Camino La Rioja… Puente La Reina to Estella
🥾 Distance: 16.14 miles
🌞 Weather: very hot! Especially in the afternoon. I ended up walking under my umbrella for some shade.
💊 Health: We have some sore feet and a few little blisters in the group. We are lucky to have a reflexologist in the group dishing out foot massages!
The one with the river paddling, spilt beer (twice!), and a zen garden.
SUMMARY: It’s been a long hot day and there were quite a few hills on this section that my brain had completely forgotten about. I’m so very proud of everyone. The determination of our group is inspirational. Today was a sea of vineyards, olive trees and numerous cafe stops in little Spanish villages. We are recognising familiar faces of other pilgrims along the trail and the “Buen Camino” is in full swing.
THE LONG WINDED VERSION:-
8.30 am – Walkers briefing and we are off! I’m not sure if people had sore heads due to the bottomless supply of wine with last night's meal, but some were quieter than normal.
8.43 am – Wow! as we walk by Puente la Reina church we see two storks and a huge nest on top. I’d forgotten about the storks and how big they were!
9 am – We wander through the narrow streets of Puente la Reina with its little side shops and window boxes before having a group photo at the famous bridge.
9.50 am – The trail follows the river and it’s very peaceful and easy walking. I’m walking with Hilly & Sue and we stop to take photos of the wildflowers and weird-looking doors. As the trail leads us away from the river the climb starts. I remember this hill that goes on forever! I break away from Hilly & Sue with a “Buen Camino” and dig deep to get up this mini mountain!
10.10 am – I reach Mañeru for a coffee break and was delighted to see the three Amigos (Sue, Jackie and Andrea) sitting down and enjoying a brew and soaking up the atmosphere. The whole place is a flow of pilgrims with Irish accents
Gabriele and Jan are with me and kindly buy me a Cafe con Leche. Don’t mind if I do!
11.45 am – We wander through wheat fields (which are lush green at this time of year). The constant sight of olive trees, vines, rape fields, birds singing and the sprinkling of poppies and other wildflowers are our constant companions. We arrive at an unusual place called the Zen Garden which is run by volunteers. Grab an orange or a slice of pineapple, cold drinks and of course a stamp on your Camino passport. I took some time out here to look around this hippy camp. There are things hanging from trees, prayer ribbons, and little chairs under homemade canopies. It has a very peaceful vibe.
11.52 – I stopped to take a photo of some poppies and a lizard ran right over my right shoe!
12.20 . Is that mother hen sitting on the bridge? Yep! She’s taking photos of people below in the river. As I approach I was delighted to see Sue, Jackie & Andrea with their shoes and socks off, enjoying the coolness of the river. I regret not joining them as I left for Lorca which is only 1 mile from here and my stomach needed food!
12.46 – Lorca was heaving with pilgrims and there was nowhere to sit. I grab a freshly squeezed orange juice (so delicious!) and then got my chair out of my rucksack. I love my little chair. I was enjoying a ham & cheese baguette when the river paddlers turned up for lunch. Andrea knocked a beer all over Sue which was entertaining. It will dry off quickly in this heat. 3 pm – If I’m honest, those last few miles seemed to go on forever. The heat was now in the late 20’s and I was looking forward to getting to the hotel. I saw Mother hen, Angie & Louise drinking beer in a cafe as I arrived in Estella. I didn’t stop as I wanted to make sure that the hotel was ok and that everyone had a room sorted. I’m glad I was the first one there as I had to use Google Translate with the receptionist to sort out the rooms. We got there in the end!
Laundry done! €4 and now we are all heading off to have something to eat. We had a fantastic meal in a little Irish bar down the road. Lots of singing on the way home. The group has bonded really well. The conversation is easy and friendships for life have already been made. The Camino is a special place and this group is starting to realise why.