The walking part of my Camino Francés was over, but the memories of it were not. These were deeply etched and forever present; every single day, something reminded me of my days on the road.
Since I posted so little while on the trail, I thought it would be a good idea to share some of these memories. I’ve already posted photos of Day 1 – 4. Here is a quick recap of the next five days.
Day 5 – Muruzábal to Villatuerta
The octagonal church of Eunate is not on the main Camino path, but we decided, my walking partner – Karin – and I, that we wanted to visit it and took the five kilometer detour. Since we got there shortly after sunrise, the church and courtyard were closed. A sign said they opened at 10 am. We didn’t wait. That was two hours away.
Check online before making the detour if going inside is important to you. Opening hours appeared to be unsure.
This church sits in the middle of nowhere, surrounded only by cultivated fields. No one knows for sure exactly what it was used for.
Day 6 – to Villamajor de Montjardín
The soles of my feet were getting very sore by day 6. This made a short walking day particularly appealing, especially since this was the day we passed the well-known (and free!) wine fountain, at Bodegas Irache.
It was a popular place for the pilgrims and a few sips eased a bit of our tiredness. I also bought a water bottle from a machine next to the fountain and dumped the water out. Then I half filled the empty bottle with wine and shouldered the extra weight.
We got to Montjardín, ate lunch, and then dropped our backpacks off at the hostel. With no weight on our backs, we were soon looking for other trails to conquer. Imagine how light we felt? Put 16 lbs of butter in a backpack, carry it around for an hour (or more), and then put it down. That’s how we felt!
And so we headed up to the ruins of Castillo de San Estaban de Deyo.
Since we had joined up with an English woman, Margaret, who was very tired, we decided to take the road up to the ruins and skip the trail, leading straight up the hill. The road was probably between two or three kilometers long and wove its way gently around the mountain.
From the castle’s vantage point, we could see for hundreds and hundreds of kilometers. On all sides! It was a really lovely spot. As for Eunate, knowledge of its original purpose is unknown; no one has uncovered what this little castle was used for.
Day 7 – to Torres del Rio
The city of Sansol, one kilometer on the Camino before Torres del Rio, is a bigger town with more and fancier facilities, but Torres del Rio is the one with a octoganol church: Church of Santo Sepulchro. Doors opened at 4 pm.
The lady who let us in was not particularly friendly, but even her negativity was forgotten when we stepped inside. The small church was extraordinary, and apparently, much like the church in Eunate. The crucifix above the altar had many elements unlike the regular Catholic one. Can you spot them?
The church was very well-maintained. The same couldn’t be said for parts of the town. There were many, many crumbling buildings. But somehow, these only added to its charm.
The inhabitants were also truly delightful. The woman from the tiny (and I mean tiny!) grocery store spent a good twenty minutes showing us through her book on the church above and giving us the historical highlights.
Day 8 – to Logroño
By day 8, we’d stopped being afraid of any trail length in the low 20’s. The stroll into Logroño was 21 km, and so was a relaxed affair.
Margaret, our English walking partner of a few days before, had gone ahead. This was normal. Pilgrims leapfrogged each other all the way along. We walked part of the day with a young Swedish woman, Marghereta, both her and Karin, in photo above.
The entrance into Logroño was not particularly fun. The last two kilometers or so, were along a busy highway. But the inconvenience was quickly dispelled once we entered the city.
If I ever do the Camino Françés again, I would really like to spend a few days in Logroño to enjoy the food and history. It is an enticing city.
Day 9 – to Ventosa
On the morning of day 9, I was reluctant to leave the Parroquial Albergue where I’d spent the night. Karin, my walking partner since day 2, was returning home. I’d be carrying on, alone. Karin had been the yellow arrow finder. She also had a good sense of direction. The same couldn’t be said of me.
Lucky for me, Marghereta was tying her shoe in the first square I came to. The one above. Her and I managed to find our way out of the city. Although the exits and entrances into the Camino cities were usually marked, it was sometimes a different matter to see these markings under artificial lights.
I walked to Ventosa, another leisurely 21 km and a bit of a rest for my very sore feet. Karin had wanted me to buy insoles while in Logroño. Stubborn me had refused. I figured that if I did short days, they’d eventually acclimatize. I spent much of day 9 wishing I’d gotten insoles.
Marghereta and I had said good-bye when she’d stayed at a café with WiFi, along the way. She later wandered into the same restaurant where I was eating lunch, in Ventosa. We shared a brief conversation. Then she walked on to Najéra, the next city on the trail.