September 11th 2020

Iberia; Spain, Portugal and The Azores

If ever there’s a Walk to hold in your heart until we are all traveling again, it’s the Camino de Santiago.

Our take on the famous pilgrimage route gives a real flavor of rural Spain – and of what makes walking the Camino such a special and inspirational journey.

And while we’re thinking about the Iberian peninsula, don’t forget about Portugal. Get ready for some stunning scenery and amazing food as we walk the Algarve Coast.

The Azores – still Portuguese, but right in the middle of the Atlantic – are something else again. Lush, invitingly undiscovered and within easy reach by air from the US or mainland Europe these islands are unforgettable.

We would love to see you on the trail in 2021, but in the meantime, here are our top picks of ways to dream about that unforgettable walking vacation in western Europe, on-screen, or on the printed page. Enjoy!

Iberia… Dream Now, Visit Later

The Iberian Peninsula is the westernmost section of Europe, lying between the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

Separated from France by the Pyrenees mountains, its history has frequently taken a different path from the rest of Europe, giving the region a separate, very special identity.

While you dream of walking the Camino de Santiago across rural Spain, experiencing the exhilarating salty air of Portugal’s Algarve coast or discovering the amazing chain of islands that is The Azores, here is our selection of ways to bring Iberia to you…

Camino de Santiago

The cultural heritage, traditions and the wonderful landscapes of the Camino de Santiago are the perfect scenery for a movie. Add in the pilgrim experience, and there’s a wonderful blend of emotion and beauty too.

The Way by Emilio Estevez (2010)

That’s the case with The Way, a 2010 movie starring Martin Sheen, directed, written and produced by his real-life son Emilio Estevez.

In this story, after his son dies while walking the Camino de Santiago, Tom Avery (Martin Sheen) decides to travel abroad and not only recover his son’s body, but he decides to pick up the pilgrimage where he left it and scatter his ashes along the route. During his Camino he meets other pilgrims from very different backgrounds. Watch the trailer.

Strangers on the Earth (2016)

Strangers on the Earth (2016) is the perfect mixture between the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage and music. This documentary movie takes us on the pilgrimage with Dan, an American cellist who walked the Camino with his instrument, playing for other pilgrims. Along his journey we get to know their stories and share their experience on the Camino. Watch the trailer.

Camino Skies (2016)

Camino Skies (2020) is another true-life, touching study of a pilgrimage of hope. Troubled by personal loss or painful illness, six hikers from Australia and New Zealand embark on their 500-mile spiritual odyssey finding camaraderie and support along the way. Watch the trailer.

For readers:

The Pilgrim’s Guide to Santiago de Compostela
This is the original guide used by 12th-century pilgrims along the sacred way, reprinted with an introduction by a professor of Medieval Studies, plus endnotes and a gazetteer.

The Camino, A Journey of the Spirit by Shirley MacLaine. The much-reincarnated, ever-brave entertainer treks 500-miles across Northern Spain on the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, interweaving travelogue, commentary and journeys both actual and interior in this personal journal.

Travels with My Donkey. In this wickedly comic account of grand adventures on the 500-mile pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela with a French- speaking donkey, Tim Moore salts his anecdotes of fellow travelers and grand adventures with an account of the history and culture of the medieval Way of St. James.

The Pilgrimage Road to Santiago, The Complete Cultural Handbook by David Gitliz and Linda Kay Davidson.
A kilometer-by-kilometer guide to the route of St. James across northern Spain with copious information on the historical and artistic sites along the way.

Camino de Santiago

Walk Level 4

1-8 May and 9-16 October 2021

The Algarve Coast

Lisbon Story by Wim Wenders (1994)

As an introduction to Portugal why not watch Lisbon Story (1994), Wim Wenders’ charming love letter to the capital. It follows a hapless director trying to record a film in Lisbon. (It came about after Wenders’s own, earlier attempt to make a documentary about the Portuguese capital.) The film is full of images of many of the city’s iconic sites, narrow streets, and candy colored houses, as well as beautiful music by the Portuguese folk band Madredeus, with captivating vocals by Teresa Salgueiro, who becomes part of the story. Watch the trailer.

