Camino de Santiago, Day 7
Torres del Rio to Logroño 12 miles
This article is the sixth in my series of walking 500 miles on the Camino de Santiago with my husband Scott. Some articles will be only about one day of walking, and some may include a few days of walking, for the lengths will vary. To begin with the first article click here.
Every day, as we set out in the dark to begin our walk, we really appreciated how peaceful and quiet it was. Day 7 was no different, as we walked on trails and dirt roads, occasionally noticing the headlamp of another pilgrim nearby.
Around the time we began craving our morning coffee, we came to the small town of Viana. We walked by the Church of Santa Maria. It is known for housing the bones of Ceasare Borgia, who died in 1507. Borgia was a commander of the papal armies as well as being made Bishop of Pamplona at age 15. He had much competition and many enemies within the church leaders. Later, we found out the Bishop of Calahorra didn’t want Ceasare’s remains in the church, so he had them moved to a new location in front of the church, buried beneath the street. Thus, to be walked on by everyone who passed through town. That included us, but we didn’t know it at the time!
Running into our friends, the brothers from Minnesota, was nice as they had just finished their coffee and were back on the road. It was getting windy and rain was due to arrive. We covered our backpacks with special covers, put on our rain ponchos and drank our coffee quickly.
Our destination would be Longroño. I was set on attending the Rioja Wine Harvest Festival, also known as the Festival of San Mateo.
About an hour from Logroño it began to rain lightly. We were walking on concrete and pavement since we were getting closer to the city. My feet were killing me, not because of the blisters, just the extra weight of my pack. At one point we stopped for a quick break and spoke with two priests who were selling Camino souvenirs. They stamped our pilgrim passports and we gave them a small donation.
Our friend Mark from Tennessee came along about that time and walked with us for a bit. I was in no mood for conversation with the rain and foot pain. I walked along, alone in my misery while the guys caught up. Unknown to us at the time, it was the very last time we ever saw Mark on the Camino. We always thought we would see the people we knew again, at a hostel or cafe, but sometimes it never happened. It’s a strange thing about the Camino, everything changes each day, including the people walking near you.
Eventually, we walked across the bridge and into Logroño. We knew accommodations would be extremely limited, but I wanted to at least try to find a place to stay. I stood on the corner of the old town, trying to get my bearings as I looked at a map on the wall of a building. Scott walked across the street to see if the hotel in front of us had a room. We were shocked, they had one room available! Of course, it was way over our budget, and ended up being the most expensive place we stayed on the entire Camino, but it was so worth it!
After settling into our room, and soaking in a long, hot bubble bath, I was recharged, and ready to go to the wine festival.
Rioja Wine Harvest Festival
We loved walking down narrow cobblestone streets around the old part of the city. People watching and seeing the festival goers was an experience in itself. Everyone was shoulder to shoulder, as it was a tight squeeze to navigate down some of the streets. We were surprised to never see a single fight or altercation, considering how much alcohol was being consumed.
There were booths set up with pastries, cheeses and olives for sale. Everyone seemed to have their own wine or were sitting at street side cafes. We bought a big mixture of olives. While Scott enjoyed the blue cheese filling in some, we were pretty grossed out by the squid filled olives.
Scott and I found a cafe table along the street and made ourselves comfortable. One of our favorite things about dining in Spain, was how no one cared how long we sat at a table. They were in no hurry to see us leave. We alternated drinking red wine and coffee all afternoon. It was a parade of people passing by. Everyone had fun, dancing in the streets and hanging out with friends and family. As a result, we had a front row seat to see the bands of roaming musicians go by, as well as costumed festival goers. Most people wore all white with a San Mateo bandana around their neck.
All through the afternoon we saw many young people carrying around two liter soda bottles. We spoke with some people gathered in the central square. They offered to let us try their drink, a mix of half red wine and half cola. It was surprisingly good! They call it Calimocho and it is a very popular drink in Spain.
We had a blast at the wine festival and I even got my own San Mateo bandana, which I tied onto my backpack. In the end, Scott was glad we took the time to enjoy ourselves in Logroño.
For more information about the Rioja Wine Harvest Festival click here.
It’s a week long event from September 16-23, some of the festivities include:
-Running of young bulls through the streets
-Grape crushing by foot
On a side note, I was unable to mail some of my extra gear home from Logroño. Unfortunately, the post offices were closed because of all the festival activities.
Day 7, 12 miles