Camino Day 11 – Nájera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada. Dogged by Poor Weather – rain, 10:10*

Sunday 27 August 2023 – It seems appropriate that on a Sunday we should be travelling to a place called Santo Domingo. “Domingo”, after all, means “Sunday” in Spanish, which means that the famous (and now infamous) operatic tenor Placido Domingo would be called “Quiet Sunday” in English.  This is just one of the many examples when Foreign Is Better Than English:

  • Giuseppe Verdi – Joe Green
  • Ferrari – Smith
  • Maserati Quattroporte – Maserati Four Door
  • Le mot juste – erm…let me think…

Anyway, back to the walking thing, Walker.

If you want to see the summary of the route and photos, you can watch the Relive if you’d like. Alternatively, read on…

The forecast hadn’t changed significantly overnight, but cool temperatures were expected and the probability of rain had increased. We hit the hotel’s breakfast room at 0730, its supposed opening time, to find several peregrinos already stuffing their faces, so we could clearly have been earlier. No matter, we discovered that there were large mugs in which we could infuse Twining’s finest Earl Grey, which meant that the day got off to a good start.

When we actually started walking, the temperature was 16°C or thereabouts, which would have been fine, but it was somewhere between breezy and windy, which kept things on the cool side of comfortable, actually. There was a hint of rain in the air, too.

As we went through the day, the sun came and went, and gave us a great variety of scenes as its patterns flitted across the landscapes in what became really more a wind than a breeze.

There was ever the threat of rain in the air.

The road wound along

past vineyards, mostly.

We encountered our first village along the way after just 6km – Azofra.

There was a cafe called “Bar el Descanso del Peregrino” – meaning “The Pilgrims’ Rest Bar”.

It would have been rude not to stop (and in any case the next bar was not for another 10km), so we popped in for a coffee. They also sold Kit-Kats, so we had one each, which wasn’t as pleasurable as it might have been; whatever they do to make the chocolate in this country ain’t the same as it is in England, regrettably.

For a large village/small town, Azofra punched above its weight as far as points of interest is concerned. Jane is into armorial crests and so this building

scored heavily with her. There was a style of waymark which we hadn’t seen before,

an intriguing bit of junk statuary in someone’s front yard,

interesting decor idea for park gates,

some eccentric construction,

and a medieval rollo.

This (now heavily-restored) column originally functioned as a judicial and administrative marker and was where executions were held. I don’t think they use it like that any more, though.

Our luck with the weather ran out eventually. Rain at 10:10 was sufficiently hard that we donned our rain jackets. (So that explains the headline, you see*.)  Actually, this was a blessing in disguise, as the wind was making us both cold and our rain jackets protected us, so we kept them on all day, even when it wasn’t raining (which was most of it, fortunately).

Other points of interest that we passed:

Sunflower fields, in some cases with some plants still in flower

and in others giving passers-by the opportunity to have some fun with the seed heads.

We knew that the track would eventually go uphill towards a town called Ciriñuela. It wasn’t immediately clear whether this would be the left or right of two possible tracks,

But it soon became clear that it would be the left one, which was a long ascent – not too steep, but enough to raise the pulse somewhat.

Notice, also, a distinct shift in the agriculture, as the main crop changes from grapes to wheat.

Ciriñuela is a weird place.  On its outskirts is a mass of newly built houses,

with very little sign of life.  There is still building under way.

The centre of it all appears to be the Alta Rioja Golf Course

whose catering team need to change their marketing agency.


When you do get to the old town,

there’s not a lot of it left as, according to one book Jane has read, much of the original building has been pillaged by the neighbouring towns.

The place is not without interest (apart from Bar Jacobeo which provided us with coffee). There are some interesting Camino markings and other statuary,

and, on the road out of the town, hops – not something we have seen anywhere else so far.

The road wound on after Ciriñuela

and eventually we could see our destination – Santo Domingo de la Calzada.

The former of these two photos shows that the town has a considerable industrial presence, presumably to deal with all that wheat, and the Camino winds past all of this, including this inexplicable vignette.

One wonders about the owners of this: what are their Crate Expectations?

Thank you. Thank you, again, for listening to my joke.

We found yet another Camino decoration in Santo Domingo

and then we were into its old town

which we passed through to get to our hotel on its outskirts.

It was originally the town’s water mill and is officially a Hostal, so not the height of luxury, but our room is comfortable enough and they serve an early breakfast, which could be material for tomorrow’s plans (see later).

We had set off at 0800 and we arrived at 1330, having covered 21.6km (22km including the detour to Bar Jacobeo). This brings our total to 216.1km, which is a smidge over 134 miles. We have covered more than a quarter of the total Camino distance, then!

Our arrival nicely chimed, once again, with Spanish restaurateurs’ opening hours hereabouts, and so we were able to go for a Nice Lunch, which we took at Los Caballeros.  Its name had been bandied about in the Spanish gabble between Jane and the lady who manages the hostal, and I thought they’d been discussing the location of the gents’ loo on my behalf.  I was wrong. Los Caballeros is a very good restaurant and they sorted out a very fine lunch for us.

Afterwards, once again to shake it down, we went for a walk. Obviously.

The town is named for its founder, Dominic de la Calzada, who was something of a country bumpkin and who was rejected for the priesthood by his peers.  Undeterred, he built a bridge, hospital, and hotel here for pilgrims on the Camino Francés. He began construction of the town’s Cathedral, is buried within and it is dedicated to him. So, clearly we had to visit the cathedral.

Which is massive. I mean, just look at the portal, for God’s sake!

Inside, there is the usual churchy bit

and several large, detailed and opulent pieces of statuary, altarwork and other woodwork. What particularly appealed to me was the selection of modern-style stained glass.

The cathedral is also the site of the miracle of the “hanged innocent”, a pilgrim wrongly accused of theft. The witnesses for his successful appeal, a pair of beheaded, supposedly cooked chickens who miraculously came to life, are represented by their descendants, a pair of whom are kept at all times in the choir loft of the cathedral.

There are cloisters

and the tomb of the saint himself can be found in the cathedral.

The cathedral has a separate bell tower

which one can climb, if one wants to deal with 134 quite chunky steps. This gets you up close and personal with, erm, the bells

and gives you a nice view over the roofs of the town.

On our walkabout, we also visited the Santo Domingo bridge,

started in the 11th Century by the man himself, and variously altered in many ways since – the middle section dates from the 18th Century, for example. To finish the walk, we headed back to the hostal via what remains of the old city walls,

and that was it for the day.

Tomorrow features a walk that is longer again than today’s – some 23km. The weather conditions are likely to be similar to today’s, possibly wetter – in any case the moisture we will have to deal with will be rain, not sweat.  Since the hostal offers an early breakfast, we might be able to get on the road promptly and get to our destination, Belorado, in time once again for a Nice Lunch.

Let’s hope so.


* The headline is a laboured joke. “The Adventures of Rin Tin Tin” was the name of an American children’s TV series from the 1950s about a boy and his German Shepherd dog. Originally, (I now learn), Rin Tin Tin was actually a famous German Shepherd dog used in silent films.


6 thoughts on “Camino Day 11 – Nájera to Santo Domingo de la Calzada. Dogged by Poor Weather – rain, 10:10*

  1. Ian Burley

    Love the cathedral chickens! The cathedral in Barcelona has a flock of geese. I wonder if guinea fowl or turkeys, say, live in other Spanish cathedrals.
    And to add to your list of name translations, a French friend’s father used to call me Mr Buttermilk – think about it and you should get it.


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