My alarm woke me this morning. It’s the first time this has happened on the camino and is indicative of the excellent night’s sleep I have had. Normally I am awake long before getting up time, but happily not this morning.
We leave the lovely, clean, well run hostel just after 7:00am and set off through the city, most of which isn’t any more charming than I thought yesterday, although we do briefly pass through an older section of the city, and there is a lovely bridge over the river.
Each city has a different marker set into the pavement to indicate the way pilgrims should take. I particularly like the one in Logroño.
We stop at a bakery to buy something for breakfast and when the time comes I eat the tastiest croissant ever, whole meal with seeds scattered on top, perfectly light and not at all greasy. I am glad I bought two!
It takes us an hour to reach the city limit where we pass through extensive cultivated parkland and eventually pass a huge lake before following a gravel path that runs alongside a motorway. Here, on a chain-mail fence, pilgrims have woven sticks and twigs in the sign of a cross, which goes on for a long stretch.
Whilst in the city it was not particularly cold, but once we are in the open it is quite chilly, it is a bit of a grey day with no sunshine and a biting wind. It is not much fun walking so close to the main road which we have to do for quite a few kilometres.
Eventually the path leads through cultivated land, mostly vines, some on wire supports and some not. Then we can see the first village come into sight, Navarrete is some 11.5 km from our start point.
Before we get there we stop for a break at the site of an ancient hospital built in the 10th century to serve pilgrims of the day.
Just before we reach the village a Spanish man stops us and says that it is not necessary to follow the pilgrim signs up to the very top of the town, which will only lead you down again (reminiscent of the Grand Old Duke of York). He advised us to stay on the bottom road where there were shops and bars. Needless to say we took his advice and stopped in this pretty town to buy provisions for lunch and then refilled our water bottles from a fountain by the beautiful church.
We then set off again, back into vineyard territory, bypassing the village of Ventosa and stopping to eat our lunch at 12:30pm.
It remained cold all day, for the first time I didn’t remove any of my gear during the walk, and we only took very short breaks because we got chilled when we weren’t walking.
We came across this pretty stone hut, but could not work out its purpose.
We eventually reached our destination of Nàjera and by the time we had walked through the sizeable town to find our chosen albergue it was just 3pm and we had covered 28 km.
It is a lovely albergue, split into different rooms, Ella and I are in a room of 8 beds. Unfortunately there are only a few beds not taken and of course all the lower bunks have been bagged. So for the first time (and I hope the last, but am not very confident of this) I have to manoeuvre myself into a top bunk – not an easy feat – and I don’t remember ever having to do this so far in my life. Oh well, another new experience!
When I was in the shower Ella called out to me to see where I was. I told her I was in the end shower, but when she couldn’t find me I shouted for her to push the entrance curtain open. She then informed me that I was in the men’s section – I hadn’t even noticed there were different sections. No worries, it was a nice warm shower and I didn’t have to queue for the ladies’ section.
Peter decided to continue his walk alone today, and he left this morning before us. However we kept bumping into him during the day and even met up with him as we were nearing our albergue. He carried on walking a further 6km to the next village, so we may not come across him again. He is on a shorter time scale than us, only 30 days, and he wants to walk to Finisterre, so he has a very tight schedule. It was good to spend the first few days together and I wish him a fabulous experience on his continuing journey. So now we are three, but who knows for how long. Søren also has less time than us – 32 days compared to our 35 days.
Today was hard on my feet. I have a new blister underneath my fourth toe on my left foot (the little piggy that had none!). I think it started to form when I was doing my power walking the day before yesterday – thanks Shania! I can feel it with every step. And also the selection of blisters on my right heel still hurt, especially when we start out in the morning and when we first set off after a break. The sheep’s wool has kept my heel cushioned, but I have applied a compeed plaster this evening which I hope will aid the healing. It is time my heel was blister-free.
Much of the track today has been rough stone and gravel which is very hard on the feet. I don’t think the soles of my boots are heavy enough and I seem to be feeling every stone.
Søren saw a Chinese restaurant on the way through town, so we are planning a change of menu tonight – thank goodness!