[Sunday, June 22nd]
We got up at 5:15 and left the albergue about 5:50. The all-night fiesta was still going strong. We hiked quickly and got to Estella about 7 am. Maybe a couple of cafes were open but as we have discovered, Spain does not get started until 9 to 10 am, so it was pretty quiet, except for the Camino hikers, of which there were many.
We arrived at the Irache wine fountain at 7:50, expecting to have to wait until 8 am, but it was already open. In fact another group of pilgrims as just leaving as we came up. All except Garin and Kelsey tasted the wine. You are supposed to use your Camino shell as a tasting cup to get the full benefit. Garin tasted from the water tap.
Tom at the fountain
Rebecca at the fountain
“Pilgrim, if you want to arrive at Santiago with strength and vitality, take a swallow of this great wine and pledge your happiness.”
Rosa’s bunions were hurting badly, in spite of the extra thick moleskin, so she was going to take a taxi the rest of the way to Villamayor. So we decided to go into a taxi together.
Rosa and I were going to visit the Irache wine museum, but it did not open until 10 am, so we continued hiking with the group until Irache village, where we found a hotel. We had the hotel order a taxi. Said goodbye everybody.
My taxi tab was 58 euros [about $79], which is a lot more expensive than a bus, but it was a lot quicker, more convenient, and a lot less complicated than trying to follow bus schedules. Plus the taxi driver gave me a running commentary about the regions, the climate, the history, the agriculture, and so on as we drove.
The hotel guarded my backpack while I explored the city. I would be able to check in at noon or 1 pm.
I’m at a cafe in the Plaza del Mercado right by the main church, which has masses going every hour this Corpus Christi Sunday [Feast of the Body and Blood of Christ]. There are a bunch of Corpus Christi murals “painted” on the pedestrian road along side the church. Painted using colored wood chips and white sand. Quite elaborate.
There is WiFi in the square here but it took me 15 minutes to connect, because they wanted passport number, full address and birth date, and a mobile telephone number so they could text me my personal access code, which is valid for two hours. Phew.
Anyway, I had a nice cafe con leche and slice of tortilla from the cafe. Guess I’ll wander around some more now.
It turns out that all of those Corpus Christi street murals were for a procession that started at 12:15 pm. The procession started out by walking right over them. See remains in first picture.
There was the Blessed Sacrament in procession, followed by a number of priests, followed by a tent, then a couple hundred people including some nuns, and then finally a band. The procession started out right next to the cathedral, and its bells rang continuously for at least the first fifteen minutes. (Meanwhile, noon mass was proceeding inside.) Sometimes the band would play and sometimes the people would sing. The procession went a couple of blocks through the pedestrian part of town, then turned right onto a main street (police protection for the parade), then turned right against after a couple note blocks. I don’t know where it was going to end up.
I have located the bus station two blocks from my hotel, but the ticket window does not reopen until 15:30 this afternoon. Meanwhile I have checked into my hotel room and have been spending the time sending you email.
Dear group [to the other pilgrims he has left behind],
I am staying in the Hotel Carlton Rioja in Logrono, and it is MAGNIFICENT. If you are ready for a splurge of luxury after eleven days of albergues, this is DEFINITELY the place.
I checked at the front desk and they do have three double rooms available Tuesday, June 24, for 80 (eighty) euros [about $109] per room. Yes, that is four times the price per person of an albergue, but this is a FOUR STAR hotel, and that is a great price for such a place.
Hotel Carlton Rioja
Gran Via del Rey D. Juan Carlos I, 5