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Galicia itinerary help -- Minho,Sil, Douro?

Galicia itinerary help -- Minho,Sil, Douro?

Old Jan 28th, 2007, 07:11 AM
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Galicia itinerary help -- Minho,Sil, Douro?

I am planning a short trip to Galicia and possibly the eastern Douro region. I have four nights and want to focus on the area between the Douro and as far north as the Ribera Sacra.

I've gotten a lot of great ideas here, particularly from Ger and Luhimari, but both of their trip reports are unfinished and have left me with questions. My main question is whether to spend two nights in the Santo Estevo parador or one night, using the other night for some time in the upper Douro.

Option 1
Day 1, Drive Lisbon to Sabrosa;
Day 2 -- tour upper Douro (making a circle including Alijo and Tua) and at end of day drive to Parador in Verin;
Day 3 -- Drive to Sto Estevo and tour Ribeira Sacra;
Day 4 -- Either more time in Ribera Sacra or visit Baiona/Guarda and night in Pousada in Vila Nova de Cerveira
Day 5 -- Depending on whether we visited Baiona/Guarda on Day 4, either do that and then drive back to Lisbon, or visit more of Minho and then drive back.

Option 2
Day 1 -- Drive Lisbon to Verin Parador
Day 2 -- Visit along the way to Sto. Estevo and maybe some of the Minho area near Chantada. Sleep in Sto.Estevo
Day 3 -- Ribeira Sacra and sleep again in Sto. Estevo.
Day 4 -- Drive to Vila Nova da Cerveira, visiting Baiona and A Guarda along the way.
Day 5 -- More of Minho, then drive back to Lisbon

So I guess it comes down to a choice between the upper Douro part of the trip and adding a full day to the Ribeira Sacra. I would really appreciate any input you might have. Thanks, LR
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Old Mar 7th, 2007, 05:26 AM
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Ultimately you are right about the choice being down to you.
We are slightly biased as we live and run a casa rural in the Ribeira Sacrá.
We have guests who stay a week and don’t see all there is to see in the area. Others stay a few days and claim to have seen it all.
If you stay at the Paradore you will find other places around the Ribeira sacra are well within travelling distance. The old Roman Gold mines in the Province of Leon are about 2 hours away. There are many ecclesiastical buildings in the area. There many walks too.
You best bet is to look at the Turgalicia’s web site to find out more information. They have brochures you can download and other you can order.
Enjoy your trip to our part of the world.


Ian and Irene
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Old Mar 7th, 2007, 11:33 AM
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Thank you so much Ian and Irene. As it turns out, we made our decision to forego the Douro and concentrate on the Minho and the Sil, so your recommendation confirms that that was a good choice.

Here's what we've decided to do, and if you have any suggestions, I'd appreciate it a lot.

Day 1 in Verin parador. (driving up from Lisbon, where I will be on business)

Day 2 drive Verin-Ourense- then up to your neck of the woods to see Sto Estevo do Minho, maybe continuing to Monforte, ending up at the Sto Estevo do Ribas do Sil parador for the night. Can you suggest any other "must see" romanesque churches on the Minho near you? (The Turgalicia site you recommended lists many of them, but it's hard for me to tell which are the real jewels).

Day 3 -- a circle trip on the Sil, spending the night again in Sto Estevo, visiting churches and soaking up the beauty.

Day 4 -- Sto Estevo to Baiona and then A Guarda, spending the night in Portugal at the Vila Nova de Cerveira pousada.

Day 5 -- back to Lisbon, with a stop in Braga.


Thank you so much for your suggestion of the turgalicia site.
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Old Mar 9th, 2007, 10:01 AM
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Well you seem to like your Paradores.
We have not heard much about Verin so we looked it up on the web. Here is one link that makes the town sound not so promising.
http://www.portcult.com/14.SIGHTS19_VERIN.htm
The same web site says that near-by Chives in Portugal is more interesting. That is only 22km away.
Exploring the Ribeira Sacrá on your way to the Paradore at the Sil is a good idea. To be brutally honest Monforte has not a lot to offer. It has one or two old streets, the castle, which is now a Paradore too. There is the ‘Museo de Arte Sacro’ and The ‘Escolapios’ if you like art. The latter has a small selection of paintings by El Greco.
As for must sees. There so many, there are about 48 or so churches. This number is those that are restored. There are possibly the same amount in ruins at the moment!! Two places that stand out are San Pedro de Rocas and Santo Cristina. Some of our visitors like the small town of Castro Cadelas too. It seems you have a car and that is necessary. Like you say just soak up the countryside. There are miradors (view points) galore, just stop when you see a sign. You never know what will happen. We have been on walks, with our guests, and been stopped by locals, invited in for a glass of wine and stayed the rest of the day. The locals are very friendly and open.
Baiona on the coast is a great place to stay too.
Don’t know too much about Portugal, we are sorry to say.
It looks as if your trip is organized well and you have done a lot of research.

