Sunday, 10 June 2012

Through La Rioja days 8-10

From LagroƱo we walked out through parkland to the highway flanked by vineyards. We continued through najarette to Najera for the night.
Najera has a spectacular convent with attached church. I've included an early morning shot of the exterior. The interesting thing is that the back is actually built into a cave where a Mary appeared to a king in 1057 and it remains relatively unchanged now. There is lots of intricate statuary in various states of repair as the cloister was used as everything from a barracks to a bull ring in the 1800s!
The next days walk to Santo Domingo de la Calzada was relaxed through quiet towns wheat fields and vineyards. The trail descriptions are getting hard to distinguish as they all mention rolling open hills of wheat and vines!
Santo Domingo is a pretty little town and was gearing up for a festival. We had a luxurious belated birthday treat stay in a Parador (fancy state run hotel in a historic building) set in the monestary of Bernado de Fresneda. Our own room with a big bed, fluffy towels and noone getting up at 5am to start walking! The town has a well cared for cathedral and it has always been focused on pilgrims. The exhibitions were good but the most special thing was the choir practicing for a concert that night as we walked around and up in the ramparts and roof. It is a great space.
We enjoyed walking around the town and trying the local pastries in the shape of a scollop shell (sign of the pilgrims) with a jam centre and the shape of a man on top. We also ran into a bunch of farmers at an outside bar who were plying some American students we have met along the way with broad beans straight from their field and acted as translators for a while. It was a fresh and tasty as an aperitif before a lovely dinner at the hotel.
Today we have carried on (after sleep in of course) to belgrano and have left the vineyards of la Rioja behind.
Today's walk in the start of Castilla y Leon province has been slightly marred by strong headwinds but now we are in town it is fine. The broad town square came alive for the Spain Italy European cup match. We were then pleased to discover our alburgue was the place in town to eat with nice salad, perfect baked fish with onions and parsley sauce and finished with flan. We got to share our table with a nice French couple as well.
There is a legend of chickens crowing after being baked saving a pilgrim frim the gallows in Santo Domingo hence the funny cutout picture.


At 20 June 2012 at 08:43 , Blogger Mother Hen said...

That look really suits Tom! He should walk in that outfit for a few days.... Loving all the familiar scenes in your photos xx


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