How does a short walk turn into a marathon? Go via Decathlon!
Today’s suggested stage was only 13km to Logroño. With tomorrow’s walk supposed to be 30.6km, we were thinking we would likely try to go 10.8km past Logroño to Recajo and make the stages 23.8 and 19.8km, respectively. We just needed to figure out some logistics just in case there was no accommodation available in Recajo. It is next to the airport so we “thought” they might have hotels nearby. We also “knew” they had a train station there as we could see it and the tracks back to Logroño on a map. And if that didn’t work, they “must have” a bar or restaurant where we could have some food and then ask for a cab. Either way, we could come back to sleep in Logroño and start again tomorrow where we left off. What could go wrong with those options???
Today’s walk was mostly easy downhill all the way to Logroño and flat after that. It was also mostly on tarmac or, at least, good dirt or gravel tracks. We expected to be walking at a respectable 5 km/h and get to Recajo around 2:00pm after an 8:15am start and some breaks. Good planning, right???
Before we started out though, even in the private room of the albergue, we could hear all the other pilgrims on “French route timing”. The first was out the door at 6:00am and the rest seemed to trickle out at five minute intervals, spaced out just enough to keep you awake until our alarm went off. We could have used that sleep but we were excited to walk today
This would be our only day to be walking on the same track as pilgrims doing the popular French route of the Camino de Santiago. We would we going in opposite directions to them so we expected to meet many pilgrims. That turned out to be the main problem with my planning.
We ended up barely making headway at 4 km/h because we kept stopping to chat. Everyone wanted to correct our poor sense of direction or confirm they weren’t going the wrong way. Many asked questions about the Camino Ignaciano or about what lays ahead for them. All the Spanish day walkers also got into the act as well. We enjoyed it all greatly but I just forgot to account for these stops. (Note: a special shout out to Dennis from the Camino forum who introduced himself. I’m glad we bumped into him in the park in the west of Logroño. Buen Camino Dennis!)
Before we got to the cathedral in Logroño, we stopped for a small, quick – and late – breakfast. There, Melanie asked the barman where she could replace her gloves. We were very excited to find out there was a Decathlon (Europe’s REI) store, just 1.5km ahead, very close to the Camino. As he showed us on the map it his us. “Just ahead, very close to the Caminho” is backtracking for those of us on the Ignaciano. Oh well. It turned out that the barman is terrible with directions and distance estimates. A total of six kilometres back and returning to the bar added some unexpected mileage to the day.
For those of you following us, note that Logroño looks a lot nicer on the French route. You will get to see the other side of the city which is not quite as nice. After walking past the bridge over the Ebro that the French Route pilgrims use, the neighborhood gets a little longer in the tooth and run down. After getting out of the city, you will follow the river for a short while where it isn’t quite as picturesque as near the bridge. After that, it’s small farms, greenhouses, and a walk along the new highway.
Getting to Recajo was a treat. In trying to avoid a 30km-day tomorrow, we inadvertently turned today into one. We were okay getting there at 4:00pm but happy as anything to get to the train station… until we figured out that it was abandoned. No worries, let’s go find a hotel or bar. Nothing! Next plan, knock on doors and ask someone to call a cab for us. Unfortunately, it looked like every house was also abandoned. We did find one woman but she wasn’t keen to call a taxi for us. She suggested backtracking down the road to the petrol station. That worked! It cost 22€ and an hour to get lodging but we are finally clean and rested in a private room of the La Cortiana Hostal in eastern Logroño. We are a little sorer than expected but happy.