Cycling the Camino de Santiago

There are many pilgrimage routes to Santiago de Compostela in Spain, the goal being the famous Cathedral.

About 10% arrive by bicycle.

Two of the most popular cycling routes are:

  • Porto, Portugal to Santiago
  • León, Spain to Santiago

I’d first tried to start in Porto — but couldn’t find a bike to rent on short notice.

In Santiago itself I found Cycling the Camino, a shop that pretty much NEVER runs out of rentals.

I took the train to León, picking up the rental there. They will deliver almost anywhere you want to start — charging additional shipping to mainland Spain (30€/bike), Portugal (37€/bike) and France (65€/bike).

The cost of the bike itself is around 30€/day.

Inexpensive, in my opinion. And WAY easier than flying your own bike.

I booked 7 days to make the 300+km return which I assumed would be EASY. I did make it in 6 days, finding the adventure more challenging than expected. I was on the bike about 6-7 hours each day.

My short video includes a LOT of drone footage as that’s the easiest way to show the landscape.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

Compared with most long distance cycling routes, this one is very civilized. Regular folks have been walking it for over 1000 years. The infrastructure very well developed.

It’s very social with both walkers and cyclists meeting up each evening.

Folks of all ages and fitness levels are pilgrims on The Way.

Though no book, map or app is needed, I did carry a paper copy of the newest Cicerone guidebook.

Spain’s menús del día

Menú del día, or menu of the day, is a menu served by Spanish restaurants during lunch, one of the largest meals of the day …

… typically between 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

This is a cheap, economic meal, typically with good food.

Problema for ME is that it includes all-you-can-drink wine. They leave a full bottle on the table for you.

I’m pretty much buzzed for the day — at lunch.

Typically they come with soup, bread, drink, dessert and main course. I paid 12 Euro for this feast.

Seafood soup appetizer on the Santiago Camino

HEY – the Interterritorial Health Council, made up of doctors and other health professionals, had suggested that alcohol be dropped from the menús del día.  I highly doubt that’s going to happen.

Visiting León, Spain

I took the train to León where I’d be starting a week long cycling trip to Santiago de Compostela on the French Camino. A pilgrimage people have been doing for over 1000 years.

It’s very walkable, a small city with most of the attractions close together.

León’s Cathedral is one of the finest in Europe.

Panorama of Plaza de Regla and Leon Cathedral, Castile and Leon, Spain
Me and the cops.

My official start is this Cathedral. I’ll finish at the Cathedral in Santiago.

León is a great tourist town. I did a lot of cycling there testing the rental bike.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

10 Years a Nomad by Nomadic Matt

In the 1990s my main focus was travel. My recreational reading was mostly travel books.

On my year long trip to Asia, I emailed text and a few crappy photos to Warren who posted them to early blogging platforms.

I recall checking books like 1,000 Places to See Before You Die. Travel for travel’s sake.

After hiking the West Coast Trail for the first time in 1999, I decide to switch to what I called destination travel. I’d travel to do something specific — a specific hike, for example. I’d travel less, but with a GOAL.

The first blogging I did was on, launched 2003. For a couple of years before that I hand coded HTML which was difficult.

Matthew Kepnes — Nomadic Matt — started traveling abroad in 2005 and quickly became one of the most popular on the web. The site is still going strong as Matt hired a team of 5 people to keep it going.

Matt traveled nearly non-stop for 10 years. And then wrote a memoir.

Ten Years a Nomad: A Traveler’s Journey Home

I found it surprisingly honest. Matt spends more time detailing the MANY things that went wrong than humble bragging his awesome accomplishments.

It would be a good book for 1st time backpackers to read on the way to the hostel.

Note — the guy famous for dancing around the world in the early days of YouTube was another Matt — Matt Harding. I confused the two for years.

Visiting Coimbra, Portugal

Coimbra is a popular stop for tourists coming to visit the archaeological structures dating back to the Roman era, especially the well-preserved aqueduct and cryptoporticus.

Monastery of Santa Cruz

It’s even more famous as the home of the University of Coimbra (1290), the oldest academic institution in the Portuguese-speaking world.  Its historical buildings were classified as a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 2013.

I bought a ticket to see the Joanine Library (Biblioteca Joanina), continuing my quest to visit all the most beautiful bookstores and libraries in the world.

