Sunday, November 1, 2009

From Nájera to Cirueña

We awoke to pouring rain, so we donned the rainwear, and went out to find the coffee bar Dorte had noticed the previous day when she was shopping.
After a hot café con leche and a bit to eat, we trotted out of town in the pouring rain towards the first town of the day, Azofra, where we stopped for another coffee and bocadillos to sustain ourselves. Then it was on to the next stretch of almost 10 km, before the next possible rest stop.
The path got very muddy as we walked along, and we had to concede that the guidebook was absolutely correct, when it said that the rich, red Rioja soil "sticks to your boots like leeches when wet!" - It was tough going, and we were very happy when we saw Cirueña appear, as we trudged up a long hill.
- We were surprised at how good time we had made in spite of the slow going in the mud. - The previous night we had made reservation at a private albergue - Casa Victoria - and hoped we could find it, as we walked through the completely empty new part of the little mountain village. It was desolate with all the empty, mostly ugly, new condominiums adjacent to the new golf course, oddly out-of-place, we thought!
As we followed the yellow arrows towards the few old houses, we could see the church and the lone bar of the original village. We went into the bar, got coffee, and asked where Casa Victoria was - right across the street in a very nice-looking house! We were happy that we were so close, as we were very wet and tired.
My 2 blisters were bothering me by now, and I looked forward to getting out of my wet, muddy boots and clothes - as was Dorte!
We rang the doorbell and a nice, elderly man welcomed us into the beautiful, sparkling clean house. - We got our muddy boots of and followed him up 3 flights of stairs to our room, with 2 big beds, and a beautiful bathroom with shower and bidet! Towels were laid out on the beds! It was a beautiful room- albeit a bit chilly, but the shower was heavenly - hot water - and I managed to rinse most of the mud off my rain pants in the shower. Later I washed them and my socks, the rest I just hung out to dry. Most of our stuff was wet or damp, and we hung it out to dry as best we could in the room, before we went under the covers to warm up and rest.
Around 5:30 PM we finally got up and dressed as warmly as we could, to go the short distance to the bar to get something to eat and drink. The lady of the house, whom we had not yet met, came out to greet us, and told us she would give us a stamp in our Pilgrim's Passport, so not to worry about that! You have to have a stamp from every day in order to qualify to stay at the albergues, and ultimately to get the Compostela.
At the bar it was nice and warm - the food was good, and there was even free internet - who would have thought in such a small, remote hamlet! Maybe because they were trying to change in to a posh golf community? Anyway, we enjoyed the evening, and even more getting back to our own room, sleep in a real bed, and have our own bathroom!
The next morning breakfast was set out for us at 8 am as we had requested, and after enjoying a peaceful breakfast we packed up and got back on the Camino in the breezy, but sunny morning.

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