set the bar very high….
Nancy, we are reminiscing of our happy holiday with you ALL the time. You have set the bar very high for any future tour guides. It was the best.
Mary-Anne and David, South Australia, Australia
May 2014, Camino de Santiago Tour
Sweet gift of El Camino memories…..
Just want to say what an amazing pilgrimage you put together. Since I left Spain there is this sweet gift of El Camino memories popping up all the time. I enjoy them but also sometimes they are bittersweet because I miss the group and all we shared. You, Nancy are so smart and kind. You, Jose took such good care of us that it almost seemed effortless but I know it was hard. Oh and you are smart too!!!
Many people ask me about my experience…I still am not able to express how much it meant to me and what it felt like. I tell them about you, Jose, lunch, our group, chocolate, churches, monasteries etc. It is hard to explain the smell of pine trees, the taste of fresh chestnuts, hugging St. James, laughing, being tired, feeling spirit and how grateful I am that I took this trip. I keep trying but please know that your care and attention is appreciated and very easy to voice.
I hope your family is well and stays well. Someday I hope to take another adventure with you.
Kathleen, Charleston, South Carolina, USA
Oct 2013, Compostela Tour
….learn about myself
I would like to take this opportunity to thank you both for making this such memorable experience. It was a very special week for me, having the time to experience this remarkable place, learn about myself and meet so many wonderful, inspiring and determined people including you and Jose.
Conchita, Quebec, Canada,
Oct 2013, Compostela
….one of the most unforgettable and important experiences
For Wendy – this trip will remain with me as one of the most unforgettable and important experiences in my life
For George – as above. The companionship of our group and others on the walk, together with the countryside, all helped to make a wonderful experience.
George and Wendy, Goodwood, South Australia, Australia
Oct 2013, Compostela
Wow! I felt I was in a week’s course on Spanish history, culture, food, etc. The picnics were great. I am a ‘picky’ eater and there was always plenty to fill me up. I appreciated the variety. Can’t wait for Jose’s cookbook. The experience was wonderful (10+ out of 5). All the stories, history, culture and legends so enhanced my enjoyment and the whole experience. I enjoyed every one of them.
Debbie, Lake Oswego, Oregon, USA
Oct 2013, Compostela
All the elements of a great trip - adventure, pain, ecstasy, fellowship, satisfaction, accomplishment, education and new friends
I love to walk and I walk 3-4 miles every morning but I have never been on a serious hike. Before the trip I was a little apprehensive whether I could make it after I saw the itinerary. The distances looked out of my personal range. I prepared by gradually increasing my distance up to 10 miles on flat terrain with great difficulty. I never thought I could make the distances with the topography I saw. But somehow, it was easier and I was pleasantly surprised. The durations were just enough. The breaks were great and the lunches fantastic. The group was fun and I think the entire experience was rewarding and wonderful. The experience exceded my expectations.
Nancy was a terrific guide - knowledgeable, passionate about her subjects, anxious to share, concerned for our well-being and supportive.
The picnics were outstanding. Jose put together some very interesting and delicious meals. They were enough to fill us but not so much as to be uncomfortable after. Bravo, Jose. I would like his cookbook when it’s published.
I loved it. It had all the elements of a great trip - adventure, pain, ecstasy, fellowship, satisfaction, accomplishment, education and new friends. I would recommend it and even thinking of doing it again.
Craig, Schaumberg, Illinois, USA
Oct 2013, Compostela
A most joyful and holistic experience
It is difficult to put into words what I learned on the Camino, there were so many layers to the pilgrimage. One thing I can say with complete certainty after a lot of tripping and touring in my lifetime... you helped to create a most joyful and holistic experience. I thank you immensely for that and have been spreading accolades about you everywhere.
Suzanne, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Oct 2013, Compostela
“Slow travel” – unique and amazingly special
Like "slow food" made with care, presented with reverence and savored over time amongst friends. Your walking tours are the "slow travel" - unique and amazingly special. Each moment, each thought, each view is something worth having. This is why I keep coming back *smile*
Maria, Bakersfield, California, USA (3rd time Traveler – Camino, Galicia, Basque)
I’m so glad we chose another trip with you and Jose.
I am so glad we chose another trip with you and Jose. The trip was beautifully paced, with lots of options, so we never felt we weren't measuring up to "expectations." I don't know how you knew it, but you really had a great sense of our hopes and our capabilities, choosing wonderful sections of trails that would inspire us.
Your stories of Portuguese history and fables were wonderful; Jose's picnics were just as delicious as my memories of them along the Spanish camino; Sam was just delightful. I don't think any of us had a dry eye as we bid you three farewell.
Betsy, Boulder, Colorado, USA (2nd time On Foot traveler – Camino de Santiago & Portugal Camino)
Sept 2013, Camino in Portugal
We could be your spokespeople!
We are back to our routine and wanted to thank you again for a wonderful, wonderful time. Dale and I have really felt that we did something so special and the two of you made it special. We have had many opportunities to tell our friends and family about you, Jose and our trip. I think we could be your spokespeople!
Chris and Dale, Lisbon, Iowa, USA
July 2013, Galicia
….a week to remember!
Thank you so much for the wonderful time, the organization, the company and the friendship. You were both so kind to me …. and I am so happy I was with you. I loved Galicia, the contrast between the Death coast and the wonderful forest and villages of the hill country. It really is a beautiful part of Spain. The professional way the walk was organized was excellent. Wonderful food and accommodation and local knowledge made the week very interesting for me. It really was a week to remember!
Faith, Wellington, New Zealand
July 2013, Galicia
I’m filled w/ the most amazing memories.
Thank you for a most wonderful week during which you guided us in our exploration of the fascinating Basque country, as only you and Jose could have done. I am filled w/the most amazing memories. The breadth and scope of Nancy and Jose’s knowledge of history, geography, culture, customs, etc. is unparalleled and just one of the many reasons I would always choose On Foot for a walking tour in Spain. Jose’s picnics were FABULOUS – not just Jose’s world renowned, delicious salads but his choice of cheeses, sausages, bread, dessert, etc.
Christina, Washington, DC (2nd time On Foot walker – Camino & Basque)
July 2013, Basque Country
The week was truly magical.
The week was truly magical. We have always told our children that the best present of all is a wonderful memory and you certainly gave us many rich ones to store in our hearts.
Lucy, Greenwich, Connecticut, USA (2nd time On Foot Walker – Private Camino & Private Camino in Portugal)
Sept 2013, Camino in Portugal
…expanded in mind, spirit and even body (all that fabulous food!)
I want to thank you, Jose and Sam for such a meaningful and rich experience. I hardly know where to begin to talk about how much I felt expanded in mind, spirit and even body (all that fabulous food!) So much beauty all around us! Your choice of sights and experiences was fabulous. I loved the variety and contrasts in terrain, in lodgings and in your choices of readings and music especially. I continue to be impressed with your intentional approach to living and learning together. Gratefully…,
Judy, Darien, Connecticut, USA (2nd time On Foot Walker – Private Camino & Private Camino in Portugal)
Sept 2013, Camino in Portugal
very inspiring educator
We still think about the lovely walk, food, wine, company and experience you and Jose introduced us to… you are a very inspiring educator that brings culture and history alive. A great quality that we have been privileged to be a part of.
Ursula, Roseville, NSW, Australia
Sept 2013, Camino de Santiago
I will remember for a lifetime
Thank you so much for making our trip so wonderful. It is something I will remember for a lifetime. I have tried to take my experience home with me. I am now walking to and from work. My body craves it now. I also am eating differently. It was all that I hoped it would be. Thank you.
