Friday, April 15, 2016

4 Apr 2016

Well it's official-we start our Camino today!  Had breakfast at the albergue.  First 8 miles weren't bad.  The inside of my knees were really getting sore but we wanted to make it to Ventosa so we pushed on for another 4 miles.  It was drizzling the whole way..  We arrived at the albergue and it was very nice.  Incense burning, warm welcome.  In our room we have an Italian girl (chiara) who speaks very good English, 3 Americans from Washington state traveling together; a mother/son (Becky and Dartangnon), friend Ariel.  The mom is pretty heavy and she is having her backpack shipped from place to place.  Before that, her son was walking to the next place with his bag

Thursday, April 14, 2016

3 April 2016 updated 15 April

Woke up early- 0700 and packed up, walked to the bus stop and got a coffee to go at the station.  Goodbye Haro.  We passed several bodegas on the way out of town; Lan, Berbano,Marques de Prado.  When we arrived at the bus station in Logroño we noticed a lot of police and bicyclists - some race.  We headed to the albergue of Iglesia de Santiago where we had spent our first night before proceeding to Grañón.  Elsa answered the door and we were hoping to leave our backpacks with her but she said she was expecting us to return and brought us to a nice room.  We were sorry to hear she isn't feeling well so we left our bags and went out so she could rest.  Stopped by the church and hung around for mass at 1030.  We are used to Father Jesus masses which are only 20-30 minutes long.  This mass was 45 minutes long!  Stopped at the ATM, had a cafe and croissant then decided to just hang around until 2 when Tomas might be joining us for lunch.

Well Tomas didn't make it but Cullen and I went to the restaurant where were supposed to meet the Amigos and had a wonderful meal at La Sidreria de San Gregorio Calle San Gregorian 27.  

Had a great meal.  Salad, foie, merluza, bacalao, Vina Tondonia(which we have had at the Wine House, a bit of flan for dessert and coffee - Ochoa for Cullen.  We took a long walk after that big lunch.  It started to sprinkle so we went back to the albergue.  There are 5 pilgrims staying here; 1 Czech who walked from Rome to Santiago and is now heading back to Rome, 2 German girls (one named Ana) a Swede and an Italian who speaks German.  Nice dinner by Alberto and he did a nice ceremony in the church afterward.  He gave us our first stamp in our credential.  For the blessing of our meal he told the story of "Utreia" as told in the codex - and we sang a line from it - very nice!  Maybe we will make it to Ventosa tomorrow.  Christina, a hospitalera from Malaga is here helping while Elsa gets better.  She has also recommended some other places to stay which may be a little too primitive (no electricity)!

2 April 2016

Muga tour  and tasting led by Monica.  Where Rioja Alta is embracing new technologies, Muga is sticking to old tried and true methods.  They use huge wooden fermentation casks, mostly French oak, some American.  They also have a cooper on site.  We tasted:

Vino Blanco *very good
Crianza - smooth, little tanins
Extras from David:
Cava Rosado
Cava Blanco (better than rose)
Pravda Enea
Torre Muga (more fruity)

Had a great lunch in Haro at the Restaurant Beethoven I!  Went back later for tapas.  Haro was hopping this Saturday night; Old people, young people, children, middle aged.  Everyone was out at 10 pm.  We had a couple of asparagus and potato cake tapas with a vermouth so for 6 euro.

Beautiful church in Haro, St Thomas.  Our room at the Hostal Aragon is just off the main plaza.  Our room is quiet, on the backside with no view and the bathroom is very tiny - smaller than the one we had in the basement of our Annandale house.  But....only 35 euros per night.  Tomorrow we take the 0845 bus to Logroño.

Thursday, April 7, 2016

1 April 2016 updated 14 April

What a nice surprise this morning - Padre Jesus came by around 845 to say "goodbye ".  Usually he doesn't stop by until around 10.  The new hospitaleros arrived just before we left which was a great relief.  We turned over the books and the keys.  Javi gave us a ride to Haro, I'm going to miss him!  On to wine tasting!  The tour guide, Ruth did a fantastic job!  This bodega is embracing new technologies in their wine production.  For example, they are using a scanner to identify which grapes are selected for the reserva and grand reserva.  They have also been using stainless but have kept their wooden casks for historical purposes.  I was surprised that the majority of oak they use is American.  They have a cooper onsite making barrels but he isn't able to make all the barrels they need.  Another interesting thing about the bodega is that they were the first place to have electricity in Rioja.  Ruth showed us this setup;  there was a long handle hanging on a couple of conductor lines and when you pulled on the handle the light bulb went on.  When the tour was over we had a very nice, generous tasting.  Next Valenciso.

