Monday, September 30, 2013

Day 12 (9/30) - Azofra to Granon (23.6km)

We had breakfast at nearby bar and hit the trail around 7:30am. Beautiful pre-sunrise view looking across the vineyards back towards Azofra.

Late morning, we passed through Ciruena, first was a golf course and then lots of new but seemingly unoccupied apartments, townhouses, etc. -- all pretty fancy looking but more-or-less of a ghost town. Finally, we entered the older part of the town and were able to find a bar where we could have "2nd breakfast" of tortilla and coffee.

Shepherd and 3 dogs herding flock of sheep.

Walked another 6km and entered Santa Domingo de Calzada, a rather nice town of 5,000 population with cathedral and old-town area. There is a confusing legend about a rooster and hen and a child coming back to life -- anyway, the cathedral has a live rooster and hen in a glass enclosure. It is also the burial place of Santa Domingo de la Calzada, who spent much of his life building pilgrim highways, "calzadas". Although this would definitely have been a nice place to stay, we wanted to walk a bit further so headed onwards. It was VERY windy and the next 7km were pretty tough walking and we arrived at Granon feeling pretty wind-burnt and sun-burnt.

The parish albergue in Granon has everyone sleeping on the floor and we noticed another albergue nearby. It had bright colors, murals, stuffed animals out front and inside was similarly funky. There was a room with a single bunk bed and that seemed nice. The owner told us that we did not register our names or receive a sellos (pilgrim's stamp), dinner at 8pm and breakfast at 7am and that payment was by "donation" and whatever we wanted to pay. All in all a bit unusual but we're giving it a try.

At nearby bar, a glass of inexpensive but very nice red wine cost 1 euro!

Street view of Granon.

View westward from edge of town: Left foreground is field of drying sunflowers and background are harvested grain-fields. Gravel path/road is our route for tomorrow.

Location:Granon, Spain

Day 11 (9/29) - Navarette to Azofra (23.5km)

We started a bit earlier than yesterday. It was a bit confusing getting out of town and I was worried we might be turned around - even though we were following three Spanish ladies. It was before sunrise, there were much fewer pilgrims than usual, just us and them plus the trail markings were sparse and different than before, so it was uncertain for a while but we were correct. We had a Cliff bar on the trail and were worried that the usual bars would be closed because today was Sunday. However, we did find an open place in Ventosa so had coffee and tortilla.

It seemed like we spent half the time walking through vineyards.

We passed through Najera around lunchtime and thought we found a "festival" near the river. Turns out it was an exhibit of farm machinery; tractors, accessories, chainsaws, ... but did have some food booths. We had grilled pork on bread slices, sautéed wild mushrooms, wine and then some pastries. I bought some cheese and chorizo from a farmer for later.

The weather was pleasant and cooler with one brief rain shower before Najera. Azofra is a pleasant little town and we stayed at the municipal albergue -- there are two beds per cubicle with men and women sharing the same toilet-shower rooms. I was looking for a bottle of wine to have with our cheese and sausage and in the store the manager told me he had some of his own wine. It was 2 euros and in an unlabeled bottle that he wanted returned to the store. Not too bad but definitely an interesting story. After sharing the wine and a rest, we had a pilgrims dinner.

According to the mileage post above, we have 578km to go before reaching Santiago. We've travelled 210km of the Camino with a fair bit more spent sightseeing along the way. We are 25% done with our pilgrimage in 11 days walking and that's pretty humbling.

Location:Azofra, Spain

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Day 10 (9/28) - Viana to Navarette (23.3km)

Up and walking around 7:30AM - sunrise is now around 8am. This view is looking back towards Viana with the ruins of an old church at top of skyline.

Entering downtown Longrono area.

The path through Logrono was marked with nice tiles.

Beginning to see lots of the famous Rioja vineyards, with the Tempranillo grapes nearly for harvest.

Navarette, the end of our day's journey is in sight!

After getting settled in to our room, a double with bath at Albergue El Cantaro and the usual shower plus laundry ritual, we found a really nice bar, "Bar Deportivo" and had some delicious tapas and a couple of glasses of Rioja wine and watched the rain begin. Back to our room for a nap and then back to the same bar for their pilgrim menu dinner. I had garlic soup with smoky pepper taste (paprika?), pork jowl, and torte and Cindy had local vegetables, stuffed red peppers and chocolate mousse. Of course, we had a full bottle of Rioja. All for 15 euros each. Wonderful!

Location:Navarette, Spain

Friday, September 27, 2013

Day 9 (9/27) - Los Arcos to Viana (18.6km)

Up and grabbed nice breakfast at bar in the church plaza (cafe con leche and tortilla for me and cafe Americano and pastry for Cindy) and hit the trail at 7:30am. FYI - The Spanish, "tortilla" is more like a crustless quiche, eggs and sliced cooked potatoes and baked in a pie pan. Very nice!

Temperature was comfortable but a bit humid and we made good time, reaching Vianna between 1 & 2pm. We could have walked further but this will work out for tomorrow's planned destination in 20km from here. Found a cute private alberge just into town and the lady at the registration desk was so friendly that we decided to stay there even though we are in a room with 4 bunkbeds - could not get the usual double room.. Walked into town and had pilgrim menu that included a bottle of red wine - 9 euro apiece so a good value. Back to room and had nice siesta. Walked back uptown to get groceries - stores were closed from mid-afternoon to 5pm due to siesta and bought groceries to make nice salad for dinner. Spent 7 euro for lettuce, tuna, olives, tomatoes, garbanzo beans plus a bottle of nice inexpensive wine. Went back to alberge and had dinner, shared with Susannah, a nice young woman from New Zealand.