That good night (2017)

That Good Night (2017) stars John Hurt as an ailing screenwriter making plans for the end of his life. It was shot in the Algarve, in the south of Portugal and home to many of the country’s loveliest beaches.

The House of The Spirits (1993)

Remember the South American landscape of The House of the Spirits (1993) with Antonio Banderas and Meryl Streep? Well, actually it was a Portuguese landscape, as that movie was filmed in Alentejo, a beautiful region of flat and dry land, with great wines and food, in the south of Portugal.

Fados by Carlos Saura (2009)

Fados (2009) brings to life Portugal’s haunting musical tradition. Director Carlos Saura explores Portugal's most emblematic musical genre, tracing its African and Brazilian origins up to the new wave of modern fadistas.

A “virtual tour” of the Algarve showcasing some of its most stunning landscapes has been unveiled by the Algarve Tourism Association (ATA) – it simulates a five-day trip starting in Aljezur in the west and ending in Vila Real de Santo António in the east and can be viewed by anyone who wants to discover what the region has to offer.

For readers:

A Traveller’s History of Portugal by Ian Robertson. A lively, admirably concise survey from prehistory to the present, great for travelers to Portugal who would like an overview of the country’s history and culture.

Conquerors by Roger Crowley. This epic narrative history by bestselling author Crowley chronicles the rise of Portugal in the 16th century as the small nation fought for a dominant share in the global spice trade.

Culture Smart! Portugal. A concise, no-nonsense guide to local customs, etiquette and culture with a short overview of the land and people along with practical travel advice.

300 Days of Sun by Deborah Lawrenson. A mesmerizing novel transporting us to Faro, a sunny Portuguese town with a shadowy past where two women, decades apart, are drawn into a dark game of truth and lies that still haunts the shifting sea marshes.

The Algarve

Walk Level 3

30 May to 6 June and 3-10 October 2021

The Azores

Azores Achada Waterfall

Heading 900 miles out into the Atlantic from the Algarve’s Cape St Vincent, the lush Azores’ islands reveal glassy lakes, towering waterfalls, bubbling hot springs and flower-filled meadows. If you're looking for natural beauty, you can't ask for much more. Off the beaten path doesn’t do them justice!

Here’s a chance to see The Azores – that chain of stunning volcanic islands as never before.

Beautiful shots captured in 4K UHD from Visit Portugal take us on a whistle-stop tour.

Erik The Travel Guy - 'The Azores'

And thanks to blogger Erik The Travel Guy, we can learn what all the fuss is about as he takes us on a video tour in this undiscovered paradise. He learns about the history and culture by talking with the locals and exploring on foot. Watch the video 'The Azores'.

For readers:

Death at the Water's Edge by Miriam Winthrop. The Azores Heritage Mystery series has each novel set upon a new isle on the Azores. The first book in her series, Death at the Water’s Edge, follows Anton and Catarina as they try to build a hotel, but a murder on the island threatens their peace.

Stormy Isles: An Azorean Tale (Bellis Azorica) by Vitorino Nemesio.
Originally published in 1944 the story is set in the early 1900s and explores the lives of those in the structured bourgeois society. This novel is a rich portrait of the Azores in the early twentieth century.

Azores by David Sayers is a guidebook that provides strong geological and botanical information that is integral to the islands and for all nature lovers.

Authentic Portuguese Cooking: More Than 185 Classic Mediterranean-Style Recipes of the Azores, Madeira and Continental Portugal by Ana Patuleia Ortins. Discover delicious home-style dishes from different regions of Portugal. This collection has over 200 recipes, with classic recipes that give the traditional flavors of Portugal, and recipes inspired by modern Portuguese cuisine.

The Azores

Walk Level 4

22-29 May and 25 September – 2 October 2021

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