And so a bit more about coming into Logroño on Thursday....
As I mentioned, I chose to catch the bus the last 9km into Logroño. It was a funny experience.. the bus was due at 3.07pm and at 3.30 it still hadn´t come. However by now we have realised there is such a thing as "spanish time" over here. The spanish don´t seem to be worried about time as much as us aussies; within 45 minutes of a stated time is more than acceptable. The bus was air conditioned, and as it drove along I gazed out the window at the walking pilgrims, in the hot sun, and couldn´t help but smile! Grin in fact!
The fiesta in Logroño that night was great; there were lots of buskers and music, and loads of people! The lolly shops (very common in Spain) were packed with hyped-up kids and the bars (pubs in aussie speak) were full of people eating. It was a family friendly atmosphere and we enjoyed looking around for an hour or so before going back to our hostel for the 10pm close. We hopped into bed by 10pm as instructed; everyone was ready for sleep, but the lights were still on! The top-bunkers (including me) were tossing and turning and trying to cover their eyes from the light.. and at 10.30pm I cracked and got up and turned them off myself. I heard a sigh of relief from some people!
Yesterday (Friday) morning we got up at 6am, packed and left Logroño in the dark for a long 29km day. We found a nice cafe on the outskirts of town for brekky (usual croissant and cafe leche) and started hiking around 8am. Again, it was so strange to see the contrast between city and country.. so close together yet so different! We walked along a wide, easy path, making up songs as we went to pass the time. Some of the verses went:
On the "Buen Camino" way,
Pilgrims stop and say g´day;
We walk on and on and on,
as we sing our little song;
Poles go clicky-clicky clack,
as we carry our big pack;
The sun shines down upon our heads,
all we want is our soft beds.
There was much more, but you get the drift...
We walked around a lake which was beautiful, and Angi got very excited about the ducks! There was a park surrounding the side of the lake that we walked through and it really reminded me of Lake Burley-Griffin in Canberra in the autumn, with the red and gold leaves falling from the trees. As we passed through the park we came across... a spanish squirrel!! It was extremely cute as well as curious. It must have been stockpiling for the winter. We also came across a man who looked like Jesus with a big beard, giving out apples and biscuits and stamps for the pilgrim credentials (we collect stamps in each hostel we stay in as well as other places along the way). We walked through Navarrette where we visited a cathedral where I felt a strange sense of calm looking at Jesus on the cross (it usually upsets me). We then pushed on to Ventosa and finally the last 11km to Najera. Close to Najera there was a memorial of Roldan and the Giant, a famous historic tale in the area.
The hostel in Najera was ok but not great, 90 beds in one room and the smallest hot water system I´ve ever seen. Cold showers for us that night! At least the hostel volunteers gave us hugs (mandatory for all pilgrims), though I couldn´t understand why as we would have smelled awful! We found paella last night for the first time in Spain and gobbled it down... my hungry has definitely made it´s presence noticed recently!
This morning we woke up at 6am as everyone was getting up early. We packed up and again set off in the dark. The sunrise was beautiful, a big red sun again. I was exceptionally tired as I don´t think I ate enough yesterday, so we went slow. We reached the next town 6km away and had breakfast; Angi had the biggest chocolate croissant I´d ever seen! Then it was off again, 8km to the next town, and along the way I started feeling so emotional and tired so just cried and cried! Lucky Angi knew to keep going ahead; I just kept going slowly. We eventually arrived in Ciruena, a small town with a huge golf course and two parts - the first part with new apartment blocks surrounding a big pool and tennis court area, and a second old part on the other side of the small river, with buildings crumbling before our eyes. It was bizarre; deserted again, and a sense of modern meets ancient. We stopped for a good lunch which recharged my energy.
Off again, the last 6km of our (now seemingly small) 20km day to Santo Domingo, which we did in good time as we could see the town in the distance. It´s amazing how being able to see our destination motivates us to keep going. When we arrived we went to the first hostel we saw, which was in a run-down monastary and seemed wrong in so many ways! It was awful! Luckily Angi realised the name of the place wasn´t right so we went to find the right place, and this time it was beautiful. Brand new, multi-story with smallish bunk rooms and most importantly, HOT showers! And the best bit... at 4pm a podiatrist arrived to help all pilgrims having problems with their feet, so for € 5 Angi and I got looked over; tendons got poked, blisters got bandaged and feet got strapped... and after a bit of education about looking after our feet I feel much more confident about making it to Santiago! We had a look around the town, saw the live chickens in the church (Santo Domingo is famous for that) and had a quick dinner cooked by one of the pilgrims in the hostel, then popped into the cathedral to watch a concierto - a fantastic choir - before internet and bed (10pm as always!). Tomorrow is another 27km day, lets hope our feet feel better now!
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