Location:Viana, Spain

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Day 8 (9/26) - Villamayor de Monjardin to Los Arcos (12.4km):

We decided to have a "rest day" by simply walking in the morning. The alberge did not offer breakfast today (staff shortage) so left around 7:30am again. The walk was quite nice and we found no place for breakfast so snacked along the trail. Wa arrived in Los Arcos by 11am and had coffee and croissant in the plaza near the church. Our alberge (see pic below for the name), run by an Austrian group, opened at noon and we splurged on another double room. Got cleaned up, strolled around and had real nice lunch in plaza; small pizza, nice large salad and a "jar" of sangria. There were lots of pilgrims passing through the plaza and we saw several that we knew. After a rest, we found some groceries and wine and had a nice little meal in the alberge.

Location:Los Arcos, Spain

Day 7 (9/25) - Lorca to Villamayor de Monjardin (20km)

Started around 7:30am, did not get breakfast at the alberge with intention of breakfast at bar in next village. Met up with british couple from our alberge and had nice visit with Paul and Ellen. Did not notice any breakfast spot (bars usually have coffee and breakfast) so continued on to Estella where we had nice breakfast. Visited really neat 12th century church with cloister and walked around town. There were two other old churches but neither was open.

Found some groceries for lunch - 8 freshly roasted peppers and fruit at small grocery and 100g of jamon at butcher shop plus a really nice baguette. Continued to walk until Irache where they have a fountain with two spigots, one for water and one for red wine. Wine was "rationed" to just a trickle and was pretty poor quality but still a novelty. At a nearby park, we made a sandwich with the baguette, ham, roasted peppers plus some nice manchego cheese that we bought yesterday.

The afternoon was pretty warm (low to mid 80's) and we were tired and hot when we arrived at Villamayor de Monjardin. Alberge is operated by Dutch couple plus volunteers and we got a double room in top floor of neat, old building. Had the usual beer and got cleaned up and had a nice communal meal.

Location:Los Arcos, Spain

Day 6 (9/24) - Uterga to Lorca (24.5km)

Got up at 6:30 but still was slow to hit the trail, starting just before 8am. Took the scenic route detour at Murazabal to Eunate to see the church there. It's an octagonal shaped 12th century church situated at the historic convergence between Camino Frances and Camino Aragones and attributed (by some) to the Knights Templar. The church didn't open until 10:30 so we couldn't go inside but was still neat to see and in a tranquil setting. Then merged back into the current camino path at Obanos. Stopped in Puente la Reina for groceries and a quick glass of "tinto" at a wine merchant. This was a neat town and too bad we couldn't have spent a night there as seemed to have lots of tapas bars. Town has several old churches and a Roman era bridge that was quite scenic. Path was along the river for awhile and then crossed a ridge with a brief but steep climb up and descent. Passed thru two small villages, Maneru and Cirauqui, and followed a 2000 year old Roman road for awhile with some sections being in quite nice condition, then arrived at Lorca. The last 13km was pretty warm and a bit long. The 24.5km (15 miles) total was longest day we have had so far. Found a private room with shared bath in private alberge, La Bodega del Camino. Had a quick beer, then a shower and did laundry and then had the pilgrim menu in our alberge.

Location:Lorca, Spain

Monday, September 23, 2013

Day 5 (9/23) - Pamplona to Utrega

The bunkbeds in the hostel were quite comfortable and even included sheets and comforter. We did not set any alarms and were surprised to wake up at 7:30! Much later than any other day so we got a later start. Grabbed a minimal breakfast in the hostel and started walking at 8am. We stopped at a bar in Cizur Menor for "2nd breakfast" and ordered too much food. I had thought I ordered tortilla espaniel (like a frittata but served in slices) but it was omelet in a baguette and I ordered one apiece. Quite tasty but splitting one would have been enough. The walk crossed a ridge and there was a long steep climb followed by a much steeper descent. We decided to stop at the next village, Uterga, so that we could make a scenic detour tomorrow. Today was probably 17km or so. Alberge Perdon had shared rooms or a hotel style room in a house so we chose the latter. At alberge lounged around, had wine and worked on our journals and visited. Then had the pilgrim menu dinner.


Sunday, September 22, 2013

Day 4 (9/22) - Zubiri to Pamplona

Finally got a pretty good night sleep -- hopefully we are getting over jet lag as we really need sleep to be ready for the next day. Grabbed yoghurt and cookie at a convenience store and hit the trail. A bit cold but very nice. Stopped at next village and found a nice little cafe. There were pictures of the owner and Martin Sheen and Emilio Estevez from when they were filming The Way. Got baguette, cheese and ham for lunch at a grocery and back on the trail. Lunch was sitting next to a small river and quite scenic. The rest of the day was a bit of a grind. Pretty warm but not hot and were tired when we arrived in Pamplona. After cleaning up, headed off to walk around the old town. Then "dinner" in a few tapas bars. Had Pulpo Galacian style and it was delicious. Very tender and not like "octopus" at all. Also had sangria again. It is pretty neat to watch the bartender mix the liquors, wine and fruit.