The wheels and the wind
Estella to Navarette
Distrance travelled: 62 km approx.
Though I slept with this nagging voice in my head that the door wouldn’t open in the morning and we would be trapped forever in a gothic nightmare with the Spanish man with enormous hands; though the only sound I heard in the night was not the click clack of pilgrims on the stairs but an unearthly growling cough and a creaking door opening and closing in slowest motion; though I was a little freaked out….I actually slept well in Estella.
As a result, the riding today felt good. I was on fire! There were ups and downs, of course, but the descents are long and winding! What else could a girl want but the wheels beneath her and the wind in her hair?
Leaving Estella at 6.40 (in the dark, as usual! These early mornings are hard for a sleepy head!), we threaded our way through the procession of pilgrims, stopping at the fountain that serves water and wine. But today, no wine! Had the pilgrims been so thirsty already? We wondered how many we would see nestled in the bushes on the way, sleeping off their early morning indulgence – or maybe it was just not working?
The paths were wide and well surfaced and there were many stops on the way for refreshments. By 9 am we were already in Los Arcos, the end of our day’s first stage. We stopped there for breakfast, feeling, well, pretty damned good actually!
Today was cooler which made a pleasant change from the frazzling heat of the past few days and the sun cream didn’t appear later and we rode confidently onto Torres del Rio.
Torres del Rio is a surprising place, most notable for the Santo Sepulchre. Closed most of the time but there is a notice on the door with a number to ring for the key; entry is only 1€. It is supposed to have connections to the Knights’ Templar, but this is unproven.
Soon after, on bikes, at least, we came to another small town, Vianna. It is definitely worthy of a stop, if only to take refreshments in its cool and bustling streets. It burbles with life in the old town, the streets echoing the click clack of poles on its cobbles.
But the heat of the day was rising and at 32° by the time we hit Logrono, a city heaving with people and cars and noise and urgency. Away from its old cobbled streets, as a peregrine, I felt out of step in this place, my senses assuaulted by the fumes and the modernity. We had to walk bikes through the streets, threading our way through people and trying not to lose the route out of the city. It is probably easier for walkers as on bikes, it is easy to slip past the scallop shells and yellow arrows; through the archway, across the roundabout and then left off it. The route is straight on and scallop shells on the road were their to be our guides, if we kept vigilant.
We came out of Logrono into a suburban park which is easy cycling, with its wide, well surfaced path. But the uphill bias in the heat and after lunch made it a bit of a slog.
And then we approached our stop for the night, Navarette. On glimpsing the town for the first time, I was disappointed to say the least. It is an unsightly place as you enter and yet that is its very deception. Within its walls, it hides cool, narrow cobbled streets and one of the most impressive churches that I have seen. The gold altar with its niched saints was both intricate and ornate and I was awestruck by this display of power and wealth, wondering how this affected pilgrims in bygone centuries.
We chose another Pension this evening, Villa de Navarette at 40€ a night for a double room with ensuite. And for once, we managed to find a very accommodating restauranteur who served dinner at 7 pm – very early by Spanish standards but I needed an early night! We have done 1/4 of the whole journey (St Jean to Santiago
– although we are not going that far this time) and the kilometres under my belt are beginning to take their toll on my legs!