It was a day to “relax” in Logroño. I slept in till nearly 9 a.m. because my room was dark and I’d been awake in the middle of the night catching up on Instagram. Even after waking, I lingered in bed, writing in my journal and checking into social media. It was after 10:30 when I finally got myself out the door, made my way a mile into the old town and wandered around aimlessly.
Logroño is the capital of La Rioja, population 155,000. A university city, its economy is heavily reliant on wine. Residents seem to be enamored of street art, because I found a bare-chested old man covered in sellos (stamps), cathedrals etched into sidewalks, birds of a feather, an antelope ridden by a strange creature, a stretched-out Lego-looking dog and a scribbled face.
I popped into the 16th century Church of Santiago El Real, one of the pilgrims’ stops. Here, the City Council met and the archives were kept. The 17th century façade, designed as a triumphal arch, is decorated with two statues of Saint James (Santiago), one wearing the pilgrim’s habit and another depicted as St. James the Moor-slayer.
There are two main streets in Logroño: Portales, full of traditional or more modern shops, and the second, Laurel, crammed with bars and taverns.
Soon after, it was lunchtime. In the bigger cities, we were lucky to find food other than standard pilgrim fare. One specialty in Logrono is the “pincho.” Pinchos are small snacks eaten in bars or taverns while hanging out with friends or relatives; socializing is the goal, and often where pinchos are served, tall tables are set up on the street where people stand, chat, drink, and nibble. I was a bit confused when people talked of pinchos because I’d always called these small plates tapas. Apparently, the main difference is that pinchos are usually ‘spiked’ with a skewer or toothpick, often to a piece of bread. It seems the terms can be interchangeable.
No skewers were involved in my pinchos, however, so I was a bit baffled by the whole thing. One of mine was crostini topped with potato, jambon, and patê. Another consisted of zucchini rolls wrapped around mushrooms and topped with shrimp. Yum! I’d learned that to order the check is “Cuente, por favor,” so I said just that, paid and went out to wander again.
The pinchos scene includes wine shops, butchers and tables set up in the street for eating and socializing.
At this point in my Camino, I wasn’t sure whether to love or hate the big cities. Normally, I love to explore a city but while walking the Camino, the cities seemed abrasive and overwhelming. I would be happy to start walking again tomorrow, but it was good to give my legs a rest.
I wandered around the Museo de La Rioja, which had fabulous religious art, paintings, altarpieces and a special exhibit by Enrique Paternina. There was no fee to get in, making it especially enjoyable.
The museum, set in a lovely 18th-century baroque palace, traced the history and culture of Rioja in both Spanish and English. Highlights included statuary displays from the Roman period, colorful altarpieces from medieval times, as well as lush portraits and landscape paintings from the 19th century.
There was a special exhibit by Spanish painter Enrique Paternina (~1866-1910).
The río Ebro crosses Logroño; the town has historically been a place where paths cross, such as The Way of St. James.
Drinking wine with lunch always makes me sleepy, so I traipsed the long distance to my pension to take a siesta. I walked past people eating tapas and drinking wine around their street-side tables. No wonder Spanish people need siestas.
After siesta time, I went back into town to see the 15th century Catedral de Santa María de la Redonda, with its impressive twin towers, home to nesting storks, and impressive Romanesque doorway. Before it opened at 6:00, I ate more tapas, at the same restaurant with the same patê pinchos, then went into the Cathedral. As always when I stopped in churches, I knelt in the pews and prayed.
Catedral de Santa María de la Redonda was built on the site of a 12th-century oratory. Work began in the 15th century; various renovations continued until the 18th century. The main facade is sculpted like an altarpiece and closed by a large wrought-iron fence.
After wandering around the adjoining Plaza del Mercado lined with shops and cafes, I ate dinner at the same restaurant in which I’d eaten the previous night, enjoying tinto verrano and scrambled eggs with peppers. It was awfully lonely as I didn’t see a single familiar face.
I got a lot of rest today, but I wished I hadn’t stayed two nights. I was here to walk, and I enjoyed the countryside and small villages more than the big cities. Logroño looked like it had seen better days, and I wouldn’t recommend it.
I’ve happily traveled all over the world alone, and I enjoy walking alone, but I couldn’t say I enjoyed this day. I felt invisible and that I didn’t fit in; this is quite a normal feeling for me, so I tend to give people a wide berth. I make it a point to never cling to anyone. I enjoyed making connections with fellow pilgrims, but I didn’t like walking at someone else’s pace, nor did I want to feel obliged to talk all the time.
Nevertheless, it was nice last night that Ingrid invited me to join her and some friends for tapas, although the invitation was too late, coming after I’d trudged the long distance outside of town to my pension. I enjoyed my alone time walking on the Camino, but I also enjoyed camaraderie in the evenings, socializing over a beer or glass of wine. It was a constant struggle balancing my opposing needs for solitude and companionship.
I’d hoped to run into Darina today, and I suppose I could have contacted her, but I didn’t. Of course I wouldn’t randomly run into her in such a big city, as I’d hoped to do. By the end of the day, I felt lonely and down in the dumps, and looked forward to moving along the following day.
*Day 11: Logroño. Friday, September 14, 2018*
*Steps today: 14,586, or 6.18 miles*
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: Dramatic Skies Over Querença.