Friday 25 August 2023 – I realise that today is the 10th day of our peregrination, but yesterday was a rest day, and today will be the 9th day of walking. So I propose to use that approach to define my numbering convention, it that’s OK with you? Good, thank you.
The forecast for today showed a significant change was due.
We decided we’d trust Accuweather and thus not aim to start too early. This gave us the opportunity for a decent breakfast – indeed, the breakfasts at this hotel have been the best of the Camino so far; they even provide Twinings Earl Grey, which says a lot about their utter class.
Suitably fuelled, but somewhat miffed at the €75 laundry bill for three pairs of shorts, two shirts and a blouse (which weren’t even delivered until about 9.30pm yesterday). we headed out. The temperature at the start of breakfast was 22°C. At the end of breakfast – 22°C. As we moved out at 8am – 22°C. Very encouraging.
The way out of Logroño wended its way through the suburbs – it was about 4km until we reached what might be called countryside. But it was a pleasant walk, past a couple of landmarks we’d seen before
Our way was guided by waymarks that seem to be specific to this region, some more obviously so than others.
The path was pleasant, leading through parks
until after about 4km we came to the outskirts and caught a view of what might be called “countryside” for the first time.
The path was pleasantly shaded for the most part
and led us by a lake, Grajera.
OOh, look! They have swans here, too!
There was “wild” life to look at
and in one place it was clear that Officer i/c Yellow Painted Camino Arrows needed to sharpen his/her act up a bit.
Felisa (you remember, her outside Logroño) clearly isn’t the only eccentric, as we passed by the Ermita of Marcelino, a “trainee pilgrim”.
At first we wondered whether there was anyone there, but he was off having a slash in the bushes and came back to stamp our Credenciales
and sell us a banana and a Camino badge. Completely bonkers, but a lovely dedication to duty. He even had his own Camino signpost.
We had a bit of a pull up to the high point of the day’s walk, which gave us nice views, including one back over towards our start point.
The path led past a long stretch of fencing which passing pilgrims had decorated with crosses, mainly made of bark stripped from a local sawmill.
As well as the bark, people had also improvised.
At the top. we caught sight of something that can be seen across Spain.
There are 91 of these “Osborne Bulls” across Spain. Originally, they were advertising billboards for Brandy de Jerez, designed by the Osborne Group (the second oldest company in Spain, founded in 1772 by Thomas Osborne Mann, an Englishman from Exteter) in the 1950s. EU law forbids billboards advertising alcoholic drinks, but the billboards were thought to be so magnificently Spanish that they were allowed to remain, albeit with the advertising blacked out. This particular “Bullboard” is some 14m tall.
Shortly afterwards, we got our first view of Navarrete.
On the approach, there’s a signficant Bodega by the Camino trail
and there is the option of going for a wine tasting. We don’t drink wine any more, so passed up the opportunity, but had to admire the care that Don Jacobo went to to remind the passer-by of what it does
and even, in this Instagram-obsessed world, to provide a selfie spot.
We also passed an excavated site dating from the middle ages, a pilgrim hospital and church, dedicated to San Juan de Acre.
And then we were in Navarrete.
Its curved streets make it very attractive, but it seemed quiet. Too quiet.
Then, to our relief
we discovered evidence of civilsation.
Our hotel, the Posada Ignatius, has quite a history. The founding father of the Jesuits, Ignatius of Loyola, resided in the building from 1517 to 1521 when he was a knight under the orders of Antonio Manrique de Lara, Duke of Najara. He staged a pilgrimage of his own across Spain, and the house is at the crossing point of two Camino trails – the one we’re on and, you guessed it, the Ignatius Camino.
We had a very friendly greeting from Maria, and our room was ready, so we were able to relax and enjoy the fact that, for once, our schedule and Spanish opening hours combined in ideal fashion. There is a restaurant attached to the hotel. It’s called El Figón del Duque, which, as far as we can tell, means “The Duke’s Cheap Restaurant”. This is a misnomer. It’s a sensational place to eat, absolutely a destination restaurant. It’s small, only 30 covers, but well-appointed
and, being in the cellar, delightfully cool. The chef is Colombian and clearly understands food and flavours. We had a lovely meal.
In order to walk the meal off, and since the temperature outside was a positively arctic 35°C, we went to visit the church, Iglesia Santa Maria de la Asunción, which is, to be honest, pretty much the only Thing To Do in Navarrete – it’s attractive enough to walk along the streets, but there are many empty spaces behind façades and some abandoned houses. The presence of a 3-star hotel and a great restaurant/guest house gives us hope that the place is on the way up – perhaps the Camino traffic will sustain and nurture it.
Relics of a distinguished past can be seen in the armorial crests above some of the doors. Navarrete gives good crest.
The town square outide the church is quite nice, also.
Anyway, the church. It’s quite substantial, with a huge door surround, viewing of which was so obscured by the trees in the main square that I went and got the drone to take its photo.
While I was at it, I got some other aerial footage of it, and you can see what a huge presence it has.
The inside is equally impressive. The altar is amazing – so amazing that we went back to the hotel for a €1 coin so that Jane could turn on the illuminations.
It’s an exquisite piece of work, that altar.
Here are some of the other things that the church has to show:
including, last but not least, Saint James in his pilgrim persona: Santiago Peregrino.
In reading around the subject, Jane discovered that James the Apostle has another, more sinister representation, Santiago Matamoros, “The Moor Slayer”. At the top of the portal of the Santiago church in Logroño, you can see him depicted as a knight on horseback, brandishing a sword and trampling Moors underfoot.
This identification originated with the saint’s miraculous appearance at the battle of Clavijo in 844, and three centuries later the Order of Knights of Saint James of Compostela was founded to drive the Muslims from the Iberian peninsula. Having been recast as a Christian warrior and Spanish icon, Saint James has come a long way from the Galilean fisherman of the gospels.
There’s a good Guardian article on the enigma of Saint James, should you wish to explore his various representations. That of Slayer of Moors is now, I read, thoroughly rejected.
So that was Navarrete, something of a surprise. I was expecting a routine walk to a routine small town with not much to write home about. How wrong I have been!
Let me bring you up to date with the stats. After Logroño, we had covered 165 kilometres – just a whisker over 100 miles. 13.1 further km to Navarrete means 178.1km, or just over 110 miles. It seems that the walks to the first rest day were decreasing day by day, but now they are increasing. Today was 13.1km, tomorrow will be over 16km, and the day after even more.
Not that I treat it at all seriously, but the sequence of walks so far has an amusing consequence for my step count. The Garmin Connect app suggests a step count for each day; if you exceed it, Garmin Connect simply ups it for the next day. For the first week of the Camino, I’ve been doing between 30 and 40,000 steps a day, and Garmin has been upping the target every day. The ridiculous consequence of this is that on day 8, the short walk into Logroño, I did 21,607 steps – and failed to meet the Garmin target! Never mind. I don’t care.
Tomorrow, then, we head for Najera, which is overall an uphill walk, though I think not too brutally steep. In any case, the forecast temperature tomorrow is a positively glacial 26°C with – gasp! – the possibility of a shower! This should make any uphill work much less of a chore. I may get the chance to compose a write-up about the day or I may not. Tune in to find out, won’t you?