Camino Day 7 – Los Arcos to Viana. We beat the heat – just!

Tuesday 22 August 2023 – It’s been a good day.

Let’s rewind to yesterday evening, though, because I haven’t covered it, and it introduced some new experiences for us.

As I noted yesterday, our hotel was an albergue, a simple hotel whose main clientele would be pilgrims. Many of the rooms share bathroom facilities, but we had our own loo and bathroom, which was nice. Jose, the manager, is extremely affable and capable, and he persuaded us to partake of the hotel’s Pilgrim Dinner at 7pm. This meal type is a very common offering in the simple accommodation for pilgrims on the Camino. As you’ll have noted, though, we had arrived early enough for us to recover some of our equilibrium after an extremely hot and sweaty final few kilometres, for me to write up the day and for us to think we should go for a walk.

Not obviously, actually.

It was, once again, stingingly hot, and the idea of simply lying prostrate in the room did have some merit. However, There Was A Church (Santa Maria) which Jane’s reading around had made it clear that we should visit. So we did.


It’s some church. We haven’t been able to divine the reason that such a one-horse (albeit old) town has got such an up-market church, but there it is, and one of the things it is known for is a “Black Virgin”. There are many of these around Catholic and Orthodox churches, and many of them are paintings or icons; Santa Maria here has a statue.

The original dates from 1175, and was restored in 1947, when the black colour was removed. Who says “woke” is a modern thing, eh? However, the oriental outlines of her face are clear, as is the extra attention paid to carving her rather then the child, showing that the mother is the more important figure. How could they think that? I mean, Jeez!

Other figures in the main altar are carved with astonishing skills and detail.

Every part of the interior of the church is decorated

and the organ is described as one of the two or three best in Navarra. It’s certainly ornate.

We had to leave the church discreetly, as a funeral service was about to start. Los Arcos hasn’t much else to offer the sightseer, particularly not on a day where the temperature was verging on 40°C. What we really needed was a drink, so we blundered about a bit until we found one that was open and ordered glasses of something cold. The bar was almost deserted when we got there, but soon some more customers came in,

all male. Jane reckoned that the wives were in the church, which would be a shockingly chauvinistic thing if true.

We arrived back at the hotel in time for our Pilgrim’s Dinner; eight pilgrims hosted by the affable Jose

who’d got everyone’s name and could talk to most of the diners in their own language. The fare was simple, but wholesome – a large salad, lentil soup with chorizo and a dessert of something approximating lemon Viennetta, all accompanied by wine and bread. Not bad for €10 per head.

The meal was an opportunity to talk to other pilgrims. We sat with a Dane, Søren, and a Korean chap whose name we never established, and chatted about the sorts of things one does when meeting strangers; and a pleasant meal passed quickly.

The only downside was the timing, really. We had decided that the next day (that’s today, keep up at the back) would be punishingly hot, so a really early start was needed. An 0430 alarm demands a 2030 bedtime if enough sleep is to be had, and there wasn’t really time for our digestive systems, already stunned by the arrival of the first vegetables for simply days, to settle into getting on with their business.

Also, it was hot.

There was a fan in the room, but even with it going full blast, getting restful sleep was difficult. The alarm went off at 0430 and I particularly was very bleary as we went about getting up and getting out as soon as we could. The breakfast was very simple, but at least we could make ourselves some tea, again the first we’d had for a while. And at 0615, off we went on the day’s adventure and in the dark.

If you’d like to see the summary rather than read the gory detail below, then you can watch the Relive video,

When we left the roads of Los Arcos for the track of the Camino, at first we needed a torch to light our way and make sure we didn’t trip over anything on the track. But it soon lightened up as the dawn broke behind us.

Rather than bore you with all the photos I took (you can see most of them in the Relive video), let me just pick out some random bits.

Every so often, the track appeared to feature a crack across it.

which turned out, on closer inspection, to be a column of ants.

Other life, both wild- and tame- provided some cabaret, It was lovely to see swallows fluttering about in the eaves just enjoying the sunshine

or going to and from nests in the church tower.

A shepherd temporarily halted traffic as he got quite a substantial flock of sheep across the track.

Plant life featured strongly, The sloes hereabouts are really ripe and seem to glow in the sunshine,

olive plantations and vineyards gave lovely patterns to the landscape,

and the odd occasional lone sunflower could be seen, presumably sown by a passing bird.

The scenery generally was not as Big as in previous days, but there were some beautiful vistas for us.

As usual, the track wandered from town to town. The main ones we saw to day were Sansol

and Torres del Rio, the latter of which provided our first refreshment break of the day.

