Burgundy… synonymous with wine

Burgundy… synonymous with wine

Most of us know how to visit a winery, don't we? You drive up, leave the car in the visitors' parking lot, walk into the tasting room and try and wangle a taste of as many of the producer's best wines as possible.

But in Burgundy, the business of visiting to taste, as so much else in Burgundy, is very different indeed.

One distinguishing mark, which has considerable implications for the visitor, is that the places where burgundy is made have in most significant cases remained virtually unchanged for centuries. The typical Burgundian wine producer operates underground in a dark, damp, low-ceilinged stone cellar that can be found only by those with an intimate knowledge of village backstreets and the courtyards and passageways that lie behind and beneath them. Why, even the Domaine de la Romanée Conti, the most famous and best-endowed Burgundian wine estate of all, keeps half of all its fabulous wines maturing in a subterranean cavern accessible only by what is virtually a trapdoor.

Nor are the really interesting wine domaines in Burgundy particularly interested in receiving visitors. They can generally, after all, sell every bottle they fill. Indeed it is an almost infallible rule for tourists in Burgundy that if they are invited to taste by signs outside an establishment, the wines therein are unlikely to be among the region's more interesting. (Beware several of the larger Beaune merchants and their tourist traps, typically set with the most basic of wines.)

Delicious !

Delicious !

So the first challenge is to make an appointment to taste at a worthwhile address. Expecting to taste without an appointment is almost as futile as expecting to be invited in for a coffee by Eddie Murphy while on a tour of Beverly Hills. Burgundian wine producers are busy, hands-on, introvert farmers who do not need adulation or extra orders. An hour spent showing you their wines means an hour less tending their wines and vines, which they all do personally. There are none of Bordeaux's teams of workers here. A few helpers perhaps, increasingly from outside France, but the name on the label is almost invariably that of the person who did most of the work.

A good starting point would be to go to the website of the generic body representing the wines of Burgundy. They have a special section where you can organise a tailor-made itinerary at Another ploy would be to go to their list of local tourist offices at By no means all wine villages have them but Beaune, Nuits, Gevrey and Meursault do, for example. You could contact them for a list of local producers happy to receive visitors.

Delightful country Estates

Delightful country Estates

We wine writers have better access than an unknown visitor perhaps, but even for us the Burgundian welcome is measured. Indeed one of my longer-serving fellow wine writers exclaimed to me only the other day with more than a hint of exasperation, "why is it that in Burgundy they never ever ask you for lunch?" And it is true that in this respect Burgundian vignerons much more closely resemble cautious farmers than anything remotely like a public relations person. In fact I have found that the more urbane and more famous the producer, the more effusive the welcome.

Talking of lunch, it is vital to remember that the lunch hour, possibly two, is sacrosanct. Very few vignerons would welcome a visitor who arrived as late as noon and only exceptionally co-operative ones would agree to an afternoon appointment that began before two o'clock or after 4.30. This makes for some rather relaxing tasting days compared to the madness of tasting one's way round a more competitive wine region where my tasting day could and has run from eight to eight without any break for solid matter. Thus, the visitor to Burgundy needs to remember to make their own arrangements for lunchtime, whether by booking at a convenient village restaurant (I list several of my favourites in the travel tips section of or in good weather by buying provisions for a picnic – before all the shops close at noon of course.

But even once you have your itinerary in place long before you arrive in Burgundy (last minute arrangements are unlikely to work), more homework is still needed. Some villages such as Vosne-Romanée and Gevrey attempt via a map in the main square and a printed map in the tourist office respectively to locate individual wine producers but this is rare. You will typically be armed only with an address, and the typical vigneron's premises are signalled with nothing more (and often less) than a modest nameplate. You can save valuable time in a hard-pressed day by scouting round the village backstreets in advance – during lunchtime perhaps? - to locate your eventual destinations.

Let us assume however that you have found your vignerons. And have turned up at the right time, and so have they. Although almost all of those under 40 speak English and occasionally other languages, many of the older ones speak nothing but French so bear this in mind. The generic Burgundy website sensibly asks you to specify your linguistic capabilties in advance.

Famous Burgundy Names

Famous Burgundy Names

You'll be looked up and down and then taken down into the cellar or cave, at some point collecting glasses and the all-important wine thief (pipette), because most of the tasting in Burgundy is done straight from barrel. And here we encounter one of the great professional obstacles for anyone who likes to make notes of what they taste. A Burgundian cellar is full of barrels and very little else. Barrels on their sides, as they all are here, are round. There is not a flat surface to be found. The vignerons will roam all over their cavernous cellars, apparently at random, to present you with samples of their wines from the most basic Aligoté or Passetoutgrains up via village wines and Premiers Crus to Grands Crus, each one dribbled into your glass from their pipettes - and you will have a devil of a job balancing your glass and notebook. You will almost certainly be presented with a spittoon, but you will be expected to pour back what remains in our glass, often into the vignerons' own glasses unless you demonstrate that you too can unerringly find the bunghole hidden under the barrel stacked above the one you're tasting from.

Because the wines will be presented to you upwards in order of quality (which sometimes means that a great Premier Cru such as Clos St Jacques in Gevrey may well be served after a lighter Grand Cru such as Charmes Chambertin) it is vital that you don't gush with too much enthusiasm about the first few wines. Reserve the superlatives for the wines dribbled into your glass at the end. And you might also assume that whites will always be served before reds, but this is far from an infallible rule. Many producers serve their whites at the end, especially if they are very smart ones, believing they are much more testing than reds out of cask.

You can be sure that you too will be tested, as a taster and a visitor, and that you will be participating in something that feels like an ancient rite. Because that, as so much in Burgundy, is precisely what it is.


The Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy in Dijon

The Palace of the Dukes of Burgundy in Dijon

Burgundy, a region of France, was first a kingdom after the collapse of the Roman Empire, roughly speaking the fifth century. It was incorporated into the Carolingian Empire, divided by the Treaty of Verdun, and finally combined with the Kingdom of Provence in the tenth century.

Dukes of Burgundy, though sometimes richer than kings of France, and owning more land, towns, hamlets and troops, were in fact officially vassals, as indeed was the King of England. Even Henry II Plantagenet paid hommage to the French king; Burgundy was the greates of these vassals. Many dukes tried to gain independence from the royal family, and were prepared to go to any lengths to achieve their purpose. No French king, however wealthy or in need of finance, was able to trust a Duke of Burgundy.

A good example of their inbred treachery was the so-called Hundred Years War (q.v., 1337 – ) in which Burgundy chose to take the side of the English. Charles the Bold, Duke of Burgundy from 1467 – 77, also sided with the English king. He was a valuable ally too, as dynastic marriages had been effected which united Burgundy with Flanders, bringing the immense wealth of the Netherlands to fill the coffers of the duke. France, however, managed to keep hold of Champagne, thus separating the two parts of the ducal territory. When Charles the Bold was killed in battle in 1477, all Burgundy was retained again by the French crown.

