Days 7 & 8: The Healing Powers of the Fuente de Vino

Muruzebál > Villatuerta > Logroño
September 13 – 14, 2017

Even though the albergue we stayed at was one of the cleanest, nicest and smallest no one is safe from the trials of the Camino and our morning began with a bed bug scare. I am very allergic to any type of bug bite and react very poorly so we took extra precautions and made the hospitalera let us use her washer and dryer on all the hottest settings. Considering it was her house that had the issue she could have been a bit more helpful in the beginning and our lack of knowledge of her facilities made things take longer than they could have. But she did go get us repellants and sprays etc even after we cooked all our our items to death (my sweatshirt is now legit a different color) even as she tried to insinuate that perhaps they came from elsewhere.

Because it had gotten to be almost noon by the time we were ready her father Jaime also drove us a couple towns over and called the albergue in Villatuerta to make sure they held a place for us.

As it was we still walked the hottest part of the day on the hottest day we had so far. It was insult to injury that we had thought of taking this particularly warm day to take a break from the Camino and head to San Sebastián. I’m a water baby and had wanted to go to a French or Spanish coast town on the way to our Camino portion of the trip but the weather hadn’t cooperated. There was a bus fro Puente La Reina to SS but that ship had sailed. My steps were heavy and the salt of sweat felt like tears over the length of my body. I was tired and it felt like Spain was out to get me.

Beginning the festivities in Ciroquai

There was, at least, a fiesta to bring up our spirits in our first stop, Cirauqui. It was midday so they were just beginning what was to be a 7 day event but it was a cute musical send off with marching band and everyone dressed in red and white.

Temple of Dooooom…. (photo by Vanessa Friedman)

The rest of the way that day was hard and there was some hills and walking next to big roads but there was also a cool Roman stone footbridge that was still standing (and in use) some interesting aqueducts, and tunnels that made it feel like we were in an Indiana Jones film. We even saved some German boys from going the wrong way when they said that was the third time they had almost lost the way that day because they had been talking too much.

When we got to Lorca we ran into our Spanish friends from the night before and they wanted to to stay there with them but we were almost to La Casa Mágica which looked very inviting and was waiting for us.

We finally got there and once again thought that the heat of the day would inspire us to get in the small above ground pool…and it did. But once again a quick dip was enough as the cold water cooled us down quick.

Judy and Lindsay, the mother daughter pair we met the day before, were there and we chatted for a bit and They also introduced us to some folks from New Jersey that reminded me of my extended family and I appreciated that. But in truth we’re feeling pretty anti-social. That in combination with the fact that this meal was all vegetarian made us decide to just have a low key grocery store dinner to ourselves on the raised patio of this adorable little hippie albergue.

We left at dawn the next day and saw a beautiful sunrise behind us. Walking the Camino is a bit unfortunate always walking West away from it. And if you’re still walking at sundown you’re probably in trouble. But if was another nice send off and we were buoyed by the facts that today we would reach both the 100km mark as well as the wine fountain.

Just before it we came upon a really cool artist blacksmith who stamped our credential. A girl we recognized from our albergue of the night before proclaimed that it reminded her of home in Texas. I suddenly missed burritos and BBQ.

The fuente del vino was maintained by the Bodegas de Irache a current winery and former (of current, I couldn’t really tell) monastery and is filled every day with 100 liters of pretty decent red wine made on site. The tap next to it has water. They used to leave a jug to drink out of but besides that sounding completely unsanitary it was constantly stolen so now you have to bring your own vessel or purchase a plastic cup from the vending machine behind. We got there at about 10am which is pretty usual for that spot and yet pretty early to be drinking. On one hand that’s good as it leaves enough for those who come later even if it feels rather unfortunately early. But some people take some away like our new friend from Texas who actually brought an empty wine bottle. That seemed quite heavy to me. I just filled a small water bottle and had just enough to feel pleasant.

Vanessa can’t hold her liquor and was a little mid morning drunk. But at the wine museum around the corner we got some coffee and snacks.

Wine museum where we got snacks.

This particular area was actually quite lovely but we heard that Los Arcos, the town everyone was aiming for and not a short day at that was already full and we had no desire to trek on another several kilometers to another town that might also be full. So our main mission of the day complete we decided to backtrack to Estella and take the bus to Logroño.

We found the station with ease and it was something like 2.50€ as it wasn’t very far. It didn’t leave until 2 so we grabbed a bite at the station pub next door.

Street art in Logroño with credential stamps as tattoos.

We thought we deserved a nice place due to our ordeal and booked a pensión with a huge double bed. When most “double beds” here are just 2 singles pushed together we we got that rarely enough this was a luxury we wouldn’t experience again.

And boy was it luxurious when we got there. It was expensive by Camino standards though not outlandish but the bed was a California king with sheets of some blissful thread count. The shower was tiled in smooth stones and we never wanted to stop napping. But we were finally in a big city and wanted to find permethrin to coat our backpacks and all our bedding. And after 3 pharmacies and a watch store that we initially thought was a pharmacy we finally found some.

We were desperately hungry by then but still had a good hour before any restaurants would start serving pinchos let alone dinner. So we got a snack of an orange at a market with the biggest fruits and vegetables we had ever seen and strolled through the market and the park. Places finally started opening a little after 7:30 and we were pleased to find that what our pensión host had told us was true…this was a pincho foodie town. (Side note: she did not phrase it this way but did give us a map that pointed out the 2 streets that were gastronomy row and also a whole flyer with names and addresses of a bazillion places and their signature pincho so I’m paraphrasing).

We chose well one that was proper fancy but really only about 12€ which is comparable to a pilgrim dinner. Only 1 glass of wine and not unlimited but that was enough for us. Logroño as pincho paradise did not disappoint.

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