We passed a hermitage (Ermita del Poyo) with a lovely tiled image of the Virgin Mary on its wall,

and, via a final refreshment stop

caught our first sight of Viana, our destination,

just as the day was making its transition from cool and pleasant to hot and sweaty. Our timing had been good, and the serendipity which led WalkTheCamino to organise for us to break our journey here was excellent; many other pilgrims we talked to had elected to carry on to Logroño, the next town and some 10km further, and I think those kilometres might have proved rather burdensome. As it was, we eventually arrived in pretty good nick, all in all.

The closer you get to Viana, the less attractive it looks. It’s clearly a thriving town, with lots of modern buildings and quite a bit of construction of new houses going on on its outskirts.

Once you tunnel through the modern shell, though, the old town is very attractive.

There’s a multipurpose bullring-cum-football pitch

overlooked by a building with a balcony for spectators.

The town hall has a very attractive frontage

and the streets, as we arrived around midday, had a busy, buzzy vibe.

As luck would have it, our hotel, the very swish Palacio de Pujadas (air-conditioned! hurrah!) had rooms ready for us, so we could immediately get ourselves cleaned up and rested before going out to find some lunch.

We arbitrarily blundered into the first of the many, many places offering refreshment on the main drag, the Casa Armendáriz, and had a Really Nice Lunch, the first time we’d sat down for a proper meal, with menus an’everyfink, for very nearly a whole week. The place eventually filled up with other people doing substantially the same

so I think that once again serendipity worked in our favour. When we came out again, it was to strangely deserted streets;

all the busy, buzzy vibe had evaporated as the sun’s heat took hold.

Viana has A Church To Be Seen, another Santa Maria. Unfortunately, it was closed, and photos were made difficult by a covering of scaffolding and nets. But the nearby ruins of San Pedro church are worth a visit

and its gardens have a lovely feature whereby atmospheric music plays in the summer heat. We weren’t sure whether we tripped this via some kind of motion detector, but the effect was lovely.

By this stage, the heat was beginning to become too oppressive, so we scurried back to the hotel to rest for the remainder of the afternoon.

So: the stats for the day:

  • Distance – 19.1km, thus our total is 155.2km, or just over 96 miles.
  • Ascent/Descent – a relatively modest 362m and 340m respectively, There were a couple of short and steep pulls, but overall it was quite an easy day’s walking.

Not too easy, though – I have my first blister! It’s on the side of my big toe and I think I might be able to get away with leaving it severely alone to heal itself. I’m wearing socks and sandals (sorry!) for the walking and this appears to be a pretty comfortable way of getting about; I’m hoping I have judged this right, but you’ll have to keep in touch with these pages to find out, won’t you?

We have a short walk tomorrow, a mere 10km to Logroño, where we have a rest day! Hurrah! If the heat permits, we expect to have a good old nose around Logroño so I’ll report on that and the walk there in a couple of days. See you then, I hope.

6 thoughts on “Camino Day 7 – Los Arcos to Viana. We beat the heat – just!

  1. Katharine Burridge

    Santa Maria! What a cathedral!!! Always my favorites – I played the organ at our church, and am always awe-struck by the proper ones. And as the sign says Santa Maria is protecting todos dos Pellegrinos! And 90 miles! I am bursting with familial pride!! I will include Santa Maria in my daily meditations, just as I include you both.

  2. Karin Wennas

    Sorry about the blister. I repeat my trick: Vaseline on the feet and especially around the toes and heels, then a thin merino wool liner and then a proper merino walking sock and shoes a number larger than normal. No blisters. Hope it heals fast for you.
    I liked Viana old town, especially when it’s full of people, have stayed there twice. Hope you’ll like Logrono, another favourite because I like to eat!
    I also hope you’ll get a good nights sleep in comfy beds!

    1. Steve Walker Post author

      Amen to the comfy beds bit. The temperature forecast fir Logroño today is 41°C! According to my Garmin, its already 23° out there and it’s only 5.30am.

  3. Ian Burley

    Wonderful to be following you like this. I’m off next month for another long-distance one in Germany. I really want to follow your example and post as a I go because I’m close on two years behind on my own blog now.

    1. Steve Walker Post author

      Glad you’re enjoying following, Ian – nice to have you along, as ever. I really enjoy writing up the days, but it takes a couple of hours for every post. (Using the phone camera – paired with a tablet that has a proper keyboard available – has saved a lot of time; it’s almost as capable as my Nikon (editing on PC needed), and the photo editing process is much shorter. OK, the image quality is not so utterly brilliant, but it would take a real expert to tell under most circumstances.)


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