Kathy, Minnesota, USA
June 2013, Camino de Santiago
Nancy and Jose are both extremely professional. They are very knowledgeable about the Camino and are always there to help you with any questions you have! Nancy’s knowledge was my most favorite part! I cannot believe the information that was shared. It was the absolute best learning experience! I wish I would have had a tape recorder so I could replay the information Nancy shared. Jose’s picnics were out of this world!
Cathy, Minnesota, USA
June 2013, Camino de Santiago
It was wonderful…..
It was wonderful to see you, talk to you, walk and eat with you and be generally spoilt by you and by Spain.
SV, London, UK (3rd time On Foot walker)
June 2013, Camino de Santiago
O a scale of 1-5, I give the tour a 10!
On a scale of 1-5 I gave the tour a 10! You and Jose do such an amazing job! The organization, down to every last detail, is impeccable. The food, lodging choices, history, tours and every aspect was better than I could have ever imagined! Thank you again!
Kelly, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA
May 2013, Camino de Santiago
each minute of it was very precious
I want to thank you for the wonderful experience. I appreciate all of the work that you put into it and all of the little extras that you might feel go un-noticed. I have been asked what my favorite part of this adventure was, I am unable to give a definite answer, only because each minute of it was very precious to me. Thank you.
Janice, Minnesota, USA
June 2013, Camino de Santiago
…you took great care
Thank-you for your wonderful work as our guide to the Camino. The knowledge you shared of the region and the pilgrimage--and especially your stories--added so much to the experience. It was obvious that you took great care in pulling together all the important elements of the trip--the places we walked, the tours, the lodging, the food--providing us with the very best of everything as we journeyed. A special thanks to Jose, too, for he did indeed as you promised "make everything happen." Thanks again for all you did to make the Camino an especially memorable journey.
Vicki, Wilmington, Ohio, USA
May 2013, Camino de Santiago
I just told a friend today; it wasn't 'a' trip it was 'the' trip….
Michael, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, May 2013 Camino de Santiago
…the use of local produce….memorable, Jose excelled himself…a first class journey
The whole tour was above our expectations. We did not expect the: food, accommodation, coach/drivers, tour guides, lunches, Nancy’s knowledge (each day was an exciting new encounter) to be of such a high standard. Your years of experience indicated to us early on the tour that this was going to be a first class journey. The use of local produce made each lunch memorable. Jose excelled himself in this area.
John & Paul, Sydney, Australia, May 2013, Camino de Santiago
Many thanks for an experience we will live with forever. Ultreya!
Janine & Craig, Sydney, Australia, May 2013, Camino de Santiago
You have a gift of making each person feel special….Jose, he was a smiling face I looked forward to seeing every day.
The trip was perfect in every way. Yes, we were lucky with the weather & the ‘easy-going’ personalities in the group. But, you & Jose, just make it with your knowledge, hospitality & genuine passion for the Camino & Spain in general, plus your generosity in sharing it with all of us. It is very infectious. I’m sure I’ll be back for more. You have a gift for making each person feel special and take a special interest in everyone.
Patrice, Teven Valley, Australia, April 2013 Compostela
Your care and gentleness…..was inspiring
Our Camino pilgrimage was such a highlight and we couldn't believe our good fortune with the amazing weather, the people we met and the total experience. I loved your particular way of doing things Nancy and Jose - your care and gentleness not only with everyone but with all you do was inspiring for me.
Ann-Maree, Sydney, Australia, April 2013 Compostela
Thank you again from the bottom of my heart…. for making this the experience of my life
I just wanted to thank you again from the bottom of my heart for making the Camino come alive. I loved the lectures, I loved the food, the accommodations were great and I loved walking the Camino. Thank you for making this the experience of my life.
Annette, Pasadena, California, USA, April 2013 Compostela
I felt I was in a community…
This was the right trip for me. I spoke with a woman who was walking 800km to Santiago. She wanted to know how we were doing this. She could see our smaller packs. I told her we were spending the night in hotels and there was a vehicle taking our things to the next hotel. She said she was spending a lot of her time just looking down and getting to her next destination. The way we did it we had someone telling us about landmarks, history, culture and architecture. Although I came by myself I felt I was in a community and had people I could talk with, laugh with and share my experiences with. Thank you so much.”
Mary Ann, Lisbon, Portugal, April 2013 Compostela
Picnics were like a feast
The picnics were like a feast. Enjoyed the surprise of what was to come and loved the explanations. I felt very well cared for and enjoyed the way the group came together as a unit, enjoying the experience together. Thank you both so much. It would be great to travel again with you both someday.
Margaret, Glen Iris, Victoria, Australia, April 2013 Compostela
Your ‘eye for detail’, expertise and knowledge…. outstanding
Nancy & Jose, your ‘eye for detail’, expertise and knowledge about the Camino are outstanding. The dedication to all on the tour and care you displayed was commendable. The care and concern you showed my mum during the tour was ‘above and beyond’. Thanks you for making my Camino so special. I would highly recommend you to anyone considering the tour. The picnics were delicious! Loved the local fare! Excellent explanations by Nancy and great set-up by Jose! Many thanks.
Tonia, Carinbagh, New South Wales, Australia, April 2013 Compostela
Walk last section from León through green Galicia, earn the Cathedral's Compostela certificate!
Compostela - León to Santiago de Compostela
Due to the popularity of the Compostela tour in 2004, Nancy and Jose have decided to continue offering the special 7-day tour from León.
Walking the last 100km will allow you to earn the Cathedral`s certificate of completion, the Compostela.
Come join us and we`ll show you the highlights of the Camino and many of its special secrets in this delightful rural corner of Spain, Galicia.
We will start in León, visit the highlights of this historic pilgrimage town and then head off the next day towards Galicia. Our Day 2 morning walk heads through the Leonese meseta, or high tableland.
In contrast to the days to come, here the scant villages are adobe, the land flat and dry and the red earth dominates - it`s fascinating to observe the abrupt change in the landscape, cuisine, villages between León and Galicia.
We will end the day in Cebreiro, a small hamlet located on a mountain pass and linked to the pilgrimage since the 10th century.
From Days 3 through 7 we will be walking the last 105 km of the pilgrimage route, a beautiful, hilly section through rural, bucolic Galicia. Each day (Days 3 to 7) we`ll give you a map and description of the easy-to-follow trail so you can either walk on your own, meeting up with the group for lunch, or with Nancy. The shuttle will be available at lunch time and in case of need.
We offer various cultural activities to enhance the overall experience such as visiting Leon’s magnificent cathedral with the best collection of stained-glass windows in Europe after Chartres, Lugo`s 1800-yr-old, intact Roman wall, as well as a still active 10th century Cisterician monastery.
In Galicia we will pass through countless hamlets connected to one another by ancient dry-stone walls separating the trail from an endless patchwork quilt of worked fields and cow pastures. We`ll enjoy the hearty Galician fare - including leafy green soup, called caldo gallego, creamy cow`s milk cheeses, thick, round loaves of wheat, rye and corn meal bread, outstanding Galician veal and pork, seafood and greens – cabbage, broad beans, swiss chard and leeks. We`ll stay in small, simple hotels and lodgings located on the pilgrim`s trail (except one day) so that you can have the comfort of walking directly to your bed at the end of the day and starting out on foot in the morning.
