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ROAD-TRIPPING THROUGH THE WAY OF ST. JAMES
"Camino de Santiago" – or the way of St. James – is a Christian pilgrimage ending at Santiago de Compostela. Historical importance continues to attract people from around the world. However, pilgrims aren’t all who make their way to this trail. Joined by 9 routes, the way of St. James has scenic views and the essence of an enjoyable ride – making it a lovely option for a road trip. From historians and archaeologists who want to visit the historical sites on route, to people looking for a holiday to relax and explore – this road trip is for people of all likes. Those who wish to perform the pilgrimage may do so by walking or cycle. Whilst those who follow the route to explore rural Spain or go for a road-tripping adventure can pack all their things in the trunk of their cars, and, - get, set, go!
If you have aren’t short on time and wish for the road trip to be enlightening yet relaxing, opting for one that lasts 5 days or longer, and at least spans stop at 3 cities is a must. Confused with the numerous routes, and wondering what should your travel itinerary be? Read more to know everything.
With this guide, you will begin your journey at Barajas airport in Madrid and will travel across Spain. This route is perfect for hikers, runners or people who just want to have a different experience. Take your time exploring the spectacular way of St. James and feel free to extend the route at any stop.
1. ARRIVAL AT MADRID
Wherever you may be, catch a flight, train, or bus ride to Madrid for here is where you embark on your road trip to cherish later. Spend a day or two here, and enjoy the local attractions. First stop: The Royal Palace. If you are in search of the largest royal palace in Western Europe, your search ends here. Built as far earlier as the 1700s, the palace showcases exquisite collections of crockery, be it silverware or porcelain, watches, vibrant and classic tapestries, to the iconic armory. If you have always been curious about Stradivarius instruments, know that their only string quartet in the world is also exhibited in the Royal Palace.
Next, make your way to Retiro Park for a feel of nature. Visit with the family and let your children play by the Grand Pond, or sit for a little picnic under the trees. If you are in search of solace, a walk through the park, taking in the sight of the lush vegetation and breathing in the fresh air is a definite mind-opener.
Visiting Madrid, there is the need to explore local cuisine and what better way to do so than by visiting Mercado San Miguel. Consisting of over 200 stalls, this marketplace is the largest in Europe, always brimming with shopping enthusiasts and explorers. As you make your way through the maze of stalls, you will find anything and everything. From fresh local produce to the tinge of spices – the air is certainly different at Mercado San Miguel. Get ready for some great food shopping, and try the local delicacies like Patatas bravas and Boquerones with a side of Vermouth.
2. MADRID TO LEON
The next day, make your way to the city of Leon. For history-lovers and possessing the love for architecture, Leon is bound to make their hearts race. First stop: Leon Museum. This museum is one of the oldest in the region, with artifacts on display dating as far back as the Bronze and Iron Ages. If you are interested in the Roman empire and its by-products, there are some exhibited here from the old, Roman gold-mining site.
If you love art and want a contemporary take on history, a visit to Museo de Arte Contemporaneo will be a sight for sore eyes. Built-in a variety of vibrant hues, it houses works of Lebanese and Spanish Artists from 1992 forth. Have an afternoon drink at the Plaza Mayor. Originally known as Bread Square, the area was famous for the bakeries it held. Thus, the tradition continues today. Take in the breathtaking surrounding architecture as you sip your drink, and plan the next day.
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3. LEON TO ARZUA
On Day 3 – it is time to travel to Arzua. A municipality in Galicia, Arzua offers much to visitors. Visit the very-unique Do Mel Living Museum. Designed with the purpose of upholding the importance of bees, the museum displays products and processes of beekeeping. Join one of the beekeepers and help them in what they do, or purchase some honey and jelly for the road.
Make your way to the Portodemouros Reservoir. Overlooking the Ulla river basin, a look at the waters is sure to uplift your spirits for the upcoming cities. If you still need some relaxation however, the Arzua Spa and Massages is a lovely place to detox and lay low for a while. Mark an end to the day by having dinner at Nene House; cod in the loin, or some Octopus toast with special Arzua cheese.
4. ARZUA TO SARRIA
Make your way to Sarria the next day. For those choosing to walk the way to St. James, Sarria usually marks the starting point of the journey. Walk past the Torro de Sarria – wall painted murals which are a lovely sight for visitors. As each image speaks a different story, art lovers especially fall in love with the walls. Next, visit the Ethnographic Museum of the Pan. What does that entail? All things bread of course! Munch on some chocolate chip cookies, or get some empanadas and bread for the road, or as souvenirs. This place emits an aura different from all others.
Another lovely café and shop is the Ecoespazo Vitriol. Shop for some herb-products, or enjoy vegan foods as you read a book. Also wifi-accessible, this is a great place to catch up on any work you may have.
5. SARRIA TO SANTIAGO DE COMPOSTELA
The final place of the Camino de Santiago, and the end to your road trip, Santiago de Compostela is a great place to explore. Visit the Cathedral to pay your respects at the(alleged) burial site of St. James. Next, visit the Alameda Park to catch a breather from the long road trip. Capture some pictures with the statue of the two sisters, or sit at the bench, with a lovely view of the Cathedral.
Visit Mercado de Abastos – the local marketplaces. With stalls featuring a modern and chic vibe, grab the local produce and devour the local delicacies. When in Santiago, it is impossible to not try the famous Octopus dish. Try that at local pubs and cafes. Several festivals are hosted in the city, so if you time your road trip correctly, perhaps you will also get the opportunity to enjoy some of the local festivities.
Have your road trip planned out? Pack your bags, and lets go! Book your car rental with the best rates on the internet with Auto Europe.