Camino de Santiago Day Nine: Torres del Rio to Logrono

8 04 2018

Well we slept like rocks with all that meat and wine hopefully helping our bodies create more muscle. After some time with Paco at the bar enjoying some coffees it was off again. We wove through almond trees and vineyards, we were told there would be lots of rain but it seemed to hold off for us. The cool humid weather was nice though, it intensified the aromas of the ground and the vegetation and the grey skies made the colors pop.

We saw a sign for a steep descent and carefully made it down. During this portion we noticed lots of wild thyme growing on the side, first as it made itself known by smell. It’s a very lemony herbal thyme different than what you’d buy in a store. Then we came across wild rosemary, also very distinctly different than the California rosemary I’m familiar with and it’s resinous green herbal quality. Instead it had a very perfumed nose almost as if it was mixed with lavender, but it was definitely rosemary. I was comforted by all the old gnarled vines clutching the bright red soils and watching us walk on through. While the vines haven’t budded almost everything else is beginning to bloom and even the fruit trees are moving past the floral stage on into leading our. Spring definitely feels like it is in full force!

We ran into a fellow pilgrim from Korea whose wife we’d seen having a lot of knee pain way back along the way entering Viana. He was headed into town to meet her again as she’s been recuperating there for a few days having taken a bus there. When we hit the town walls amazingly a bell rang. Now in Spain there seem to be bells ringing all he time but Suzy and I have decided that bells mean something for us, they’re a sign of welcome, goodbye or to tell us where to stop, omg I’m not kidding just as I wrote this the bells rang…

At any rate entering Viana at 11:45 a bell rang, and after a steep ascent into town we were ready for a break.

we found a great gear shop where Suzy got some gloves pretty much ensuring us that she won’t need them, and some socks and then we’re on the lookout for a good sandwich place. The store recommended one that for 3 Euros has a sandwich, fruit and juice but it didn’t resonate with us, we kept walking and up ahead saw a place and when we reached the door the bells rang three times so we knew it was where we were meant to stop. The bar Txoco was mostly just locals, no one at he counter a few old men reading the paper, maybe seven people. We each got beers and sandwiches of jamon Iberico. They also had a great pepper spread that was so spicy it made Suzy tear up. We saw new plates being brought out (we were early to be eating lunch) and got a great salmon and vegetable “lasagna” with cream and cheese. As we finished up suddenly hoards or people, all locals streamed into the bar. I guess we’d found a good spot.

Onto our afternoon slog. We joked about the fact that we somehow didn’t find the space time travel wormhole that we had found the day before… and then like a plague they appeared, little pukey brown wormlike caterpillars zooming back and forth across our path. They were so speedy and so gross so a good deal if the climb to Logrono they distracted us as we tried to dodge them and not step on them.

As we descended into Logrono we walked through fields of yellow flowers giving off a great aroma, past an urban garden and a crematorium (eerie) and onto the river, the Ebro is wide here and they have it dammed and there’s a hydroelectric plant. At exactly the middle of the bridge was our German friend Heino! We were excited to connect. On I to the town where we’d booked a room at the Pension Redonda, hard to find as it’s just a small door to the apartments and we were distracted as there in front of us was Alistair who we hadn’t seen since Pamplona. Coincidences don’t really happen on the Camino!

it was great to have the luxury of a private bath and after cleaning up we set out to meet Merche, the unofficial mayor of Logrono. We’d been introduced by my dear old time friend Robin Kelley O’Connor. We met at the lively and bustling Cafe Breton, it was the down time at the tapas bars on the famous Calle Laurel, around 5-8 they shut down for a break and the real evening goes late. We grabbed two fishbowls of gin tonics and took in the scene.

I was so honored that Merche would take the time to hang out with us on her Sunday evening! I figured she’d just joking us for a drink or maybe a bite but she jumped into local guide mode! We went to a tapas bar Taberna del Tio Blas that stays open all day and grabbed some pulpo (octopus) and rose.

She lead us onward to the church with two steeples, and of course we ran into Heino who was now with Ziggy another German and we told them they could join us for a tour of the church, Merche wanted to show us the Small Michelangelo painting but it was closed up due to the fact that they had some special masses and the rosary going on. Still the church is stunning and it was awesome to see part of a mass. As we were leaving of course there Alistair and as we gathered again on the square up rolled Helena and Marc from Canada! Our crew was back together once again! It felt like welcoming old friends and Merche warmly greeted them and asked them to join us as she knew a few spots open earlier that had food ready for our ravenous bellies.

We hit a bar that serves only mushrooms and Merche taught us how to roll them on the bread to get the oil off and then put the skewer down into the bread and eat them one by one starting from the top. We had scallops and wagyu, special tuna, boquerones, foie all of it accompanied by wine.

With our large dinner party of 8 I would have been so annoyed to deal with all he ordering details (one no meat, another only beer) but Merche graciously navigated the bars for us, she knew everyone and knew what was best and we were all so grateful for her commitment of time to a group of pilgrims she’d never met. Just dealing with dividing the bill and all would have had me stressed out. But similarly our pilgrim family was so appreciative and we easily paid for what we had or more to make it easy. She bought us wine we bought her food, it was all infused with love and camaraderie. When the crew realized that I’d just met her too they were stunned. Her hospitality was just the first introduction we have had to be warmth and friendliness of the people of Rioja. A few had to zip off to make their 10pm curfew, and we parted ways hoping the Camino will bring us together again. Suzy, Merche and I found one last spot to grab gambas, aka shrimp and a small bottle of Manzanilla sherry and we bid farewell. Suzy and I stopped for a gelato like ice cream on. E way home and it was sweet dreams for us. Today we are ready to go but it really is raining. Our walk today is long but we are going to find that wormhole again where time is meaningless. Much love to all of you who are sweet enough to read this!

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3 responses

10 04 2018
David Lord

Am so glad the 2 of you are accomplishing what you are doing & enjoying yourselves & meeting so many new people. Believe that is what life is all about.

10 04 2018
Amparo

Rebecca, awesome pilgrimage! While everyone is posting bad weather, you are posting amazing food and great times. I hope my pilgrimage is the same this coming 12th

Ultreia to you both!

10 04 2018
Karen

Thanks for sharing. Looks like so much fun and adventure. xxoo

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