The Dukes and their Ladies

The Dukes and their Ladies

The House of Burgundy arose from the French royal Capet dynasty, through another bold duke – Philip, 4th son of King John 11 (‘the Good’) of France. Philip became the first Duke in 1363. The family possessed really vast territory in both Burgundy itself (almost a fifth of France) and in the Low Countries. Successive dukes maintained expansionist policies throughout the fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries. But, matters being how they were in the medieval epoch, with the death of Charles the Bold (detailed above) in 1477, Burgundian possessions passed by marriage to the Imperial House of Austria – the Habsburgs (q.v.).

New leaders therefore continued the expansionist policies of previous dukes in the Low Countries, signifying today’s Belgium, the Netherlands and a goodly slice of northern France. During the fifteenth century the court of the House of Burgundy was seen as one of the major cultural centres of Europe, competing with England and France in matters of chivalry (jousts, armour-making, fine clothing and a gentlemanly manner) and as patrons of the arts.


Some of his most famous works are posters, which, while looked down upon as an unworthy pursuit by many, allowed Toulouse-Lautrec to forego the life of an impoverished artist, make a good living and enjoy the pursuits of the Belle Epoque.

His famous works are synonymous with the image of an absinthe-soaked, bohemian 19th century Paris. preserve the swirl of energy, mix of classes and cultures, and the highs and lows of urban life in Paris.

His legacy is synonymous with the image of an absinthe-soaked, bohemian 19th century Paris. preserve the swirl of energy, mix of classes and cultures, and the highs and lows of urban life in Paris.

7 Things You Didn't Know About Henri Toulouse-Lautrec

An aristocrat, an alcoholic, and an artist

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec was a French artist, synonymous with the image of an absinthe-soaked, bohemian 19th century Paris. A nightlife-loving aristocrat, he was a VIP at the Moulin Rouge, and was the first to blur the lines between fine art and advertising. Some of his most famous works are posters, which, while looked down upon as an unworthy pursuit by many, allowed Toulouse-Lautrec to forego the life of an impoverished artist, make a good living and enjoy the pursuits of the Belle Epoque.

Here are seven facts you might not know about him:

He came from aristocracy

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec was born in Albi, France to aristocratic lineage: from three lines to be precise. His parents were the Comte and Comtesse Toulouse-Lautrec-Monfa (a count and countess) and if Toulouse-Lautrec were to have outlived his father, he would have inherited the same title. He grew up in privilege, and was a great lover of horseback riding—something that later went on to influence his paintbrush. As an adult he eschewed this bourgeois lifestyle, and instead preferred to reside in the lively neighborhood of Montmartre in Paris, spending much of his time enjoying the brazen nightlife and bohemian culture.

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Countess Adèle de Toulouse-Lautrec in the Garden of Malromé, by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1880 - 1882 (From the collection of MASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand)


Le Jockey, by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1899 (From the collection of British Museum)

His grandmothers were sisters

Toulouse-Lautrec suffered with health conditions for all of his life; he fractured both of his legs as a teenager and these never healed, leaving it to be widely believed that he suffered from a congenital bone disease. While he developed an adult-sized torso, his legs never grew beyond those of a child. It is suspected that his ill-health was a result of inbreeding: his grandmothers were sisters (who were also said to have descended from inbreeding themselves) and his parents were first cousins.


The Wheel, by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1893 (From the collection of MASP - Museu de Arte de São Paulo Assis Chateaubriand)

His ill health allowed him to pursue his art

His sickly nature meant that Toulouse-Lautrec often had to spend long stretches of time recuperating from some ailment or other, and these periods of inactivity meant that he was able to spend time honing his craft as a draughtsman. It also meant that participating in the physical pastimes of his contemporaries, such as sports, was out of the question, so painting proved to be an ideal way for Toulouse-Lautrec to spend his time—and make money.


Dancer Seated on a Pink Divan, by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1884 (From the collection of Dixon Gallery and Gardens)

He created the posters for the Moulin Rouge

Often now associated with the Moulin Rouge (he even made an appearance in Baz Luhrman’s 2001 film of the same name, played by John Leguizamo), Toulouse-Lautrec was commissioned to create the posters for the cabaret when it first opened in 1889. A regular from the beginning, he designed the posters with the performers as a focal point, which was not a tactic normally used at the time. On this poster here you can see the famed dancer and creator of the can-can La Goulue (the Glutton) accompanied by her partner "No-Bones" Valentin.


Moulin Rouge-La Goulue, by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1891(From the collection of Indianapolis Museum of Art at Newfields)

His disability could be used to his advantage

His short stature of 4 ft 8, meant that Toulouse-Lautrec often felt, and was treated like, an outsider. He felt comfortable in the company of those on the margins of society who were otherwise deemed unsavory, such as circus performers, dancers, and prostitutes. Through these sordid social circles he created some of his most remarkable pieces of art, capturing the vibrancy of the mix of classes and cultures in the French cafés. His height also meant that he could often observe others unnoticed—you might not even notice his self-portrait in At the Moulin Rouge, below—allowing him to incorporate a narrative energy into his art: even in crowd scenes each figure is highly individualized.


At the Moulin Rouge, by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1892/95 (From the collection of The Art Institute of Chicago)

He was inspired by Ukiyo-e painting

Initially, Lautrec studied under León Bonnat and Fernand Cormon who specialized in academic and traditional art and were recognized as two of the great painters of their time. However, he was greatly influenced by the work of Manet, Degas, Van Gogh, and Japanese woodblock painting. Ukiyo-e, meaning “pictures of the floating world” often depicted theater scenes and other places of leisure in Japanese culture. The simplicity of form used in these woodblock prints can be seen in Lautrec’s favoring of sharp outlines, bright colors, and pictorial flatness.


Divan Japonais, by Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, 1892/1893 (From the collection of Iwami Art Museum)

He invented a cocktail

Toulouse-Lautrec was an alcoholic, eventually graduating from beer and wine to hard liquors such as the highly-strong liquor absinthe. In fact, the invention of the “Earthquake” cocktail is attributed to him: half absinthe, half cognac (don’t try this one at home). Toulouse-Lautrec was so dependent on alcohol that he even hollowed out his walking stick so he could fill it with drink. Unfortunately his intoxicated lifestyle led to his demise, and the artist died at the age of 36 from alcoholism and syphilis. He left behind 737 canvased paintings, 275 watercolours, 363 prints and posters, and 5,084 drawings.



From waterlilies to seascapes, city and rural landscapes, the paintings capture the beauty of natural light, colour and fleeting moments, all exhibited in a newly designed gallery space.

The Monet Impression, Sunrise exhibition will be accompanied by a full program of activities including late night events, performances, screenings, and talks. The NGA website is the best source of information for these events:

Mercure Canberra Monet, Impression Sunrise Accommodation Package includes:

Overnight accommodation for two people
Full Buffet Breakfast served in our Courtyard Restaurant
Two tickets to the Monet, Impression Sunrise exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia

The package is available from $189 per couple (per night) – subject to availability, conditions apply.