It was too far to walk so we took a taxi for 8 euro.  The owner, Luis Valentin met us and gave us a very informative tour.  They are using concrete for the fermentation process, very modern.  He is using Russian oak.  Very nice tasting with crackers and manchego.  White blend of granache and viura.  White Tempranillo discovered in 1988.  After the tasting, the owner gave us a ride back to Haro so we didn't have to take a cab.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Thursday 31 March

When we woke up it was raining hard with thunder and lightening.  We fed the angry mob and encouraged them to leave so we could clean! As we were cleaning it started snowing. WTHeck? Then Jesus dropped by. His older brother died last night. We are so sad for him.

We did some shopping for the new hospitaleros, who haven't showed up yet and then drove to Redecilla del Camino to check out a new albergue of a former hospitalero named Jose Manuel. Super nice albergue that can sleep ten. We then return to granon and see suzanna at the bakery. She has us get into some funny outfits and takes pictures.  She and her husband are so nice. They gave us a bottle of zurrocapote which is a sweet cinnamon spiced red wine that is drunk during festivals.

By 5 pm no pilgrims. We might have a quiet night. The two new hospitaleros show up with a carload of food. I guess we did not need to shop earlier. There is going to be a Hospitalero training class this weekend and they are expecting a lot of folks.  Glad we are going. Jesus comes by to let us know there will be mass today.  Two pilgrims show up so we are not alone. We head down to mass and we go up for the pilgrim blessing, sine we will soon be walking. I cook my final spaghetti carbonara and Palma and I head to the bar to say good by to the old guys as well as Maria and Alberto.  Tomorrow we go.

Thursday 31 March

Though we had a large amount of pilgrims last night, they were all up and out before 8.  By 1000 we were done with our work and on to Santo Domingo for our last  shopping trip with Javi.  Our next stop was Redicillas del Camino to visit a new albergue run by a retired firefighter who had stopped by earlier in the week to drop off some fliers.  Only 10 beds, 6 euros and extra for dinner and breakfast.  He had a very unique clothes dryer - Cullen took a picture.  Next stop - the Panaderia.  Susana's husband wants to take photos of the three of us.  Got us all in costume.  Cullen is now friends with him on Facebook.

Only one Spanish couple with us tonight.  He is quite the talker!  A man named Paolo came in while we were having dinner.  He will be attending Hospitalero training at the albergue this weekend.  Speaking of hospitalero training, our replacements showed up at around 6 tonight with a carload of groceries for the weekend.  We headed out to mass and they were just finishing up some prep work when we got back.  I got really choked up at mass this evening.  My favorite old woman wasn't there so I didn't get to say goodbye to her Fand as usual, Padre called the pilgrims up front for a blessing and though I don't know exactly what he was saying I heard him say "hospitaleros" several times.

Our replacements Pedro, a large Spaniard and Maria, an Italian woman are not a couple but they know each other and have been hospitaleros together.  We were invited by the Spanish couple to go listen to some guitar playing and singing, but it's our last night and we'd like to say "adios" to the old men at the bar.  

Tuesday 29 March

Only 4 for breakfast and it should have been a breeze but perhaps we are getting on each other's nerves.  We had so few pilgrims that Javi didn't want to use the coffee or milk thermos and of course he is correct.  I guess I just like doing things the same way.  The Dutchman didn't have breakfast, but Miguel, the man who ate nothing for dinner did have breakfast.

After cleanup a young Italian couple came in and wanted to know if we could give them something to eat.  This was a first for us.  Javier is so nice.  They didn't want to stay the night but wanted to cook lunch for themselves.  Cullen and I headed to the bar for our usual Internet check and left them in Javi's good hands.  When we got back the Italian was drinking our wine and chowing down on our nuts.  She cooked, cleaned up and then they left.  They did leave a donation

Next came an American couple from Seattle region.  They walked 18 miles their first day and she was suffering blisters.  So we prepared the salt, vinegar, water soak.  Joni and Fred, about our age.  I swear she was wearing eyeliner but looking closer I think they were false eyelashes.  A town administrator stopped by this morning and wanted to go up into the bell tower for some reason.  What a view!

Today's pilgrims
Char one, Chassion from France
Jenni, James from USA
Csaba from Hungary
 ? From Italy