Los Arcos – Logroño

Pilgrims decide where to go

Pilgrims decide where to go

It was 7.30am when I left the albergue. It was only 14 degrees centigrade with tomorrow’s weather being forecast as hot. Somehow I didn’t believe the forecast. David from Madrid was also surprised at the weather since crossing into Spain. I went for a look at the church but it was locked. I had forgotten about all the warnings in France about the extreme temperatures of Spain. So far it had been cloudy every day, and at times cool or even cold. The locals however said it never rains at this time of year. How wrong they were.

Olive grove before the rain started

Olive grove before the rain started

The clouds became darker and the scenery quite dramatic under the weight of the sky. It started to rain lightly as I came across a broken down school bus on a small road. The driver banged and crashed at the engine with a spanner. I met up again with Boogey (I never found out if it was his real name but he insisted it was). We had talked the previous evening. He was originally from Germany but had lived in Ireland for sixteen years. His accent was an amusing mix of German with an Irish lilt. He had a mighty laugh. He was complaining about the rain and I added that he didn’t know what rain was. He agreed that coming from Scotland I must be a specialist in all matters relating to rain. Boogey should be an expert too having lived in Ireland for so long!

Blue umbrella in Logrono

Blue umbrella in Logrono

Many had stopped the previous night at Torres del Rio and I came across more familiar faces. Above the village was the Ermita de la Virgen de Poyo. It had a raised area that looked like an outdoors alter with seats surrounding it on three sides. A perfect spot for heating some warming soup and resting for lunch. Just as I was packing up, the rain really started to fall and out came the lifesaving poncho. Walking alone along the winding track it was just me, the wind and the rain. It was invigorating. There would not be many photographs taken today. I passed some others including Tunde who I had walked with on the first day in Spain. She too had found the same poncho in Pamplona and was happy with her purchase. Others looked more miserable as the water soaked their clothing. There were not so many saying ‘Buen Camino’ today.

Viana was a nice town despite the atrocious weather. The church was impressive. As I arrived at its entrance Boogey and Lorenzo were sitting hunched in the shelter of the doorway sharing a bottle of Rioja wine. It seemed a perfect thing to do on such a depressingly miserable day. I declined their offer of a taste. Inside there was some singing. The church was unlit and it took some time to adapt to the dark. At the front was a lady pacing up and down waving her hands around while singing off pitch and out of tune. I left the church quickly.

Locals run from the rain

Locals run from the rain

The rain soaked streets of Logrono

The rain soaked streets of Logrono

The rain stopped late in the evening

The rain stopped late in the evening

I met David from Madrid again and we had some fine Rioja wine in a local bar while sheltering from the rain. He had had enough, was exhausted and ready to give up the Way completely. I convinced him to continue which he decided to do, no doubt cheered up after the two large glasses of wine and tasty fried pork skins morsels supplied by the barman.

More and more vines appeared on both sides of the Way. Navarra produces many fine wines and we were approaching the Rioja region. At the Hermita de las Cuevas the singing lady from the church was pacing back and forward again and singing her melancholy outbursts. It seemed a sad scene as the rain continued under the grey skies.

There were snails everywhere on the pathway. While trying not to step on any I wondered where they had all come from and where they were going. Eventually the Way reached the top of a hill and the Pantano de Salobre lake and wildlife reserve. In medieval times it had been an ancient meeting place for witches. The border between Navarra and Rioja was just ahead. I squelched on as the first water entered my boots. Soon my feet were swimming although I was happy that they had kept me dry until now. It was only four kilometres to Logrono, the state capital of Rioja.

The albergue was busy and cramped. I met Deirdre from Canada again who had queried why each pilgrim was being asked for their passport. Apparently there were two fugitives on the run and were reported to be pretending to be pilgrims to escape the police! Everyone was soaked to the skin and with sodden boots. Eventually enough paper was found to help everyone’s boots dry overnight. There was nowhere to dry them apart from in the corridor. There were rows of boots and every bed end was covered in dripping socks and clothing. Luckily there was plenty of hot water and after a shower everyone felt better.

I dined on the pilgrim menu at a small restaurant in the city square. Later in the evening I sampled some more excellent Rioja and tapas. Each wine bar in Logrono has its own speciality tapas that were served with each glass of wine bought. It was a comforting way to warm up and end an unpleasant day of walking.

Some fine Riojas were on offer

Some fine Riojas were on offer

TIP: Make sure you have good weatherproof clothing such as a high quality poncho or jacket and over trousers. Gaiters are good also as they prevent water and stones from entering the boots. Good waterproof boots will make life more bearable if you are caught out in bad conditions. Cheap boots don’t work!

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