As we walked through fields and fields of vineyards interspersed with "bodegas" (wineries), I have to feel we are in the Napa Valley of Spain. Makes me want to come back and just do a wine tasting tour of La Rioja. Do they even have them? I'll spare you all the vineyard photos but this one (photo 1) was interesting from an artistic standpoint.
We left our lovely albergue at 8:20 on another beautiful sunny morning and headed out of town on a cobbled street that soon turned into a country path of red Riojan earth. We passed by the village of Sotes and made it to Ventosa for our first stop of the day. We settled at a popular bar/cafe where we encountered a number of pilgrims.
I saw a man there from the States whom I had helped secure a bed at our albergue the previous night. We started chatting and I discovered his Camino story. It was a very sad one and resembled the story from the movie "The Way," complete with a tin box in his pack. I sent my prayers with him. We met another man at the bar, also from the states, who is doing the walk with an artificial leg. He is having some mechanical problems but is determined to make it. The 2 men were only the third and fourth Americans I have met on the trail. Most pilgrims are from European countries or Australia. Many from the latter.
We continued on the vineyard lined trail as the wind picked up speed. In one of the fields, we came upon a stone bee hive hut with seating inside. (Photo 2) By that time the wind must have been 40 mph so we decided to have our lunch in the hive. We were soon joined by several other pilgrims doing the same thing.
From there we journeyed to Najera, (pop. 7,000) arriving about 1 pm, much too early to end the day. It was a beautiful city, once the capital of Navarre in the 11th and 12th centuries. It was very modern, with roundabouts (photo 3), and beautiful bridges (photos 4 and 5) over the Rio Najerilla. We crossed a foot bridge into the old town, found the tourist office, and then decided to make it to Azofra, a day ahead of schedule. The 4 miles there was uneventful except for the markers clicking off kilometers to Santiago. (Photo 6) we have done over 100 kilometers!
We arrived in Azofra around 3, clocking in around 14 miles, and decided to stay at the new Municipal Albergue, which has 60 beds in cubicles with 2 beds and bathrooms down the hall. Reminded me of college. At 7€, it is a pretty good deal. Then we joined some other pilgrims for a 10€ meal (with wine) at a nearby bar and called it a night.