In the words of recent Travel Enriched tour participants…
2017: Camino tours
This was one of the most enjoyable holidays that I have ever had. There are a number of reasons for this, which included the uniqueness and initial physical challenge of walking for such a long distance, viewing the world and buildings differently literally from ground level up, absorbing history every day (not to forget the dinosaur footprints!), walking along the northern coastline, the essential comfortable beds, a cohesive and enjoyable group, an anthropologist and thoroughly special Spanish tour guide, and the security of a competent and flexible tour leader whose thoughtfulness in her tour design was noticeable. Diane’s observant and unobtrusive conducting of the process, her sense of humour, intellect and authentic style, complimented by the compatibility of the group, set the mood and pace of our trip. I loved it and was keen to keep going. Vicki C., Melbourne, Vic. Camino del Norte May 2017
My wife and I recently walked the Camino Portugues from Porto to Santiago, complete with some side trips to Finisterre and elsewhere. It is probably one of the best trips I have done in years of travel; exercise, good company, purpose and an overlying spirituality (even for a non-Christian). Diane looked after us very well. Her planning and leadership were superb, her commentary and knowledge excellent. She also had the happy knack of being able to judge when people wanted to be left on their own to walk quietly, and when encouragement was needed. I have no problem in recommending her and we are busily planning our next venture. Michael T., Hobart, Tas. Camino Portugues May-June 2017
Thanks Diane for our wonderful, well organised and trouble-free tour. All hotels selected by you were in excellent locations; they were architecturally interesting, comfortable and adequately matched our needs. The entire trip was most enjoyable experience! Your consideration and care of me during our tour was praiseworthy and very much appreciated. With admiration to a fantastic, dedicated tour leader. Coral C., Melbourne, Vic. Camino Portugues May-June 2017
This walking tour provided a great balance of walking and touring of the surrounding areas, which would otherwise be missed. Rest days were well spaced and action packed with outings to other interesting locales. Accommodation was always first rate. Many scenic highlights – the Celtic village overlooking the Atlantic Ocean above A Guarda, the Roman aqueduct at Vila do Conde, the Roman bridge at Ponte de Lima to name but a few, and of course the picturesque villages, farmland and forests encountered daily. A reasonable degree of fitness was required, particularly in the heat, but having the option of a taxi ride to our accommodation at lunch time most days also took the pressure off when blisters started to blight the enjoyment! Maree U., Melbourne, Vic. Camino Portugues May-June 2017
An outstanding two weeks for those who love walking, learning of the complexity and richness of other cultures, and directly experiencing and reflecting on their spiritual, natural and social environments. Marion L., Melbourne, Vic. Camino Portugues May-June 2017
Thanks for a tour that was so much more than I expected; a fascinating trip through countryside and time; from Mediaeval to modern Spain and everything in between. John D. Melbourne, Vic. Camino Mozarabe (bus tour) June 2017
In addition to the historical gems such as the Alhambra in Granada, the Alcázar in Seville and the Mezquita in Cordova, all to be expected on a trip orchestrated by Diane. We were also presented with many surprises such as an informative tour of a “jámon” drying room in Trevelez, a working roman amphitheatre in Mérida, the stately Plaza Major of Cáceres, cider pouring in Oviedo and the rugged Picos de Europa. So much to see and so much to discover. A stunning tour with great tour leaders supported by our bus driver Xavier with his unbounded enthusiasm for sharing his country with us. Mary & John A., Melbourne, Vic. Camino Mozarabe (bus tour) June 2017
Diane, I. Ithought you handled the logistics around negotiating people’s different needs brilliantly! It’s the seamless way you pull things together that’s so impressive. Lesley H., Melbourne, Vic. Camino Mozarabe (bus tour) June 2017.
2016: Camino tours
The Camino experience is different for everyone. For me it was a great opportunity to have a ‘holiday with a difference’ – and l did! I enjoy walking and this was a ‘special’ walk with different landscapes and beauty each day with a lovely group of people. It was a great opportunity for quiet reflection walking alone or enjoying the chat & laughter with fellow walkers.
For me a real draw card of the Travel Enriched tour was knowing the tour group was small. Diane’s attention to detail in the planning of the tour and during the 13 days was exceptional. Nothing was too much trouble. Our accommodation & meals were excellent and the arrangements, luggage transfers, etc fell into place each day without a hitch.