Located in historic Ainslie, Mercure Canberra combines heritage with modern comforts. The hotel, which dates back to 1927, is set around an impressive internal courtyard, with attractive landscaping and a perfect position close to many tourist attractions and the city centre's shops, bars, restaurants and entertainment venues. The hotel offers 129 4-star rooms, a gymnasium, two dining options (Courtyard Restaurant and Olims Bar, Bistro and Beer Garden), and complimentary car parking.

Claude Monet Nymphéas [Waterlilies] 1914-17
Bookings: + 61 2 6243 0000
Toll Free: 1800 475 337 or 1800 4 SLEEP

The Original Piri Piri Sauce - History and Recipe

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For almost 200 years now people have been arguing back and forth as to who invented Piri Piri Sauce - it depends who you talk to. Both Portugal and west Africa claim it as their own. We like to think it sits somewhere in between, the outcome, that special blend when two diverse cultures mix and combine to come up with something special.

Virtually every recipe and there are many, claim to be the best. We love a good story and this is certainly one of them. Cooking a recipe 200 years old always adds a little extra spice and zest and add that little extra flavour as you finally sit down to enjoy the end result.

Here is the story and recipe from Trevliza.

‘The genuinely authentic piri piri sauce has been "bastardized" by every recipe claiming to be the original! I am 70 and was raised in Rhodesia and ate chicken piri piri from a young age because it was "invented" in our neighboring country of Mozambique. Portugal sent chilies to its two African colonies of Angola and Mozambique about 200 years ago because it could not find a commercial use for them, and it was in the town of Beira (Mozambique) in the late 1890s that an elderly lady managed to produce this superlative of all salivating sauces. She only used two ingredients (3 if you include a little water), but ingeniously created a taste that transcends all others. The ingredients? Birds eye chillies and lemon juice. The secret? Simmer the diced up chillies in the lemon juice for at least 8 hours adding just enough water to stop the mixture catching, but not enough to prevent the caramelisation of the mixture. The enzymes of both ingredients dance tenderly together in this slow process and a flavour is born that is neither viciously hot nor too acidic, but instead sweet, in a smokey way, and piquant without the bite. And a smell to entice the most numbed of nostrils! Once cooked to perfection the mixture would then be blended with a mortise and pestle to a juicy paste adding water, if necessary, for consistency . I, too, have bastardized this process, but it has not distracted from the original outcomes and flavour. I use an electric blender (juicer) to combine the chilies and lemon juice and then (barely) simmer the liquid for 8-10 hours instead of grinding it to a paste. My preference is 100 grams of chillies to 14 lemons for a stronger, hotter sauce, but it can be adjusted to half or a quarter of the chilii content to suit other tastes. I also love lots of salt on my meat, but not in the sauce.

Use recipe above - then BBQ or oven

Baste a whole butterflyed chicken with Piri Piri sauce and marinate (min 2 hours, overnight for fuller flavour)

Place on rack (if you have one) over baking paper in oven and cook for 1 hour at 180 celsius or until cooked and meat is a good colour.

Other variations of this recipe include: 4 tbsp lemon juice, 5 tbsp olive oil, 1/4 cup vinegar (balsamic gives an excellent flavour), 1 tbsp each of cayenne pepper, garlic - minced, chilli flakes and paprika, 1 tsp salt. Add ingredients and whisk together. Cook as above.

Obviously you can select different chicken cuts if you prefer.

This sauce can be kept refrigerated for up to 4 weeks before using.

Rice, potatoes and coleslaw are popular accompaniments in Portugal.

Good Luck!


Frank and Mary - first 2 tour participants seated in the right row, enjoying a long lazy lunch on their 2018 ‘Enchanting Italy Uncovered’ Tour

Frank and Mary - first 2 tour participants seated in the right row, enjoying a long lazy lunch on their 2018 ‘Enchanting Italy Uncovered’ Tour

Frank and Mary, you first travelled with TIKI TOURS on the ‘Unspoiled Sicily & Southern Italy tour in 2014 and have participated on various of the trips since over the last 5 years. 

1) In your opinion, has the touring concept changed these last 5 years ? 

The touring concept has not really changed however its implementation has streamlined and is more sophisticated in catering for the clients’ needs

Lunch at family wineries turned out to be highly popular

Lunch at family wineries turned out to be highly popular

2) What sets TIKI TOURS apart from other tour companies?  In other words, what is the point of difference? 

 What is the main reason you travel with TIKI again and again? 

 We think Tiki focusses more on its clients.

It treats them as individuals


‘The Langhe’ region - in the hands of the local Truffle Farmer

‘The Langhe’ region - in the hands of the local Truffle Farmer

Relaxing walk through the ancient Langhe area of Northern Italy

Relaxing walk through the ancient Langhe area of Northern Italy

3) Do the tours offer value for money considering all that is included? 

 It does give great value for money – high on this scale is its resolve to facilitate the best holiday possible


Our boutique hotels are carefully selected for their location, charm and character

Our boutique hotels are carefully selected for their location, charm and character

4) If you had to describe your recent September 2018 ‘Enchanting Italy Uncovered’ tour in just 5 words, which words would you choose?

Not sure if 5 words will do it justice but simply put each day surpasses the one before

5) What was the highlight of this particular trip?  

Hard to name just one. The glory of the Alps was splendid but so were the medieval villages tucked away in hidden valleys.


Rolling hills

Rolling hills

The Dolomites - highest rooftops of Europe

The Dolomites - highest rooftops of Europe

6) Did you have enough 'local / authentic travel experiences' i.e. interaction with the locals on this recent Italy trip? 

 The interaction and the experience is there and of necessity involves more observations of the locals and surrounds.


Interaction with the locals is important

Interaction with the locals is important

7) Covering the tours you have experienced to date, do you believe there is enough free time between touring in the day and dining at night to explore individually? 

 The free time given the circumstances is sufficient to look for things yourself.


There is always time for a coffee

There is always time for a coffee

And a precious moment to reflect on the day …

And a precious moment to reflect on the day …

8) What do you think of the group size on the tours you have experienced over the years? 

 The group size is about right and allows a mix of preferences and scope for being able to learn a lot about ones fellow travellers

2018 ‘Enchanting Italy Uncovered’ Group

2018 ‘Enchanting Italy Uncovered’ Group

9) How would you describe the type and calibre of accommodation packaged on the tours you have experienced over the years? 

 Always interesting, Spain is exotic with its paradores.  We have seldom been disappointed with the package of accommodation and meals.

10) Did you find like-minded company on the tours you have participated on over the years? 

 We have enjoyed the like-minded company and the tours themselves attract people with similar interests and outlook.

11) Covering all tours you have experienced, how would you rate the level of fitness needed to participate on the day to day TIKI TOURS excursions? 

The art of Truffle Hunting

The art of Truffle Hunting

And the rewards that follow

And the rewards that follow

 The fitter you are the better to enjoy everything but we find the tours are sympathetic and can cater for all fitnesses.

12) In your opinion, what are the most important ingredients for a successful fully escorted small group tour? 

 <refer below answer to 13>


Italy in Autumn, a destination at its best

Italy in Autumn, a destination at its best

13) In addition to a full-time European Tour Director, TIKI TOURS uses many local guides on each tour. 

