ende
ende
menu
ende

You wouldn't be here if you weren't curious.*

Hi! I'm Elena! Welcome to my travel blog Creativelena.com.
For me, it is all about “life-seeing instead of sightseeing”: Join me as I create, eat & live my way around the world. Curious?

*Check out my book, “The Creative Traveler’s Handbook”, for learning more about what we mean by creative travel. Travelling means the world to me, makes me fit for everday life and sometimes, I trust, also calmer on the inside. Read this blog with a smile, share what you love and remember to check back regularly: After all, when was the last time you did something for the first time?

Pilgrims on the Portuguese Way of St. James: Food & Accommodation in Portugal.

“The Way is tough .. The Way is rough .. The Way is … exactly what you make of it.”

Like in real life. My journey along the Portuguese Way of St. James (13 days, 260 kilometres walking) has changed my life. Once more. In a very healthy way, I believe. I know, for instance, that I do want to “go back” to walking for a week or two more often, in order to refresh the mind & soul. I also know that I do want a certain type of luxury doing that. Now let me explain what I mean by this. My dear friend & co-Camino blogger Rita Branco always mentioned, while walking from Porto to Santiago: “Basta sofrer no caminho ..” – “It’s enough to suffer along the Way, walking ..”. Prompting her to use her strong networks in the north of Portugal as well as in Galicia to research a whole host of diverse and interesting Camino accommodation alternatives to the standard pilgrim hostels, from hotels, to bed & breakfasts as well as apartments, for making our way to Santiago.

 

It’s the early 21st century. Digital influencers are ruling the world. Why not on the Camino?

I admit, it does sound a bit off, all this new age digital marketing stuff while walking a very ancient pilgrimage route. “So, you are on the Camino blogging, using Snapchat and Facebook … and they have invited you everywhere?!” Very often, I remember Rita and I having to smile, explaining to other pilgrims what we do as professional travel writers and bloggers, which in case you are interested is summarised here: http://www.slideshare.net/CreativeTourism/duas-bloggers-um-caminho.

 

All of this has resulted in us being able to recommend you everything but pilgrims’ hostels. Don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with them per se: It is just that we wanted, searched for & came up with something completely different.

For us two, it has always been about: Arriving, relaxing, having peace. A room on your own or just the two of us. Sleeping well after the physical strain of walking for so long. Just retreating for an hour or two, not having to say anything to anyone. Meeting such nice hosts, who put so much time, love and attention to detail to everything, miraculously dishing up the most delicious breakfasts and/or dinners for us. Honestly and truly: Most of the accommodation we stayed at in Portugal & Galicia didn’t cost so much more than the standard pilgrims’ hostels, either. What they do offer, however, is a lot more comfort and style. Trust me (and Rita), when we say: “Basta sofrer no caminho ..”!

 

Have a look at the map below for a better overview of where exactly we stayed in the north of Portugal.

 

The second part of my article about food & accommodation along the Way talks about more charming places to stay in Galicia, the north-western most part of Spain: Hidden gems for sure, and not only while walking the Camino. This time, though, let us continue in the north of Portugal.

 

1. Casa Mindela Guesthouse in Gião.

A charming country house of a kind, located right on the Way of St. James, some 22 kilometres north from our starting point, the Cathedral Sé in Porto. It makes for a perfect break and wonderful retreat from the strains of walking the first day on the Camino, or might simply double as your next accommodation choice when wanting to visit Porto but stay out on the countryside. Our host, Helena Duarte, is a warm-hearted woman, who speaks English, French & of course Portuguese fluently. She has managed to turn her parents’ farm into a spot-on, state-of-the-art country residence with a lot of attention to detail. As pilgrims, we simply delight in being welcomed by her.

Ankommen in der Casa Mindela, dessen Errichtung auf das Jahr 1864 zurückgeht ...

Arriving at Casa Mindela, whose roots date back to the late 19th century …

 

... werden wir mit einer frischen Jause aus regionalen Produkten, wie Speckbrot, eingelegte Pilze & frischem Schafskäse ...

…we are being welcomed to a wonderful pilgrims’ snack, including bread with bacon, seasonal mushrooms as well as fresh sheep cheese …

 

... sowie dem anschließenden Abendessen (ja, Portugal is(s)t üppig!) verwöhnt.

… before taking a seat at the family dinner table (yes, it’s Portugal folks: No one will ever leave this country hungry!).

 

Herrlich, hier zur Ruhe zu kommen ...

What a delight, coming to rest in an environment such as this one …

 

... vielen Dank, liebe Helena, für diesen wundervollen Empfang bei Dir !!

… thank you so much, dear Helena, for such a warm pilgrim’s welcome !!

 

Rita has also published about Casa Mindela on her blog; and you can refer to Helena’s website for all further information here.

 

2. Hotel Villa d’Arcos in Arcos.

“Only” 12 kilometres later, the end of our second day walking the Camino was called Hotel Villa d’Arcos, in a small rural town by the same name. We were able to arrive relatively relaxed, enhanced by the hotel’s own garden pool as well as the happy dinner shared with other pilgrims. It is here where we met our first “companion spirits” along the Way, with pilgrims joining us from countries such as Germany, the USA, England or Canada.