My walking preparation was limited and not ideal. Nevertheless, l was amazed how well l managed each day with only the very warm days being more of a challenge! Diane and our Spanish-speaking guide, Sol, were so encouraging. “It’s not a race or a competition… just walk at your own pace and enjoy each day.”
I would definitely recommend the Portuguese Camino for anyone looking for a ‘holiday with a difference. I don’t think you will be disappointed. MP, Shepparton. November 2016
I can’t believe the trip is over and I am now home for a long time. When people ask me about the Camino I realise I really enjoyed the challenge – sometimes concerned I wouldn’t finish it, but really thrilled at the end of each day when I completed it. Just loved the challenge and appreciated all the work Diane put into it to make everything run so smoothly. CK, Melbourne. October 2016
It’s now been a few months since we returned from the Travel Enriched 2016 Camino Portuguese walk. Time to reflect on what was so enjoyable and what made it special for us. The fact that we’ve since had a couple of get-togethers with some of those we met in the group suggests that this tour was very special, and it was.
Both of us have always been keen walkers. We enjoy walking both urban and in the bush. But differences in leg length mean one of us has a natural walking pace considerably faster than the other! And at times stops for (her) bird watching or (his) photographing don’t correspond! The neat trick of Diane’s tour was to somehow fix this problem. We both walked significant distances each day along the Camino. We spent some time walking together but also each walked with all others in the group. We strode or sauntered with our various companions as life stories, trivial anecdotes and observations of the journey were exchanged, or walked on in companionable silence. And so both of us ended each day satisfied with the accomplishment, more or less at the same time (and thankfully at the same place!).
This is the first time either of us has been involved in a supported walk. We approached this concept with some caution, not wanting it to be too organised. But we were very pleased with the way Diane put the trip together. The organisation was helpful (especially when one of us was sick for a few days); she made the trip easy, but without taking over. It was very clear that we had options to do our own thing and to some degree we did. But in truth we enjoyed the company of our group very much and spent much of the non-walking time with various members.
One aspect that we thought exceptional was that every person in the group was looked after. Between Diane and Sol, the Spanish guide, the fastest walkers were made clear about meeting points (nobody got lost) and the slowest were gently assisted and not made to feel too slow (nobody was left behind). Everybody enjoyed it. We would thoroughly recommend the Travel Enriched experience. The Camino trail was a great journey, and Diane helped make it so. Many thanks from us both. PM&EB-M, Melbourne. December 2016
2016: Cuba tour
I was on the inaugural Travel Enriched Cuba Tour of 2016, and I’m still raving about it to my friends. I’ve only occasionally travelled in groups, and the experience hadn’t been (up to the point of the Cuba Tour 2016) anything to rave about. Diane McDonald (from Travel Enriched) showed how wonderful group travel can be when done well. It became very clear very quickly that Diane would really, really communicate – no details were left to chance; no question was too silly; and nothing troubled Diane…she was definitely prepared to go above and beyond to make the tour successful. Emails and attachments kept coming, to make sure that we knew all that we needed to know, and things that we might not have even thought of (but would later become important!!) were brought to our attention.
And even amongst the daily chaos of Cuba (enjoyable as it was to us as spectators!!), Diane still maintained her cool, calm & collected disposition to sort things out. Her delightful sense of humour got us through several situations that might otherwise been flat spots. One of her many strengths is her ability to ferret out information, and then sort through it – yep, anybody can do the same on Google, but very few have the patience to (for example) sort through hundreds of homestay (family home) listings, to cross reference by ratings/reviews, number of bedrooms, location/proximity to the other homes being selected, and then to add another variable – the hosts’ language skills. But Diane did it…we were in awe of how smoothly things went; how uncomplicated our travels were, and how enjoyable our homestay experiences were. We were able to just focus on having fun, and soaking up the delights of Cuba.
Diane didn’t skimp either – we had an excellent guide…Rigo really was a 10 out of 10 for his knowledge, personality and language skills. That’s rare – I’ve experienced the 1 out of 10 guides and how miserable the experience is, so I’m really grateful to Diane for her thoroughness and diligence in getting that part of the tour spot on. The bus that she sourced for us was very modern, comfortable and air conditioned, and the driver was extremely professional – he was passionate about keeping us safe and able to relax with his careful driving.