 How important are the tour director and local guides for the overall success of a tour?

The tour leader is first in importance for the success of the tour.  Other important qualities are food, accommodation etc are organised by the team leader.

The important local guides are valuable in their obvious detailed local knowledge.

14) Where would you like to go next in Europe? 

 Italy is a possibility.  Sardinia and Croatia excite interest.

Local Lunch in The Dolomites

Local Lunch in The Dolomites

 15) You will be travelling with TIKI TOURS on the May 2019 'Country Roads France in Style' tour. 

What is your main attraction to this particular trip? 

The Country Roads of France is a favourite area for us, art, countryside, hilltop villages and provincial food are obvious attractions.

16) Covering destination Europe, there are many fully escorted small group tours on offer and each and every one of them has their own unique concept and inclusions. 

To assist future travellers, who in particular would you recommend the TIKI TOURS Europe tour departures to? 

We think the candidates select themselves.  An interest in the area and a passion for new experiences.

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 Love that smile !



Autumn in ‘The Langhe’ Region of Northern Italy

Autumn in ‘The Langhe’ Region of Northern Italy

1 Feste

With the locals heading back from a summer by the sea desperate to show off their tans, September is party month. Name a food or drink and some village somewhere will be celebrating it. From hazelnuts to Barolo, honey to cooked salami… the only hardship is choosing which ones to go to! See for more.

2 White truffles

As the days start to get shorter and the mornings ever foggier, truffle hunters and their dogs head into the forests in search of white truffles. You can join them on a hunt, (it’s genuinely exciting chasing the dog through the trees as he picks up a scent) or if you’re feeling lazy just order some white truffle in a restaurant. You can have it shaved over pretty much anything but simplicity is always best… just get it on a fried egg and thank me later.

3 Harvest

Wine is more than just a drink in the Langhe, it’s an obsession, and for many people a livelihood. At no time is this more apparent than during harvest. You can feel the excitement in the air as the beginning of harvest draws closer. It’s the only thing anyone talks about… when are you starting? Have you seen the weather? How will it be this year?


The Langhe is always beautiful, but in autumn it goes to another level entirely. It’s just ridiculous. See what I mean?

5 The white truffle festival

Every weekend from 8th October to 20th November, Alba becomes the centre of the white truffle world. A huge marquee hosts the International White Truffle Fair, where you can touch smell and buy your own white truffles. There are also wine and food tastings and dozens of stalls selling cheeses, salami, oils… pretty much anything you can imagine putting white truffle in, and a few things beside.Outside of the fair itself, Alba also hosts a medieval parade and fair, a donkey palio, exhibitions, wine tastings, live music and much, much more. See for more details.

GalIcia - crossroad of Spanish culture

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Its capital, Santiago de Compostela is the final destination on the Way of Saint James, the famous pilgrim route. For this reason alone it is worth visiting this region in green Spain. You'll love the landscapes, wooded valleys and amazing beaches. All along the length of its coastline you'll find areas of spectacular cliffs like those on A Costa da Morte, or the incredible Islas Atlánticas National Park.

Visit the numerous charming villages both by the sea and inland, cities such as Santiago de Compostela, A Coruña, Ferrol, Lugo, Orense, Pontevedra and Vigo and marvel at the monuments - the Tower of Hercules and Lugo’s city walls both designated World Heritage sites by the UNESCO.

Galicia’s delicious gastronomy is one of its features with a variety of typical produce and dishes, including shellfish (Dublin Bay prawns, king prawns, king scallops, mussels, scallops, lobsters, crabs), veal, octopus “a feira” (with potatoes), gammon with turnip greens or the almond tart known as “tarta de Santiago”. To drink what could be better than two of its most famous wines, Ribeiro and Albariño (each have their own wine route) or the popular “queimada” (alcoholic spirits set alight in an earthenware bowl according to the typical ritual).

If you feel like relaxing, why not make the most of Galicia’s reputation as a land of spas and open-air hot springs. If you fancy a little sport, perhaps golf is your thing, marine resorts… there’s a whole world of options to choose from.

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Its cuisine is one of the main tourist attractions of Galicia: the exquisite delicacies of this region based on the high quality and variety of local products used in the preparation of dishes. Country farm and sea products are unique in their characteristics and quality.  One of the pillars of Galician cooking is the professionalism of its sought out chefs. 

The importance of its gastronomy is evident with more than 300 gastronomic fiestas held in Galicia alone throughout the year. The origins of these exaltations to local produce arouse interest in visitors, lie in the many local and regional traditional fiestas held during harvest time or religious holidays, such as the "romerías", where promises are made to the patron saint and then completed with a traditional meal. Some of these fiestas attract great crowds and have been recognised as of national tourist interest.

One of the oldest know Christian temples San Pedro de Rocas.

One of the oldest know Christian temples San Pedro de Rocas.

Also worth seeing nearby is Santa Cristina de Ribas de Sil (open to all). Enveloped by trees and shrubs, this 10th-century Benedictine monastery sits in the forest like an abandoned fairytale. It fell from being one of the most important monasteries in the area, when it was built, to being used as a cowshed in the late 19th century. Nonetheless, the mixture of renaissance, gothic and Romanesque styles, cast in ancient grey stone, and lost in the mysterious silence of the forest, is something worth experiencing.

Perhaps the oldest monastery in the area is San Pedro de Rocas. Thought to have been founded in the sixth century and excavated from the surrounding rock, San Pedro offers few of the architectural flourishes you will see in the region’s other monasteries, but its importance is greater than its primitive appearance suggests. The church, which forms part of the monastery, is said to be one of the oldest known Christian temples.

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12 Fun Facts About Portugal

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Are you planning on visiting this westernmost country in Europe soon? Or maybe you have Portuguese roots and want to learn more about your ancestors. In any case, below are twelve facts that are bound to impress anyone about Portugal.

12 Interesting and Fun Facts About Portugal

Portugal is a fascinating country with a proud history that can be felt all throughout the country - from its capital, down to each tiny, picture-perfect village.

1. Portuguese is the official language of 9 countries
Over 236 million people world-wide are native Portuguese speakers. Portuguese is the official language of Portugal, Brazil, Cape Verde, Angola, Guinea Bissau, Mozambique, Principe, Sao Tome, and Equatorial Guinea. Portuguese is also spoken in Goa (India), Macao, and East Timor.

2. The oldest bookstore in the world is in Portugal's capital

Established in 1732, Bertrand bookshop, located in Lisbon, Portugal, is the oldest operating bookshop. Although it was destroyed in the great Lisbon earthquake of 1755, it was moved to the very location it still occupies in 1773.

3. World record holder for largest dining table set

The world record for the largest dining table was set when around 15 000 people were served lunch on the bridge as part of the inauguration celebrations.

4. Portugal is the largest cork producer in the world

Portugal produces 70% of the world's cork exports. Main importers of Portuguese cork are: Germany, the U.K., and the U.S. The country also has the largest cork forest.

5. Portugal is one of the world's top surf spots

Portugal has a coastline that spans 497 miles (800 kilometers) and it's known to have 364 days of surf!

