I have walked on my own before, but I have never walked in a group and then left them behind before. It was odd to stand there with my shoes and pack, poles in hand and in caffeine withdrawal, and say goodbye to my new gang who were going home later that day. But leave I must, so I went to the cathedral square again to building watch while having breakfast.
There are many sights to see on the way out of town, so many that it’s easy to lose sight of the yellow arrows … but eventually you should end up on a path full of joggers, cyclists and dog walkers coming the other way.
This seemingly never ending path eventually leads to a lake with a very handy café tucked inside the woods (bring your own loo paper, chances are there won’t be any). It’s a good place for a rest, refreshment and swan watching.
Then on and up through vineyards, with the black bull high on the hill.
Navarrete is another good rest stop, just past the Don Jacobo winery and these ruins. When you get to the bar by the church, don’t make the same mistake we made the year before and try to hang on for the next one – there isn’t one. This time I stopped and spent a long lunch talking to lots of pilgrims, so even though I was going sola again, I never felt alone.
After Navarrete there is a loong stretch following the motorway, or just off, through the vineyards. It can be hot, dusty and exposed so on a hot day, bring more water and wear your hat. Or clip your umbrella on to your pack, like I did. Some choose to walk nearly 30 kms from Logroño to Nájera but I like stopping just off the trail in the sleepy, mainly pilgrim town of Ventosa just 1 km up the hill to the left of the motorway.
In Ventosa I had booked into another of my favourite albergues, the San Saturnino. The albergue has a lovely little garden at the back, a good kitchen, and there are now two bars serving typical pilgrim fare so you’ll be well taken care of. After cleaning myself and my clothes I went to sit at the bar down the bottom, where I sat with my Scouse Spouse a year before, and of course ended up at a table full of excited and chatty pilgrims. Having just left my group, my pilgrim family, in Logroño, I was glad of the company. Two of them hadn’t got beds in the San Saturnino and were waiting for a taxi to take them back to Logroño for the night, before taking a taxi back to Ventosa to carry on in the morning. Where there’s a will, there’s a bed!
And as the evening crept up I had to get back to get ready for the next day. When I opened the door to my room, with my hands full of clean and dry clothes off the line, someone had turned the light out – just after nine! I was not best pleased with having to organise my stuff in the dark, and I don’t know why people who want to sleep early can’t just put on an eye mask or a buff over their eyes. They are often also the ones who turn the lights back on at five. Grr. But I clung on to my zen as best I could and crawled into my deliciously downy sleeping bag, and soon drifted off to sleep.