Day 7 - Cooler on the Camino
We're Back! After a day of rest in Logrono, we are on the trail.
Leaving early today, we taxied to a spot out of town about six miles and walked, and walked and walked.
But the weather was much cooler and after doing some climbing, our route was down--a gradual grade for much of the way.
The total distance between Logrono and Azofra is about 35 kilometers, or about 21 miles. We walked 14 or 15 miles, about 23 kilometers from outside Navarette to Asofra.
And what a difference a day makes.
For the last three days of walking the temperatures have been in the 90's. Today, we began the day with a chill in the air, and the appearance of what appeared to be rain clouds. The temperature may have topped 75 degrees mid-afternoon, but most of the day it was extremely comfortable for walking.
There was no rain, though, and the day was glorious.
Mid-morning, we met the first US residents that we have walked with on this trip. Two couples, who began walking at St. Jean, were trekking past us just as we were ending a short walking break.
The accents sounded familiar and we joined them for three or four kilometers. Because we are so poor with names, we can't identify them, but it was fun sharing experiences.
They were on a fund raising walk for a Mexican AIDS mission.
Really good and fun people.
As people do on the Camino, we left them when they stopped for coffee, and we were off ahead. We thought we'd see them tonight, but they are not in this town.
Then an incredible thing happened.
We entered Najera.
The entrance to Najera is maybe the most uninspiring walk we've seen. Large nondescript apartment building after another nondescript apartment building.
We stopped at a small bar, Found an outdoor plastic table and got our water and Diet Cokes. It was a short break. We were feeling pretty upbeat since we had not been passed by any Pilgrims for a while--a very new experience for us.
Then, following arrows, we moved into the old part of the city.
The city changed!
Suddenly we were in very narrow streets, and on our left, dominating this section of the city was Santa Maria la Real Monastery.
We think it may be the most amazing thing we've ever witnessed.
We've included some pictures, but they don't come close to doing it justice. It is incredible. Too astounding to even bring tears to the eyes, like a few churches have in the past few days.
Monasterio de Santa Maria la Real
Here is the lore that backs this unbelievably beautiful building.
According to legend, this beautiful monastery was founded in 1052 by King Don García Sánchez III, after he found a mysterious image of the Virgin Mary in a nearby cave. He then won a battle of some kind--these Spanish kings win a lot of battles--and built and dedicated this building to Santa Maria.
The monastery church dates from 1516.
From the church you can access the cave where the king supposedly found the figure of the Virgin. The church is built into the cave.
The choir stalls are from the beginning of the 16th century, in walnut. An area of the church is also home to the tombs of two ancient monarchs and their families and advisors.
Entry to the monastery was three Euros. It was a bargain.
Back on the Road
When we see things like that monastery, it lifts us.
It certainly made our packs lighter and the road gentler.
We were soon cruising to our destination for the night, Azofra.
We were doing our usual singing as we entered the village.
We have begun a habit of attempting to make up Camino songs. Most of them are terrible and barely rhyme. Nearly all of them have at least one line about the poop papers that are sometimes too prevalent along the route--usually at least five feet off the route--usually.
In no time we in the little low-populated village of Azofra, just the spot to find our room at a restored 17th century Lord's manor. It is over the top. There is more gaudy, although beautiful, furniture and furnishings than we've seen in a while.
It is pretty cool. It is one of the few hotels that we have encountered with a swimming pool--we managed to get in up to our thighs. Freezing cold!!
Dinner today was from the Bar Sevilla, salad and chicken with fries. The men in town were busy and dramatically playing dominoes.
It is now near midnight and the windows of our room are open to collect the breeze.
Kids (probably aged six to ten) are playing happily outside our hotel.
Life is different (and sometimes very beautiful) here.
Just a short note about the bathrooms of the Camino.
We have found that they are better kept than nearly any we see in the states. Always clean. Even pretty.
We were a bit frightened about what we might face, based on what others had written.
The bar bathrooms in Spain that we have entered are generally cleaner than the bars, themselves, in the US.
Tomorrow We March Again
Our target tomorrow is Santa Domingo e la Calzada, a village with a cathedral with its own fabulous legend.