It’s small, but well gilded. 😀

The most interesting part of the story is that this is one of the Portuguese libraries that encourages bats to make residence. The thinking is that they eat insects that might damage the ancient treasures.

Library on the left. By Dicklyon – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0.

Biggest man on campus. King Joao III (John III) 1521 – 1557.

Though King John accomplished a lot, the Inquisition was introduced into Portugal in 1536. Just like in Spain, the Inquisition was placed under the authority of the king.

In Portugal the first Grand Inquisitor was Cardinal Henry, the king’s brother

If Belgium was the most horrific European nation for brutalizing people in their colonies, Portugal and Spain were next worst. I blame the Catholic Church out of Italy equally.

Lisbon photos 2022

BACK in Lisbon to have a tooth implant installed, I posted some Instagrammy pics on Instagram.

Having visited most of the major tourist sites last year, I looked for less visited photo ops this time.

For example, I caught the ferry over to the former industrial suburb city Barreiro. I saw no other tourists wandering the streets that day. Augusto Cabrita, local photographer, cinematographer and film director is celebrated with this massive wall portrait.

Like last year, I took most of my larger meals at Time Out Market.

Many of my photos are of street art. I tried an experiment taking pictures of street art alongside REAL LIFE. One example.

The installation of my tooth implant was delayed by a couple of weeks. So I’m still not smiling in any photos prior to June 9th.

World’s oldest bookstore – Livraria Bertrand – Chiado, Lisbon

I finally got out to the Cascais beach area, about 45 minutes by train from the city centre.

Last night in Lisbon.

I feel more like a local than tourist.

Here are my Lisbon photos and video from November 2021.

My Dental Vacation in Portugal


I can smile again.

After 9 months with a missing upper tooth, I finally got the implant installed June 2022.

Can you tell which upper tooth was replaced?

I never want to get another implant. WAY too expensive. WAY too time consuming.

But I believe they did an excellent job. This tooth should see me out. 😀

I got implant dental surgery November 11th at 11am. #NotChicken

I’ll update this post with details on how it went.

Canadian dentists are WAY too expen$ive.

Nations around the world that cater to “dental tourists” include:

Not Portugal. BUT I wanted to travel to Portugal for hiking and cycling in November. Also, it’s one of the most vaccinated large nations in the world during a pandemic.

Of dentists in Lisbon I looked at online, most impressive was the Institute of Implantology.

Here’s their Dental Tourism page.

I booked a FREE assessment appointment on my birthday:

  • November 2 ~ free assessment
  • November 4 ~ cleaning and measurement for ‘flipper‘ (temporary replacement tooth)
  • November 11 ~ implant surgery and placement of the flipper
  • November 15 ~ final checkout

The last 4 days in Lisbon were in case of complications. And that allows time to adjust the flipper, if needed.

Happily I had no infection nor swelling. And the flipper looks pretty good. Can you tell which top front tooth is now removable?

In fact, I’m as good looking as ever. … Ladies? 😀

I’ll return to Lisbon in 4-6 months to have the permanent fake screwed in.

The Institute of Implantology is not cheap. Price everything included for me will be about CAD $5000 (US$4000, EUR3490). Here are some of the major costs:

  • €160 CT Scan
  • € 160 Extraction
  • € 890 Implant placement
  • € 650 Bone Graft
  • € 280 Flipper
  • € 695 Instillation of implant

The bone graft encourages regeneration of bone and increases the odds that the tooth will stay in my skull for life.

The Institute of Implantology is the second private hospital I’ve used. The other was Shouldice Hernia Hospital in Toronto. Both are excellent. I wish I was rich enough to use more private clinics.

My surgeon was Dr. Gonçalo Caramês. Trained in Los Angeles, he married another dentist. They planned to set up practice in Seattle but he opted instead to return to Portugal because of the pandemic.

The facility itself is impressive. Chic. Very modern technology.

Visiting Valencia, Spain

I’d never been to Spain’s 3rd largest city, so jumped on the chance to catch a cheap flight down to the sunny Mediterranean coast.

The historic centre is great.

But the highlight for me was walking and cycle the huge green space that runs through the city.

It was once the river Turia, drained and rerouted after a catastrophic flood in 1957. The old riverbed turned into a picturesque sunken park.

Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.

I did make it out to the beach.

But best was exploring the City of Arts and Sciences.

Click PLAY or watch highlights on YouTube.