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Cranleigh DFAS on Tour -
Bilbao, Santiago de Compostela
& the Way of St James


Wednesday 7th to Wednesday 14th September 2016

In September 2016 Cranleigh DFAS and Friends were the first in a number of years to venture abroad on an organised Group Holiday organised so efficiently through Tailored Travel.  What gems we had in store from the onset!!  It was the “Red Carpet” rolling before us each day, all explained so knowledgeably and with such humour, by our excellent guide.

This brief summary accompanies the photos which John Wright took throughout the tour and encapsulate the wonders which our tour in Northern Spain had to offer.

08/09/16

The first photos here reflect many views of the Guggenheim Museum itself in Bilbao – by Frank Gehry.  We first saw this from the outside on our guided tour of Bilbao but later a tour inside gave us further gasps of the WOW factor!  It is impossible to put into words!

The few photos here are summaries of some of the major installations – especially large three dimensional works such as the huge spider – Maman by Louise Bourgois and the Tulips by Jeff Koons.  The installation “A Matter of Time” by Richard Serra was an installation which gripped us all .. giving us physical queasiness as we walked through the weathered steel “corridors”.



The building itself is such a Work of Art that it captures your eye at every step as your vista changes.   Awesome is an understatement!  Of course there were also paintings in “standard” galleries too.




From the tour, we set off in the afternoon for a wonderful “downtime“ visit by the seaside at the delightful resort of Castro Urdiales .. a different kind of gem and you can see that the holiday really had begun by indulgences in Ice cream!  This was our first step into Asturias and Cantabria from The Basque of Bilbao.

However – you will note from the sequence that everyone chose to return to the Guggenheim in the early evening for a further visit before our welcome group meal!





9/10/16

The next set of photos reflect the wonders of Burgos – a city dating from 884, and Capital city of Leon and Castile from 1073.  Its importance is reflected by the quality of the whole city and the Cathedral is Spain’s third largest.  The beauty of tree lined avenues, together with magnificent buildings gave joy to all.








10/09/16

You can see that we are really witnessing the Camino de Santiago -  The Way of St James .. and real Pilgrims walking The Way were happy to be photographed!  You can see one of the three buildings designed by Gaudi outside Barcelona.. A Bishop’s Palace – and even Gaudi himself sitting admiring his own work on a bench accompanied by his new friend!!

We are now in Leon, and The stained glass windows in Leon Cathedral had a quality we all thought was beyond anything we had ever seen, and the wall paintings in the Basilica San Isidoro (not depicted as photos were forbidden) are worth an internet search if you are interested in such 12 C art?








11/09/16

As we left Leon our photos depict the most amazing Medieval Bridge at Orbigo with a group of “Pilgrims” doing the Way the Easy Way – do you recognise them on the bridge?

Another informal stop that hot day was to visit Lugo – where many of our group walked the finest surviving Roman City Walls in Spain.



Excited that we had “reached our final destination”, we enjoyed our first sights of the beautiful city of Santiago de Compostela.






12/09/16

Today was awesome in so many ways.  We witnessed the history and Art of the City, and its Religious Buildings including the Cathedral.  Pilgrims have been attracted to it for centuries, and it was Christendom’s third place of Pilgrimage after Jerusalem and Rome.





In the evening, many of us returned to the Cathedral to witness the famous Botafumeiro at a Mass in the Cathedral- watch this link and I think you will even smell in incense!


We were all more than ready for our group meal that evening.






13/09/16

Galicia -

The beauty and magnitude of the cities were now in stark contrast with the beauty and simplicity of the rural idyll and seascapes of Galicia’s West coast with thoughts of Celtic lands such as our own West Country or Ireland.  The beautiful Rias Baixas and their stunning grain stores were both fascinating and  tempting fodder for all photographers!






Cambados -

How better could we celebrate the end of our wonderful tour than with a tour and wine tasting in a beautiful Old Manor producing the very best of Albarino wines, which were bound for Waitrose back home!





We could not have enjoyed a holiday more!  Our group was perfect, our guide was brilliant, the weather perfect and the places we visited were not only World Class, but we were all both intrigued and amazed that so few British venture into these parts of Spain!  Shhhhh... We think we will keep it a secret – except from those who read this!


Text by Gwen Wright

Photos by John Wright