This would be a 23km stretch and we decided to leave early and reach the big town, Logroño 10km away from Viana, in time for breakfast.
Leaving early in a community living space is always difficult. You need to pack and leave as quietly as possible so you don’t wake up the rest of the pilgrims. Todays room was fast asleep! After our morning ablutions, we picked up our things and bags and carried them down to the dining room and packed there. We bought some hot chocolate and sandwiches from the vending machine and set out.
A brisk walk brought us to Logroño around 8 a.m. Logroño is a biggish town and crossing the town would take sometime. We stopped near the main church…mass would only be at 10am. We sat outside church and ate our vending machine sandwiches. We found a nice cafe a few streets later and stopped for hot cafe con leche. We picked some more sandwiches and a piece of cheesecake for our lunch.
As we were walking out of town, something drew us to a newer looking church (not 11th century or 16th century!) and we entered. The church was empty except for an old gentleman praying in the last row. Seeing us with our bags, he got up to talk to us as we were leaving. In Spanish, and in an excited voice he seemed to wish us well, and asked us to pray for him when we reached Santiago. Using the translation app, John asked him to pray for us and he nodded his head vigorously. Thanking him, we left the church.
Leaving Logroño, we found that a lot of the locals were walking with us. For about a 7km stretch between Logroño and Navarrete is a huge park that ends in a massive lake. Young, middle aged and old, walking, cycling and jogging. Little dogs and big dogs out for walks with their folks. Children on little cycles. Sports wear brands must do well in Europe! Fitness is high on their list!
We kept pace with a couple and their tiny dog, whose legs couldn’t have been longer than 6inches. She ran ahead of her parents, waiting for them to throw the ball every now and then for her to fetch.
Walking in to Navarrete was lovely! It was 12 noon and the church bells were ringing. Normally the bells chime every 15 minutes and a longer one on the hour. The bells did not stop chiming. By the time we climbed the hill to the church it was 12.15 and the bells were still chiming. It finally stopped at 12.30! There was a festive mass starting – maybe a wedding?!
We were early and our hotel for the night would open only at 2pm. So we sat at the town square opposite the church. We ate our lunch and watched really well dressed folk walk out of church after mass. It wasn’t a wedding, but the First Holy Communion of little children. Girls dressed in flowing gowns and boys in suits came out of church with their families and streamed into the restaurants near the square.
At 2pm we checked into a beautiful 17th century mansion converted into a bed and breakfast by a very talented architect and painter Emilio from Venezuela. We did our usual afternoon routine and after waking up at 5pm, we went out for a bit.
We visited the church – our Lady of Assumption. There was music playing when we entered, and soon found it was recorded music playing. John found a sign asking for 1 Euro to turn on the lights and he put a Euro in. The church lit up to reveal the most amazing altar! Built in Baroque style and classified among the largest in the world! It occupies the entire front of the church and is something!
So glad we went in to see the marvellous work!