Viana to Ventosa through Logrono.
Not a good night, the combination of a large Spanish town and Saturday night seems to mean that quiet does not start until about 0100hrs. Since many peregrinos start the day at 0400hrs and today there was one, some what stereotypical Irishman who took over 30mins with a head torch to get his gear together in the dormitory at 0630 not a lot of sleep was to be had. Still we thought a quiet day into the big city, Logrono only 5 miles away. Even with a late start at 0730 we ambled across the river Ebro, crossing the border into the Rioja region and into the nearly asleep city at about 0830. The church of Santiago St James is certainly impressive, built in the 16th century and with the massive stone carving of St James Matamoros over the main doors. It is this incarnation of St James, Matamoros (slayer of moors), who in Spanish folklore is credited with the stopping of the relentless tide of Muslim expansion northwards in Spain in the 10th century.
The local government of Logrono has done a good job of preserving and making a trail of the Camino through the expanding suburbs of a fair-sized city and many of the local population were taking advantage of it early on a Sunday morning, running and cycling circuits that included part of it. We were met with many greetings of ’Bueno Camino’ even from those not (at this time) on their own way to Santiago.
We stopped to buy bread and ham from one of the few open shops and since even at this hour there were queues of people outside two of the big hostels we passed, we decided to press on through the vast vineyards across the basin of the Ebro to the next town, Navarette was reached about 1115 and there was a sign in the main hostel saying full but not opening till 1400, we had a beer and thought that this town (with a lot of middle level accommodation heavily advertised may not be playing by the rules. With some misgivings we pressed on reaching the village of Ventosa, passing at least three Bodegas on the way at about 1230. This was a very good decision, the little Albergue here is one of the nicest we have been in. Clean, tiled, with a back garden with washing lines and a welcoming air, all that tired pilgrims could desire after 29 kms.