A little bit more about the Compostela:
To receive the Compostela Certificate pilgrims must complete the last 100km (62mi) of the pilgrimage, carry with them a Pilgrim’s Passport which you will get stamped on a daily basis, and then, once you reach Santiago, you’ll go to the Pilgrims’ Office to register yourself, fill out information regarding your journey and motivation. After this process the Pilgrims’ Office staff will give you the Compostela if you’ve met all of their requirements. To find out more information about the Compostela, the Pilgrims’ Office, the Cathederal, services for pilgrims, etc, please go to their website: https://peregrinossantiago.es/eng/pilgrims-office/welcome/
7 days & 7 nights
Level: Medium (Due to the length of the walks and the hilly countryside. In general the trails are groomed but some sections will be uneven earth and stone).
Walking Days: 7 Total
Distance: 78.3 miles / 126.9 km With optionals 83.2 miles / 135.1 km
Reyes Católicos Parador Supplement: The last night of the tour we will be staying in a simple monastery- hotel in the historical quarter with a great location and easy access on foot to all monuments and points of interest. If you would like to stay instead in the 5-star Parador Reyes Católicos hotel, we can try to arrange lodging there. The supplement to stay at the Parador can vary between 150-200 Euros/double room or 130 -150 Euros/single room depending on the season and availability. Please contact us early if you are interested.
Custom Camino Tours: Please contact us if you have a group of six or more to discuss options to run a custom trip for your friends and/or family.
Weather: In April and October expect temperatures in the 40-60F/ 5-15C with high chance of rain showers though it could also be simply partly cloudy and more temperate. Temperatures in May and September tend to be about 10F/5C warmer than April and October. Expect a combination of sun, showers and clouds. July is typically sunny and warm (60-80F/15-25C).
What is and isn`t included:
Expert guides (Nancy & Jose), support vehicle, all ground transport from the start in León to the finish in Santiago de Compostela, lodging in double occupany accommodation, all meals (except two dinners), the Pilgrim`s Passport, daily maps and descriptions of the sections to be walked, optional visits and entry fees to museums visited. Airfare to Spain is not included nor is insurance or transportation to and from the start (León) and end (Santiago de Compostela) points. The single supplement fee is €130
for this tour.
Day 1 - León
We`ll meet at our hotel in León`s historic quarter and, after our introduction, take a walking tour of the Romanesque San Isidoro church, famed for its Romanesque paintings, and then the French-influenced Gothic Cathedral where the 2000 sq meters of 13th-17th C stained glass windows inevitably impress. After walking to the San Marcos pilgrim`s hospital, located on the banks of the Río Bernesga and noted for its Renaissance facade bedecked with shells, we`ll return to the historic quarter for dinner enjoying delicious regional specialties. Walking distance: 3.2 miles / 5.4 km
Day 2 - O Cebreiro
From León we`ll shuttle to Puente Orbigo, famed for its many-arched medieval bridge and 15th century knight`s tournament which put the small town on the European map. We set out from the bridge and picnic en route. Afterwards we briefly visit the once great Roman way-station, Astorga - more recently famous for its chocolate and sweet treats. From Astorga, we`ll shuttle to the base of the Cebreiro mountain pass. Those who would like to hike the 5.3mi/8.5km uphill to our lodging in Cebreiro may do so - this section is one of the Camino`s most celebrated. Enjoy either free time in this rustic village known for its pre-Roman style thatch dwellings (called pallozas) or the uphill walk before we meet for dinner to enjoy a hearty Galician meal. Walking distance: 7.7 miles / 12.5 km With Optionals 12.7 miles / 20.7 km
Day 3 - Portomarín
Today we start the last 100km to Santiago from Sarria enjoying a beautiful section of rural lanes, small country churches, thick oak and chestnut groves and numerous hamlets active with farm-life. We`ll picnic en route and continue to Portomarín located on the banks of the Río Miño. In the 1950s the town was moved uphill to make way for a hydro-electric plant created further downstream. Walking distance: 9 miles / 15 km.
Day 4 - Palas de Rei
From Portomarín we`ll set off into the woods on our journey towards Palas de Rei. On the hilly walk we`ll continue through field and forest passing countless granaries, hórreos, and way-side crosses or cruceiros (usually depicting on once side Christ and the other the Virgin), both very characteristic of the Galician landscape.
Free time. Optional visit to the Roman city of Lugo to see its intact, 1800-yr-old Roman fortification, named in 2002 an UNESCO World Heritage Site, and visit the Cathedral. Walking distance: 15.2 miles / 24.5 km With optionals 16.7 miles / 27 km
Day 5 - Arzúa
The walk sets off from Palas and ends up at a small medieval (and recently restored) pilgrim`s hospital and bridge spanning the Río Iso from where we`ll shuttle to Arzúa. En route we`ll pass through the bustling small town of Melide and visit its small ethnographic museum.
Today we also pass from Galicia`s Lugo province to Galicia`s A Coruña provice. The chestnuts and oaks give way to eucalyptus. Free time and dinner on your own tonight. Walking distance: 16.2 miles / 26 km.
Day 6 - Arca
After returning to where we left off yesterday (3km from Arzúa), we`ll continue our trek to Arca, the largest community before Santiago, immersing ourselves in the fragrant eucalyptus groves. We`ll picnic en route.
After arrival in Arca you`ll have free time. Optional visit to the grandiose Monastery of Sobrado, Galicia’s first Cistercian monastery and dedicated to the Virgin Mary.
Renovations in the 17th and 18th centuries amply embellished the façade, church and side chapel. Walking distance: 13.6 miles / 22 km
Day 7 - Santiago de Compostela
We`ll set out in the cool morning air to make the last and final stage of our journey to reach the famed city of Santiago.
En route we`ll stop for our picnic on the Monte del Gozo (Mount Joy) from which the spires of the Cathedral are first visible. After arrival in the Cathedral square we`ll check into our hotel.
Afterwards we`ll offer a guided visit of the Cathedral and city. Free time. Tonight we`ll say farewell to one another at one of Santiago`s famed restaurants. Walking distance: 13.3 miles / 21.5 km
On Foot in Spain Walking & Hiking Educational Adventures specializes in small group (6 to 14 people) walking tours in northern Spain since 1999. We emphasize Spain's rich cultural heritage (art, history, folklore), its stunning and varied landscapes, flora and fauna as well as provide the finest in lodgings and regional cuisine.
Join owner-guides cultural anthropologist Nancy Frey (PhD, UC Berkeley) and writer, mountaineer Jose Placer (co-author Walking in Spain, Lonely Planet, 1999 & 2003 and Walking in Scotland, LP, 2001) on an unforgettable walking or hiking tour to one the following:
GALICIA - isolated coastal walks, abundant and varied seafood, ancient mountain villages, Celtic remains
PICOS DE EUROPA - emerald-green pastures, dense forests, soaring peaks, delicious cheeses and hearty stews
CAMINO DE SANTIAGO - medieval pilgrimage route, unparalleled artistic treasures, northern Spain's grand tour
COMPOSTELA - walk last section from León through green Galicia, earn the Cathedral's Compostela certificate
BASQUE COUNTRY & PYRENEES - Europe's oldest people, Guggenheim Museum, French and Spanish coastal and Pyrenees walks
PORTUGAL - Enchanting borderlands mixing coast and mountain landscapes, selected highlights of the Camino Portugués from Porto, Portugal to Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
On Foot in Spain - Rosalia de Castro, 29, 15886 Teo, A Coruña, Spain.
CAMINO DE SANTIAGO: On Glory Roads
The Road to Santiago rarely fails to impress: the constantly changing landscapes, diverse flora and fauna; the encounters with unique and inspiring people; the varied legends of pilgrims past and present; the countless artistic and historical treasures found at every turn; the possibility of enjoying both silence or the animation and color of a Spanish fiesta; or the knowledge that your footsteps join those of millions before you across a thousand years of European history.
We walk in the shadows of this past and seek as well to understand those created in the present on our walking tour along this great medieval pilgrimage route.
