Leaving Girona after a couple of days exploring the city, I was in for a long-ish train ride. Waiting in Girona station to board the train, I heard a man behind me telling his wife they were boarding from platform 9 3/4. I can only assume she’s not a Harry Potter fan as she ventured off to check the departure board, only to find that he’d somehow got the wrong platform.
Soon on my way, sadly not via platform 9 3/4, and after a quick changeover in Barcelona I settled in for the 4 hour ride to Logroño. Once in the city, it was a short walk to the hostel, where I promptly dropped my bags and freshened up. As I was putting my bag in the locker, a couple of Australian ladies came into the dorm, we got chatting and they asked where I’d walked from. Confused, as no one has ever asked that before, I just said ‘umm…the train station…?’. They both started laughing, and enlightened me to the fact that Logroño is a town on the famous Camino de Santiago trail. They’d walked from the previous town, a 10km walk, whereas I’d walked about 20 minutes from the train station. I can see why they’d be a little less than impressed.
As others arrived in the dorm, it seemed I was the only one not walking the trail. The ladies all knew each other and caught up every so often when they all were in a town at the same time. This was one of those times, and they were going for dinner to catch up. I’d known them all of 10 minutes when they invited me to join them, and I was actually touched they’d include me so quickly!
We ventured out to Calle del Laurel, which was apparently the street to check out for tapas. Some of the girls had heard there was a Michelin star pintxos place along there, so we settled in to try some of the pintxos and wine on offer while the older ladies went for a proper dinner. Meeting them later in a bar called ‘Covent Garden’ which was funny only to me, the only Brit, I finally got to tuck in to the paella I’d been craving for days!
Next morning I extended my stay by another day so that I’d be able to tour one of the bodegas without rushing for a train later in the day, and set out exploring the tiny city of Logroño. The square close to the hostel that had been full of life the evening before was deserted, but I’m used to this after my time in Jerez where places come alive in the cooler hours of the day.
Continuing on to the river, I bypassed the bodega that was on the agenda for tomorrow and took a walk along the riverside. Casa de las Ciencias is a science museum on the riverside, and although I didn’t fancy going in, the surrounding area is full of fun, interactive games to show how science can be fun. I had a little play, and a lady approached me and starting speaking Spanish. I can understand a lot of what people say, but it completely caught me off guard and I stared at her like a complete weirdo trying to work out what she said. She repeated it, and I went for the fall back option of telling her ‘I’m sorry I don’t understand’.
Quickly moving on because it had been super awkward how long I just stood looking at her, and I made my way back over the river, through the town, past the cathedral and to the shopping street. There’s not a huge amount to do in Logroño, so I spent the afternoon in the hostel catching up with things on my laptop. I was looking in to booking tickets for the bodega tour, only to find it wasn’t available for the few days I was in town as there was a music festival there. Bonus day to really get to know Logroño tomorrow then. Come evening, some people from the hostel were heading back out to Calle del Laurel to sample the wines that the La Rioja region is so famous for. I’m not usually a big drinker, but when wine is €1 or €2 a glass, it’s easy to get well acquainted with the wine list.
The next morning I was feeling a little worse for wear, and the Australian ladies dragged me out for afternoon tea. As we walked to a place they’d tried the day before, a siren blared out across the city. The ladies ducked and ran to a doorway, and I was so confused that not only was there something that sounded like an air raid alarm and also why they’d run for cover. Was I missing something? Asking a local, it turns out it’s to let the workers know it’s lunchtime. Who needs a watch?
I was also a bit confused about the afternoon tea, because I didn’t think it was a thing in Spain like it is in England, where we’d have tea/coffee, cakes, sandwiches etc. Turns out, it was literally tea in the afternoon, and we grabbed a sandwich at the same time. It was really nice to spend some time with the ladies, who were early 60s and smashing the 800km camino walk. It’s times like this I really love slow travel, getting to know people, find out their stories and just be totally inspired.
Post lunch, I headed off to check out some more of the city. The quiet and peaceful Parque del Espolón was first on the list, followed by the ‘muralles’ and gardens which had looked promising but was just a bit of grass. I had a wander up and down some random streets to see a bit more of the city that wasn’t ‘for tourists’ before heading back to the square by the cathedral for a coffee and slice of tortilla.
One of the best things about being in a town on the camino trail is that come afternoon, people start trickling in to the city in search of their accommodation. They’ve got all the tell tale signs; walking boots, small rucksack, walking poles, and a look of absolute relief to have reached their destination. Later in the afternoon, they venture out to see a bit of the city, grab a drink and refuel. As people must see each other often along the way, even if they’re not walking together, they catch up and discuss the last stretch. Even though I wasn’t walking the camino, I still ended up chatting to so many people about their journey. As time went on, it even starting to cross my mind that maybe I’d like to walk the camino…
Fitting in a quick visit to the cathedral when it opened in the evening, I had a super lazy evening with Netflix in bed. I had tried yet again to book tickets online for the bodega tour, but no luck. Thinking I’d try again the next morning, I should have known better.
Next morning, I was tired. I didn’t want to rush getting packed and checking out only to find that the reason I hadn’t been able to book online was because the tour wasn’t available. Instead, I had a slow morning packing, checked out and headed out for a last taste of Logroño. Leaving the hostel, I was struck with an idea. I had a bit of time, I could follow a bit of the camino trail out of town, just for a little taster.
Following the yellow arrows that are on the floor, on lampposts and walls, I really felt myself getting into it and kind of talking myself into walking the whole camino, obviously not at this moment! Walking past one of the churches, I heard a rumbling sound behind me. As I turned, a motorbike pulled up, followed by another 50 or so motorbikes. It was the groom, accompanied by his motorbike club. Such a cool thing to witness, but I quickly moved on just in case they were more gang than club.
The trail took me through the town, and it was fun to follow. As I neared the edge of town I took a seat on a bench and watched stragglers on the trail wander past me, before realising it’s not so easy to follow the arrows back into town. Instead, I just hoped for the best and walked in a direction I thought would take me back to the centre. After stopping for a quick coffee and plate of patatas bravas, I grabbed my bag and made my way to the station. It was time to move on to my next city – Salamanca!