6. You must be fingerprinted for ID cards

In 2008, Portugal became the first country to make it compulsory for people to have fingerprints on identity cards.

Oldest & Longest Facts:

7. One of the oldest universities in Europe is in Portugal

The University of Coimbra was established in 1290, making it one of the oldest universities on the European continent.

8. Portugal and England have the oldest diplomatic alliance in the world

The Anglo-Portuguese Alliance was signed in 1373 and is in force until this day! Both countries entered wars to defend the other, including the United Kingdom entering the Iberian Peninsular War and Portugal entering World War I. Talk about having someone's back!

9. Portugal has the longest bridge in Europe

The Vasco da Gama Bridge in Lisbon is 17 kilometers long, making it the longest in Europe.

Historical Facts:

10. Half of the "New World" once belonged to Portugal

In 1494, the Treaty of Tordesillas was signed which essentially gave   Portugal the eastern half of the "New Word", including Brazil, Africa, and Asia. The Portuguese Empire was actually the first global empire in   history and one of the longest-lived colonial powers, lasting for  almost  six centuries from when Ceuta was captured in 1415, until Macau (now  China) was handed-over in 1999.

11. Portugal is the oldest country in Europe

Portugal has had the same defined borders since 1139, making it the oldest nation-state in Europe. Afonso Henriques was proclaimed the first King of Portugal in 1139 and the country remained a kingdom for almost 800 years thereafter, until 1910.

12. Lisbon is older than Rome

Around four centuries older to be precise. It is in fact the second oldest  European capital after Athens. Many historians believe that it was settled by the Phoenicians around 1200 BC, who used the excellent   transport possibilities offered by the River Tagus.

In 1755, Lisbon was struck by one of the most powerful earthquakes in European history.

On the 1st of November in 1755, Lisbon was struck by about a 9.0 magnitude earthquake, which was followed by a tsunami, and fires that brought the city to rubble! Furthermore, the earthquake struck on All Saints Day, a major holiday when the churches were filled with burning candles. The earthquake struck, toppling the candles, causing major fires. 275,000 residents were killed and 85% of the buildings were destroyed! People talk about the devastating earthquake to this day.



Portugal’s stunning history and culture has survived for many centuries: the beautiful architecture, the traditional tiles and the pavement, and the stories of kings and queens, which are famous for being full of betrayals, death and, above all, love. One of these stories is the most famous Portuguese love story; that of Pedro and Inês.

The romance between D. Pedro I, future king of Portugal, and the handmaiden Inês de Castro made a big impact in the history and culture of Portugal. This forbidden love in the midst of fights for power ended in Inês’ death, and the beginning of her legend as the Dead Queen.

The Beginning of the Story

Pedro had an unhappy arranged marriage with D. Constança Manuel, a young noblewoman from the royal family of Castela. He soon fell in love with one of her handmaidens, Inês de Castro, and their relationship was never truly hidden or accepted by the court or the people. Although he was married, Pedro had frequent romantic encounters with Inês in the gardens of Quinta das Lágrimas.

When Constança died in 1345 giving birth to the future king D. Fernando I, Pedro and Inês started living together as husband and wife, which deeply offended the court, the people, and his father D. Afonso IV, who always opposed the relationship.

Despite the strong opposition and lack of support, Pedro e Inês lived happily with their children for years in Paços de Santa Clara, Coimbra. The birth of their four children, however, worsened the situation because D. Afonso IV had always felt like one of his own father’s bastard children would put his succession at risk.

Rumours of Pedro and Inês wanting to assassinate the young prince D. Fernando I began to spread, and with the court’s constant pressure on D. Afonso IV, he ordered Inês to be assassinated in January of 1355. She was killed in Quinta das Lágrimas, and it is said that her tears sprouted what is now called the Fonte das Lágrimas, where you can still see her blood stained on the rocks.

The Legend

Pedro never forgave his father for killing the love of his life, and when he was crowned king in 1357 he arrested and killed Inês’ assassins and ripped out their hearts. This earned him the epithet of Pedro, the Cruel.

Pedro swore he married Inês in secret, and he imposed her recognition as queen of Portugal. According to legend, Pedro placed Inês’ body on the throne with a crown on her head, and had the nobles kiss the hand of her corpse.

In April of 1360 he ordered her body to be moved from Coimbra to the Mosteiro Real de Alcobaça, where he ordered two magnificent tombs to be built so he could rest forever side by side with his eternal love.

The immortal love story of Pedro and Inês has inspired Portuguese authors to write beautiful literature, like Luís Vaz de Camões in Os Lusíadas. The stunning Mosteiro Real de Alcobaça and the gardens of Quinta das Lágrimas are must-see places if you’re visiting Portugal.


The Encierro is the event at the heart of the Sanfermines and makes the fiesta a spectacle that would be unimaginable in any other place in the world. It was born from need: getting the bulls from outside the city into the bullring.

The encierro takes place from July 7th to 14th and starts at the corral in Calle Santo Domingo when the clock on the church of San Cernin strikes eight o'clock in the morning. After the launching of two rockets, the bulls charge behind the runners for 825 metres, the distance between the corral and the bullring. The run usually lasts between three and four minutes although it has sometimes taken over ten minutes, especially if one of the bulls has been isolated from his companions. .

Chants to San Fermín

The bull run has a particularly emotional prelude. It is when the runners, just a few metres up the slope from the corral where the bulls are waiting, raise their rolled newspapers and chant to an image of San Fermín placed in a small recess in the wall in the Cuesta de Santo Domingo. Against the strongest of silences, the following words can be heard: "A San Fermín pedimos, por ser nuestro patrón, nos guíe en el encierro dándonos su bendición. Entzun arren San Fermin zu zaitugu patroi zuzendu gure oinak entzierro hontan otoi." (We ask San Fermín, being our patron saint, to guide us in the bull run and give us his blessing). When they finish they shout "¡Viva San Fermín! ¡Gora San Fermín!." This chant is sung three times before 8 a.m.: first, when there are five minutes to go before 8 o'clock, then three minutes and one minute before the gate of the corral is opened.

Rockets in the bullring

The third rocket, fired from the bullring, signals that all the bulls have entered the bullring. A fourth and final rocket indicates that all the bulls are safely in the corral located inside the bullring, and that the bull run has ended.

A fence of 3,000 parts

For security reasons, a double fence marks out the route of the bull run through the streets. It is made of over 3,000 wooden parts (planks, posts, gates, etc.). Part of the fence stays put throughout the fiesta but other sections are assembled and disassembled every day by a special brigade of workers.

The role of the pastores

A large number of pastores (bull 'shepherds') cover the entire bull run. They place themselves behind the bulls, with their only protection being a long stick. Their main role is to stop the odd idiot from inciting the bulls from behind, to avoid the bulls turning round and running backwards, and to help any bulls that have stopped or have been separated from their companions to continue running towards the bullring.

The dobladores

Other key people in the bull run are the <em>dobladores, people with good bullfighting knowledge (sometimes ex-bullfighters) who take up position in the bullring with capes to help the runners 'fan out' (in other words, run to the sides after they enter the bullring) and 'drag' the bulls towards the corral as quickly as possible.

