|After 8 days of hiking and about 175 km's we took a scheduled day off. We continued to be blessed with good weather and good health. The same can't be said for some of the people we have friended along the way. Our buddy Wayne from Toronto has blisters on his blisters and the last few days has been a struggle for him. The rule of thumb from a back pack perspective is that the weight of your pack should not exceed 10 per cent of your body weight. Our buddy Wayne's pack weighs 25 lbs. Most of the pilgrims we've met on The Camino are carrying their own packs and showing up at towns looking for an albergue (dorm) or hostel. This is truly the traditional way of doing the pilgrimage however, we have loved having our luggage transported and showing up at a pre-arranged hotel/guest house whenever we arrive. There are pros and cons for both approaches...we do not have to worry about rushing to a town to find accommodations but on the other hand we are not integrating with as many pilgrims as we would have if we had gone the traditional pilgrim way...oh yes, it would have been MUCH cheaper. Alas focusing on the walk and being injury free has been a wonderful experience for us.
Each town we visit has its own unique charm and the hotels have all been very acceptable.
Estella is a town with population of about 14,000 and had the beautiful Ega river running through it. In it's early years the town flourished with vibrant pilgrim business and agriculture and textile industries of wood and leather. The town grew wealthy and important religious and civic institutions were built giving the town the nickname Estella la bella ("Estella the beautiful"). One thing we have noted about these small communities is that families tend to congregate in the city centre. Young children are out playing soccer, skipping rope and riding scooters until after 10 at night.
On Sunday, we were passing through the town of Viana around 11 am so we stopped in a local church and attended a mass in Spanish. We really enjoyed our stay in Logrono last night. There was a great vibe in the city and we enjoyed getting out to Calle Laurel for some Pintxos for dinner. One of the great finds was a restaurant that served mushrooms beer and wine. The mushrooms were cooked with garlic and olive oil and topped with a shrimp. We were joking that if you were planning to open a restaurant serving only mushrooms, wine and beer and went for financing the bank, they would likely laugh you out the door. This place was lined up so if the food is good, people will come.
Today we visited a few wineries in the LaGuardia area as it is the heart of the Rioja region. We met a couple on their honeymoon from Vancouver. Small world. We also enjoyed a 2 hour lunch at a very fancy restaurant located in a winery/hotel designed by Frank Gehry. We had a six course tasting menu with wine pairings. They actually have a 21 course tasting menu but it is closed on Monday's and Tuesday's,(likely a good thing for us). Sitting on the fabulous deck overlooking the wineries and mountains was not very pilgrim like.
We are are all looking forward to our next 6 days of walking which will cover about 114 kms. After that we have another day off prior to five days of biking.