The Roija and middle north of Spain

Tuesday October 13 The Camino Way from Burgos to Belorado

We awoke to a very chilly 9 C. degree cloudy and windy day with the threat of rain. We had everything we owned on including our scull caps, neck tubes, long fingered gloves, socks, and rain gear. The first 32 K. were uphill and into the mountains. It was hard work, but kept us tolerably warm as long as we kept riding. The temps kept going down as we climbed and soon we could see our breath.

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We rode up toward the pass where we saw a wild boar (dead) on the side of the road and a lot of Camino pilgrims (alive) going the opposite way whenever their trail crossed or ran along side the road. They also looked cold. It rained hard yesterday and their trail was very muddy. We crossed over the pass around 1pm after which we had a great 6 % downhill for about 5km to a small village where we and many Camino hikers and bikers also stopped to warm up and have lunch.

Almost all Camino pilgrims are traveling east to west this time of year, coming out of the Pyrenees mountains of southwest France headed to Santiago on the north west coast of Spain. It’s getting late now for the high country. Post lunch/warmup, we followed a beautiful river valley where the hills were full of vineyards, to the village of Belorado and the Camino hostel where we had beds for the night.

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The heat was on in the room, and it was welcome. As all others on the route, the hostel was but a couple hundred meters from the little village’s pilgrimage church. The hostel had travelers from around the world. Most were reading, playing games and relaxing with a sangria, beer, or wine from the hostel’s bar. One man who obviously had had his “fun ticket punched”,was snoring with his chin on his chest at a table near the bar. His buddies just let him be most of the next 4 hours except when he’d wake and take another sip of wine. With no desire to go out in the weather again, we had dinner at the little hostel cafe.

Wednesday, October 14 Belorado-Nejara

A very cold and cloudy start to the morning which turned mostly clear about half way through the ride. It was a pretty mellow day of riding. Very little climbing after the 5Km out of Belorado, then lots of downhill.

Stopped in the village of Santo Domingo for coffee and toured the local church. 04-IMG_6197 05-IMG_6198 07-IMG_6200

Much of the landscape we traversed was vineyards whose grapes had been harvested and the leaves were turning to their fall colors.

. 29-IMG_6226 After lunch at a truck stop a few Km. outside Nejara, we stopped in at a locally owned winery. The large gate was closed but was opened for a delivery van. As usual, it doesn’t hurt to ask, so Ed followed the van in and asked a young guy if we could sample their product.

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He turned out to be the son of the owner of the vineyards and winery. Great time had by all. We got to try as many wines as we wanted. The 2 sons, their father and the business manager brought us in the back to see and smell the barrels of fermenting grapes. This is a locally owned operation that only makes wines from its own grapes. Father and sons roll up their sleeves and pitch in to produce the product. They showed us how they stir 40-IMG_6237 39-IMG_6236

38-IMG_6235The manager  called his importer in New York who spoke with Maggie to find out where we were from. He told her where we could get their product in Colorado. Their wines are sold at Applejack Liquors outside of Denver and other places and have been presented at the Aspen wine festival. We rode away with bottle of wine they gave us to thank us for stopping in. A really great experience. We’re saving it for Barcelona.

We found the TI, had a latte, then checked into our 30 Euro room. We had been upgraded to the 3 star hotel owned by the same folks since their adjoining backpacker place (in which we had booked a room had closed for the season.. A very nice and large room with heat. Ventured out to visit one of the local churches after traipsing around for about 20 minutes looking for it.

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Dinner at a Chinese restaurant….yummy. Spent a little time planning our next few days and decided to stay in Logorno tomorrow night after all, as the ride to the next town big enough for lodging, would have been too far.
Thurday October 15. Nejara to Logrono

It is a sunny but very cold day. The fall color change is beautiful in the vineyards we pass. 18-IMG_6281 14-IMG_6277

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We can also see lots of yellow trees in the high mountains both north and south of the valley. There was a stretch of about 5 km that we had to ride on the shoulder of a very busy 4 lane road going into Logrono. It was along the side of a dam and reservoir that evidently left no room for the old road when it was widened.

We’re staying right in the center of the old city near the Cathedral in an apartment.

Ed spent a couple of hours cleaning the bikes as it hadn’t been done since the UK.