The two groups of mansos (bullocks)

The six fighting bulls that will take part in the evening bullfight start the run accompanied by an initial group of mansos, which act as 'guides' to help the bulls cover the route. Two minutes after leaving the corral in Santo Domingo, a second group of bullocks (the so-called 'sweep-up" group), which are slower and smaller than the first one, are let out to lead any bulls that might have stopped or been left behind in the bull run towards the bullring.

Useful information about the bull run

The encierro is an unrepeatable experience for spectators and runners alike. It is a spectacle that is defined by the level of risk and the physical ability of the runners.

An inexperienced runner should learn about the characteristics of this dangerous 'race' (although it should not be considered as a race) before starting, and also about the protective measures to be taken for his/her own safety and that of the people running alongside.

Not everyone can run the encierro. It requires cool nerves, quick reflexes and a good level of physical fitness. Anyone who does not have these three should not take part; it is a highly risky enterprise.

Runners should start somewhere between the Plaza del Ayuntamiento (City Hall Square) and the pink-slab Education building in the Cuesta of Santo Domingo, and they should be there before 7:30 a.m. because entry to the run is closed from that time on. The rest of the run, except for the stretch mentioned above, must be completely clear of runners until a few minutes before 8 a.m.

What is not allowed in the bull run

People under 18 years of age, who must not run or participate.

Crossing police barriers placed to ensure that the run goes off smoothly.

Standing in areas and places along the route that have been expressly prohibited by the municipal police force.

Before the bulls are released, waiting in corners, blind spots, doorways or in entrances to other establishments located along the run.

Leaving doors of shops or entrances to apartments open along the route. The responsibility for ensuring these doors are closed lies with the owners or tenants of the properties.

Being in the bull run while drunk, under the effects of drugs or in any other improper manner.

Carrying objects that are unsuitable for the run to take place correctly.

Wearing inappropriate clothes or footwear for the run.

Inciting the bulls or attracting their attention in any manner, and for whatever reason, along the route of the run or in the bullring.

Running backwards towards the bulls or running behind them.

Holding, harassing or maltreating the bulls and stopping them from moving or being led to the pens in the bullring.

Stopping along the run and staying on the fence, barriers or in doorways in such a way that the run or the safety of other runners is jeopardised.

Taking photographs inside the run, or from the fences or barriers without due authorisation.

Carrying objects that are unsuitable for the good order and security of the bull run.

Installing elements that invade horizontal, vertical or aerial space along the bull run, unless expressly authorised by the Mayor's Office.

Any other action that could hamper the bull run taking place normally.




Allow us to introduce you to the hotel with Spanish music playing softly in the background to begin to imagine the uniqueness of this hotel

> listen here

The hotel originally built and intended as a royal hospital in 1499 to accommodate pilgrims traveling to Santiago. Today, it continues to draw visitors to enjoy a city that is as universal as it is fascinating. Inside this Parador Museum, considered the oldest hotel in the world, you will discover four beautiful cloisters, elegant rooms, spectacular guest rooms and a luxurious dining room that offers fish and meat prepared in the Galician style, along with classic apple filloas (a type of crêpe) and crème brûlée. Santiago is a magical city of almost indescribable beauty, where you will not only look, but you will also feel. In addition to the cathedral and the spectacular Obradoiro and Quintana squares, other sights include Santa María A Real do Sar Collegiate Church.


Together with the cathedral, this is the church that has preserved the largest part of its original Romanesque stonework and it has an interior with lovely proportions. There is also the Renaissance Colegio de Fonseca (Fonseca School) and the magnificent San Martiño Pinario Monastery. These are just some of the places well worth visiting in the city's fine historic district. The charm and the hustle and bustle of Abastos Market in the morning; the beautifully maintained Alameda Park, which boasts spectacular views of the old quarter; the church, convent and park of San Domingos de Bonaval, home to the Pantheon of Illustrious Galicians; and the green spaces around the capital, extending all the way to the sea, just half an hour away, will guide you through this city brimming with history and beauty. It marks the end of the Camino (Way of St. James) and the start of a one-of-a-kind experience we invite you to enjoy in exceptional accommodations, the Parador de Santiago.


One of the most luxurious and beautiful hotels in the Paradores chain, located in Santiago de Compostela, the destination of millions of pilgrims. Rays of sunlight illuminate the building façades in summer and the rain creates a magical ambiance that overtakes the cobbled streets in winter.

The Parador de Santiago, known as the Hostal dos Reis Católicos, is a blend of history, art and tradition, the dream of pilgrims and emblem of Santiago. It is located on Obradoiro Square near the cathedral, creating an area of spectacular beauty in one of the most visited provincial capitals in the world. A stay at this Parador means a visit to a truly unique and exclusive location. > View video

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The Parador Kitchen

Both restaurants offer a menu based on traditional Galician cuisine, with ingredients that retain their natural flavor, prepared in an exquisite contemporary style. The Parador’s kitchen cooks for a wide variety of diners: pilgrims who come for a meal, pilgrims staying at the hotel, guests at events and business meals. Yet they all delight in dishes created using fish and seafood from the rias of Galicia, beef and vegetables paired with traditional cheeses such as O Cebreiro, and exquisite desserts like filloas (crêpes) filled with apple compote and crème brûlée or traditional tarta de Santiago (almond cake).

The Parador’s breakfast is almost as emblematic as the hotel itself, as is its house specialty, caldeirada dos reis, a stew made with the best ingredients from the ria, including lobster, scallops and turbot. Both Enxebre do Hostal and Restaurante dos Reis of course offer traditional caldo gallego (bean stew), available all year, succulent beef sirloin, and cockles and octopus prepared in the classic style. There are also the famous Galician wines—Ribeiro, Albariño and Ribeira Sacra—made at local wineries with great dedication and attention to detail.

Enjoy the hospitality of the Santiagos Parador for 3 nights on TIKI TOURS Ancient Kingdoms of Spain and Portugal 2019 tour departing Australia 31 August 2019.


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Rioja is today Spain´s most famous wine region. Rioja (or “Rioha”) is the first name that will come up to any wine lovers name when they think about Spain. The same applies to Spaniards if asked to name one wine region.

The wine producing region is divided into 3 sub-regions: Rioja Alta, Rioja Alavesa and Rioja Baja.  Rioja Alavesa is located North of the Ebro river and coincides with the part of Rioja which belongs to the Spanish Basque Country. Rioja Baja is located southeast of Logrono, whilst Rija Alta is located from Logroño to Haro, South of the Ebro river.

In order to add to this complex reality, the wine producing region of Rioja is spread in 3 administrative regions of Spain: Navarre, Rioja and Basque country. One thing which is very important about Rioja is even the standard wines are good quality. 

