Lourdes is a town located in the southwest of France, at the foot of the Pyrenees. Here we find the Grotto of Massabielle, where in 1958, the Virgin Mary appeared to Saint Bernadette on 18 occasions. The Sanctuary is a pilgrimage destination where one can immerse themselves in quiet prayer, join in candlelit evening processions, or drink or bathe in the water spring, known for miraculous healings.
Carcassonne is a fortified town, where you will find an enchanting medieval citadel, La Cité. There is much to see as you wander through the streets with an array of interesting shops, cafes and restaurants. The sight of Château Comtal, a 12th century castle, immediately transports one to another place in time.
Barcelona is the capital city of Spain’s Catalonia region. Founded in the middle ages by the Romans, it is a city rich in history, culture, cuisine, art and architecture, to name but a few of its gifts for the traveller to experience.
Each September the city celebrates the ‘Fiesta La Mercé’. The festival of ‘Our Lady of Mercy’ – Patron Saint of Barcelona. The festivities include parades, concerts – song and dance, Castellers – human towers, artistic displays and fireworks. The striking parade of papier maché “giants” bring smiles abound to those lining the streets enjoying the festivities. My friends and I stumbled across a wine festival, which was an added bonus! The Catalan Wine Fair – showcasing the bountiful wines from this region.
The striking coastal capital city of Portugal is rich in history. Here your senses are spoilt with stunning views, architecture, churches, monuments, parks and promenades, alongside the enticing smell of chestnuts roasting along the side-walks.
“Azulejos” – beautifully painted glazed ceramic tiles – decorate buildings, churches and homes with colour and intricate designs, each telling you a story.
A small town, home to a most prominent pilgrimage site dedicated to “Our Lady of Fatima”. In 1917, the Virgin Mary, appeared to three shepherd children – Jacinta, Francisco and Lucia. The Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima is a place of contemplation, silence and prayer.
Camino Portuguese (stages from Ponte de Lima to Santiago de Compostela, 154km)
This pilgrimage walk which I made under the guidance of a wonderful guide, Leticia, from Marly tours, and with my newfound Camino Family of 9 pilgrims from the USA encompassed forests, fields, little villages, coastal towns, vineyards and quite a few rocky hills!
Santiago de Compostela
In the northwest region of Galicia, Spain we find the vibrant city of Santiago de Compostela. A destination of significance for thousands of pilgrims walking “The Way of St. James”. Here homage can be made at the tomb of Saint James. An UNESCO World Heritage Site, Santiago de Compostela offers the Pilgrim rest after their journey, and for travellers and pilgrims alike, the joy of exploring and experiencing interesting museums, art, festivals, folklore and the time to sit back and enjoy delicious Galician cuisine.
Completely intact Roman Walls embrace the city of Lugo, in the northwest of Spain in the region of Galicia. Notably a World Heritage Site, these Walls hold within them a place rich in history, culture and cuisine. A pretty city with its winding streets, parks and plazas. Interesting museums hold artefacts and art dating back centuries. A visit to the Cathedral of Santa Maria, is a must, noted as a Spanish Property of Cultural Interest.
In Lugo, you will be happy to find that the many quaint bars offer you delicious “free” Tapas with your drinks. You can also enjoy wines from the nearby Ribiera Sacra to accompany traditional Galician dishes.
From October 4 – 12th Lugo comes alive with the Festival of San Frolian. The city welcomes you to enjoy markets, parades, concerts, dancing, artistic performances and fireworks! Here you can feast upon ‘Pulpo a la Gallega’ , a traditional Octopus dish, renowned to be particularly good in this region!
Lugo is also a town on the Camino Primitivo, one of the oldest routes on the “Road to Santiago”. It is a great base to access interesting places such as Mondoñedo, Portomarin, Melide, the Ribiera Sacra and Ribadeo.
Praia das Catedrais “Cathedrals Beach”, Galicia
A strikingly beautiful formation of cliffs along the beach, 10km from the coastal town of Ribadeo, is known as “Beach of the Cathedrals”.
A ‘natural monument’ – it is an exhilarating experience to stand upon this land, take in the fresh sea air, the beauty of these majestic rocks, and the waters of the Cantabrian Sea.
Croatia, home of my maternal ancestors. Split is the second largest city in Croatia. The downtown centre is home to the Diocletian Palace, where within and surrounding its walls, you will find plazas, shops, hotels, apartments, outdoor cafes, traditional restaurants and bars. Not to mention the Cathedral and Bell Tower of Saint Dominus. A place of historical happenings and beauty. A stroll along Splits coastal promenade, and Marjan Hill, will provide you with views of welcoming islands in the distance.
From Split one can catch ferries easily to nearby islands (such as Brač, Šolta, Hvar, Korčula, Vis), or take a bus or organised tour to visit places such as Tučepi beach, Trogir, Sinj, Zadar, Medjugorie, Makarska, Vepric, Krka National Park or the beautiful Plitvice Lakes National Park.
Enjoy traditional Croatian dishes with wines from the region, as you sit back and take in beautiful sunsets along the Adriatic coastline.
The last stop on this vacation, and as they say “All roads lead to Rome”. A city that needs no introduction. A city where you can walk its streets (and across its bridges) for hours and hours totally engaged with history, monuments, churches, archaeological sites, piazzas, food and fashion.
The sightseeing options are endless – The Pantheon, The Vatican, Piazza Navona, the Trevi Fountain, St Paul’s outside the Walls, the Roman Forum, The Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore, The Colosseum, The Spanish Steps, Museums and Art Galleries….step into one of the 950 churches in Rome, to pray, reflect and admire beautiful works of Art.
Stroll along the fashionable streets, window shop or shop to your hearts content at stores and markets.
Stop for a coffee, gelato or pastry. At the end of day you can sit back and enjoy “an appertivo” before your evening meal, whilst you recall the joys of the you day spent in the “eternal city” of Rome.