COMPOSTELA TOUR: León to Santiago
Join us for this special 7-day tour starting in León and continuing through the rural Galician countryside. You will be eligible to earn the Cathedral’s certificate of completion, the Compostela, as we walk the last 100km over 5 of the 7 days.
Enjoy bucolic country lanes, enchanted forests and countless hamlets as we wend our way over the rolling hills to the ancient city of stone, Santiago de Compostela.
GALICIA, Celtic Spain: From Sea to Mountain
Wedged in between the roaring Atlantic and the gentle eastern sierras in Iberia’s northwest corner, Galicia is a magnificent combination of rolling, irregular countryside, 750 miles of breathtaking coastline, numerous deeply penetrating fjord-like estuaries as well as mixed forests and winding rivers.
On the tour we explore the wild coastline, the sea an ever-present right hand companion, as well as Galicia’s mountain, valley and river systems with delightful walks in forests rich in flora and fauna.
We'll pass small, rustic villages, archaeological ruins and witness traces of antique ways of living and working.
On this 7 day/night walking tour we roughly follow the medieval pilgrim's way from Porto, Portugal to Santiago de Compostela taking in the area's beautiful green mountain and valley landscapes as well as spending two nights on Galicia's spectacular southern coast in Baiona. We stay in three UNESCO world heritage towns - Porto, Guimaraes and Santiago de Compostela.
BASQUE COUNTRY & PYRENEES: Europe's Oldest Culture
Straddling the gentle western Pyrenees, this region is home to Europe´s oldest living language and civilization, breathtaking coastal and low mountain trails, prehistoric remains, sensational award-winning food prepared with charateristic Basque flare and charming seaside towns and high country villages.
Also included in our itinerary is a visit to the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.
Learn about Basque history, culture and folklore, enjoy lush coastal and hill trails, and treat your palate to a gastronomic odyssey.
PICOS DE EUROPA: Heights of Emerald Spain
Lofty green and grey, the Picos de Europa play sentinel to the Cantabrian Sea only nine miles away. Surrounded by thick stands of beech and oak, sculpted by four strong river systems and modified by hundreds of years of shepherding, the ever changing limestone Picos offer a unique environment and a wide variety of walking opportunities through lunar-like high mountains, crystalline glacial lakes, lush woodlands, winding rivers, high open pastures and alpine meadows. We’ll explore the National Park’s most stunning trails and introduce you to the shepherding traditions that have made the Picos famous worldwide for their pungent blue cheeses.
Take care and happy travels.
Pat Belanger, September 17-27, 2008
Turner, Maine USA
Thank you Nancy & Jose for sharing your time and expertise. You both made our experience of the Camino so special. The way you work together and so obviously love what you do was inspirational. It showed us all that we can follow our dreams and achieve whatever we choose if we believe in what we do. Thank you so much.
Nancy’s knowledge was phenomenal and I found her information and explanations of medieval history both interesting and informational. I loved the way that Nancy was able to give us a realistic picture of life during the different centuries. The organization was unbelievable. You both kept us to a timetable without apparent effort and stress but also allowed us freedom to go at our own pace. Great balance of walking, visits and free time. The picnics were fantastic! Let us know when you publish a book of your recipes. Thanks Jose for allowing us to sample the local specialties. I loved the mixture of old and new lodgings and all were in wonderful locations.
Sue Dodd, Sydney, Australia, 2-12 May 2007
I can't thank you enough for the trip of a lifetime. It was wonderful, the camino, the countryside but also your brilliant organisation with Jose. Looking back we packed such a lot in, but never felt rushed, and I'm still digesting all the historical and architectural information. Went to Salisbury Cathedral last week, and gave my husband a lecture on gothic architecture!
Thank you for everything - if I shut my eyes I can still walk the camino, and I'm so grateful to On Foot in Spain for making it all happen.
L. Bull, June 4-14, 2008
Bradford-upon-Avon, Wiltshire, UK
Nancy: of the numerous trips I’ve taken over the years, you beat every guide in your knowledge and presentation. A+++. Jose’s salads are great and the local cheeses a real hit! This was for me a very inspirational trip that I will not hesitate to recommend. I admired the way you and Jose work together. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge, enthusiasm and inspiration with me.
Adrienne Peschon, 14-24 May 2008
Middletown, Calif, USA
I congratulate you for choosing a diversity of places, each one with its own character and charm. Bravo Jose on the picnics! They were wholesome, abundant, varied and pertinent to the regions we were traversing. Your personal touch and dedication, knowledge, experience, care revealing the love you both have for the Camino was all transmitted to us. These 11 days will live with me and my wife for a lifetime. Thanks for this great gift.
Santiago Wong, Port Jefferson, NY, USA
September 17-27, 2008
Thank you, Nancy and Jose, for making my Camino experience such a memorable one – you listen, you affirm, you challenge and I will go home enriched. One can’t ask for more than that!! Blessings upon you and your family.
Lesley Gerrish, Melbourne, Australia, Sept 19-29, 2007
Yes, we are back home safe and sound. All we have done since then is talk of the Camino, you, Jose and our tour mates. About our Camino, no words can describe my personal experience. Thank you again for everything. It has been the most amazing trip of my life time. There is nothing that could surpass this experience.
Sue Do Vale, Johannesburg, South Africa
Sept 17-27, 2008
Absolutely first class on all counts. Nancy is a vast fund of knowledge and obviously keenly enjoys giving her clients the vast spectrum of her knowledge – both factual and folkloric nature. The whole tour ran like clockwork and there was a good balance of free time. I chose the full walking time but individuals had choice. The extra excursions were very valuable. The experience will provide long lasting happy memories. I will go home with a much greater appreciation not only of the Camino but of Spain in general. The fact that this was my second trip with On Foot In Spain speaks for itself!
Ray Smith, 2-12 May 2007
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Thank you for being an amazing guide, in the many depths of ways that that can be interpreted. I was touched by Nancy and Jose’s patience, caring and warmth. And especially the individual time that Nancy spent with each person ensuring that they got the experience they were looking for. Thank you so much for everything and turning my dream into a reality. And also for the nuggets of truth and wisdom imparted along the way.. I am only just starting to understand what an impact this trip has made on me and I must say coming home has been a strange experience. How I wish I was still with you guys right now looking forward to one of Jose’s lunches. I am extremely grateful to you and all the people on the trip. You are inspirational.
S. Mounsear-Wilson, April 23-May 3, 2008
Johannesburg, South Africa
I really wanted to thank you, Jose and Sam for all that you did. I have been a do-it-yourself traveler up until the camino and I thought I would feel closed in and limited by a tour. As it was happening and even more as I think back, I realize I could have never put together such an incredible 11 days. In large part it was the details-the paths, the churches, the hotels, the local knowledge, the historical knowledge, the food-all of it was perfect- even the weather! But in addition to that, there was that wonderful ambience the pervaded every moment of every day. I loved being on foot, I loved every step. Thank you so much.
Angie Moore, April 23-May3, 2008
Portland, Oregon, USA
This has been the most amazing experience of my life (apart from having my kids!). It has been almost impossible to put into words to share with family and loved ones what the Camino is, what it meant to me and the sense of not only physical but personal achievement. Thank you both for your wonderful hospitality in sharing this very special part of the world (and your world) with us. Every small detail and thought which you both have put into On Glory Roads did not go unnoticed – down to the library on the bus, the poetry, music, writings, picnics, variety in accommodation and many more things too numerous to mention.
Finally, thank you for your wonderful company, great humour and good cheer!
