Grapes of Wrath
I would like to say that I made it from Navarra to the La Rioja province unscathed, but my feet were in bad shape (see this post on blisters). By the time I made it to the land of vineyards and picturesque countryside, I was need of a break in which I could soak my fragile feet.
Thankfully Logroño was just the place! I stayed in a hotel with a nice bathtub that I could soak in for as long as my heart (and heels) desired. After caring for my feet I headed out into the central area of Logroño to take care of my teenage boy ravenous hunger and drink my sorrows away on the local red wine (“tinto”).
I read that there was a spot in Logroño called Laurel Street and the adjacent area had the most tapa restaurants in all of Spain. Each tapas stand had a specialty. For example, one spot offered only mushrooms (“setas”), wine and beer. The locals will frequent multiple spots into the late evening. This is called “to tapear”, which is like bar hopping or a progressive in US culture.
Lucky for me, I met a nice madrileño in town for a conference at the first bar I chose and we decided to ‘tapear’ together. We had a blast! We practiced our respective languages and enjoyed the best of Logroño cuisine together. It turned out my new friend, Alberto, had done the Camino a few years before and gave me great advice on how to handle my blisters. You ask and the Camino provides!
The food, wine and good company were exactly what I needed to replenish myself before the coming days in La Rioja.
La Rioja is a province in Spain, located in the Ebro Valley, most famous for agriculture and wine. It is estimated to have over 300,000 inhabitants, most of whom are concentrated in the capital of Logroño. There are even fossilized footprints of dinosaurs in this region. What else could you ask for?
In my opinion, this was one of the best parts of the entire Camino. The countryside was beautiful and the attention to quality food and wine reminded me of the culture we have in Northern California. A fun treat was drinking some tinto from the wine fountain (who needs water in La Rioja?)!
I made a promise to myself to come back to this region and savor the experience. Because I booked my accommodations in advance I needed to stay on my pilgrim schedule. Instead, I would have liked to take a few days to drive around and wine taste at local vineyards and spend more time enjoying the local fare. I will be back, La Rioja!
If you love wine and fine food like me, I recommend taking a few days from the Camino and enjoy La Rioja. You can find guides to La Rioja wine and actual wine here. Make sure to check out the cities of Logroño, Najera, and Santo Domingo de la Calzada, all of which are on The Way.
112 miles down, 308 miles to go! Hope you enjoyed this post. I enjoyed writing it so much that I am going to go shopping for La Rioja wine at my local bottle store! Please use the comment space to request topics you would like covered. Also, if you liked this post and want to read more, join ‘la princesa del camino’ newsletter to make sure you do not miss a post. ¡Buen Camino!