Camino de Santiago, Day 8
Logroño to Nájera 17 Miles
This article is the seventh 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.
Just before the sun rise, we were making our way through the narrow streets of old town Logroño. I can’t begin to tell you how dirty the streets were. There was garbage everywhere from the previous night’s celebration, and the smell of urine was unmistakable. I wanted to take a picture as proof of what I was witnessing, but there were still people celebrating in the streets. They were hanging on each other in groups, so to avoid any drunken altercations, we walked quickly. A few blocks over we saw the street cleaners hard at work, and what a job they had to do!
Looking behind me, I spotted a breathtaking mural of a pilgrim covered with tattoos of passport stamps from the Camino. The mural was at least two stories tall. It was very dramatic and interesting, so we stopped to take pictures. It became one of my favorite pictures from the Camino and I now have the picture on a wall in our home.
We walked the sidewalks out of the city for quite a while until arriving at a huge park. The path took us along a large lake and we saw many other pilgrims, as well as locals, out for their morning walk. Scott and I noticed the older generation of locals along the Camino were very friendly and always wished us a “Buen Camino.” One older man walked with us for a while. I did my best to keep up with the conversation in Spanish and I responded the best I could. The main thing I got out of our conversation was “Paella” and “festival”, which are both good things.
Once we were out of the city and through the park, vineyards appeared. The vines were dripping with purple grapes.
At one point there was a huge stand of trees planted in rows. Spain had a problem with deforestation, and had cleared much of the land with existing trees. They have since been working on reforestation, and we saw different areas along the Camino which had been newly planted.
After walking 17 miles, we arrived at the town of Nájera. The town is located on both sides of the Najerilla River and is very charming.
Something appeared to be going on in town, as people were in costumes and hanging out at the park. A carnival was set up with several booths.
Luckily, we found a hostel office and the owner took us down the street to a tall building. He led us up the stairs to a third-floor apartment. It was nice, clean and had huge windows that we could open up to hang our drying laundry from. My feet weren’t very happy about going up and down stairs, but it seemed every place we stayed was up at least one flight of stairs.
We returned to the park by the river looking for food, maybe even a nice lunch. Unfortunately, it was siesta time. No one seemed to be resting, except for the business owners! Luckily, we found a tapas bar which was just closing. They were nice enough to give us tortilla potata, coffee and red wine to take out to the park. Tortilla Potata was becoming a staple of our camino; a kind of egg and potato pie which sometimes had peppers and even ham.
After finishing our snack we headed over the bridge and explored the old part of Nájera. There were narrow streets with high walls and many charming stores. Most were closed due to siesta, but I found one which was open! I bought a string necklace with a shell hanging from it. The shell is a symbol of the Camino and I didn’t take that necklace off again for two months.
We ran into the brothers from Minnesota as we were looking in a museum. They were exploring town as well. Our days were numbered with them, as they would be taking a bus ahead on the camino soon.
Festival San Juan Martir y Santa Maria La Real
Scott and I found out that the reason so many people were in town was because it was a three day festival!
People were celebrating everywhere. We saw a group of teenagers who had made a fire on the sidewalk with their trash and they were sitting around it in a circle talking!
For dinner, we saw a restaurant specializing in pizza, but it turned out they didn’t serve pizza until after 9:00 p.m. So, we ended up enjoying meatballs and fish instead, which was very good.
From the restaurant we could see and hear bands going by, playing their music with parades of people following behind.
In the plaza next to the Church of Santa Maria Real (built in 1052), we saw a large stage with a band setting up. There must have been hundreds of people in the plaza waiting for the band to begin playing.
Off to the side, there were some ancient ruins which were in pieces. There were little kids climbing all over them like a jungle gym! Then, as we looked on, we saw children as young as five years old (we estimated) lighting firecrackers and throwing them at each other! Sometimes the older kids would huddle in a group and light the firecrackers for the younger children to throw. No one around seemed to care, and there were plenty of adults everywhere. Eventually, the police arrived and talked to the kids and they all wandered off to join their families.
The band began playing about that time and we stayed to enjoy a few songs.
Nájera was the most charming town and we were so excited to experience another festival on our Camino.
Day 8, 17 miles