Day 09 Logrono - Najera | here comes the pain
Yesterday I had a bit of a twang in my knee. Today I have an ache. Let's see how this goes...
After a nice little breakfast at the albergue we say goodbye to 'Dan the Man' (our Hospitalero) and walk into the brisk morning air.
We walk through the town and up towards the lake to the west of Logrono. The area is brimming with life on land and underwater, it's beautiful to see.
It's not long before I have to ask Charlotte for the special self-adhesive compression bandage we brought from England. My knee is in too much pain and I feel that my over-compensation is actually doing damage to other parts of my body. So I strap it in tight to give it a bit of an unnatural reflex. But this should prevent any further damage.
We carry on, and I feel better. We have our snacks, fruit, rice wafers, and nuts. And I also stop for an espresso where Charlotte can use the bathroom. We are ahead of nearly all of our friends now. So that horrible feeling of possibly not seeing them again has ceased and now may be with them... After a while we pass through another town and I give my legs a little break at a restaurant while we enjoy some Patatas Bravas and a Naranja Zumo. We knock that over pretty quickly and crack on.
My legs go through stages of pain and relief. I can't control it and I'm not sure if this is a good thing or not. But I'm able to keep walking anyway so I do. I heard from others that have been walking longer than us that once you get over the pain you can walk without it for longer. I hope this is where I am headed. I can't help but notice everyone else is nursing injuries with their knee straps, taped ankles and even wrist braces from falls. It's pretty gnarly out here.
We pass through a few different vineyards and try the grapes off the vine. They are ripe for the picking! We begin our descent into the valley where our destination lies. I see some signs and apparently we only have a kilometre left. After at least a kilometre we see another sign saying there is a kilometer to go. Spanish signs can be so misleading.
Finally we reach the town. We aren't sure where our albergue is, we aren't even sure which one we are staying at but we figure it is probably in the old historic part of town as they usually are. There's a bit of a vibe here, the streets are a little unclean and Char doesn't feel comfortable but we keep heading down. Sometimes on the Camino you don't see any signs to follow for a while and you're really unsure if you are heading in the right direction. This can happen anytime of the day, but usually for us it happens towards the end of the day after we have been walking for 8 hours and we are tired and hungry!
Finally we reach the river. We see the old town across the river below a small cliff face with a religious cross mounted atop of it. We also find the 'Camino Shells' guiding us on our way. We follow the signs until we reach the 'Donativo' albergue. They are always so welcoming. We take our shoes off, set our bags down and check in. What a relief! Then we are shown to 'The Room' by the hospitalero. I make the mistake of telling him I speak "ein bisschen deutsche" and I couldn't believe it, completely mid-sentence he switches from english to german and continues the whole tour in german. We didn't understand a thing! The room is massive, it holds 90+ pilgrims and has fantastic air-conditioning units overhead. But with a decent set of earplugs this wouldn't be a problem.
After settling in we head up to the supermarket to get some dinner. We are so tired and hungry we end up buying 3 different meals that are neither here, nor there. Guacamole, chickpeas, corn kernels, ceral, tomatoes, almond milk, 2 minute noodles and olives. What the hell are we having for dinner?! We turn it into a 3 course meal of salad, then noodles then cereal to finish. Voila! After dinner we are joined by many other pilgrims. We learnt their stories, shared wine and ouur friend Kerrin even sold some of her handmade bracelets to fund more of her camino.
All in all a fantastic evening. At 10pm the hospitaleros send us to bed. That's the one thing about staying in these albergues, you are at the absolute mercy of your hosts and when they say lights out its lights out. They turn off the wifi and cut the power. In the morning when they say wake up, you wake up. It's like being a child again. But it does keep the rowdy ones at bay, which is nice.