Diane’s itinerary for our tour was really well thought out – where we went, how long we spent there, and explanations provided for the particular highlights that she felt we might enjoy. It really worked for us, and none of us took the good planning for granted. It’s so easy for tour organisers to get that part of things wrong – spending too long in one place, or moving on too quickly, or choosing a place to go to that just doesn’t live up to everyone’s hopes and expectations. We had none of those downsides. It all just worked. There were lots of inclusions, such as meals and excursions, and Diane has asked me to suggest ways for it to be better next time – so far, I haven’t been able to think of anything!! But Diane being Diane, she’ll find a way to make 2017 even better than 2016!!! I highly recommend Travel Enriched for the 2017 Cuba tour. The price is very reasonable, given everything that’s included and the professionalism of Travel Enriched. GH, Bellarine Peninsula, Vic. August 2016.
The April 2016 Cuba Tour provided a great range of experiences that would not normally be offered by the larger commercial tour companies. Diane McDonald is both thoughtful and experienced in putting together an itinerary that enhances the appreciation of Cuba’s stunning vistas, architecture, music and dance traditions, as well as scheduling plenty of free time to explore aspects of travellers’ particular interests. When in Cuba, you can hardly stand still as you get sucked into the rhythm of the Cuban people but our Travel Enriched tour also afforded a deeper understanding of Cuban socio- political life at a time when the economy is in transition. SC & AC, Melbourne, Vic. July 2016.
We have just returned from a great holiday in Cuba. We travelled with Travel Enriched and the name says it all. The tour group of 22 was full of fun and enjoyment. The Casas (host families) where we stayed were variable but made for a good story over breakfast ,where we caught up with and got to know our travel companions… Breakfasts were good with ample coffee and laughs to get us going for the day. We also enjoyed several dinners at the casas, sitting on rooftops overlooking the town and always sipping on a mojitos.
Travel Enriched, disguised as Diane McDonald, took us all over Cuba. In a little over two weeks we went from beautiful old Havana to the tobacco fields of Vinales; from a day on a pristine beach at Cayo Levisa to Cienfuegos and on to Trinidad; from Place de la Revolucion to Che Guevara memorial at Santa Clara, then ending in the bustling city of Santiago. The tour allowed plenty of free time to explore both alone or with others. We really liked this aspect of the tour as it gave us the opportunity to get to know others on tour as well as the chance just to kick back and rest. Travel Enriched arranged a great local guide and bus driver who gave feely of their spirit and energy. C & D S. Melbourne, Vic. May 2016.
A key factor leading to the successful tour was the great camaraderie between the participants themselves…
An important part of our Cuban adventure was traveling with such an experienced, fun-loving, open-minded group. It wouldn’t have been nearly as enjoyable if we had gone to Cuba … by ourselves. T & M P. Logrono, Spain. May 2016.
Thank you all for your company on such an epic journey. It was a wonderful learning experience. Special thanks to Diane for initiating and organising our adventure… You provided a memorable journey through Cuba, a wonderful job both in planning and implementation. A key indicator was that the group gelled very well… P.A. & J.O. Blairegowrie, Vic. May 2016.
Thanks to everyone for making the trip such a success and to Diane for her organisation and care. L & P SL. Bellarine Peninsula, Vic. May 2016.