Freundlich strahlende Gesichter bei jeder Ankunft entlang des Camino in Portugal: Gold wert.

Friendly faces during all of our arrival moments in walking the Camino: Priceless.

 

Die Zimmer des Hotel Villa d'argos sind allesamt individuell gestaltet und bieten ...

The rooms at Hotel Villa d’Arcos all feature individual design …

 

... "tam-tara-tam", gar eine wunderbare Wellnessdusche für uns !!

… and even offer a surprisingly handsome “spa shower” for the #luxurypilgrim in us !!

 

Vom hauseigenen Swimming Pool ganz zu schweigen .. "Wenn das mit dem Gehen nicht klappt bis Santiago, versuche ich es mit Schwimmen", schreibe ich am selben Abend bei Facebook heiter.

Not to mention the view from the garden … “If walking to Santiago does not work out, I’ll try swimming instead”, is what I post later that day on Facebook, amused.

 

Abends erwartet uns auch hier, ein festlich gedeckter Tisch wie auch morgens beim Frühstück. Ebenfalls Goldes wert: Nach der Pilgerankunft kaum mehr einen Meter bewegen zu müssen.

In the evening as well as in the morning, for dinner and for breakfast, this carefully laid table is waiting for us. Another big bonus of staying where all meals are served: Not having to move an inch after x kilometres of walking.

 

3. Hotel Bagoeira in Barcelos.

Our third Camino day led us some 19 kilometres further north into the city of Barcelos, known all over Portugal for its legendary rooster (“o galo de Barcelos”). After being welcomed by the local head of tourism, we checked in to Hotel Bagoeira, offering us peace and a perfect retreat: I haven’t felt all too well that day (talking about a sun stroke as well as the accumulated effort of the first few days walking), only able to enjoy the city in passing and really only “waking up” recovered after breakfast the next morning. Well, my dear: That, too, is the Camino. You can’t always feel 100%.

Blick auf die Stadt Barcelos vom Turm der Stadt aus ...

Arriving to Barcelos, we take to the city tower of Barcelos for some pretty views …

 

... gerade mal interessiert nicht hauptsächlich die Ankunft in unserem Hotel sowie die erwartungsvolle Siesta ...

… before having a siesta here …

 

... beim Frühstück taue ich am nächsten Morgen mit diesem köstlichen Kuchen wieder auf!

… breakfast with a good piece of cake like this gets me going again! Barcelos, you will see me back in better conditions !

 

4. Quinta da Cancela in São Lorenço, Guimarães.

One of my personal highlights along the Portuguese Way of St. James is the historic country house “Quinta da Cancela” with its beautifully decorated rooms, combining modern creature comforts and traditional ways of building in the most ingenious way possible. Like at Casa Mindela, history meets passion for detail, both in the furniture as well as in the food provided. Breakfast and dinner are both being served by our host and his colleague here: A true feast for the senses, located once more right on the Way of St. James (we can see the yellow arrows pointing to Santiago from our bedroom window that night).

Ankommen "bei Freunden": Ein wesentlicher Vorteil dieser schönen Camino-Unterkünfte, ist die jedes Mal persönliche, herzliche, zeitintensive Begrüßung ...

Arriving at a “friend’s house”: Away from all the stress and strain of having to fight for your own bed in a pilgrim’s hostel dorm, we are being welcomed with all the charm and peace one can imagine …

 

Auch die Zimmer lassen in ihrem Komfort nichts zu wünschen übrig ...

The rooms, too, are simply gorgeous …

 

... und verbinden Tradition und Moderne auf angenehmste Art und Weise.

… combining past and present in a very attractive way.

 

Gleich nach Ankunft, heißt es hier erst mal entspannen: Dieser wunderschöne Garten & Aussichtsplatz verleitet mich an diesem Nachmittag gar zum Skizzieren und Malen ...

Right after arriving, we take to the garden as well as this veranda, relaxing, talking, putting cream on our feet, or simply drawing / sketching (me) in the grass …

 

... auch das Abendessen hier sehr, hm, pittoresk: Traditioneller "Bacalhão" (Kabeljau) mit Kartoffeln, Salat & Gemüse.

… dinner, too, gets very picturesque here: We are being served home-made vegetable soup, followed by “Bacalhão” (codfish) with potatoes, salad & vegetables. A true feast delighting pilgrims from near and far: “Merecemos” – We deserve it, after yet another 20 kilometres of walking that day!

 

Check out more about “Quinta da Cancela” here.

 

5. Carmo’s Boutique Hotel in Ponte de Lima.

Extraordinary. And truly unique. Our most luxurious accommodation along the Portuguese Way of St. James has been Carmo’s Boutique Hotel” near the city Ponte de Lima. As one of the “Small Luxury Hotels of the World”, it is renowned far across the borders. Interestingly enough, there have always been pilgrims here, too, making our functional wear and Camino backpacks seem less odd in such a glamorous environment. Besides, it’s the hotel team’s warm-hearted welcome that has us forget all the physical strain of walking here once more.

Die Ankunft in de Pilgerstadt Ponte de Lima entführt uns relativ rasch ...

