Camino de Santiago Day 10: Logrono to Najera

9 04 2018

Day Ten! My body is in full efficiency mode, feet are good muscles are toned, the poles are like another set of limbs working to take the pressure off my joints. And I have rhythm!

We got up early enough to get Suzy’s bag set to ship out by 8 since the Pension was unattended in the morning. Although there was rain forecast when we left we saw none. Right down the road we saw cafe Picasso advertising breakfast for 2,80 coffee, fresh squeezed juice and a jamon and pepper sandwich that was freshly prepared, absolutely delicious. As we sat there easing into the day we glanced outside and it was pouring. Despite the big day ahead we took our time with breakfast and miraculously when we were ready to go the rain was light, not dumping like before. Sophia the cafe server even agreed to help Suzy get minutes from the Orange store for her phone, it wasn’t open until much later in the morning, but Suzy gave her some cash and she sweetly agreed to load the minutes for her later in the day.

The walk out of Logrono was tedious. With the rain constant we had hats and hoods on and it was often hard to look up to see the signs for the Camino. We passed by a protest for a trial we heard about at the court and almost got lost a few blocks down. Remember that rain doesn’t always fall down, Today it was falling AT us sideways and soon my pants were soaked and I was a bit chilly without another layer underneath. We saw a dog dressed very fancy wearing a shirt and corduroy pants, he looked warmer than we were.

With the rain we stop less to look around and I don’t take as many photos since my phone is wrapped up in plastic. We did get a break in the rain after a rest stop that had facilities and had a chance to watch some swans and ducks.

We just kept walking and walking until we saw the town of Navarette. Suzy made up a fun marching song and we marched on up to the town. We kept on the Camino not wanting to stop at he very first cafe we saw but we found very little on the route, lots of shuttered homes and abandoned buildings. We eventually left the route and found some banks where I got cash but Suzy was still unable to exchange dollars. She has enough for now but he plan is to try to get another hotel in a big town to do an exchange later in the trip. We did find a cute cafe but they had limited food, our breakfast was holding us over but we got two beers and a big piece of pork belly that they heated for us, delicious! we could feel the meat reenergizing our muscles. Sadly our clothes had not dried but we put them back on and plodded on.

Amazingly the rain had stopped but it was really cold at first, the wind was whipping and temperatures seemed to have dropped. There were lots of vineyards with pinkish soil and a good deal of mud. We stopped briefly in Ventosa for a beverage but we found each time we stopped we seemed to be get even colder.

We walked on and walked and walked. We missed a sign once and ended up at the bottom of a muddy hill only to see footsteps heading the wrong way and realized our error. And we walked. I was irritated to see that we were still far from the town it seemed endless as we wife past factories and industrial parts of town but eventually we made it to the Puerta de Najera hostel. The place is awesome, a great group of pilgrims were there and two pilgrim families merged. Somehow of course Heino and Marc and Helena were there and as we enjoyed some wine with the pilgrims there we met new ones! Gigi from San Francisco greeted us as we’d met on the Camigas blog and we met Z, Alyssa and Andi who were to my excitement playing left right center (although sadly not for money). We shared some wine which was available for sale at the hostel. Mary came in and gave us the brilliant idea to microwave a potato and cover it with cheese. Suzy and I headed out in search of the grocery store which is seconds from the hostel but went down the wrong street to our good fortune though as we found a place that serves the mushrooms like we had in Logrono and a fancy butcher where we got some lomo!

We finally found the grocer also and created a little feast of bonito tuna, white asparagus, local cheese and my favorite boquerones. And a bottle of El Coto Rioja crianza. At 10 they shut the lights and now we have survived the 6:30 am rustle and shuffle as pilgrims rush out of here. It’s 7:15 am now and maybe five of us are left, and it’s still dark out. Suzy has been wondering where they got the night vision goggles they must have ;). We like to take our time and ease into the day. I did brush my teeth early today and there were people lined up and waiting, so I’m cool to leave later. We have a mellow walk today anyway…

Oh I failed to mention that yesterday’s walk was 20.1 miles including our walk through the town. 🙂

Camino de Santiago Day Five: Pamplona to Puente la Reina

4 04 2018

Walk the Camino they said, it’ll be great they said…

Today was all about self doubt and wonder.

So luckily Suzy got money issues sorted yesterday but not without a crazy amount of effort. She ultimately had to get currency exchanged at a hotel and the ordeal included begging for a ride, a bus trip and more. Terribly stressful, but she sweetly got me a Kukuxumusu shirt for a gift once she was plush with cash and we had a fantastic dinner of tapas. Alistair had shown up at our Albergue as well so we hung out and drank some wine.

I somehow was able to climb to the bunk up the crazy ladder and fall asleep fully clothed atop all my crap from my pack. I was comfy but it was warm. The rustling of packs and bags and not so muffled noises of the other 19 bodies woke me a bit, but I was able to sleep until about 7. After a little tea and some repacking and backpack adjustment we bid adieu to Alistair, Ken and Allen who’d decided to spend an extra day in Pamplona to recuperate.

Today’s “walk” once again no joke.

We headed out and stopped at an adorable cafe for a cream puff and a coffee. The place was killer and even let us try their local not very sweet cinnamon pastry. Then it was off onto the route. We meandered through the city streets of Pamplona and started a slow ascent up up up and up up up across the valley and some farmland. Huge boulders in the field and on the path made it important to keep your feet moving and lift them up with every step and honestly I felt like I was wearing cement shoes. We used the amazing view as a good excuse to stop and catch our breath.

We stopped in a small town, Zariquiegui, just before the last steep rise to Alto de Perdon. Our legs were wobbly and we were starving so the super hot chicken soup and pork cutlets were so delicious and nourishing, and they gave us a full bottle of wine, 11 Euro. After lunch it was back to the route and we saw it had started raining. This part of the ascent is very steep and just covered in what I as a resident of Nantucket would call cobblestones. Every single step on the wet rocks had to be measured but we kept going and eventually made it to the top where there is an exhilarating view! This is also where there is a depiction of pilgrims on the crest of the hill and you are all the way up near the windmills.

After such an accomplishment we relished the moment and then we came across the grim realization that we had to go all the way back down the other side, a similarly steep grade just absolutely covered in cobbles. Luckily the rain had stopped. And luckily we only had some of that wine because the descent was treacherous. Be very careful here or you could twist an ankle.

Honestly all day yesterday I asked myself why I’m doing this. And my answer is waiting out there somewhere in the ether. It seemed the further we went we still made no headway. We passed through town after town which still wasn’t where we were staying.

We found a statue of the Virgen Mary and sat there and had some chocolate to lift our spirits and out of nowhere a flock of hawks probably about 8 of them circled above us, we joked that they were vultures circling because we looked so dead tired… but they were amazing. It was like they were performing for us. Then they flew off.

The rest of the walk super uneventful, tedious even and it seemed to go on forever, but we made it to Puente la Reina and enjoyed dinner with a new “pod” of pilgrims that already knew each other… it was great. We stayed at the Hotel Jakue which had great food and a nice buffet. Til tomorrow.

Camino de Santiago

21 01 2018

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