2015: Camino tours
My daughter and I joined a Travel Enriched Tour at Porto in Portugal. It was my first overseas trip. Being 72 years young, I knew it would be challenging. It was well worth it. Diane and her co-tour leader were very experienced and competent guides and companions. Nothing was any trouble in encouraging us along the way. The accommodation was excellent. For us both it was a great experience physically, emotionally and spiritually. PS, Melbourne & MS, Bairnsdale, Vic. September 2015
Our Travel Enriched tour was expertly organised by Diane & her friends at the Camino Travel Centre in Santiago de Compostela… We had no problems with luggage transfers… the standard of hotels & eating establishments was exemplary without being expensive. Diane’s presence throughout made our journey hassle-free. We have no hesitation in highly recommending Travel Enriched for your next Camino / walking / travel experience. A&AC, Melbourne, Vic. October 2015
After two years of planning a ‘special holiday’ your Camino tour was highly recommended by a business associate. We cannot speak more highly of such a well organised ‘Tour of a lifetime’…. The accommodation, food, transport and care, not to mention the wonderful adventure you imparted on us to fulfil our dreams will never be forgotten. We would not hesitate to recommend your Tour to family and friends. Still considering the Atlantic Ocean Coastal walk. P&PC, Melbourne, Vic. November 2015
2015: Peru tour
‘Thank you Diane for a wonderful tour. Everything was perfect – all the information prior to the trip with recommended reading on the history and culture of Peru was a great preparation. We enjoyed the itinerary with a mixture of grass roots experiences and tourist highlights. Your eye to detail, your care and interest in all participants was extremely important in building a cooperative and enjoyable travelling group. The fun atmosphere of the trip was special along with your deep knowledge of the people and their country’. M&B A. Melbourne, Vic. May 2015.
‘Our 15-day tour through Peru with Travel Enriched was a wonderful adventure. We spent time around Lima, on the Amazon, in Cusco, in the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, on the high plains and on Isla del Sol on Lake Titicaca. Significant tourist sites were combined with a glimpse of what it is like to live in a community on the outskirts of Lima, village life along the Amazon, sampling potato and broad beans cooked in a traditional earthen oven in Yanaoca, and exploring the terraces of Isla del Sol. Everything superbly organized and competently executed even when circumstances required a quick shift to Plan B or even Plan C. Truly travel enriched’. J&M A. Melbourne, Vic. May 2015.
2015: Camino tours
‘…Each day was a delightful mystery… I would be very happy to recommend Travel Enriched Tours to anyone… I can’t thank my friend enough for suggesting that I walk the Portuguese Camino with you’. SE. Northmead, NSW. May 2015
‘I really loved sharing the Camino with our group – a perfect “Way” to do it for me. Company was fun and the scenery absolutely gorgeous… I am so very pleased I decided to travel with you. So very carefully organised and so very caring about each one of us. Thank you’. MM. Melbourne, Vic. May 2015
‘I have wonderful memories of my walk along those fabulous trails and our great group. I returned straight to grandmother duties for the school holidays so I am looking forward to viewing my photos in a week or two. Thank you for a wonderful experience’! WR. Blue Mountains, NSW. May 2015
2014: Camino tours
‘If you want to walk the roads less travelled, then this is for you! Book a walking tour led by Diane McDonald from Travel Enriched. The time we spent as a group walking in Portugal and Spain in September 2014 was undoubtedly the best holiday I have ever experienced. Walking through beautiful countryside enables a unique interaction with local people, food, animals and landscape that you do not get any other way. The walk challenges physically within each person’s self-defined limits, so is enjoyable at every stage. Diane paid attention to everyone’s needs and was a font of information about history, culture and the terrain. Plus, she has a delightful personality that adds to the general enjoyment. The pre-holiday organisation was clear and thorough. I can’t fault Travel Enriched and will go off again with Diane as soon as I possibly can…’ JW. Hobart, Tas. November 2014.
‘I’ve just returned from the most wonderful walking experience from Oporto in Portugal to Santiago de Compostella. Having read a great deal about the Camino, I had given up on being capable of doing it as I am 67 yrs old. Then I heard about… Travel Enriched. Everything was extremely well planned before, during and after the trip. Diane encouraged a varied group to enjoy their own particular experience. Her approach was professional, the accommodation was delightful, the food wonderful. It was the first time I had travelled without my husband and I felt safe and very proud of my achievements. Diane runs various tours. I can thoroughly recommend Travel Enriched as running tours with a difference! The communication before, during and after the Tour was outstanding, clear and relevant at all times. Ideas on training and preparation proved very helpful…. Diane has a special gift for meeting the varied needs of all in the group. Any request was dealt with promptly and all were treated with equal respect. I really could not fault the planning of everything about the tour. It is excellent value for money. I really enjoyed Diane’s company and am so grateful for the opportunity to walk my Camino’. MV. Hobart, Tas. November 2014.
