Day 7 - Los Arcos to Logrono

Trip Start Sep 03, 2012
Trip End Oct 07, 2012

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Flag of Spain  , La Rioja,
Saturday, September 8, 2012

Kms Walked Today: 28.6 km
Kms Walked in Total: 164.3 kms
Kms to Go: 625.1 kms
Blisters: same ones as day before have pumped up again. Nothing that a bit of stitching and TCP won't sort.
Pains: none. Just general muscle tiredness.


- "Pack and elastic rope with hooks". You can dry clothes on it, and also build a four poster bed with curtains imitation for more privacy and darkness.

For the first time in an albergue, when panic hit the dorm, I just turned around, smiled and kept sleeping until they all left. A luxury at least until 6.30am.

I had already booked two pension nights at Logrono for Friday and Saturday, so I could take my time today and enjoy the walk - just as it should really be.

Once everyone had left, I enjoyed a good breakfast at the albergue (3 euros), which confirmed my thought that the place might be owned by a German. All the products served where German, even the bread. No idea how that can be cheaper, but apparently it must work for them. What originally made me think there might be some germanic influence in the albergue was a "Gruss Gott" clock at reception, that they sold Weissbier, and that one of the assistants was German.

The waiter did comment that usually people would start at 7am, but that these days it was much earlier as everyone was fighting for space.

I didn't leave until 7.55am, and the sun was already coming out. I could have avoided a couple of hours of burn, but I wanted to "chilax" along today and see what if felt like "being at the back".

It certainly was much more relaxed. Only one fast walker passed me all day - I recognised from the town of Villamayor where I wanted to stay the night before. On the other hand, I passed about ten pilgrims who were walking slowly or stopping often.

I can't say that the scenery was any better than the day before. It mainly consisted of vineyards and dry fields. However, the mountains in the distance were quite impressive, and the villages passed were refreshing to make a pit stop in.

One thing to note is that since Los Arcos, the street names are no longer in basque and castilian. So we are obviously out of the basque zone of influence.

Many pilgrims, and one cannot blame them given the graffitti on the path and all the nationalist posters and signs, thought they were walking along the Basque Country. They did not realise Navarra was a separate Autonomous Community. Not that it matters much to a pilgrim...

My aim was to walk to Viana (18kms), and stop for my "bocadillo de chorizo" which I was carrying, and a cold refreshment. I would buy the newspaper and just wait for the sun to go down.

All OK until I actually arrived at Viana and walked to the medieval centre at the top. Suddenly there was hundreds of people dressed in their regional clothing, music, and lots of fireworks going off (especially from young kids!)

I bought the paper and a cold drink, but you couldn't fit a needle in the main street. Walking around with a rucksack with people pushing each other, shouting and throwing fireworks at each other, and with all the bars packed...simply was not a good place to wait for the sun to go down.
I would have loved to stay and enjoy their "fiestas patronales", but it was not practical.

So I walked to the outskirts for about ten minutes, found a tree with some good shade, and dropped my overheated skeleton on the floor. With my loyal rucksack as a pillow, I had my lunch and fell asleep reading the news. It was only when the sun started tickling my legs again that I woke up.

Even resting under the tree was getting too hot, so at 3pm I gathered sufficient energies to walk the last 11kms under the sun. The thermometer marked 35 degrees, but it felt like much more.

I would have paid for some clouds or rain, and I was nearly lucky enough as there was thunder and dark clouds along the mountain range in the distance. They did seem to follow me, and had I stopped long enough perhaps they would have caught up. When they did, I was 10 minutes away from my pension...Sod's Law!

The last two kilometres into Logrono where tough. The local authorities have built an asphalt path for the Camino, which might be great for cyclists, but which is a killer after 26 kms. Its the worst friend of a walker.

With one kilometre to go I passed the "famous" (only because it appears in Sheen's film, and, in the book of a German comedian who fails to be funny when translated...or perhaps at all) "stamp station" of "Felissa". She is the daughter of another Felissa who also stamped the passports of pilgrims at the entrance of Logrono. For a donation of course, she sits on her arse all day long and stamps the passports of pilgrims, who seem to go nuts to get as many different stamps on it as possible. I politely declined which made her reply with a grumpy "buen camino".

I made it to the hotel, had a great shower, and recovered under the air conditioning for an hours, while thinking about what tapas I would digest.

With my dirty clothes delicately handwashed in the bathtub, I dragged my body to the tapas area. Described by the food writer of The Guardian newspaper as "the best tapas city in Spain" (with Granada, Madrid and Seville following).

The writer was not wrong. The calle Laurel is a disneyland of tapas. Not only about thirty different places, but an endless amount of different types. I managed to try six, in three different bars, before having to have a long walk to digest it.

I luckily arrived early (at 7pm) so I could pick and choose. By the time I left at 9pm, one could hardly move...I know it was Saturday, but given the financial state of Spain one would expect it less busy. Once again "Crisis. What Crisis?"

For the record I tried:
- a "cojonudo" and "croqueta casera": 3.70 euros.

- "berenjena" with jamon and "morcilla" with peppers: 2,60 euros.

- "croqueta de chipiron" and "bola de carne": 4,40 euros.

If its this packed now, I'm happy I won't be around next weekend as its the "Fiesta de San Mateo", which is the wine harvest festival (15th to the 22nd of September). All said, every weekend seems to be a busy one in the larger towns, so its good I have booked something in advance in each one (Burgos, Leon, Santiago).
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