The first few kilometers out of Torres del Rio are known as ‘The knee-breaker’ thanks to their constant ups and downs. But the countryside was so beautiful as the Sun rose that we hardly noticed. And as an added bonus just after The Knee Breaker flattened out there was a surprise food stop in the middle of a patch of forest – so a second breakfast while chatting with a woman from Switzerland and a man from Barcelona was a lovely interlude.
In fact those first few kilometers were the best part of the walk. As we got closer and closer to Llogrono it became less pretty and we spent more time walking beside, or on, roads.
Llogrono proved deceptive. For about 15km we could see what we thought was Llogrono ahead of us backed by a big rocky outcrop. It turned out that Llogrono, or at least the old town where we are staying, is in fact behind the outcrop.
Just outside Llogrono we officially left Basque Country and entered La Rioja. The most obvious evidence of this is that we lost the distinctive blue and yellow Camino markers we had been following. They have been replaced with cast iron representations of a clam shell, which are pretty but a bit harder to spot.
We are having a rest day in Llogrono so are here for two nights. Our first priority after a shower was to clean some clothes. It may not be picturesque but a Spanish laundromat was a welcome sight. One of the things the pictures don’t convey is that all this walking in the heat with few clothes and little opportunity to dry things makes for some pretty smelly walkers.
We had some time for some research, so here are some clarifications. First I said that the Sun is always on our left: this is true because we have consistently been walking South West, not just West. And we mentioned the black fields of dead sunflowers: apparently this is a common approach to harvesting the seeds dried on the flower.
Llogrono is renowned for its pinxos. Each bar on the three of four main pinxos streets has its own speciality – and our hotel is on the Main Street frequented by the locals. So our plan for this evening: wine and pinxos.