Ingrid, Pat and I started walking at 7:00 a.m, with me wearing my headlamp and leading the way. It was stunning to watch the sun rise and the lovely alpenglow on the rolling hills and vineyards. It wasn’t long before we came upon a man with a sprawling cairn installation and a mobile café on a hill. For a donation, I was able to get a refreshing box of pineapple juice. Though we’d just eaten breakfast, I always felt compelled to buy a drink or snack because we so appreciated the effort locals made to create pilgrim rest stops.
Soon after, we walked past the16th century Ermita de Nuestra Señora del Poyo, situated at the high point of the road (poyo means raised platform or podium). From here we had a view west over the flat plains with Viana and Logroño in the distance.
Torres del Río to Ermita de Nuestra Señora del Poyo (2.7 km)
As the sun rose, the landscape of vineyards and olive trees glowed. Anna joined us for a photo op and then hurried along. It would be the last time I’d see her. It was a beautiful morning with a cool breeze and light spun with gold. The walk was long, 10.6 km to Viana. I parted from Pat and Ingrid as their pace was faster than mine, especially with all my stops to take photos. I was enamored of the wind turbines on the ridge. Besides, I enjoyed walking alone and contemplating life. Most of the walk to Viana, except the last slow slog along a paved road after crossing the río Cornava, was the nicest part of today with its glorious light.
Ermita de Nuestra Señora del Poyo to Viana Centro (7.9 km)
Viana is a lively town with a population of 4,000. In the 15th century, the town was a major pilgrim stop with at least four pilgrim hospitals. It was once a bastion on the disputed frontier between the old kingdoms of Navarre and Castille. Viana’s Baroque Town Hall has a fine carved façade with colonnades and houses the Tourist Information.
I stopped into the gorgeous 13th century Iglesia de Santa María in Viana, one of the loveliest churches I’d seen along the Camino, with its elaborate recessed doorway and its ornate gold altar and frescoes. This is where Cesare Borgia, the son of Pope Alexander VI, is buried. He died here at the beginning of the 16th century following a duel. Its Baroque altarpiece is alive with images.
I loved pausing in churches and asking for blessings for my family, my pilgrimage, and for other pilgrims. As I was kneeling for a prayer, Thomas from Germany came in and was praying as well. I wasn’t sure of his reason for doing the Camino as he couldn’t speak much English and I couldn’t speak German, but he had told me the previous night “The Camino called and here I am.” I ran into Darina as I was leaving, but I didn’t see her again for the rest of the day.
Iglesia de Santa María in Viana
I also stopped briefly at the Ruinas de San Pedro. Downhill, I stopped at a local cafe where I enjoyed a potato tortilla.
After leaving Viana, I stopped for a rest in shade beside a babbling stream at Ermita de la Trinidad de Cuevas, site of an earlier hospice of the Trinitarian Order of nuns. From there it was 6.4 km to Logroño.
Vianna to Ermita de la Trinidad de Cuevas (3.0 km)
The next section, heading into the outskirts of Logroño, was more unsightly, despite following a path through a fragrant pine wood. A noisy road ran alongside, and soon messy graffiti and jumbles of rocks accompanied us. The last part of each day is so painful on feet and legs and, especially when approaching a big city, it seems to take forever to get to the old city center.
Just outside of Logroño, we entered La Rioja, one of the smallest and most diverse autonomous regions of Spain. It is known for its excellent wines. As early as the 11th century, kings and noblemen promoted the Camino through La Rioja as a means of exporting wine and wares throughout Europe, and for attracting artisans and stonemasons to build cathedrals, monasteries and monuments along the Way.
The approach to the city wasn’t pretty; there was an onslaught of industry on the outskirts.
Ermita de la Trinidad de Cuevas to Cruce/Rioja (2.6 km)
Cruce/Rioja to Logroño (3.8 km)
I made a gradual climb on an earth-colored concrete track crawling with centipedes, up the Cantabrian Hill, past garden allotments (huerto urbanos) to a stone bridge. I stopped into the Puente de Piedra (Pilgrim Information Center) and found, much to my disappointment, that my pension was on the far side of the old town. I crossed the bridge over the río Ebro into Logroño. The bridge, rebuilt in 1880, replaces the earlier medieval pilgrim bridge attributed to St. John de Ortega (St. John the Hermit).
In Logroño, I could barely muster enough energy to make it through the town and to my pension. Logroño, a university city with a population of 155,000, is the Capital of Rioja.
I stopped briefly in the Iglesia de Santiago (St. James) el Real. The doorway of this church bears an image of Saint James the Moor-slayer. Clafijo, the site of the battle where the saint intervened, is close to Logroño.
On the far side of the old town, I trudged past an intersection with a fountain and another one with palm trees and finally found the pension. It was inside an apartment building and I was locked out. I had to call the number because I’d arrived earlier (2:30) than the 3:00-4:00 I’d estimated.
I showered and handwashed my clothes then backtracked to the old town where I had potatas bravas, limonata y cerveza and gambas (shrimp scampi). Another pilgrim named Larry (retired U.S. military with a recent B.A. and M.A. in art history and archeology) was alone at an adjacent table, so I invited him to join me.
My pension, Pension Saint Mateo, was not that much nicer than the pilgrim albergues other than the privacy. The worst part was that it was so far removed from town, making it hard to slip in and out for explorations.
I walked past the 15th century Gothic Catedral de Santa María de la Redonda, the largest church in Logroño, but I would save going in until the following day. It has impressive twin towers (Las Gemelas, or the Twins) that were a later addition, and have long been a nesting spot for storks. A Romanesque doorway is shielded by wrought iron railings. It sits along the Plaza del Mercado, lined with shops and cafés.
I was disappointed not to run into Darina or any other pilgrims, but when I returned to my apartment at about 7:00, I got a Whatsapp message from Ingrid: “Hello! By now you must be luxuriating in your hotel. Tapas tonight? Folks from my hostel are meeting up around 7:00. Would love to meet up with you somewhere.” Sadly, by the time I had wi-fi, got her message and wrote back, she no longer was in range of wi-fi and we missed each other. I didn’t have enough energy to traipse back into town anyway, sadly.
I planned to take the following day off in Logroño, and I was looking forward to resting, exploring the city, and sampling some regional wine. At this point, I had 615.6 km (382.5 miles) to Santiago. I was only 22% done! I tried not to think of that and to focus on enjoying the experience and putting one foot in front of the other.
On the homefront, I had some good news. My loved one had moved in temporarily with his brother and his roommate, and was starting his first day at a new job. Although it was a job way beneath his intellect, I felt happy that he simply had a job. My husband gave them both money to get some new clothes, to give them a boost in their new endeavors. I felt hopeful. Maybe things would turn around.
*Day 10: Thursday, September 13, 2018*
*37,677 steps, or 15.97 miles: Torres del Rio to Logroño (21.1 km)*
You can find everything I’ve written so far on the Camino de Santiago here:
On Sundays, I post about hikes or walks that I have taken in my travels; I may also post on other unrelated subjects. I will use these posts to participate in Jo’s Monday Walks or any other challenges that catch my fancy.
This post is in response to Jo’s Monday Walk: Street art in Silves.