‘If you are considering walking the Camino Portuguese get in touch with Travel Enriched because you will have the best experience and make wonderful friends along the Way… The pre-tour information provided by Diane was invaluable and every detail of the itinerary was taken care of…The route chosen by Diane was excellent, providing great scenery and manageable distances every day. My biggest hint to anyone considering walking the Camino is to get as much practice as you can walking on cobblestones! I put in 12 months’ preparation walking on all kinds of surfaces and gradients, but nothing prepared me adequately for the cobblestones… TD. Hobart, Tasmania. November 2014.
‘Thank you Diane for putting the tour together. The walk really is a walk of a lifetime. Having said that I hope to do it again someday’. JH. Sydney, NSW. October 2014
‘My husband and I joined the Travel Enriched group in September in Porto Portugal and felt a real sense of achievement on arrival in Santiago Spain. We had travelled part of the French Camino in 2013, walking shorter distances and so we were prepared for a wonderful experience and had a good idea of the style of holiday. This walk, however, challenged us more and we thoroughly enjoyed it, feeling very satisfied at the end of the day with what we had seen and accomplished. We surprised ourselves as we are both senior citizens but now feel young again! Diane and her co tour guide were gracious companions… Nothing was a trouble. Diane had selected comfortable hotels in convenient locations and her organisational skills were excellent … there was never a hitch. This is a well priced trip with a variety of countryside and villages and towns…. great value for money’. J & RM. Sydney, NSW. October 2014.
‘I really enjoyed the Camino and what I was able to achieve. I also greatly appreciated the guidance, encouragement and gentle support of our Tour Leaders. This was a real adhesive factor and made the whole experience so much smoother. MS. Hobart, Tasmania’. September 2014
‘I have so many rich memories of my and our Camino and immense appreciation for all the professional and personal aspects of your organisation and leadership – not just during the Camino but before and after. … Thanks to you both for your major contribution to the highlight of my year’. JS. Melbourne, Vic. September 2014
‘I want to thank you for an interesting and varied trip through southern Spain and along the Portuguese way. The pre-trip notes were interesting and helpful, the trip notes you gave useful, concise details about towns/places visited and the history briefings provided a snapshot of each area we visited… I thought all the hotels were good. The snapshots along the way were a great way of bringing back memories of our adventures. Nothing was too much trouble… you kept your cool and helped solve my ‘passport’ crisis. Thank you so much for all your efforts’. GR. Melbourne, Vic. June 2014.
‘(We are now) back in Australia! But “enriched”! Loved the tour and would quite happily turn round and do it again, same leaders… same company! Appreciated so much the true flexible approach’. M&H T. Newcastle, NSW. June 2014.
‘Thank you for a fabulous experience on the Camino trail. It was very well organised and the historic detail and good company were a real bonus’. LC. Melbourne, Vic. May 2014.
‘We would like to thank you for an amazing trip ‘on roads less travelled’. We appreciated the flexibility that you had incorporated into your itinerary with the options of walking more or less each day depending on how we felt or how many Roman bridges there were to cross! The country-side we walked through will be remembered as some of the prettiest with the cleanest streams we have ever seen. The little townships we passed through and the friendly cafés we stopped at with the smiling and often generous staff have helped create lovely memories. We greatly enjoyed the good food and beautiful accommodation in both Portugal and Spain’. N&M C. Sydney, NSW. April 2014.
‘The Portuguese Camino journey with Tour Leader Diane McDonald of Travel Enriched was a beautiful walk through interesting historic small Portuguese towns and country lanes finishing at Santiago Cathedral in Santiago Spain… The terrain was easy with no long climbs and the organisation was very flexible. We could choose how far we wanted to walk and were able to call a taxi to take us to the next night’s accommodation at various places along the way. Coming into a town earlier than the more enthusiastic walkers gave us time to explore the town before dinner’. Highlights were being taken by bus for a day in Galicia by locals who knew the interesting places to be seen, eating at great local restaurants that we would not have found on our own and the Pilgrim’s Mass at Santiago Cathedral at the end of the walk. Diane and our other guide Christine were always helpful and the accommodation excellent and varied.’ JC. Melbourne, Vic. April 2014.