Buen Camino always,
Kim Williams, Sept 17-27, 2008
Have arrived in London, and still walking the Camino, if that makes any sense.
Over lunch with friends have been telling them about my journey and about you , and the way you organised out journey, what we saw , how I coped or at times didn't, and how I am a (little) filled with admiration for myself (sic), but mostly for you and Jose and how you managed it all!! Believe me , I am very grateful that I was with your group.
After lunch I was sitting in the garden paging through one of the books of the Camino which I bought in Santiago, and I realise just how much we covered and just how much we saw.
I’m filled with a deep sense of gratitude that I could make the journey, and know that it's an ongoing one....not sure how, but I know it! (besides the obvious point that I want to do it again, and, maybe, again!). Guess I'm hooked!!!! Thank you Nancy and Jose!!
Francis Antonie, June 4-14, 2008
Johannesburg, South Africa
The Camino journey combined the best of life; new knowledge, new friends, the open air in all weather and an opportunity for reflection. Without a doubt the experience has changed the shape, style and content of the book project greatly for the better.
Angie and I would like to thank you and Jose again for all you did for us and for the efforts which clearly go on behind the scenes.
Angela and Duffy Clemens, May 14-24, 2008
It’s an experience that touched me deeply. Not only did I learn much of Spain’s history, architecture, art and culture but the Camino also made it possible for me to: 1) SEE and appreciate the majesty and beauty of God’s creation from the massive blue sky, the curving mountain tops and rolling hills, the ever changing landscapes of trees and bushes, wildflowers in purple, yellow and white, rose hips, muchsrooms sprouting here and there, down to a lovely green insect crawling on the ground; 2) HEAR birds chirping, roosters crowing, cows mooing, bells clanking as shepp cross the road, trodding footsteps and walking sticks, greetings of ‘buen camino’; 3) FEEL the warmth of the sun, the cool breeze, a flower petal, a prickly thistle; 4) TASTE the wild blackberries, the raindrops; 5) SMELL cow’s manure which one can get used to after awhile, the aroma of the eucalyptus trees. The Camino, above all, made it possible for me to MEET in the tour, a special bunch of wonderful people from different parts of the world and develop new friendships.
Nancy and Jose, thank you for making all of these possible. Thank you for making it a very special 65th birthday celebration for me. Santiago and I will never forget this wonderful experience!!!
Rosalie Wong, Sept 17-27, 2008
Port Jefferson, NY, USA
After a really frantic time at work it was wonderful to be so well looked after, absolutely nothing to organize and to be in beautiful country with the surrounding history coming alive through the stories, music and visits. I think were were also blessed with a wonderful group of people who to a ‘man’ were all out to enjoy the experience – I didn’t hear a complaint!. Your organization was excellent!!! This is a well oiled yet flexible team, where it all happens seamlessly and with good humor and great charm! Jose’s picnics were fantastic with a variety and quality food. I especially enoyed the local, natural products selected by Jose.
I got your book Nancy in Santiago and enjoyed reading it when i was in Rome. For me reading it after rather than before the trip was good as I could relate directly to the stories and place them in the landscape (both physical and mental). I especially enjoyed the history around the walk and the development of Spain that you shared with us.
I've said before the best marketing you can do is do a good job - i have been raving about the trip and how special you three made it, thanks again for a special time, jen
Jenny Ward, Sydney, Australia
September 19-29, 2007
Thank you for a wonderful, wonderful walking trip. Today I am planted once again behind a desk / computer and it doesn't seem real. However the walk, that's what seems real and I can't get it out of my mind. I am continually retracing my steps (isn't that funny?) People say to me "bet it seems like a distant memory" but no it doesn't. I am so thrilled that so far it is all still in my head (& heart?) Beautiful, beautiful memories I shall have & I thank you for that. My husband can see how much I enjoyed it and is busy making noises like he wants to come with me on the next one
- yes dreaming about another already. Believe me when I say I won't forget you all.
Lorraine Stinton, September 19-29, 2007
Christchurch, South Island, New Zealand
Thank you Nancy for a perfect 11 days, it was an absolute privilege to be part of your tour. I’m certainly the richer for it.
Martine Thompson, September 19-29, 2007
I find it hard to say all that this experience has meant to me – to revisit the Camino and parts of Spain with David and to see Nancy and Jose again. It has been like seeing old friends again.
Susan Marthens, Portland, Oregon, USA
April 23-May 3, 2008
I feel very sad that the walk is over. Up to this stage of my life, it has been one of the greatest experiences of learning about my inner self. Thank you Nancy and Jose for being really great company on the walk.
Max Marriott, 2-12 May 2007
Sunbury, VIC, Australia
Nancy is extraordinary – a real scholar but also a good communicator, shows good judgment on what to include and a lovely sense of humor too. The picnics were wonderful. Thanks to Jose for his efforts to emphasize the local cheeses and meats, varied salads, the local melons, terrific and yet an appropriate light lunch.
Caroline Hoppin, 19-29 Sept 2007
Brookline, Massachusetts, USA
I've been home for almost a week now and have spent the time savouring every moment of our walk along the Camino. I feel as if I have been on another planet. It has been one of the best travel experiences I have had and certainly one of the best things I have ever done for myself. M and I felt so bereft on the Sunday after the tour was over. We went to Finisterre, which was incredibly beautiful, but it was not the same without you and the others with us.
We want to thank you for bringing the Camino to life for us with your passion and expert knowledge of Spanish history, culture and religion. You have given us both your gifts of compassion and understanding and for that we will always remember our journey to Santiago. You are the best tour guides I have every experienced. You gave us a wealth of information in an interesting, informal manner. What touched me the most about the quality of the toru was your passion for what you are doing. It showed in everything you did.
Lucille Evans, May 2-12, 2008
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
I've been back in Canada nearly two weeks now, and still feel "discombobulated”. Part of me is here, and part of me is still back there with you. You were both so wonderful to me on the tour. I can't thank you enough. I hope someday to be able to see you again. I think you're both angels, or at least saints. Santa Nancy and Santo Jose: that's how I think of you. It's a wonderful thing you're doing. I hope you know that, and will continue to derive a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction from it for many years to come.
Maureen Hunter, May 2-12, 2007
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
I can only say that I count myself most fortunate indeed to have been part of this tour. I could not have wished for two more personable people to guide me on it and one of the major ingredients of journy’s success has to have been the warm tone you gave to everything we did. As far as I’m concerned, you couldn’t have done it any better than you did it for our group. With deep thanks for everything,
Fred Voss, May 2-12, 2007
Alexandria, Virginia, USA
It was such a lovely group and I connected deeply with so many. It was even a richer and fuller experience than when I walked with you along the Camino the first time. Nancy I valued your passion for the historical/cultural/spiritual aspects; how well you related to each of us. For me – again it was a joy - and slowed me down and helped me ‘fine tune’ my life where I’m at…Plus I learned TONS… The picnics were outstanding Jose and greatly appreciated. Thank you both for this life experience.
Betty Anne Smith, May 2-12, 2007
Victoria, British Columbia, Canada
Every day I felt was my favorite day. I liked the beauty of nature and art. Nancy’s knowledge is incredible. She has the Camino in her blood. I learned a lot because of Nancy’s effective ways of sharing information. The picnics were scrumptious. It was a most amazing experience.
Petra Kinsman, May 14-24, 2008
Santa Clara, Calif, USA
To me, the most important aspect of the experience was that it took a group of strangers and turned them into a group of people who knew and liked each other – a group of friends.
Evans Cheeseman, May 2-12, 2007
Southborough, Mass., USA
Nancy and Jose, thanks again for your kind consideration. The trip as it stands is seamless – you have done an extraordinary job of putting together this tour! The art and history of Spain are now embedded in my soul – the music and food a fond memory too. Thank you.
