Day 7 – Los Arcos to Logroño, 20.51 miles
Today was a good day, and the longest walk thus far. The highlights:
- The Iglesia del Santo Sepulcro in Torres del Rio, a simple contrast to the beautiful churches of Logroño. The doors are locked but there is a sign on the door with instructions for entry. A quick phone call to a local lady, she hustles down the street, and opens the door. The octagonal design is no more that 25 feet at its widest point, the altar with the crucifix is offset from one of the sides. This church was beautiful and quiet.
- Arriving in Viana. On my previous pilgrimage, Viana was one of my favorite towns on the way, so I anticipated today’s arrival. Viana did not disappoint, in fact, it “one-upped” itself. The Old Town was buzzing with activity, school kids were running around (it was a Tuesday), nearly all the middle-aged men and women were dressed in white with red scarves around their necks, and music filled the air. It was the Fiestas del Virgen de Nieva!
- In the heart of town, we stopped at the Pilgrim’s Oasis, a very cool business/nonprofit dedicated to the service of the pilgrim passing through. They had healthy snacks, a variety of teas, good beer, nice sofas to sit on, and great conversation. Five minutes into our visit at the Oasis, one of the staff members pulled an iron gate across the entryway and told us they were about to let the bulls loose! We were positioned on the front row, close enough to smell the smells, hear all the cacophony…close enough to touch the passing bulls had we chosen. The bulls ran for about an hour, it was more orderly and less violent (from what I’ve seen on YouTube) than the event in Pamplona. Note: after reviewing the previous sentence, to use orderly to describe a herd of bulls running up and down a crowded city street is probably a terminology fail.
- As much fun as I had in Viana, I had decided earlier in the day to carry on beyond, though nearly everyone was ending the day in this cool festival town. After a quick lunch, I made the 10km walk to Logroño. This was a true solo walk. In the two and a half hours between Viana and Logroño, I did not see ONE.SINGLE.HUMAN along the way…no pilgrims, no farmers, no biciclistas, no one.
- In Logroño, I decided to take a walking tour of the cluster of beautiful churches near my shelter. I settled into a bar on the plaza in front of the Concatedral de Santa María de la Redonda, the main cathedral, and enjoyed wine and snacks. There doesn’t seem to be inflation here – two glasses of vino tinto de Rioja (considered to be among the best in the world) and a large bowl of olives and onions, all for 5 euro. They even included a spectacular view of the church!
- My final stop was the Iglesia de Santiago el Real, I wanted to see the life-sized version of the Game of the Goose in the plaza to the side of the church. The game is like an ancient version of the Game of Life. After walking through the Game Board, I walked around the church. When I arrived at the entry, I found the doors open, not common at this time of day. I wandered in and found the evening Mass in progress. I accidentally made eye contact with the priest and then felt compelled to join the service. I slinked into the back row and observed. It was beautiful and thought provoking and a perfect way to end a good day.