Logroño and sun poisoning

the Camino — one does it for tapas (rather than in stages or “etapas”)

the end of our first week on the Camino brought us into Logroño, a university town and regional capital just over the border of Navarra in the Rioja region. the walk was long and hot and made more challenging by sunburns (from the stage from Puente la Reina to Estella) that flared into sun poisoning as a result of the sun and distance. thankfully, we found a great, comfortable hotel (f&g Hotel) at the intersection just over the bridge crossing the rio Ebro where we promptly decamped, showered and I set off in search of some Gatorade to help recover from the sun poisoning.


Puente de Piedra – built in 1884

once again, the original settlement dates from Roman times and, after Sancho Garcés of Pamplona and Orduño II of Leon reclaimed it from Moorish control, proved a prize over which kings of Navarra, Aragon and Castilla frequently quarreled. (records claim that El Cid, conspiring with Moors in Zaragoa intent on unsettling the Castillian border, attacked the city in 1073.) the charter granted the city by Alfonso VI, coupled with his successful aim of making the city strong and prosperous, only increased its desirability for enemies; very few medieval monuments remain because of the frequency with which the city endured violence. for example:: in 1134 Castilla took it from Aragon; in 1160 Navarra took it; in 1176 it was taken back by Castilla; in 1336 four men held off an attack by Navarra by defending the end of the bridge; in 1369 it fell to Navarra anyway; in 1375 it went to allies of Castilla in whose hands it remained until 1460 when Navarra, aided by Aragon, reclaimed it only to lose it almost immediately back to Castilla. it also fell to Napoleon in the 19th century and suffered heavily during the War of Independence and was occupied during the 1833-34 Carlist War.


during the 14th century, anti-Semitic riots destroyed the Jewish quarter, which stood just outside the city walls, while over the two centuries in which the Spanish Inquisition operated, Logroño was the seat of Basque witch trials. in 1569, the Hospital de Roque Amador, an albergue, was taken to serve as the center of Inquisition activities.


after a nap, two bottles of Gatorade, and some ibuprofen, the sun poisoning had abated enough to allow for dinner. the delay was something of a boon, in fact; rather than eating at the absurdly early hour of “before 7 p.m.” we wandered into the plaza in front of the Concatedral of Santa Maria de la Redonda (they share a bishop with two other churches nearby) to catch the tail end of some sort of trivia game and performance that had drawn quite a crowd.


out and about in central Logroño

we chowed down on some pasta — the first thoroughly enjoyable and filling meal I’d had since arriving in Spain — and wandered the streets of Logroño to see what there was to see. saw plenty of graffiti and a few murals (like the one pictured). saw some dodgier allies than those we’d seen in Pamplona. did not see any more prostitutes (but I avoided the back street I’d seen them working earlier when in search of Gatorade and aloe). saw the organization of Friends of the Camino in La Rioja. and called it an early night in the hopes that a good night’s sleep would prove sufficient to allow us to continue on the Camino the following day, rather than taking a day to let sunburned legs keep us holed up an unexpected extra day. sleep — with the help of our hearty dinner — did help. and though our meal wasn’t all that adventurous or special, turns out Logroño has one of the most distinguished culinary traditions in Spain, is well known for its tapas (again, see the mural above) and in 2012 was named the gastronomic capital of Spain.


(lastly, I just have to note that of all the small-to-medium-sized towns I’ve investigated via Wikipedia for these posts, the page for Logrono has been the most intriguing.)