Ian and Irene


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Old Mar 12th, 2007, 07:17 PM
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Hi lreynold:

I feel SO guilty about not finishing my trip report

The San Estevo Parador was a highlight of the trip, as was the drive through Ribeira Sacra. My only regret is that I stayed only ONE night there. Next time, I will stay two nights.

I will eventually finish the report. In the meantime, here are the photos from the trip:

Regards Ger

La Coruna
www.kodakgallery.com/Slid...ulp4l&Ux=0

O Barqueiro
www.kodakgallery.com/Slid...91zf9&Ux=0

Mondonedo
www.kodakgallery.com/Slid...23l95&Ux=1

Betanzos
www.kodakgallery.com/Slid...3jhah&Ux=1

Lugo
www.kodakgallery.com/Slid...caw34&Ux=1

Road in San Estevo
www.kodakgallery.com/Slid...vmwst&Ux=1

Parador San Estevo
www.kodakgallery.com/Post...share&Ux=1

Ribeira Sacra 1
www.kodakgallery.com/Slid...4cges&Ux=1

Ribeira Sacra 2
www.kodakgallery.com/I.js...1&y=-pqm3h

Ribeira Sacra 3
www.kodakgallery.com/Slid...p3f68&Ux=1

Ribeira Sacra 4
www.kodakgallery.com/I.js...&y=-4hlhs1

Ribadavia
www.kodakgallery.com/I.js...1&y=-d0xfx

Tui
www.kodakgallery.com/Slid...n0ozz&Ux=1

Pontevedra
www.kodakgallery.com/I.js...&y=-i870vx

Santiago de Compostela Parador
www.kodakgallery.com/I.js...&y=-mf1cd3

Santiago de Compostela
www.kodakgallery.com/Slid...xpnrq&Ux=1
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Old Mar 13th, 2007, 12:43 AM
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Sorry to say but all we got was an error page for all of those links.

Spending only two nights in The Ribeira sacra is not enough to see into all the nooks and crannies, if you see what we mean!

The Paradore, whilst a nice hotel, the building has been over restored, using new roof tiles, new stonework etc. We wished they had used older materials like in other buildings.
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Old Mar 13th, 2007, 03:43 AM
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If you go from Baiona (Pontevedra) to LaGuardia, take the coast road. You'll see a similarity with the Mission Trail in California. Visit Santa Tecla National Historic site and see a restored Castrenho (Celtic) village.

There's an excellent seafood restaurant just across from the Fishermens Monument in LaGuardia. It's expensive but the seafood platter is to die for.
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Old Mar 13th, 2007, 05:00 AM
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Hi LR. Take good notes as you always do.
Sher
PS have a wonderful time.
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Old Mar 13th, 2007, 05:18 AM
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Thanks Nedsireland for the restaurant recommendation. I will try to time it so we get to La Guardia around lunch time for the splurge you recommend.

And thanks Ian and Irene for the information on churches (both have been added to my list) and for the link to Chaves and Verin information. We plan to stop in Chaves on our way up and have made Verin a place to sleep only. I did not know it was so unattractive, so thank you for that information. That will just give us more time to head to the Minho region where you are located early in the morning. We had not planned to go to Monforte, and that seems like a good decision as well. You're right that this trip is all about paradores, but that is not our usual way of travel -- it's just that there was an internet fare sale that allowed me to book them for 60 euros a night and based on Ger's recommendation it seemed like too good a deal to pass up. I have heard your comment applied to other paradores as well, that the restoration didn't respect the integrity of the building. I guess it's a tough question of dollars and cents in most cases.

I will be sure to report back, Sher, thanks for the note.

LR
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Old Mar 13th, 2007, 11:49 AM
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Sorry about the links - here you go!

P.S. I could spend a whole lifetime in Ribeira Sacra.

