Viana, perched in a commanding position overlooking the city of Logrono, appeared two hours before I reached it. I had not stayed there before but it imparts lingering memories. The small town centre was quiet as I passed, looking for the Albergue Andres Munoz, tucked away down a side street near the ruins of the Iglesias San Pedro. The locals don’t emerge until around eight in the evening, when they eat and drink to their heart’s content during the cooler hours.
I squeezed in the dormitory room, sharing with seven Italians. The room was stifling; a weak breeze drifted in through the window. I tried to unpack without disturbing anyone as they took an afternoon siesta. As usual, albeit cramped, the albergue is large and well cared for.
South Mountain Park Hiking Trails Map Photo Gallery
There are far more places to stay on the route now than when I first walked the way in 2002. Private accommodation has sprung up everywhere but the real gems are still those run by the local church groups. Open to everyone, they are basic, clean, and expect nothing more than a donation. Many offer communal evening meals, a chance to meet a few others, and if prayer is your thing, many will accommodate a service in the evening. I always prefer these places; they hold great memories.
Logrono, a large metropolis, shimmers in a heat haze at 7.20am as I ascend from Viana. Vineyards appear – wine has been produced for at least 2,000 years since the Romans brought vines to the upper Ebro valley. The grapes are just turning to reds, peeking out from beneath vivid green leaves in stark contrast against the red soil and blue sky.
Still falling to the city, I pass the small house where Dona Felisa used to sit outside in the shade stamping pilgrim’s passports. Sadly, she died in 2002 at the age of 92 but her daughter carries on the tradition. The beautiful inscription left in your passport reads ‘Higos – agua y amor.