History of the wines in Rioja

Wine production in this wine region dates back to the Roman times unsurprisingly, as is the same case in many other wine producing regions in Europe. There is however more evidence about the role of Rioja in wine from the Middle ages. The wine from Rioja we know today has very little in common with the wines produced those days.  Big changes started during the XIX century. The philloxera had impacted the vineyards in France and a few members of the local Riojan aristocracy started to incorporate wine production methods from Bordeaux in France. France had a very large wine deficit due to the plague and French wine makers found in Rioja’s soils and wines a perfect suit to produce the elegant wines they needed in Bordeaux. Those were years of change in Rioja. New production techniques were applied and the region´s economy expanded… but then the philloxera plague arrived and most of what was achieved in terms of economic development stopped.

During most of the 20th century Rioja along with Spain went through inevitable ups and downs. The last 20 or 25 years of the 20th century witnessed extraordinary development in the region.  New wineries were established, important efforts were made with investments in both the vineyards and the wineries. A new generation of young managers and wine makers brought new energies to the region and the outcome is Rioja´s current reputation.  

Regulation and types of wine in Rioja

Rioja is mainly known for its red wines and wines that age well. Tempranillo is Rioja´s main grape and most wines are blended with smaller amounts of Garnache, Graciano and Mazuelo grape.

Wines in Rioja are controlled by the local DOC Rioja. (Denominación de origen controlada Rioja) Most wine regions in Spain are Dos. Rioja is a DOC. The extra “C” implies that if a winery wants to label its wines as Rioja it can only do that. No wine from that winery could be sold without the label.

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The DOC permits 4 different types or categories of wine: young or joven, crianza, reserva and gran reserva.  Each category need to comply with specific times they need to stay at the winery before they can be released to the market.

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The category of young rioja wine is not only for young wines. Many wine makers produce wines which may not comply with any of the other categories of crianza, reserva or gran reserva. The winery may even not want to put some of the wines under any of the categories. This normally applies to “Author wines” They are wines the wine maker does not want to be constrained by the regulation and to do so the winery has to use the label traditionally used in the past for young wines. 

Did you know?

Rioja has improved in recent years in everything connected to grape selection and the attention and care put on the vineyard. Wines today use longer maceration periods to extract more tannins. The result is wines with deeper aromas and more concentrated flavours.

The price for wines in the Rioja wine region vary significantly from winery to winery. Young wines and crianza wines can be found at very reasonable prices. The prices for Reservas and Gran Reservas increase considerably, whilst the most fancy, “author wines” can reach stratospheric prices altogether.

Around 90% of all wine produced in the Rioja is red, production of Rosé is minimal, whilst white wines take up the balance. Most whites are produced with Viura Macabeo) though other grape varietals can be used such as verdejo or malvasia (normally blended in very small amounts). Viura produce complex white wines. In the past many wineries produced whites that were aged for long periods in oak barrels. But the market for those wines declined in favour of more fruity wines resulting in most wineries reducing production of those rare and complex white gems.

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Saffron - precious commodity

Saffron - precious commodity

Saffron is the most expensive spice in the world­, going for up to $16 per gram—and with good reason. It comes from the dried bright orange-red stigmas of the flower Crocus sativus.

But before you go digging up your spring crocus, know that this variety is special because it’s a triploid: it can’t grow in the wild or reproduce without human intervention. The gorgeous purple flower is painstakingly propagated and harvested by hand, and only on the morning it blooms. The more careful the cultivation, the higher the price.

Iran produces 85 percent of the world’s saffron, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization, thanks to its relatively dry, sunny climate and the agricultural knowledge passed down through generations of farmers. It likely was first discovered in Bronze Age Greece, yet it now grows throughout Europe and Asia.

Saffron is as old as time. Cleopatra was said to bathe in saffron-infused mare’s milk before seeing a suitor. “Saffron was used to dye the woolen bolero jackets worn by Minoan women; also in cosmetics, where it was mixed with red ochre, tallow, and beeswax to make lipstick,” says John O’Connell in The Book of Spice: From Anise to Zedoary. Medieval monks found that mixing a primitive glue of egg whites and saffron created a yellow glaze that could stand in for gold in the production of their manuscripts.

And I dare you to make a Spanish paella or a Persian pilau without the metallic zing and dayglow yellow punch of saffron. Same for dozens of styles of fish stew, yeasted rolls, cakes, and pies found around the world.

Saffron has been used historically to treat everything from heartache to hemorrhoids by traditional healers. Modern studies have shown the high levels of antioxidants found in saffron may help ward off inflammation in the body and that it may be helpful in treating sexual dysfunction and depression, but the jury’s still out on its reported effects on cardiovascular disease and cancer.

Saffron was once spread like hay to freshen Roman public spaces and was even prescribed as an antidote for the bubonic plague, according to the beautifully illustrated The Herball, or Generall historie of plants, by John Gerarde, published in 1597.

Its popularity may have peaked in the Middle Ages as a medicine, but this was also a time when coloring food, particularly food for a feast, was in vogue. A recipe for swan from Le Viandier de Taillevent, a cookbook published in 1300, calls for a rather graphic skinning of the bird, then cooking it on a spit. Once the bird is on the fire, you must “glaze it with saffron; and when it is cooked, it should be redressed in its skin, with the neck either straight or flat. Endorse the feathers and head with a paste made of egg yolks mixed with saffron and honey.”

Saffron still evokes affluence and elegance in any dish. Luckily, a tiny bit goes a long way.


Along the trail

Along the trail

Camino de Santiago

The Camino de Santiago (the Way of St. James) is a large network of ancient pilgrim routes stretching across Europe and coming together at the tomb of St. James (Santiago in Spanish) in Santiago de Compostela in north-west Spain.

Yearly, hundreds of thousands of people of various backgrounds walk the Camino de Santiago either on their own or in organized groups. People who want to have peace of mind will benefit from an organized tour or a self-guided tour while many will opt to plan the camino on their own.


The most popular route (which gets very crowded in mid-summer) is the Camino Francés which stretches 780 km (nearly 500 miles) from St. Jean-Pied-du-Port near Biarritz in France to Santiago. This route is fed by three major French routes: the Voie de Tours, the Voie de Vezelay, and the Voie du Puy. It is also joined along its route by the Camino Aragones (which is fed by the Voie d’Arles which crosses the Pyrenees at the Somport Pass), by the Camí de Sant Jaume from Montserrat near Barcelona, the Ruta de Tunel from Irun, the Camino Primitivo from Bilbao and Oviedo, and by the Camino de Levante from Valencia and Toledo.

Other Spanish routes are the Camino Inglés from Ferrol & A Coruña, the Via de la Plata from Seville and Salamanca, and the Camino Portugues from Oporto.

The network is similar to a river system – small brooks join together to make streams, and the streams join together to make rivers, most of which join together to make the Camino Francés. During the middle ages, people walked out of their front doors and started off to Santiago, which was how the network grew up. Nowadays, cheap air travel has given many the opportunity to fly to their starting point, and often to do different sections in successive years. Some people set out on the Camino for spiritual reasons; many others find spiritual reasons along the Way as they meet other pilgrims, attend pilgrim masses in churches and monasteries and cathedrals, and see the large infrastructure of buildings provided for pilgrims over many centuries.