La Coruna
http://tinyurl.com/3aeaqp

O Barqueiro
http://tinyurl.com/yujkhy

Mondonedo
http://tinyurl.com/3aamet

Betanzos
http://tinyurl.com/3a3co4

Lugo
http://tinyurl.com/2wylo8

Road in San Estevo
http://tinyurl.com/375o6b

Parador San Estevo
http://tinyurl.com/37kaks

Ribeira Sacra 1
http://tinyurl.com/2wlnnj

Ribeira Sacra 2
http://tinyurl.com/35km5y

Ribeira Sacra 3
http://tinyurl.com/2oudh2

Ribeira Sacra 4
http://tinyurl.com/2vejou

Ribadavia
http://tinyurl.com/2pmvy7

Tui
http://tinyurl.com/2k5jy9

Pontevedra
http://tinyurl.com/2pwwxt

Santiago de Compostela Parador
http://tinyurl.com/39qbof

Santiago de Compostela
http://tinyurl.com/2vokoj
OReilly is offline  
Old Mar 14th, 2007, 10:43 AM
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Beautiful links, Ger. Thanks so much. I am looking forward to it very much. I am quite fond of romanesque architecture and it looks like there are way too many options!
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Old Mar 14th, 2007, 12:25 PM
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A night at the Parador in Baiona is highly recommended.
M (SMdA, Gto., MX)
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Old Mar 15th, 2007, 03:31 PM
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Some great photos Ger…You must have a large collection of memory cards!
It seems you never saw ‘our’ part of the Ribeira sacra. The Miño area. Very different countryside again.
We love the city of Lugo. Did you see the roman mosaic floors under the shops? See the ‘balls’ inserted into the pavement in the Plaza Major we once saw an ambulance drive over one and busted the oil pan/sump of the engine..very embarrassing for the driver we thought.

Ian and Irene


PS it is a shame you can not put titles to the photos on Kodak.
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Old Apr 4th, 2007, 01:06 PM
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I am back from my trip, it was wonderful. I was able to take a two day trip to the Alentejo as well as the longer trip up to Ribeira Sacra. I highly recommend it, it's relaxing, beautiful, and there is a LOT of great walking on well-marked paths. Here's the trip report for the longer trip:

Day 1 – Drove from Lisbon north on the highway. Spent a fair amount of time in Chaves, to see the Roman bridge, old town, castle, and very pleasant river walk. We also visited the Forte de Sao Francisco Hotel, www.forte-s-francisco-hoteis.pt We had reservations at the Spanish parador in Verín about 25 km up the road, but this looked very nice. Great views, lovely grounds. Chaves is a nice town.

We arrived in Verín in time for dinner and ate at the parador. Nothing exciting, but very nice views of the Monterrei castle up the hill.

Day 2 – After touring the castle (well worth the visit), we drove to Ourense, which is a much bigger town/city than I had imagined. The old bridge is now closed to foot traffic, and the old town is mainly a pedestrian area, which made for nice walking. Renovations in the São Francisco cloister made that off limits – truth be told, I think this is a skippable place.

We spent the rest of the afternoon on the Minho side of the Ribeira Sacra, visiting several churches, Sto Estevo, Diomondi and one more whose name escapes me. On the way to the parador, we drove through Os Peares, where the Minho and the Sil rivers merge. Very beautiful landscape, but confusing roads. We enjoyed finding these hidden romanesque churches (lots of good information on the website Ian and Irene mentioned in an earlier post). We had a detailed Michelin Galicia guide and had a heck of a time finding places, but we always finally got where we were going.

We had reservations for two nights at the Santo Estevo parador, and we were so glad we took the advice to do so. It is is an amazing place – high up on the slope over the Sil River, it’s a converted multi-styled monastery (beginning with Romanesque, working through Gothic, and beyond). A very wonderful place to be, we took several multi-hour hikes on well marked paths from the grounds of the parador. Food was so-so (in fact we ate one night at a modest restaurant in Luintra and both of us thought the food was better than in the parador), but the restaurant is a very nice space. Breakfast was fine, standard parador buffet.

A poster had mentioned that the renovations were controversial. Though I'm not an architecture buff, I can see why -- one of the cloisters (there are three!) was glassed in, and the inside of the rooms were done in minimalist modern style. Lots of light colored wood, which some might not like as much as some of the more traditionally redone pousadas and paradores.

Day 3
This was our day to explore the Sil canyons. It was a full day, beautiful weather, and very relaxing. We made a circle, following the map we got at the parador. First, several pull-off view spots gave us our first views of the canyon. It’s just as spectacular as the pictures you can see on the web.

We then went to Santa Cristina, a romanesque church/monastery on the hill along the river. Great site. From there, more views, strolls, ate lunch in Parada do Sil, and finally made it to Castro Caldelas, a small town with a castle that we visited and then had an excellent coffee in one of the cafes in the square.

From there we drove to São Pedro de Rocas (skipping several monasteries along the way so we could enjoy the outdoors more). After visiting the monastery, we took another 5 or 6 km hike on well marked paths that started right near the monastery’s bell tower, through pine forests, up to some really weird rock formations, just a great day altogether.

Day 4
Our goal today was the small Portuguese village of Vila Nova de Cerveira, which turned out to be a wonderful place. We had the whole day to cover the somewhat circuitous route there (about 200 km), stopping at Ribadavia (old Jewish quarter), then to Baiona (pretty town on the ocean with parador within the castle walls). We ate at a seafood restaurant on the highway south out of Baiona toward Guarda. I don’t know its name, I think it was something like Sacramonte, but we decided to stop because it was mobbed with cars. Terrific meal. The seafood platter was really special (not cheap, but delicious).

