After a hasty breakfast, and before leaving the albergue behind, we spoke to a young family who had begun their Camino at Roncesvalles. The mother and father were carrying most of the gear as their young daughter and even younger, rather disgruntled, son were both finding the trail difficult. I couldn’t help wondering if they would reach Santiago, and glad that they weren’t on bikes because they, unlike us, could always catch a few buses along the way. Hoping to be able to reach Logrono by evening, we soon rejoined the N1110. Today there was a lot more traffic than yesterday and I meekly followed John as he diverted onto a nice, quiet side road. On hindsight, perhaps not a good move because it didn’t take long to realise that we must have gone off route and were now hopelessly lost.
Before even starting on this trip, John had bought a small green booklet which gives rough directions to follow if you are on a bike. We had been trying to keep to this since leaving SJPdP although at times the directions became very confusing to follow. Of course, the yellow shell signs along the way made a valuable contribution but even these would occasionally disappear, so it wasn’t long before John realized that we were no longer on the route given in the green book. Adding to our panic, the tell-tale shell signs were nowhere to be found.
Hopelessly lost, we were still reluctant to retrace our steps, so instead rode in the direction that we thought might get us back en-route. This was Spain. Dogs and wild bears had all but disappeared from the district over the decades and the only thing we had to fear was fear itself. Nevertheless, it was a bit disconcerting riding into an unknown district, unsure of whether we were heading east or west. It was difficult to tell from the position of the sun which direction we were riding. Suddenly John pointed out what appeared to be a church steeple in the horizon and that meant a town, people, and perhaps something to eat. All fears rapidly diminished as we rode into Villamayor de Monjardin and suddenly we appeared to have been on the right route all along! I noticed an ancient castle perched on the hillside overlooking this beautiful medieval-style village but there was no way we were going to divert and investigate. We might have got lost!
Once in the village, it was easy to find a small shop near the local church and John went off to buy some very welcome ice cream, which we ate while sat on a bench outside the church. Feeling refreshed, I wanted to check out the church which, although not locked was pitch dark inside. Downhearted I turned from the entrance then noticed a small box attached to the wall. For a small fee I could turn on the interior light and the thought of a little light relief from the souring temperatures outside, I didn’t need to be persuaded twice. It was blissfully cool inside the church and I was determined not to leave until I had got my moneys-worth.
I joined John outside again – he had decided not to join me in the church – and found him talking to three women and an elderly man. It turned out that they were three sisters doing the walk with their father. Resolute on enjoying the terrain, the girls were very stalwart, but we feared for the old man who looked like he was pretty close to collapsing. He told us that he had been drinking nothing but coca cola and, although he declared that he knew it was bad for him, he found they gave him the energy to keep up with “my girls”. I couldn’t help but feel sorry for him, particularly as the heat definitely was draining – for everybody, whether walking or on bikes. Having said that, a plus for cycling is that you generate a cooling breeze as you pedal – it’s only when you stop for a rest that you find yourself perspiring. This saps any energy and leaves you exhausted after only a few hours. If we were finding the route difficult, it must have been doubly so for this small group.
Leaving Villamayor de Monjardin behind, we found ourselves riding along a plateau before swooping downhill into and through Los Arcos. The route then morphed into a lot of slight ups and downs and proved to be quite tiring as we kept to a mix of riding and walking. We stopped in Viana as it was by now midday and the temperature had not abated. If anything, it was still climbing.
We spoke to a small group of pilgrims sat at the side of the road waiting for the only albergue in sight to open. One thing we had found out quite quickly during this trip was that as we were on bikes, other pilgrims (those who were walking) would be given precedence over us if beds were at a premium in an albergue. This is only fair because, if all of the beds go and there are still more people seeking lodging for the night, a walking pilgrim is often not in a fit state to carry on. In this case, we knew that we were too early to claim a bed each so, after a short rest, we set off once again.
On the outskirts of Logrono we negotiated a narrow bridge and came across a roundabout. Perhaps it was the heat or our lack of energy because at this stage, no matter how much we looked, we couldn’t find any indication of which direction to take. We were very relieved to reach the centre of Logrono – a large, sprawling city, which meant finding an albergue to spend the night proved to be quite a feat. Eventually, however, after asking just about anybody we could stop for directions, we made our way to the municipal albergue.
We booked in before having a very welcome shower. It never ceases to surprise me how a shower can revitalize the body and it wasn’t long before we were both keen to hit the streets and explore the surrounding area. I was particularly struck by the statue of Alfonso VI, in a prominent square.
Alfonso became the King of Leon in 1065 and was nicknamed The Brave (El Bravo) and the self-proclaimed “Emperor of all Spain”.