02 Oct 20

The delights of Oia

Stuart Holland Camino

While walking RAW Travel’s Portuguese Coastal Camino I got to stop and smell the roses, as the saying goes, in the delightful village of Oia.

Oia is a tiny fishing village on the coast of Spain. I explored and spent the night here on my way from Porto to Baiona.

The majority of pilgrims and tourists walk straight through this place, not even stopping to enjoy a coffee or ice-cold drink. As far as this walker is concerned, what a mistake they are making.

Oia is famous for its former monastery, built in 1185. It was continuously inhabited until 1835 when, due to political and social issues at the time, the monks were kicked out. It has served many different purposes, ranging from private residences to a jail during the Spanish Civil War.

The monastery’s most famous point in history came in 1624 when the monks help defeat a pirate fleet from Turkey. For this daring feet of defence, the King at the time (Philip IV) granted the title of Royal Monastery of Santa Maria de Oia.

You can do a tour of the monastery (5€), which can be pre-booked or if you are lucky it can be arranged when you arrive.

Oia has had mixed fortunes with the boom and bust of fishing in the area. It is now starting to change with the increasing popularity of the Portuguese Coastal Camino.

The village has cleverly placed its restaurants, bars and hotels to make the most of Oia’s views.

I had the delight of staying at Casa Puertas, an exquisite little boutique guesthouse overlooking the harbour. Upstairs you get a great sea view and lovely fresh sea breeze. Carmen was a fantastic host with a real passion for life. She took great delight in showing me around the property and down to the little bar and secret garden across the road from the hotel.

After a couple of big days of walking, this little place ticked all the right boxes for me. It had easy access down to the ocean for a quick swim, nice grass to walk around barefoot and rest my feet and, last but not least, nice ice-cold drinks.

After a couple of beers, I set off to explore the village and find a place for dinner. There where two great choices with outdoor dining, both with dramatic views of the little harbour, the monastery and the mighty Atlantic. There was the choice tapas at Tapería A Camboa or cod at A Casa da Henriqueta. Now those who know me would be surprised by my decision – beautifully cooked cod accompanied by potatoes, a fresh garden salad and a well-earned beer!

I recommend staying in Oia and having it as a part rest day. It is worth arriving a little earlier in the afternoon, having lunch and exploring the monastery, the sea and the sights.

Remember, the Camino is not a race to get to the end. Your body will appreciate a day where you can kick off your boots and relax and Oia is a fantastic place to do just that.

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