Walking Through the Rioja Vineyards

August 18 & 19, 2018

I have to be honest – if it wasn’t for the wonderful peregrinos we have met and keep seeing along the way and the beautiful blue skies and stellar sunshine – and okay, the many hilltop medieval towns and massive, ornate churches we have wandered into, and the fact that we are in Spain, I might have to say that the last couple of days have been a bit boring.

Hahahahaha!! When I started that sentence, I was really meaning to express what I thought was a true feeling, yet by the time I finished, I realized, my goodness – how could I have possibly believed that sentiment!!?! Maybe it’s the endless fields of golden wheat and vineyard upon vineyard, and the dusty trails that serve to mesmerize one into a monotonous march at times. At any rate, I am counting my blessings and I am full of gratitude!!

Saturday we walked 20 kilometers (12 1/2 miles) from Torres del Rio, through the delightful walled town of Viana and into the good sized city of Logroño, located on the banks of the Rio Ebro, the capital of the winemaking region of La Rioja. It was a fun town to have our pilgrim’s meal outside, to take in the lively vibe (over 60 bars and restaurants on Calle Laurel!) and people watch before tucking in at our municipal “Albergue Peregrinos” for the night.

Sunday we headed out by 6:45 a.m., our earliest day yet. We were sad not to have the company of our new pilgrim friend Arek from Israel, with whom we walked with all day yesterday and supped with as well. We were about an hour into our trudging, out of Logroño and into a beautiful and huge park along a water reservoir with swans when suddenly Arek ran up behind and surprised us!!! We were very happy as he is funny and entertaining and makes the time fly by!!

We stopped in Navarrete for café con leche and watched as the six man crew of city workers cleaned up the mess of what appeared to have been quite a festive party from the night before! The towns are still celebrating Wednesday’s National holiday of The Assumption of Mary. We had hoped to go into the Inglesia de La Asunción to see “one of the most impressive Baroque retablos in Spain” (A Village to Village Guide to Hiking the Camino de Santiago) but it was closed (on a Sunday!!?!) Navarrete is known for their wine, mushrooms and excellent pottery made with local red clay.

We walked on to our town of lodging for the night, Ventosa, for a short day of 19.4 kilometers (12 miles). It was either that or go another 10.2 kilometers (6 miles) into Nájera for a total of nearly 30 kilometers (close to 20 miles) which with Dixie’s knee pain and the predicted high 80 degree temps just seemed a bit much. Almost all of the pilgrims that we have been walking with were going on, including Arek, so we wished him a”Buen Camino” and got in line for a spot in the “San Saturnino” private albergue with 42 beds. What an oasis!!!! The courtyard was sunny with umbrella covered tables, plenty of room to hang out washed clothing and a relaxing waterfall to assist in our enjoyment of the rest of our afternoon! Ahhh, the rewards of walking, walking, walking!!!

The vending machines here have everything from cheese and salami to wine, beer, olives, tomato sauce, pasta, asparagus and chocolate! And there is a kitchen, so we can fend for ourselves if we like. We may very well do that or perhaps walk the two blocks to one of the two bars in town for the pilgrims dinner… it’s Bueno to have choices!!

2 responses to “Walking Through the Rioja Vineyards”

  1. After the challenges of your last Camino, I can see where you might have the fleeting thought that this was ‘boring’. It’s all relative, right?

    1. I just discovered that I had not “approved” your comment!! Yes, so true – all relative! In fact, I know I thought countless times this most recent route that I couldn’t understand why people would do it a second time and that I for sure never would – but I am contemplating it…. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Byron! I am grateful our friendship continues!

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