2013: Camino tours
‘Thank you Diane for a wonderful Camino experience! From Oporto to Santiago, the walk with you was amazing. The route could not have been prettier or more scenic. The pace was perfect and I’m very proud that I never had to get the alternative transport!! The meals were outstanding, as were the Hotels in which we stayed. I enjoyed every moment of the Way Less Traveled!! Thank you Diane’! LH. Sydney, NSW. November 2013
‘Diane, I enjoyed the ‘Camino with a Difference!’ trip and the friendship of all my travelling companions including your good self. The tour was very well organised, there were no glitches with luggage transportation and the accommodation was clean, comfortable and generally the hotel staff were friendly. The burden of organising tours, accommodation, some meals, taxis for participants on the walk meant that we were free to relax, get a feel for Portugal and Spain, meet interesting people wherever we went and enjoy ourselves, despite the blisters and the heat’. LN, Northern NSW. November 2013
‘I have just completed the 15 day walking tour to Santiago de Compostela and on to Finisterra in a small group conducted by Travel Enriched. Highlights, apart from the walk itself and the many interesting people we met along ‘The Way’ include the wonderful side trip to Baiona Bay and A Guardia, with a very special lunch at a truly lovely restaurant, and time spent in Finisterra and Muxia. The scenery over the two weeks was often breathtaking, the food was wonderful, and the whole experience is one I will never forget’. The Tour Leader, Diane was very flexible about arrangements and supportive of each member of the group and our disparate needs and expectations. The organisation of the trip was seamless, luggage was always there when we arrived and taxis and minibuses were always on hand and on time’. AK. Melbourne Vic. October 2013.
‘The ‘Camino with a Difference!’ Tour run by Travel Enriched offered me a wonderful opportunity for some much needed timeout. Every aspect of the walk was so perfectly planned with a range of comfortable accommodation from small hotels to bed and breakfasts in beautiful family homes. Apart from the magnificent scenery, it was fun to come across walkers from other countries during our journey and bump into them again and again as we progressed. I also enjoyed our catchup over dinner where we could discuss the highlights or ‘disasters’ of the day’. SM. Melbourne, Vic. October 2013
‘My wife and I really enjoyed our tour with Travel Enriched. We wanted an active holiday that allowed us to see parts of Spain and Portugal away from the main cities, and a walk along part of the historic Portuguese Camino was a bonus. The greatest thing in this holiday was the flexibility that allowed participants to walk for either a full day or a half day, and in a couple of instances to “do your own thing” in the towns we stayed. With good accommodation, some great meals and a “customer first” approach made this a great holiday’. M&S, Snowy Mountains, NSW. August 2013
‘I can’t believe I have been home one month already, so just wanted to let you know how much I really enjoyed my first Camino walking experience with you & your Travel Enriched Tour Company… I would highly recommend anyone to try this refreshing modern day Pilgrimage “The Portuguese Way” to Santiago. Step out of their maybe chaotic life & comfort zone, take a walk down the ancient route & soak up the wonderful views & ambience of these magical countries of Portugal & Spain. The daily walks were interesting, varied & well thought out, following the ancient Pilgrim route I found really fascinating. The scenery was spectacular and surprised me daily with the changing landscape, from cobblestone roads, small medieval villages to winding stone riverbeds, woodland paths & farming tracks. The journey was more than just a walk for me. Diane you should be congratulated for your organisational skills. Christine’s cheerful & happy disposition made my journey & your flexibility made the tour all the more enjoyable. Finally the accommodation & breakfasts far exceeded my expectations’. GH. Mornington Peninsula, Vic. July 2013.
‘We are very pleased to write a few lines to commend you (Travel Enriched) on the organization of our recent ‘Portuguese Camino’. We were impressed with the flexibility you offered to the participants – those who wanted to walk longer distances, those who chose a lesser distance and even those who didn’t want to walk at all on a particular day. Accommodation was excellent. We had a great time’. A & CS. Nth NSW. June 2013
2012: Camino tours
‘This trip didn’t turn out as I had imagined due to a foot injury (tripping on an uneven footpath in Oporto before we even started the Camino) which left me unable to walk much at all – on this WALKING holiday! Despite this, Diane made sure I still had lots to enjoy: the range of country we travelled through, the towns we stayed in and the times we shared over meals. While the others walked the Camino, I had a safe place to spend a few hours. The well-chosen hotels and houses were comfortable and often situated with interesting places within my short shuffling/walking range. Travelling with a small group (on this occasion, all women) was one of the attractions for me and the trip allowed for enjoyable time together as well as opportunities for individuals to pursue their own interests’. RS. Eltham, Vic. September 2012.