Bonny Dickinson, April 23- May 3, 2008
Portland, Oregon, USA
I really didn’t know what to expect but never dreamed it would be this wonderful! Nancy you have an unbelievable in-depth scholarliness and ability to convey it all from legend to anthropology to art and history. Your ability to figure out how long things would take and write and keep to the schedule is amazing. The organization was incredibly smooth. Jose is a master chef – and selector of the best for us to try. The picnics were a highpoint of everyday!
Sarah Cheeseman, May 2-12, 2007
Southborough, Mass, USA
This really was an exceptional tour. I was able to get a sense of the Camino – the physical aspects of the walk as well as the historical and cultural dimensions. Nancy and Jose you were both warm, inviting and wonderful guides. Thanks so much.
Matt Ferro, April 23 – May 3, 2008
Westlake Village, Calif., USA
Nancy, your enthusiasm, in-depth knowledge and love of the Camino and Spain brought the Camino alive for us in a way that others would not match. We appreciated the relaxed approach to managing the flow of activities. Jose’s continuous behind the scenes work was very much appreciated. We are thrilled with our experience on our Camino; being able to share yoru deep knowledge and love for this region was an exceptional gift. The small size of the group and Nancy ability to engage all the participants created an intimacy that was very special; this was further enhanced by the lovely interaction of Jose and Marina. Thank you Nancy and Jose.
Kathy Glinski & Paul Doucet, May 14-24, 2008
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
Nancy’s non-competitive approach made everyone very comfortable. I enjoyed all the walks as they were so different. Nancy was excellent – very knowledgeable and always prepared. Very effective with her storytelling manner. I loved her grasp of the whole period – the architecture, history and people of the times. Also the music enhanced our experience. I am very pleased and grateful that I made this trip. I had a wonderful and rich experience. Our group was delightful.
Mabeth Sanderson, 14-24 May 2008
Sonoma, Calif, USA
The predeparture information was extremely thorough and after having completed the tour I know it was also very accurate. I loved the wide variety of landscapes covered in the walks and I enjoyed every one. Both Nancy and Jose show great attention to detail and really care abouth the knowledge they are imparting to the group. It was a wonderful experience with extremely knowledgeable, kind and caring guides. I saw places I would never have seen otherwise and will have fantastic memories. Thank you.
Anne Fitzgerald, 4-14 June 2008
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Best vacation in many years. Excellent introduction to a part of the world I had not really ever visited. Had fun in many ways and learned /experienced the culture and history. The Camino experience was a great context. The group dynamics were an added benefit. Thanks for the wonderful experience.
Jim Westfall, 4-14 June 2008
Redwood City, California, USA
Nancy’s passion for knowledge – as well as depth and breadth was unparalleled in comparison to other tours I’ve taken. Wow! Impeccable planning and fantastic variety of accommodations. Your efforts to make this trip exceptional were noted and effective. Can’t wait for further excursions with you!
Abigail Stockham, 4-14 June 2008
Cleveland, Ohio, USA
CAMINO PORTUGUESE 2007 & 2008
In all the travel I did 'before Graham' and 'with Graham' I can honestly say I have never experienced such a well organized or well orchestrated week of adventure. (And that includes all of Europe, Central and South America, USA and Canada.) Graham would have loved it!
I truly believe your success because of your individual character and the wonderful relationship you have with each other and your family. It spills over into everything you do. There was a perfect balance of walking, learning, laughing, respect for and interest in each participant, good food, wonderful places to stay, personal spirituality and a oneness with the world around you.
At the same time there was strong, calm leadership which gave each participant trust in you both. We knew we could give ourselves over to the experience, the details were taken scare of.
I could rhapsodize over field, flora and fauna. I could express my surprise that I was walking in the historic footsteps of thousands before me. I could describe the awe of an old history compared to my country's newness. (I could be honest and tell you that there were times when I was very challenged,a leg and a back that will not straighten due to osteoporosis are not easy companions on such a walk). Instead, I hold dear the small, simple things that make the whole of the experience....lemons hanging like great yellow orbs, the taste of freshly squeezed orange juice, the smell of the newly turned earth, the clear rushing water, the joy upon sighting Magic Man Sam and Jose who could appear suddenly on the trail out of the mist, the rain or the sun and the smile that I could not suppress as Nancy led the way wearing her straw hat, the rain streaming from her umbrella....Mary Poppins in hiking boots.
Five? Give it a ten. I would be happy to have you use my name as a reference. (I am planning a Jose' picnic for July.)
Yours with love and admiration,
Jacqueline Donohogue, 23-29 May 2007
Calgary, Alberta, Canada
I would most definitely recommend this trip to others, in fact I already have. The tour as a whole provided an opportunity to walk parts of northern Spain and Portugal which would have been difficult to access without the help of local experts. As a walking enthusiast, it was a dream come true. I loved the opportunity to walk through so many different types of terrain. We received the equivalent of a college level course in the history of the Camino as well as an overview of the art, culture, and gastronomy of the regions we visited. You prepared us perfectly. As someone who likes to research things in advance, I appreciated all the information you sent.
The tour runs like a well-oiled machine. Clearly you have thought this through and refined it through years of experience. Everything was like clockwork. You seem to strike the perfect balance between walking, resting, picnicking, cultural exploration, shopping, browsing, etc. Even the bathroom breaks and cafe stops were well-timed. I knew you were an expert in the Camino and had published a book about it, but what came as a great surprise was the incredible brain download of information in such an articulate and fascinating way. I could listen to you talk about the Camino all day long. Your knowledge of the subject matter is most impressive. Aside from all the information, we felt like we were in such good hands. We felt very safe and comfortable, and that is very important. You and Jose took such good care of us. It really freed us up to enjoy the walks and everything we were experiencing since we didn't have to worry about any logistics. I thought you chose an excellent bus driver as well.
Nancy Straus, July 6-12, 2008,
Evanston, Illinois, USA
It was a pleasure to be on the tour. I meant it when I said I would remember the lunches. They encapsulate the gracious introduction to another land and culture. I got from the tour a sense of the history and geography of the northern Iberian peninsula and of the pilgrimage to Santiago in particular. I also learned to appreciate the beauty and productivity of a part of the world that was new to me. I definitely would recommend this tour to others.
The predeparture information was thorough and honest. All the sections of walking were my favorites. I enjoyed them all.
The tour flowed nicely. It was good to have free time to rest or wander. Your knowledge and experience as guides were outstanding. I learned something every time I turned around. I especially liked the music and the historical anecdotes during the bus rides.
I wish I had taken business cards from the restaurants, especially the last two that we went to as a group. I liked all the hotels, and was especially impressed with the Parador at Baiona.
R. Reeback, Albuquerque, New Mexico
July 6-12, 2008
Thank you once again for what was a spectacular and memorable experience on the Camino and beyond. I’ve heard that it takes ten years to become expert at just about anything. You have surely attained that distinction as tour guides and hosts. All the best to you both and to your family.
B. Straus, Evanston, Illinois
July 6-12, 2008
The level and amount of walking corresponded to what was described in the pre-departure information. The segments that were selected for our walks provided a great variety of natural, cultural and aesthetic experience and witnessed of the organizers knowledge and care for both the comfort and safety and the quality of experience of the walkers.
I came away with deep respect and appreciation for the knowledge, understanding and heartfelt empathy and love demonstrated by our guides for the landscape, the culture and the history of the places we walked.
Organization: I could not ask for anything better. You indeed are smooth operators!