After lunch we headed down towards A Guarda, stopping at a monastery in Oia (the only Cistercian monastery built on a coast, we were told), and then to Guarda. The mountain Santa Tecla right outside of Guarda has two good reasons to visit – the ruins of the pre-Roman town and the views from the top – you can see the Minho coming into the sea, and there are great views of Portugal and Spain from there.

From Guarda, we headed back to Portugal to Vila Nova, where our pousada was a very pleasant surprise. It’s built right into the castle walls, lots of little buildings that have been very nicely renovated and rebuilt.

The town itself was a beautiful place to spend a late afternoon, and lots of Spaniards had the same idea. This small town is very well preserved, has a huge square with at least four or five large outdoor cafes, all of which were filled. We had a very nice time there. One of the townspeople told me there is a some sort of festival there every year, but I can’t remember whether it’s music or films.

Day 5
We stopped at Barcelos first (not on a market day, just to get a feel for the place) and then spent the bulk of the day in Braga. We liked Braga a lot and visited the cathedral, the old part of town, the Praça da Republica and all the pedestrian streets. It seemed like a very pleasant and lively town.

Because, to my dismay, the Nazari factory store in Condeixa has closed, we made a quick stop in Coimbra to run to a pottery shop that had been recommended as having high quality. It’s right under the arch as you walk into the old town from the pedestrian street. We were lucky and found a place to park right next to the Santa Cruz bridge.

That was the end of the trip, then back to Lisbon for the night, with an early morning departure to the airport, to turn in the car. We always stay at the Marriott, which is about 5km from the airport. This is at least the third time I’ve done this, and I always get confused going into the airport to drop off the car. Though the sign on the highway tells you that rental car return is with “departures” (partidas), it’s not in an obvious place and requires major looping around. I think that next time I will get off the highway at the exit for “chegadas” (arrivals) because I think the rental car return is closer and more accessible from the arrivals part of the airport. It’s not a big deal because it just adds a few minutes but it was kind of frustrating. If anyone has had better luck than I, I'd love to hear about it.

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Old Apr 4th, 2007, 07:32 PM
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LR.
Sounds like another wonderful trip for you.
I will just add this post to the others.

I am getting quite a folder on this part of the world.

Thanks
Sherry
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Old Apr 6th, 2007, 06:07 AM
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Great report, it is nice to hear something about the trip after asking for advice.

Ourense is nothing too special. There is some nice hot springs; some are free others you have to pay for. Hopefully you got to the Burgos springs near to the cathedral. Here you can dip you toes into the water. Locals take bottles of the water home to bathe in.
It was us who said that we felt the Paradore Santo Estevo was over restored. Two of the three cloisters are quite nice, almost unmolested. Like you we feel the choice in wood, (interior decoration) could have been better chosen. In a recent visit we saw that some bedrooms, and the terrace for the dinning room, overlook the sewage works. Also nearby is the commercial entrance, whish is used by the lorries and a place to store the rubbish bins. Thankfully you did not have one of these rooms.
The church of Diomondi is just above where we live. Did you visit Santo Estevo de Santo Estevo de Ribas de Miño, 4 de Sil too? We live right next door to there! Next time call in!!!!
We recently visited |San Pedro too. they have just started renovating that too. It is a great place to walk form. The same with the Paradore. The national route passes right past the front door. One day we will try some of that route too. (It is over 90km long so may take a day or so to complete).
We too liked Ribadavia, the square is somewhere nice to take a short break and something to dink etc.
Some great places on the coast too. We have heard great things about eh Paradore at Baiona.
We found your tips about northern Portugal good. When we have a break it is our intention to visit places in the region too.
The web site for Nazari states the store is located at the following address: Lugar de Caneira 3150-151 Condeixa Tel.+351) 239 945 500.
For others interested in the area you should go to Valenca, Portugal. (note I can't find the squiggle for under the c in the city’s name on my PC). The market is held once a week and sells all sots of fabrics, tablecloths, and the such like.

Ian and Irene


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Old Apr 9th, 2007, 05:16 AM
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Hi, Ian and Irene,

We did visit Sto. Estevo de Ribas de Mino and we saw the very nice B&B next door -- it looked like a great place to stay. We stuck our head inside and gave a holler but no one appeared. Next time, we'll be more insistent. (and again, so many thanks for your reference to the turgalicia website -- we got tons of good information there).

I agree with your recommendation of Valenca do Minho. I've walked through there on my way to Santiago de Compostela. I know that Valenca has recently opened an albergue/refugio for walkers -- we stayed in the one in Tui across the river in Spain and it is extremely nice. And Tui is a very nice small city as well.

LR
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Old Jul 2nd, 2014, 01:05 PM
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ttt
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