Another 30km day saw us starting out before the crack of dawn and dodging street sweepers as we made our way out of Llogrono. The way out proved a bit long and frustrating due to less than great signage, but eventually we left the suburbs behind and emerged into a large forested area beside a lake as the Sun came up.
From there it was a solid 10km walk to Navarrete where we stopped for coffee in a bar sitting alongside a church. Inside the church, which otherwise looked like many other old churches, had the most amazing altarpiece. But to be honest coffee, and then another coffee were our top priority.
From Navarrete onwards we were walking through a sea, an ocean, of vineyards. We are now deep in wine country and then vines are hanging heavy with red grapes. Everywhere you look there are vineyards. It makes for a lovely walk.
We must be getting used to walking, or obsessed with food, because at around 20km we went off the Camino for a kilometer to get lunch. We had a tortilla and fresh orange juice while chatting with a group of Spaniards and couple of Americans.
One exciting thing was coming across our first bull-board on the walk. Spain has a law that prohibits bill-boards on the roads. But when the law was brought in it also hit a beloved sign for a sherry that was a bull with the word Osborne on it. The government’s response was to create a series of much larger bull silhouettes dotted on roadside hills across the country.
Then more vineyards as we marched towards the little town of Najera. I have to be honest and say Najera had a pretty ugly last couple of kilometers of light-industry and suburbs before we got to the old town by the river. Our cute little two-star hotel either recognized us as Australians or just knows how to greet weary pilgrims because they handed us each a can of beer as we checked in.
After a shower we wandered round the corner to the stunning Monasterio de Santa Maria La Real. The Monastery has lovely cloisters, statues and coats of arms with their original colors, an amazing baroque alterpiece, and the original cave that the whole complex was built around over 1000 years ago.
Interestingly about 600 years ago the king of the time moved the Camino route south to take in Najera, basically to promote the region’s economy. I’m fascinated that in recent years the Camino is doing that again, it’s clear being on the Camino route is a huge boost to these small towns and villages.