Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Viana to Navarrete

Today we cross from Navarre into the famous wine growing region of La Rioja. This morning we were blessed with gorgeous weather. Lots of sun and almost no wind.
We left our very private abode around 8:00 and followed a peaceful path around the back of houses and old factory buildings, along a park-like trail, for 2 miles until we reached Ermita de la Trinidad de Cuevas. This was the former site of an earlier pilgrim hostel along a tributary of the Ebro River. A small picnic spot with a grove of trees welcomed several pilgrims who had already stopped for their morning break or to reflect in their journals. (Photo 1)
We walked along quite a few paved paths as we made our way to Logrono. What has surprised me is the infrastructure that has developed for the Camino. Various communities along the way have placed markers in the sidewalks to direct pilgrims or have placed distinctive road signs. In places where the route might cross the highway, they have built pedestrian overpasses or even stone underpasses. We encountered several of these today.
Our walk to Logrono included views of many vineyards with the Cantabrian Hills in the background.(photo 2) Just as we were about to enter town, we stopped at the small shop of the legendary Felisa, who, for a few coins, would stamp our Camino passports, provide a coffee con leche or sell you symbolic trinkets.(photo 3)
The walk into Logrono was beautiful. We stopped at an overlook where the city was spread out before us. (Photo 4) We then walked down a tree lined path through a park and crossed over the Ebro River on the Puente de Piedra, rebuilt in 1880, and arched like other Spanish bridges.
We spent an hour or so exploring Logrono, visiting the Plaza Mercado with its shops and cafes, and the impressive Cathedral de Santa Maria de la Redonda, a 14th century Gothic structure in the heart of old town. Logrono is a size able city with 145,000 residents.
The Camino took us through the more modern parts of the city as well (photo 5) and the signs became a little confusing. Several older women (older than us) stopped us to wish us well or to point us in the right direction. Ah, the sisterhood of the Camino. At one point, on the out skirts of the city, we were following a paved linear park walk when two younger women came running toward us to tell us we had missed the turn. Another time a man stopped us to warn us to take the tunnel under the highway. All of this was in Spanish, of course, so there was lots of gesturing and pointing.
The path leading out of Logrono was beautiful, with a paved path leading to a wide reservoir where many locals were fishing and and picnicking. The trail climbed a bit and we found ourselves at Alto de la Grajera, with wide views again of the beautiful city. We continued on both paved and dirt tracks, and even some highway until we reached the city of Navarette, our destination for the night. We arrived about 3:30, having walked 14 miles. Again, we snagged the last double room at a beautiful new Albergue La Cantaro for 15€ each, sharing 2 Baths with 3 other people. After our usual routine of showering and laundry, we explored the city. We ran into a number of pilgrims we have met before and had drinks and snacks with them at a local bar, which made for a nice, light dinner. Back to the albergue where we caught up with email and Skype and called it a day.

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