Railway to heaven? New pilgrim route launched

If you're seeking penance or perhaps enlightenment but don't fancy roughing the well-worn pilgrimage path on foot, a new luxury locomotive route to Santiago de Compostela may be the answer to your prayers.

Railway to heaven? New pilgrim route launched
The train, which usually travels around Andalusia, will travel the Camino de Santiago in July. Photo: Renfe

Al Andalus, the luxury 'palace on wheels' that is synonymous with Spain’s moorish south is to travel a very different route this summer, the country’s train operator has announced.

The train, more usually associated with Spain’s Islamic history will take a more Christian route in July, travelling along part of the famous Camino de Santiago pilgrimage trail in northern Spain.

Run by national rail operator Renfe, the train will head north between July 13th and 20th to take passengers along part of the world famous and Unesco reognised Roman Catholic pilgrimage route, setting off from the city of Leon.

Eat in luxury in Al Andalus' exclusive dining carriage. Photo: Renfe

The five day, four night journey includes travel, accommodation, day trips, dining in the the onboard restaurant and visits to some of the most exclusive eating establishments along the route.

Rather than lug around a backpack, passengers are greeted on board the locomotive with a cocktail, before setting off for the beautiful town of Astorga, then travelling on to Monforte de Lemos and Orense, in Galicia. 

In Santiago de Compostela, the end point of the famous pilgrimage route, travellers can enjoy a guided tour of the city before sitting down to a lavish dinner at the five-star parador, Hostal dos Reis Católicos.

After leaving Santiago, passengers will take a relaxing boat trip along the river Arousa in the town of Villagarcía de Arousa before heading to the town of Cambaros.

The final day will be spent in the Galician capital of A Coruña before boarding the train back to Leon.

Pilgrims usually walk or cycle along the camino. Photo: Miguel Riopa/AFP

Al Andalus is renowned as one of the world’s most luxurious trains; its coaches were originally built for the British royal family to travel between Calais and the French Riviera and retain a host of Belle Epoque features.

So if you have always wanted to travel the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage route, but could not quite bring yourself to don the walking boots and brave the bedbugs at the pilgrim shelters along the way, your prayers may have just been answered.

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Spanish town hires pet detectives in latest battle against dog poo

In Spain’s latest battle in the war on dog poo, a town near Salamanca has hired private detectives to punish those who fail to clean up after their pets.

Spanish town hires pet detectives in latest battle against dog poo
Detectives have been hired to track down irresponsible dog owners. Photo: Alice Huseyinoglu

This week, Carbajose de la Sagrada, a municipality in Salamanca, has commissioned a special unit of private detectives to monitor dog poo in public spaces, with the hope of raising awareness about the responsibility that comes with owning a pet, and fining guilty dog-walkers.

After the evidence has been collected by these detectives, it will be up to the local police force to press charges and issue fines.

The new initiative has been introduced following a barrage of complaints from citizens about the ‘uncivil’ behaviour of some residents, as well as the failure of previous awareness campaigns to put an end to their repeated crimes.

The mayor of the municipality, Pedro Samuel Martín, met with pet owners a few weeks ago to discuss a solution to the ongoing dilemma. He said he hoped the new measures, following in the footsteps of towns such as Colmenar Viejo, would improve the state of public spaces, and lead to greater 'coexistence' in the town.

This is just the latest attempt by town councils to combat the issue of dog dirt. In 2013, a viral campaign in Brunete, a small town just outside Madrid, saw officials box up waste and mail it back guilty pet owners.

Photo: Depositphotos

The town of Colmenar Viejo, also near Madrid, hired incognito detectives in 2014 to film owners who left their dog's poo lying around, and in 2016, Maslata, near Valencia, ordered residents to register their dog’s DNA through mandatory blood samples, so the owners who failed to clean up after their dogs could be traced.

In a battle to clean up the captial, Madrid's mayor introduced a 2016 law, giving dog poo offenders the choice between a €750 fine or a weekend of cleaning duty.

By Alice Huseyinoglu

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