My entire room, all five of ’em, were up at 5.30 and so I was too. Normally I don’t linger much but today I wanted breakfast at the albergue because the map indicated steep hills right at the start. Hills. There’s a surprise. The cafe in the albergue offered eggs at 6.30. I was first in the queue and first out of the door.
Two kilometres out of town I heard music. Louder and louder it got. Up a hill and around a corner I stumbled onto, and into, a party. Full on. Sunday morning at 7.00am. In a village. You have just got to love this country.
August is the main time, but not the only time, for fiestas in Spain. Every village and town has it’s own special day (or week) and there’s some wierd stuff going on. Y’know it’s the feast of Saint Debbie and everyone has to dress as an insect, eat ten fried eggs and throw coins at the mayor. Or, Saint Cropulous day, when all the twenty year olds are pushed through town inside tractor tyres, end up in the lake and then have to marry whoever pulls them out.
We don’t have this in the UK. Not since the Glasgow Headbutting Festival stopped in the 70s, although the last time I was in Nottingham they were having a festival of litter.
All the young revellers were chatting to the pilgrims leaving town. It was a very friendly atmosphere. This street party is ten hours old and no one even looks like getting stabbed. Different world.
Another kilometer up the road I came to the wine fountain. Just read that again. A. Wine. Fountain. This fountain is filled with wine by the vineyard/ bodega adjacent. Help yourself. I did. Perhaps not the best beverage at 7.00 am on a Sunday morning but it was the only time on the Camino I wished I was in a car. Or a transit van.
I walked and walked. Pleasantly tiring. I got to Los Arcos and my favoured albergue was completo (full). Well, I felt quite strong and anyway I didn’t like the town much so I was thinking of moving on, when Reiner (I call him Rhino), my German buddy from earlier turned up. We decided to walk another 7km to Sansol, a much smaller village. We walked together for about 2 klicks but Rhino is younger and fitter than me, plus his legs are about eight feet long. I could see he was uneasy going at my snails pace, as indeed were many of the snails who raced past us so I cut him loose with instructions to find good digs.
With the expected German efficiency I got a text with the name of Rhino’s albergue. By the time I got there he was all checked in and ready for a beer. Beer drinking. At last a sporting contest against a German where a victory is likely, even guaranteed. Great night, great albergue.
Bound for Logrono the next morning the walking was nice. I took it at my own pace.
S’funny but all the speedy guys and girls who fly past me end up in the same towns to sleep. I hit town about 12.30, quite early really, and joined the queue for check in at the municipal albergue, the biggest in town. There were lots of twenty somethings in the line and some of them were in large groups. It put me off a bit and I decided to move on. Not just albergues but towns. Navarrete was another 13 km but doable. I set off.
I wasn’t too sure about the 13 extra kilometres on top of the 22 already covered, so, as I was passing the tourist information centre anyway, I called in. The pleasant young man gave me a map with all the albergues marked.
‘Which one is good?’ I asked him, knowing that they are not allowed to recommend.
‘I don’t know,’ he replied
‘Come on,’ I said ‘c’mon which is the best?’
‘I think they’re all good,’ he said.
‘But they can’t be exactly the same son. Can they? C’mon you live here. You hear the tales. You’ve got the lowdown. Which one is best?’
He just looked at me.
‘You know,’ I said, ‘you don’t have to say it, just point.’
The kid is trying not to laugh. He has a quick look around then stabs his finger at the map. Number 23. Bingo
When I found the Albergue Logrono it was spot on. Eight to a room. 2 bathrooms to share, and a set of keys, so no curfew. I went for a beer and a sandwich and bumped into Kit and Audrey (California) We had some wines and Audrey said she hadn’t been able to get a martini, y’know a proper martini, in Spain. They kept bringing her the brand named Martini, the vermouth.
”Lemme sort that out for ya” I said, and called over the waiter. ‘Bring a glass with ice,’ I told him. ‘Bring the vermouth bottle and bring a bottle of gin.’
When he came back we told him we wanted a tiny bit of vermouth and plenty of gin. Well, he wouldn’t stop pouring the gin. It was a hell of a martini and Audrey was not gonna need a second one.
I left them and, searching for food, I happened upon the wonderful Calle Laurel. A street chokka with tapas bars. The food and wine were great. If you’re visiting just go into any of them. They’re all good. Whoops I sound like the kid from the tourist office.
WordPress is harder to use on a tablet so my posts are getting behind a bit. I’ll try harder. But while the creative juices don’t always flow, the vino Tinto does. And that, my friends is part of the problem.
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