September 22

Logrono to Najera     29km

There was a wine festival in Logrono yesterday. There were lots of festivities and music and drinking very late. I didn’t hear a thing as I was fast asleep!  Well apart from someone being sick in the toilets. I was a good pilgrim and was asleep by 10pm. This morning I could see some of the evidence:

It took an hour and a half to walk out of the city on a grey morning. Slowly the day’s weather improved and the path started passing through vineyards. This is the region where Rioja red wine comes from. A lot of the grapes are not grown on wires but the plants are free standing. The harvesting of these seems to be done by hand. A tractor with trailer, a front end loader and half a dozen people. 

The landscape is pretty flat. 

The track lay alongside main roads for a good chunk of the day. 

The terrain is very dry and the vegetation very scrubby. At times it’s just like a set of a cowboy movie. Some of the vines seem to be wilting. 

There was an underpass with a good mural

And I found this scrawled on the side of a rubbish bin. I scratched my head trying to decide whether is was something profound or just plain silly:

There was another of those wonderful churches in the village where I stopped for my morning tortilla and coffee:

The hostel here is very clean and tidy:

After I had a rest I visited the monastery/museum/church. It had a wonderful cloister – I love cloisters 

And especially the shadows

There were some tombs of kings and queens and nobles from the 9th century. This town was a centre of power and culture in days gone by. 

There was the golden reredos behind the altar. (I have discovered that is the correct name for these). All big Spanish churches seem to have them. 

For the first time I had a printed guide and I was particularly struck by three facts. One was that this was made in 1690. Pretty old. One was that the centrepiece was a statue of a Virgin and child (it probably is not very clear). In France also it seemed that the veneration of Mary is extremely prominent. The third fact – and you will have to take my word for this as it is not clear in this picture- is that “the whole altarpiece is crowned with the arms of Charles I of Spain  and V of Germany”. Back in those days Charles was not only king of the Spanish Empire but also king of Burgundy and also king of the Holy Roman Empire. (He was a Hapsburg). A powerful person indeed. 

There is a lot of History I need to learn. 

I’ll tell you about the cause of the 100 year war in France one day soon. It’s fascinating. Honest.