‘Before starting on the ‘Camino with a Difference’, despite a few months of training, I was a bit worried about my ability to keep up the pace and walk as far as the plans suggested we could, and about how the group members would get on together. More importantly I was interested to find out whether the long walk would “clear my head” and give me a few insights on my life so far and my future. In retrospect, there was nothing at all to worry about. After walking nearly 200km over 3 weeks, I felt I could have walked twice as much, and am certainly very keen to walk again, whenever I can. Over 3 weeks, we shared laughs, stories and insights and managed successfully with our different predilections. And while I didn’t have any dramatic insights about “my life”, I did end the trip feeling much fitter and with a lighter and clearer head. I experienced a sense of personal achievement that felt very different from professional achievements and a sense of calmness from having had the chance to put elements of my life in perspective – appreciating the extraordinary opportunity to experience the wonders of other cultures and to understand the world’s history a little better.
The sensory experiences in Portugal and Spain remain vivid, a delicate taste of Portuguese custard tarts, the musty smell of ancient churches and historical buildings, the whispering sound of spring breezes in forests alongside our walking paths, the whistles of European birds, the gentle crunching sound of consistent footsteps on gravel or paved pathways and of course the diverse and wonderful sights of pretty rural villages, ancient cobbled streets, dramatic mountain vistas, modern infrastructure (bridges and the Guggenheim Gallery), colourful markets and diverse seascapes. Overall, I have memories of meandering pathways and yellow arrows or shell symbols, that make me smile and make me want to get back out there right now and walk and walk and walk.
The ‘Camino with a Difference’ offers multiple opportunities for stimulation and enjoyment, regardless of your interests – to see many different views of a very pretty part of the world at a great time of year; to experience multiple little historical journeys through museums, cloisters and churches; to taste fabulous food; to enjoy fresh air and highly manageable doses of gentle but healthy exercise; to stay in beautiful homes, farms, guest houses and hotels; and to reflect on your life, if you want to. The Camino experience gives one a healthy sense of being part of something bigger. Taking the walk is not only a time for enjoyment, but a rare opportunity to escape the mundane or the busy lives we lead and to think about the lives of those who have walked the same path over hundreds of years – the path of learning and sharing, enjoying the company of others, personal reflection, seeking insights and getting fitter and stronger’! DR, Gisbourne, Vic. August 2012.
‘Walking sections of the Camino Portuguese and the Camino del Norte in Spain with Travel Enriched in 2012 was an amazing adventure! I came back to Australia four weeks later not only having been immersed in beautiful and diverse landscapes, but also with a great sense of personal achievement’! CB. Western District, Vic. July 2012.
Why choose Travel Enriched small group tours?
‘In my view it is great for people who enjoy travelling in other countries but not necessarily on their own, and who enjoy the pure pleasure of walking, with:
- All travel arrangements, accommodation and logistics taken care of by a Spanish speaking tour guide.
- Individual needs catered for in planning daily walking distances, including options not to walk! Some non-walking days and free time to explore towns and villages along the route.
- A good balance with slow breakfasts, walking the Camino at one’s own pace, meals with other participants at night and individual time to write journals, read and simply relax.
- Meeting members of the group prior to leaving Australia, making new friends and sharing travel experiences within the group, as well as meeting other walkers and local people along the Camino path.
- Exploring new places by foot, out of the cities and off main roads, appreciating the smells, sounds and sights in the countryside, the variety of landscapes (farmland, mountains, coastal paths), tasting the different regional foods and wines.
- Inclusion of day-trips such as to Guimares and the nearby Citiana de Briteros archeological site; travelling to the month of the Minho River and visiting picturesque A Guarda and Baiona beside the Atlantic coast; wandering around village markets; visiting fabulous architectural wonders such as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao or the Alhambra in Granada; and extended time in Oporto, the Finisterre peninsula and Santiago de Compostela.
CB. Western District, Vic. July 2012