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Friday, October 16 Logrono- Carahorra

No trouble finding our way out of town. The only road from Logrono to Carahorra is the secondary road again which parallels the newer toll road and the drivers choose to avoid the tolls and therefore the secondary road is very busy. There was a good shoulder mostly 6-8′ wide all of the way and drivers remain very courteous and most move toward the center of the road and give us a wide berth. We even got  “Atta Boy” honks from a couple of trucks. Got to our hotel about 3 after stopping at the local huge everything store looking for chain lubricant.

Walked around a bit and visited one church but not the cathedral which, uncharacteristically was no where near the highest point of the town.

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Found a bike shop that had wax lubricant and Maggie found a cute bike shirt.

Carahorra is a small city that seems run down and poorly maintained except in some very limited
places. The paint and outside plaster is chipped and broken in many places including the sides and walls of some catholic churches. Windows and doors are boarded up or locked with rusting locks and chains. In contrast, the commercial streets have 4 or 5 high end sports clothing and equipment stores within a hundred yards of each other.
Searched for a restaurant that opened before 9 p.m. without success. Went to the very large grocery store across from our hotel and had a picnic in the room rather then wait for the restaurants.

Saturday, October 17 Carahorra-Tudella

Our visit to the tourist office yesterday paid off as we were able to get out of town on a secondary route that avoided the major highways. However, we self mis-directed shortly after we left town and struggled on a back farm road for 5 or more kms which was extremely pock marked and full of baby head sized stones and took a toll on our wrists and arms. We were fortunate that we were able to communicate with the 2 people who also used the road who stopped when we signaled them and were familiar with the road so were able to help us back to a better route.

Sunday, October 18 Tudella-Aragon

A sunny day of riding with little uphill, but a strong steady headwind. Coffee in a very small village at noon which found the locals out in number. Among them was a man who teaches mechanical engineering at the university in Logrono but who grew up in this village. He was very anxious to speak English as he is losing his use of it because he has no one with whom he can practice even at the university.. We spent about 45 minutes chatting with him as he kept asking questions about our life, America, Colorado, etc. We tried to buy his coffee, but he bought ours instead. It was a very pleasant morning.

This is farm country irrigated by a canal. There was a national park on one side of the road for most of the way. Some of the terrain looked very similar to the Western Colorado desert on one side of the road and irrigated fields on the other.

This was our warmest day in quite a while. Ed rode in shirt sleeves for most of the afternoon.
The road was very good with no traffic for most of the way and no trucks either because there is a parallel highway with no toll or because it was Sunday or both. The little village of Alagon that we stayed at has two distinct “neighborhoods” that cris-cross. One is fairly new and well maintained and the other is rundown.

Had a great visit with the most enthusiastic

needing paint with plaster showing and buildings deteriorating.

Monday, October 19 Alagon

It was raining slightly when we got up and remained heavily overcast the whole day with periods of light rain and huge humidity. We had planned to take an out and back ride south of here, but aborted because of the weather. Did some chores in stead. Haircut, getting medication, a little shopping, and a lot of planning and creating routes and getting them on to the GPS, especially routes to our hotels each day, which is often time consuming and has been problematic. It’s really hard to believe we only have about 10 days left before getting to Barcelona and meeting Kate.

Took a walk about 5pm to areas we had not seen earlier. This village has a fair amount of industry on the outskirts that is not visible from the center of town and which seems to be doing quite well. The valleys in this part of the province produce all sorts of fruits, vegs, and nuts.We also found and visited the Tourist Information office which is staffed by the most enthusiastic tourist person we have met in our 6 months of travel.

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She spoke no English but had her dictionary handy. We understood enough Spanish to communicate. She took our picture for their Facebook page and we took hers for our blog. The building in which the tourist office is located is a Jesuit school and has an original Francisco Goya mural on the ceiling above the third floor balcony. She was so proud of it, and we were so impressed that we went back to our room and got the camera in order to take pictures of her and the Goya.

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Pilar, the tourist lady also showed us the festival characters that represent religious, ethnic and political history of Spain (omitting any reference to Franco.)

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We had a quick dinner out at a “Donor Kebab” run by a Pakistani. He was so excited that we spoke English (he did not), that he called a friend and asked Maggie to talk to him in English. We must look like trusted Americans as he asked us to watch the restaurant while he ran down to the market. He was gone for about 10 minutes. On our way to our hotel we passed the large church that was across from our hotel, but looks run down and closed, only to find it open. We ducked in. It has some lovely features, but as a whole it is in very poor condition and requires lots of money to rehabilitate.

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The man who was inside indicated that they needed money to complete the monumental job.

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