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Walking the Camino

Walking the Camino is not difficult – most of the stages are fairly flat on good paths. The main difficulty is that few of us have walked continuously for 10, 20 or 30 days. You learn more about your feet than you would ever have thought possible!

The purpose of this website is to give you information about what it is actually like to walk one of the Caminos, and to choose which one would be the most congenial. Do not assume that you need to walk the Camino Francés just because everyone else does – the other routes are much emptier and have lots to offer.

Origins of the pilgrimage

The history of the Camino de Santiago goes back at the beginning of the 9th century (year 814) moment of the discovery of the tomb of the evangelical apostle of the Iberian Peninsula. Since this discovery, Santiago de Compostela becomes a peregrination point of the entire European continent.

The Way was defined then by the net of Roman routes that joined the neuralgic points of the Peninsula. The impressive human flow that from very soon went towards Galicia made quickly appear lots of hospitals, churches, monasteries, abbeys and towns around the route. During the 14th century the pilgrimage began to decay, fact brought by the wars, the epidemics and the natural catastrophes.

The recovery of the route begins at the end of the 19th century, but it is during the last quarter of the 20th century when the authentic contemporary resurge of the peregrination takes place. There is no doubt that the social, tourist, cultural or sport components have had a great importance in the “jacobea” revitalization but we cannot forget that the route has gained its prestige thanks to its spiritual value.

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Along the way….


We savoured regional delicacies, of which the locals are justly proud


In the most delightful picture post card perfect scenery, the sounds and scents really bring it to life

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If you go down to the woods today…. you’d better take an expert truffle hunter along with you

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Ahhh sweet success

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There were many occasions to celebrate

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and just soak up the local atmosphere

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It is impossible after all to taste just one flavour

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Where else but Italy at harvest time to immerse yourself in the fruit of the vine over a satisfying long lunch - Italian style

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To chat about the days events and discoveries


Fresh Pasta - Colour is important

Fresh Pasta - Colour is important

Follow our four-step guide to making fresh pasta sheets which you can use to dish up classic Italian favourites.

Making your own pasta is up there with making your own bread. Once you have made your very own batch, you won’t want to go back to store-bought pasta.

To make your own pasta at home, you’ll need the following equipment:

a pasta machine for rolling out the pasta dough into sheets, and for making fettuccine (or cut by hand)

a fork for whisking the eggs

a rolling pin

clean tea towels to cover the fresh pasta while it’s drying

plastic wrap to cover the fresh pasta while it’s resting

a ravioli wheel for making farfalle and ravioli

A homemade pasta recipe in 4 simple steps

Place 400g Italian “00” flour or plain flour in a mound on a clean work surface. Make a well in the centre of the flour. Crack 4 eggs into the centre of the well. Use a fork to gently whisk the eggs while using your other hand to secure the outer walls of the flour. Continue whisking, gradually drawing in the flour as you go until the dough becomes thick.

Use your hands to bring the dough together. Knead the dough for 5 minutes or until smooth and elastic. (To check if the dough is ready, press it with the tip of your finger. If it springs back, it means it has reached the desired texture.) Shape the dough into a disc and coat lightly with flour. Wrap in plastic wrap and set aside for 30 minutes to rest.

Use your hands to bring the dough together

Use your hands to bring the dough together

Divide the dough into 4 equal portions. Use the palm of your hand to flatten the dough. Set the pasta machine on the widest setting and coat the pasta rollers lightly in flour. Feed 1 portion of dough through the machine. Repeat 6 more times, folding the pasta into thirds and then turning it 90 degrees to the pasta machine before you feed the pasta dough through each time.

Use a pasta machine or cut the dough into equal portions

Use a pasta machine or cut the dough into equal portions

When the dough is the same width as the machine, stop folding it into thirds. Continue to feed the dough through the machine, gradually narrowing the pasta machine settings, 1 notch at a time, before you feed the pasta dough through each time. Repeat until you reach the second last setting on the machine. Repeat with the remaining 3 dough portions.

Variations on pasta recipes

How to make farfalle

Use a ravioli wheel to cut 1 pasta sheet crossways into 4cm-wide strips. Use a sharp knife to cut the strips crossways, at 4cm intervals, to make 4cm squares. Brush the centre of each square with a little water. Use your fingers to pinch the straight edges of the squares together to form bows. Place on a floured tea towel and set aside for 2 hours to dry. Repeat with the remaining pasta sheets.

How to make lasagne sheets

Use a sharp knife to cut the pasta sheets into 8 x 14cm rectangles (or to the size stated in the recipe). Lightly flour both sides of each lasagne sheet. Place the pastry sheets on a clean tea towel. Cover with another clean tea towel and set aside for 1 hour to dry slightly. Drying the lasagne sheets makes it easier to handle the fresh pasta before cooking and prevents it from stretching and breaking.

How to make fettuccine

Cut 1 pasta sheet in half crossways. Set the pasta machine to the fettuccine setting and feed the pasta sheet through. Lightly coat the fettuccine with flour to stop it sticking together. Repeat with the remaining pasta sheets. To cut fettuccine by hand, roll up the pasta sheet lengthways to form a log. Use a sharp knife to cut the roll into 1cm-thick slices. Unroll the fettuccine and lightly coat in flour.

How to make ravioli

Place 1 pasta sheet on a lightly floured surface. Place heaped teaspoonfuls of filling, in 2 rows, at 5cm intervals on the pastry sheet, leaving a 2cm border around the edges. Use a pastry brush to brush the pasta sheet around the filling with water. Top with a second pasta sheet and press the edges together to seal. Use a ravioli wheel or knife to cut between the filling to make squares. Repeat with the remaining pasta sheets and filling.



Follow the Basic Pasta Dough recipe. Sift the flour onto a clean work surface. Next, puree 3/4 cup frozen cooked leaf spinach (squeezed to remove as much moisture as possible) in a food processor. Add it to the well in the flour. Continue as per the Basic Pasta Dough method.


Follow the Basic Pasta Dough recipe. Add 2 tablespoons store-bought or homemade tomato paste or sun-dried tomato paste to the well in the flour. Use 1 large egg instead of 2 medium ones. Continue as per the Basic Pasta Dough recipe.


Follow the Basic Pasta Dough recipe. Roast 1 red beet until softened, about 45 minutes. Let cool. Peel and grate or puree in a food processor. Add 2 tablespoons grated cooked beet to the well in the flour. Use 1 large egg instead of 2 medium ones. Continue as per the Basic Pasta Dough recipe.


Pasta Follow the Basic Pasta Dough recipe. Soak 1 sachet of powdered saffron in 2 tablespoons hot water for 15 minutes. Strain the water, discarding the solids. Use 1 large egg instead of 2 medium ones and whisk with the vibrant saffron water before adding to the well in the flour. Continue as per the Basic Pasta Dough recipe.


Follow the Basic Pasta Dough recipe. Add at least 3 tablespoons finely chopped fresh green herbs to the well in the flour.

Squid ink pasta Follow the Basic Pasta Dough recipe. Add 1 sachet squid ink to the eggs and whisk to combine before adding to the flour. You may need to add a little extra flour to the pasta dough.