Monday 1st April 2013,

Trip Start Mar 23, 2013
Trip End May 05, 2013

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Where I stayed
A lovely Hostel

Flag of Spain  , La Rioja,
Monday, April 1, 2013

I´m sorry to say its not the best start to a Birthday I have ever had, as Ian's motorbike has a flat battéry.  I have to help him push it up and down the car park ramps 4 times to start it, we were both shattered and not what I needed on an ankle that had not really rested.  We said our goodbye's, Ian was off to the ferry and I to the bus stop. 
I had dropped off my pack at the hostel the evening before, so it was taken to the next hostel 30 km away.  Laura had trouble with her feet and I with my ankle, so we bused the first 10 km to make it a more manageable walk.  Even with no pack it was very hard on a sore ankle, knee and hip.  I do not know what I have done but I feel every one of my 28 years.......  Somehow the German girls do not believe I am only 28 today! 
We were on the bus with an older American couple who had six kids between them and were touring Spain.  They were finding the walking very hard so did the same as us and bused the first bit.  We met them later in the town where they took a hotel and had a Jacuzzi, it made me very jealous as I was now getting very sick of the noisy dormitories and the snoring.  I had escaped my German snorer but the hostels were now full of Spanish tourists that had seemed to take it as a matter of national pride to beat the Germans at snoring!   
Anyway back to the days crawl where the weather held and was sunny at times.  The scenery was breathtakingly beautiful.  There were mountains all around us, some still snow-capped.  I take picture on picture hoping I can capture the beauty of it.  It is now the heart of Rioja, with mile on mile of vines running into the distant mountains.  The walking was hard but the day went fast with all three of us in good spirits.  A second breakfast and first lunch really help to keep us going to the beautiful old town of Najera.  It is built around a river which has burst its banks and is full of uprooted trees.  It is the bank holiday today in Spain so there is a funfair beside the river, it looks a little incongruous next to the torrent. 
As its my birthday we find a nice restaurant and have a Paella for dinner, its good to escape from the Tapas.  We have a very nice bottle of Rioja and the girls treat me to couple of whiskeys for my birthday.  We have to be back in the hostel at 10, as usual.  As its only 9 in he UK I can call my Mother, who sings happy birthday to me, it makes me very homesick and I fightback a tear.  I call Jack and my Dad in America, I do not want to think of the phone bill but love saying hello.
Laura sits up with me at the hostel and we have a drink.  She is a typical teenager and does not really get on with her stepfather, but her Mother loves him deeply.  I tell Laura about Jack and our crazy adventures, about how he does the fireworks and has been the responsible adult in our relationship since he was 11.  I don't know if its because I miss Jack and Amber very much but I am deeply moved when she says she would have liked me for a stepfather.  For the second time that night I have to fightback a tear.
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