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Published: October 22nd 2017
Geo: 42.3762, -3.50689
We walked out of Logrono with Andrea and Suzanne (from New Mexico) and were in such good conversation that we missed all the coffee spots and had to do a long 13 kilometers to Navarrete. Shortly out of Logrono, we stopped at a bench on the trail and had yogurt and the rest of our trail mix, this would have to hold us to Navarrete.
The first hour was on a paved trail that had many local walkers and runners who seemed to all wish us a "Buen Camino". The trail circled a pretty lake/reservoir with a large park at the head of the lake. From there, a pretty steep climb which offered great views back to Logrono.
By the time we reached Ventosa, there was light mist and we stopped for lunch at one of the two options in town. We wanted to share one 10 euro pilgrim meal but the proprietor said we couldn't share; when he saw our long, rain drenched faces, he relented. We washed down the roasted chicken and salad with a couple of beers.
By the time we left, the mist had turned to a moderate rain. We were just leaving town and the Alvia
Bodegas (winery) beckoned with their sign for a bottle of wine and a leather wine skin for 15 euro. We were hooked, even though it added more weight. We had a small glass and poured the remainder in our new wine skin.
The rain continued and the rocky, steep, red clay trail got pretty "greasy" slippery. We hooked up with Mike and Layla from San Diego, who we had bumped into several times. The rain stopped, conversation was good and the last miles to Najera passed quickly.
Mike and Layla ducked into the first albergue, and we found out later that they got a couple of beds. We wandered for about 30 minutes before we found Puerta de la Najera. We got there at 3:55 and they would have given our room away at 4:00! This was our first private double room and it was fantastic. A very nice room with a sitting balcony overlooking the river (for 30 Euro).
When checking in, the proprietress told us of the festival of Santa Maria that would start at 8.30. After cleaning up and doing a basin of laundry, we headed out for sightseeing and dinner. Najera is a city with a river of the
same name running through it, with the church actually built into the red cliffs that rise above the city.
We found a nice little place that offered a pilgrim menu that was right on the fiesta route. Children in traditional costumes and ad-hoc marching bands passed by while we enjoyed dinner.
We headed to the church where the costumed, flower-bearing children presented their flowers to the presiding Priest. When completed, the huge bouquet was presented to Santa Maria, the namesake of the parish.
On the central plaza a stage was in full swing with hundreds of people --nice mix of pilgrims and locals, witnessing a fantastic show of lights, great live music and a cabaret-like show with 8 singers and dancers (4 women and 4 men). Between each number they changed costumes and we felt like we should have paid a big admission! On the walk back to Puenta de la Najera, the narrow streets were filled with revelers.
We sat on our balcony for awhile enjoying the sights and sounds and headed to bed knowing it would be a snore-free night!
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