Arriving at the famous pilgrimage town of Ponte de Lima, we soon leave the historic old town for …

 

... in einen wahrlich genussvollen Rhythmus ...

… a view more like this …

 

... den wir für die Entspannung entlang des Weges überaus zu schätzen und zu genießen wissen.

… where we get to relax and appreciate our luxurious surroundings for the day.

 

Rita hat uns zudem ein köstliches "Rendezvous" im Restaurant ihres Vertrauens, dem ... beschert ...

What is more, Rita has organised a wonderful dinner at Picadeiro Restaurant in Ponte de Lima for us, complete with a #winelover excursion to some of the best Minho white wines from northern Portugal …

 

... den Tintenfisch dürft Ihr Euch nicht entgehen lassen!

… don’t miss out on the “pulpo” octopus here!

 

Ebensowenig wie diese süße Versuchung hier in Form eines lokalen "Apfelstrudels", sehr interessant für mich als Österreicherin!

For dessert, I am surprised to find this Portuguese interpretation of a truly Austrian dish, our famous apple strudel! Yum.

 

6. Casa da Oliveirinha in Aqualonga, Paredes de Coura.

‘Tis the day of our “mountain hike” along the Portuguese Way of St. James. After leaving the city Ponte de Lima behind, the day rolled out with yet another 20 kilometres’ walk and some 400 – 500 metres of difference in altitude, heightened by the blistering heat of a perfectly sunny day. Thank God most of the Way that day turned out to be in the shade; I nevertheless remember arriving at Zezinha’s house, the nick name of our charming host Maria José as if a) it had been yesterday and b) it had been a Fata Morgana in the desert. By then, we had walked more than a 100 kilometres, up and down hills and across the land requiring all of our mental and physical forces. Which might be exactly why I will never forget staying at Casa da Oliveirinha, the “House of the Little Olive Tree”. So much that I already know I will return there one day. Check this out.

Ankommen in der Casa da Oliveirinha, ist wie bei Freunden bzw. Familie willkommen geheißen zu werden ...

Arriving at Casa da Oliveirinha, is once again being welcomed as a friend or member of the family …

 

... gemütlich und mit viel Liebe zum Detail auch hier die Ausstattung des Hauses.

… the house offering a lot of love and attention to detail.

 

Friede beim Camino-Tagebuch-Schreiben im Garten der Familie.

Priceless moment(s): Writing in my Camino diary in the lush green garden, protected by the family dog.

 

Eine Begegnung der besonderen Art: Von links nach rechts mit meiner lieben Rita Branco, Gastgeberin "Zezinha" (zweite von rechts) sowie "den Amerikanerinnen" Ruth, Patti & Tina aus Colorado. Eine Freundschaft fürs Leben ist hier entstanden.

And here, our meeting of a kind: From left to right with my dear friend Rita Branco, our host “Zezinha” (second on the right) as well as “the Americans” Ruth, Patti & Tina from Colorado. What a friendship for life, the magic of the Camino truly in full swing.

 

Last but not least: Wer könnte Eiern von solch intensivem Gelb, Butter von solch intensivem Geschmack und dem Geruch von frisch gebackenen Brot zum Frühstück schon widerstehen ..?

Last but not least: Who could resist eggs of this beautiful, intense yellow colour, fresh bread of such a smell, or homemade butter ..?

 

Find out more about “Casa da Oliveirinha” including pictures, Facebook & more here.

Want to know how to get started planning & preparing a Camino adventure such as this one? In my previous post, I talk about the “10 Top Travel Tips” for the preparation of the Portuguese Way of St. James. Check out all my inspiring & useful travel pictures along the Portuguese Way of St. James here:

 

 

More pictures about our accommodation along the Way in Portugal & Galicia are available here, including all of our accommodation in hotels, B&Bs, apartments, etc.:

 

My dear companion friend & pilgrim blogger Rita Branco has also published about the Camino on her blog, “O Porto Encanta“, in her truly light-hearted and captivating way: “Do Porto para Santiago de Compostela: Uma experiência incrível.” Check out all articles she has published about the Camino here: “O Caminho Português de Santiago” .

Besides, English expat blogger, writer & translator Julie Dawn Fox has also published the following articles about the Portuguese Way of St. James here.

Disclaimer: We wish to thank our partners & accommodation providers along the Portuguese Way of St. James for their generous support. All opinions are my own.

Spread the love

Written by Elena

Elena writes about creative destinations, shares her personal travel stories and brings inspiring photography & interesting news updates home to you. Her mission is: "Continue to be amazed at this world, one creative travel experience at a time."

Ready for learning even more about creative travel?

Elena has recently published "The Creative Traveler's Handbook". Chock full of inspiratinal stories, travel tips and advice, it offers everything you need for planning and managing your next creative escape, addressing beginners and experienced travelers alike. Here's how to get your hands on it now!
Preparing for the Way of St. James in Portugal & Galicia: 10 Travel Tips for getting on your Way.
Pilgrims on the Portuguese Way of St. James: Food & Accommodation in Spain

0 Comments

Leave a Reply


Follow me on my travels: