Hiking Inn to Inn
The Camino traverses western Navarra Province mostly on country trails, passing through small villages, always dominated by a church, the tallest building. Pilgrims are a major source of revenue, and many villages will offer a cafe, a fountain, and possibly a small inn and/or albergue. The harvested grain fields of the rolling farmland yielded to bountiful vineyards as the trail approaches Rioja Province, the home of some of Spain´s finest red wines.
I entered the city of Logrono at the beginning of the week-long Fiesta de San Mateo, which is also the harvest festival. After checking into an albergue, I went to the central Plaza del Mercado, and festivities were in full swing. Men and women in traditional peasant dress stomped grapes in large wooden barrels. Fires roared in the square roasting large cuts of lamb. I joined a long line and for 3 euros ($4), I bought a plate of lamb, bread, and a decanter of vino tinto. Then I joined hundreds of revelers at long tables. Before I could finish my wine, my glass was filled again from a neighbor´s bottle.
Later I found a precious seat at a sidewalk cafe along the fashionable Calle de Portales to watch the show. Promenaders packed the street - young families with babies in strollers, elegantly dressed urban ladies in silks, and scarfs, young lovers in t-shirts and jeans walking hand-in-hand. Brass bands paraded through the crowded street carrying 20 foot high paper mache figures of animals, kings, dragons, Jesus, Mary and St. James.
I headed down to the park along Rio Ebro and rested, for the party was only beginning. That night, every small plaza had a stage with a raucous punk band, a children´s choir, or traditional music from northern Spain. Vendors set up shop, bar-b-quing lamb, pork and rabbit, and selling beer and wine.