September 19, 2002

9/19/02 Logroño

28 km

Seems as if we're getting up earlier and earlier. Most of the refugio was gone and on the road by 7:15am even though it was pitch dark outside. We sure did have trouble finding the yellow arrows out of town.

Angela [USA]

The morning kept cool and foggy, so it was difficult to appreciate the countryside we were walking through. Took a short break in Torres del Rio at the Iglesia del Santo Sepulcro, a 12th century church of the Knights Templar. The Templars were a group of warrior monks whose main purpose was to protect the pilgrims. After that, the Camino had lots of twists and turns, ups and downs. Unfortunately, we didn't have much of a view when we topped El Poyo, one of the highest points on the Camino.

Templar Church

The closer we got to Viana, the hotter it was getting. Upon entering the city, the pilgrims were greeted with a huge pilgrim mural looking over picnic tables and a water fountain. Saw Pedro again and also met Claudia, a girl from Germany only on the Camino for ten days. The walk through the city gave me visions of the running of the bulls in Pamplona. Turns out they're big festival this past weekend with their own version of the bulls running through the streets. Most of the stout barricades protecting the storefronts were still up.

Approaching Viana

Wonderful pilgrim 'rest stop'

At one point, as I left the city, I could see a woman shaking out a rug from an apartment overhead, while a construction worker sang his own opera as he worked. A classic 'European' moment for me. After Viana, the Camino was almost completely paved and only one small section went through shade trees. Hotter and hotter it got. My feet were getting pretty sore. Angela caught up to me as we walked the last four kilometers into Lagroño.

Crossing the River Ebro

Lagroño owes its existence to the pilgrimage route. And that's shown even today, as the Camino is marked by large marble symbols of shells embedded in the street. The town also has a very large pilgrim refugio that only costs $3 a night. They even have free Internet access.

Because most restaurants are closed between 4pm and 8pm, Angela and I ended up wandering around the city. There is a huge statue of Santiago Matamoras above the door of the Church of Santiago Real. This seems a very prosperous city with many people and a lot of shops. We even had a beer in a café in the main plaza just like real tourists.

Much later, by my stomach's reckoning, a bunch of us got together for another Spanish dinner. A few new friends are Jose, a policeman who has a son working in Ireland, his friend Pedro, Meriam, a Basque emergency room nurse, and Carmine. We had so much fun, we barely made it back to the refugio before the doors closed at 10pm.

Bixen, José, Angela, Carlos, Carmine, Meriam, Pedro