Santiago to Seville via Portugal
- 26 June 2013
We caught a bus into Santiago from San Sebastian to dodge the crap weather that was forecast for the top of Spain, the nine hundred or so kilometres is also a famous pilgrimage that people walk called the Camino de Santiago. The city was ok, it had a nice little section in the middle made up of a few blocks of cobble stone streets with restaurants, cafes and a big cathedral that marks the end of the pilgrimage, but if we’d walked the nine hundred kms to get there we would’ve been a bit disappointed, in our opinion they should flip the walk around and end with San Sebastian.
As we headed south to the Portuguese border there seemed to be less and less people around, and when we crossed the border we saw almost nobody in the streets for the first couple hundred kms, whole towns that we passed seemed to be empty, houses and apartment buildings all shuttered up and shops with for sale signs on them, it was like we were the last survivors in a zombie movie, weird...
Once we hit Oporto things started to feel a bit more normal, there are still surviving Portuguese, they didn’t all get turned into zombies, but we were surprised how hard it was to find peri peri chicken in Oporto, in fact we didn’t find any! We went to the restaurant area by the river and after going passed a bunch of seafood restaurants we finally found one that served grilled chicken (not peri peri) and settled for that. So much for our pilgrimage to the home of the Bondi Burger.
We continued down the west coast and saw quite a few more ghost towns, but there were enough places with people in between that it didn’t feel eerie anymore, there were some beautiful beaches on the way, one that looked a bit like Manly if you can imagine it being empty, don’t mean to keep going on about the no people thing but that’s how it felt, we were constantly surprised by it, especially in nice beach towns that you’d expect to see full of tourists this time of year.
Our 21 day challenge had a slight hitch on day 7 when Jason’s rack busted completely and needed to be replaced, we hobbled into Figueira da Foz only to find out that it was a public holiday and all the shops were shut, the next day we went to four different bike shops and had almost lost hope when the last one said they had a rack at their other shop that should do the trick but it’d take another day to get there, so we were forced to break the 21 day non-stop challenge and take the day off, but coincidentally it lined up with our anniversary so we weren’t too upset about it.
The rest of Portugal down through Lisbon and beyond was pretty much more of the same, picturesque at times especially on the coast and in the hilly regions, but not much going on, no hustle and bustle anywhere which made it feel a bit dull. We didn’t find anywhere that we really loved until we hit Lagos in the Algarve region on the south coast, they must not have been told about the recession going on in the rest of the country because the place was packed, and with good reason, it was absolutely goooorgeos and hands down our favourite spot in Portugal.
A few days later we crossed the border back into Spain and almost immediately stumbled across another gem called Isla Canela, a stunning beach side town full of resorts, bars and restaurants, we liked it so much we decided to splurge a bit and take a two day break at the Iberostar resort, it felt extremely indulgent after camping almost every day for the previous three weeks and we loved every minute of it.
We’re now in Seville in the south west of Spain, we arrived this afternoon and had a stroll around the city to check out the sights. It’s right up there with our other favourites like Paris and Biarritz, the city centre is full of beautiful architecture of every kind, it’s also had a big Arabic influence which makes it look and feel quite different to other European cities. We got here with the plan to head south into Morocco tomorrow but the heat has forced us to rethink things, the temperature was in the mid-high thirties all day and didn’t start to cool down until about 10pm! So the thought of going somewhere even hotter isn’t appealing to say the least, we’re doing a bit of research now to decide what our next move will be.