Ah, those picnics! Rain or shine, Jose can prepare a meal at my house any time.
I enjoyed the variety in the restaurants we sampled.
I am happy to be a reference if so required.
Judith Peavy, 23-29 May 2007
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
GALICIA 2007 & 2008
You were the consummate leaders. I’ll gladly recommend or write anyone about you and your extraordinary abilities. Meeting you and Jose was the highlight of the trip. Each of you has so much knowledge, it was humbling to try and remember as much as possible.
The scenery, the history, the solitude of the places combined to make the experience one that will live forever in my memory. Nancy and Jose did all they could to make it so.
My favorite section of the hike was walking along from one to the other of the small villages located in the coves or fjords of the Atlantic along the coastline.
The pre-historic and round stone castro remains would be a strong second place of highlights to visit. The old restored guest house that I think was at Vilamor was especially fascinating.
The tour was obviously well-planned and well carried out. All details were carefully handled. Nancy and Jose are so knowledgeable and so adept at hiking, that there was never a minute that I felt concern. I knew they had been over every inch of the way many times. They knew the trails. They knew the inhabitants. They carried cell phones, so they were able to call help should it be needed. I trusted them implicitly, and always would. Nancy tried to make things easier for those of us who were not the strongest hikers. She did this with grace and tact. The two divided the group on more than one occasion, so that those wishing the most strenuous experience could have it without being held back by the slower persons.
The picnics were works of art as well as gastronomy. The salads and combinations of offerings each day were amazing. Each day’s food was more delicious and interesting than the last. The settings were always well-selected and lovely. The variety seemed endless, as well as colorful and bountiful. The selection of restaurants in the evening was also quite varied as well as delicious. We were given every opportunity to try the local specialties as well as staple foods for those who did not like to try new things. It was clear that the day’s hike was planned around the location of the lunch break. Jose was always there and ready for the group to rest and enjoy his art.
The hotels in Santiago were especially well-equipped and modern. They were located in the heart of the city. The other locations were chosen for their unique locations or to illustrate the local condition. They were not necessarily as well-equipped or modern, but were all clean and acceptable. All were picturesque in one way or another. For a unique and memorable vacation that is challenging physically, there can be no better choice than “On Foot in Spain.” Thank you for all your obvious efforts.
E. Weil, July 22-29, 2008
Goldsboro, North Carolina
I meant to write to you long before now to thank you for making our trip so amazing. I have told so many people about what a fabulous adventure we had - hoping to drum up some friends for a future Camino walk with you!
Looking back at the photos, I really can't believe all that we saw and experienced - these are all places that I never would have gone in my wildest dreams and that most people will never see. I especially loved all the stories and myths, and your comments about life in Spain today. I am still in awe of the people we saw along the way. To think that there are people in our world who walk through the streets of a remote mountain town with an ancient scythe on their shoulders blows me away. The view from the lodge in Piornedo - so beautiful! The most beautiful place - in my opinion - was the ocean view along the rocks by the Virxe da Barca. I loved the public art there commemorating the oil spill in 2002. The most moving part of the trip was on the very first day when Nancy showed us the alabaster column at the Cathedral in Santiago. The column contains the impression of a hand, made by the thousands of pilgrim hands across the centuries. That is the sacred image of the place - the faith of thousands in one hand print!
Thank you once more for a "mountain top experience." I can’t imagine that I will find anything like it again. It will be hard to come down from the mountain.
J. Brautigam, July 3-10, 2007
Dublin, Ohio, USA
I loved the Laxe Beach, and the Río Lor river sections, the Verdes river park. The optionals were great. All the picnics and meals were delicious and the organization seamless. I would never have done this on my own and I’m going to suggest the tour to friends. It was a fantastic trip. Jose is my homeboy.
Robert Garrow, July 3-10, 2007
Dublin, Ohio, USA
Your knowledge was amazing and much better than I expected. All the stories and tidbits of information made the trip that much better! All the restaurants were wonderful and they each gave a good introduction to local culture. I really enjoyed the trip and the fact that I learned a tremendous amount everywhere we went. If I come to Spain again, I will be a repeat customer.
Jessica Garrow, July 3-10, 2007
Boulder, Colorado, USA
I have never taken this kind of trip before and I really did not know what to expect. But I must tell you that the two of you run a superb and seamless operation together and I would highly recommend this to any of my friends who enjoy walking and hiking. This was certainly a highlight for me in ’07. Next time I’ll have to do the pilgrimage. Nancy and Jose you are fantastic! Thank you. I have given several people your website address. I thoroughly enjoyed my holiday with you and would highly recommend it to others. It was an amazing experience and I'd like to do the pilgrimage at some point.
Rachel Danon, July 3-10, 2007
Jersey City, New Jersey, USA
This has been a fantastic cultural, educational and physical experience. We could not have been more surprised and delighted with each day’s activities, food and accommodations, but you managed to charm us more each day. It all seemed so perfect. Breaks just when needed – never felt rushed. Right amount of free time and walking. Your operation runs like a well-oiled machine appearing effortless.
Eric & Liz Wolter, July 3-10, 2007
Belvidere, Illinois, USA
I do believe that I am now ruined for any other organized tour. Nancy’s knowledge of culture, topography, flora, fauna, history, etc is incredible. She has a depth and breadth of knowledge that I’ve not before encountered. Jose your picnics were EXCELENTE! Thank you. I think that future holidays will prove disappointing – perhaps I should limit my European vacations to On Foot In Spain!
Mae Schaefer, July 3-10, 2007,
South Amboy, New Jersey, USA
COMPOSTELA 2007 & 2008
Everything about On Foot In Spain was so much more than I anticipated. Your knowledge of the history and culture of the country, the well chosen segments to walk, perfect accommodation, great selections of local food, beautiful landscapes and your sensitivity and attention to detail made for a perfect walk. We were all well cared for. You are two very special people who are much appreciated. It was a pleasure to meet and share with you and a special thanks for sharing Sam.
Marilyn Harris, September 1-8, 2007
Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada
It was for me a wonderful experience to walk to Santiago with you and the group. Every aspect of the week exceeded my expectations. Our co-walkers were a delightful group. You and Jose must be the most careful, experienced, hard-working and charming leaders possible. Keep leading these walks. You have really cracked it and have a very important place in the history of the pilgrimage. I was convinced of this before I came and the pilgrimage has surpassed my expectations.
Accommodation, meals, picnics, the pacing of rest-breaks were all just right. Even the sheer effort it required of me was a bonus whose effects I have still not entirely absorbed. Thank you, thank you. I would not consider such a venture with anyone else in the future. (I am, by the way, tempted by the Roncesvalles trip.)
I have told so many of my friends and family how magic the trip was. Somehow, without trying to make it profound, it has affected me deeply. The more I live beyond it, the more it gives me a sense of taking hold of my life. What an experience for someone so old!
As for your tolerance of my struggles, another thank you. Please, both of you, accept my thanks for all your planning and organizing over the years which has resulted in a really memorable sojourn for such a disparate group.
You are ACE !
Barbara Richardson, October9-15, 2008.
Nancy and Jose, thank you for a journey of the heart as well as the legs, for the opportunity to push the envelope, walk in the footsteps of the past and wonder about what is around the next bend in life.
Katherine A. Botelho, Sept 2-8, 2008
Franklin, Massachusetts, USA
Thank you for all you did for us during the Camino. We were very fortunate to have you lead us through this journey. Nancy, I do want say I was so impressed with the attention you gave each pilgrim, each day. I was very touched when you lent me your hat after the storm. Thank you, Jose for preparing those beautiful lunches and for carrying my suitcase whenever I couldn't handle it.
With grateful thanks for opening so many doors,
Ann Pereira, Sept 2-8, 2008
Your knowledge was fantastic! All the info and music, etc added to the enjoyment and meaningfulness of the experience. I could not have wished for more ‘sympatico’ guides. You provided the perfect balance – very smooth operation. Your thoughtfulness and kindness to all was so much appreciated. I am so grateful that I did the Camino this way with you and this fabulous group. It was a real family experience right from the start. If felt divinely perfect. I have thoroughly enjoyed the whole experience. Your gentle way has made this Camino for me. It will be a lasting memory and a highlight of all my travels (Editors note: Written by a professional in the travel industry who has travelled to 65 countries around the world).
Rachel Rhind, Holy Week 2007
Wellington, New Zealand
Overall this has been a wonderful experience. Nancy & Jose, thank you for making my Camino possible. I saw and felt how much you both love what you do and that to you this is a passion and not just a business. The 7 days were organized and paced perfectly. The extra excursions were a nice break from the regular walking routine. I was very happy with all the lodgings especially the bathroom facilities! O Cebreiro was my favorite because of the location and atmosphere. Thank you.
Marissa Almendral, Oct 9-15, 2008
Yonkers, New York, USA
I have done numerous tours and have visited many lands. This would have to rate No. 1 – being operated and owned doubtless makes the difference. Having said that , Nancy has amazing energy and is able to relate to all people – and seems to enjoy greatly sharing her knowledge. Sharing her music too was a nice touch as well as her library. The knowledge was the BEST in every possible way. Nancy is always on hand to check everyone is on ‘target’, her knowledge is unique and she gives the impression she is still passionate about it and ever so willing to share it. Jose is a treasure – quietly making it all coordinate ever so smoothly. It has been a truly remarkable journey. May you and your family continue this wonderful work, giving so many the great chance to share in an unique experience.
Myra Wooderson, Sept 1-7, 2007
Auckland, New Zealand
On a scale of 1-10 you (Nancy) were a 10+ - simply outstanding and I loved the history you included. Your complete package is a super value. I would bet none of the other operators have the quality and value of your tours. I was even a bit apprehensive that you might not have what we were seeking based on your price. You and Jose were great! It was one of our best overall travel experiences ever! We can tell it’s a team effort and the two of you do it so well. Thank you.
Laurie & Shiela Slocum, Sept 1-8, 2007
Eugene, Oregon, USA
This was magical. Mike never thought that he would enjoy a week of walking – he loved it! And, I feel wonderfully recharged. Thank you, Nancy and Jose.
Susan and Michael Mackey Sept 1-7, 2007
Vancouver, BC, Canada
This was a unique experience for me. I have never taken an organized tour before and was very pleased by the family feel you provide. It was wonderful to have support during my first attempt at the Camino. Nancy and Jose, you are very thoughtful and considerate people and that shows in the way you conduct your tours. Thank you very much.
Jane Mingay, Sept 1-7, 2007
Toronto, Ont, Canada
Nancy and Jose were exceptionally good and I felt completely comfortable with their combined experience and knowledge. Nancy’s academic background is invaluable in lending rich factual details to the tour educational component. In the predeparture communications the warmth and charm of Nancy’s personality comes through immediately. My favorite sections of the walk were those around Melide. I loved the farms and the greenery on the paths. You two are great guides. The combination of serious planning and a good sense of humor works perfectly! Your caring attitude shows through clearly. The availability of the bus was reassuring. My favorite aspect of the tour was that it was customized so nicely to the group. Certain ‘rules’ must be observed but the tour also accommodates slow and fast walkers, religious and non, older and younger walkers as well. I can't tell you what a great experience our Compostela Tour was to me and to all of us. We all feel more bonded than ever as family and will cherish our memories of our camino tour forever. Thanks for a great pilgrimage, Nancy and Jose.
Kay Mumphrey, Holy Week 2007
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Fue una magnifica oportunidad de hacer el Camino con un grupo harmonioso y compatible. Siempre es agradable conocer personas y nuestro grupo fue muy especial. Contar con ustedes como familia fue una bendición. Gracias.
Clarissa Brugal, Holy Week 2007
Santo Domingo, Republica Dominicana
We could not ask for any more knowledgeable guides. Your enthusiasm and love for Galicia were infectious. We did not anticipate how much history, architecture and cultural background would be introduced to us. The tour was delightful – all that I expected and much more. I see the trip not as life changing (life changes every day) but as ‘life expanding’ – we are taking away a wealth of experiences to remember and greatly enjoyed the company of the othes on the trip. Thanks for your expertise and organizing abilities. Your genuine care for us and love of Galicia was very evident.
Joyce & David Benjamins, April 12-18, 2007
Grosse Point Woods, Michigan, USA
I found the tour a VERY positive experience. Thank you to you both Nancy and Jose! I know that there went a lot of hard work and preparation into making this a pleasant experience for us all – we really appreciate and will definitely recommend you to all our friends (and anyone else who wants to listen!).
Christine Truter, Cape Town, South Africa
April 12-18, 2007
Thank you, Nancy & Jose, for providing such a memorable experience on all levels. You demonstrate great professionalism in your organization, thoughtfulness and caring of participants. It is a complete program in terms of introducing the culture of the areas traveled, introducing local foods and providing fine lodgings and restaurants. Cheers to you both!
J. Tower, Oct 9-15, 2008
Rescue, Calif., USA
What I feared is now happening. I sit here in my office and wonder: Did I really appreciate and enjoy our walk as much as I should have? The flashbacks are now starting to come through and I wish I was there on the road again. But this is my problem.
I just want to say “Baie Dankie” again! It was a wonderful experience which Bettie and I will never forget and you made it possible. When we had the opportunity last night to report back to the rest of our study group, we 6 were unanimous in our view that we stroke the Jackpot by choosing you as our guides. “Baie dankie” again for your sensitivity and being so well informed about the Camino and Galicia and sharing it with us and being prepared to listen to all our stories from South Africa.
It was a privilege to meet you both and your children.
May you be blessed as a family and may you keep on being a vehicle to help people to connect (if I may use David’s wonderful expression) to the Camino and their God and themselves.
Thank you so much again. It was indeed “baie lekker”!
Michiel and Bettie Strauss, April 12-18, 2007
Welgelegen, South Africa
Many thanks for a great trip, truly wonderful, and made even better by your company! It has been an amazing experience – very well run and enjoyable!
Mike and Jill McNamee, 9-15 October 2008
Nancy & Jose manage to make this feel like a visit to a personal friend. They are professional, knowledgeable as well as warm and welcoming. The lodgings and tour management were excellent, group size great and the picnics were definitely the highpoint of each day. Thanks for a memorable experience!!!
Mercedes Olivieri & Charles Hurley, 9-15 October 2008
Burke, Virginia, USA
What a wonderful week we all had with you in Spain. Thank you for making it so memorable. We have talked about the Camino a lot during our travels and feel our lives have benefited from the experience. Hoping we will meet again.
Merryn and Rod Pearse, 9-15 October 2008
I found the combined energies of yourself & Jose worked well to give us a great experience. The blend of structure & some free rein did come in handy allowing us to limp in last all days! The lunch & dinner choices were great as was the commentary and music that accompanied the side trips. The experience was not just physical but held facets of the spiritual and artistic and culinary - all beamed into better light with the fellowship within the group.
May this work that you & Jose & the rest of your family do so well continue to flourish and bring you satisfaction. It is also work that facilitates friendships & encourages interaction & I hope these return to enhance your lives in many ways.
Linda Pereira, 2-8 Sept 2008
Dandenong North, VIC, Australia