Logroño, Spain — Friday May 19, 2017

I had a good night’s sleep and woke up early this morning to discover that I was the only male sleeping in the hostel. My eight dorm mates were all Iranian women who were hiking together. Seven of them live in Sweden, and one lives in France. I chattered away with all of them. Six spoke English, one spoke fluent German, and the woman who lives in France spoke French of course. I took a goodby picture of them in front of the hostel just before they left. They said they would look for it tonight on the blog.

By the way, this is the first time I have had good, low-cost cellular data coverage in Europe thanks to Google’s Project Fi. If I get lost, I open Google Maps, and a blue dot on the map shows me where I am, .and will give me directions to where I want to go. If you’re interested in it, let me or some other user know, because you get $20 off your first bill if a current user refers you. I believe it’s only guaranteed to work with Google phones, Nexus and Pixel models, but I ordered a spare SIM and managed to get my old LG phone working on Project FI as a backup device. Others report getting to work with iPhones and have posted instructions on the Web.

I decided to improve my nutrition today. Breakfast was coffee and a crescent roll, which is about the best you can do for breakfast in Spain. The crescent roll was excellent, of course. I don’t understand why decent-tasting crescent rolls are almost unobtainable in the USA. The French and Spanish have no trouble making them.

Lunch was a Caesar salad. I bought one of those salad kits in a supermarket, mixed the ingredients together, and enjoyed eating it while sitting on a park bench. I don’t know yet what supper will be, but I’ll try to avoid potato chips and beer. Well, I don’t promise that beer won’t be involved.

Not far from the hostel is the city’s bull ring. I was sorry to see that it is relatively modern, because I had hoped that bull fighting was on its way out. I don’t understand how people can make a spectator sport out of seeing an animal tortured to death.

As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, the Ebro River flows through both Logroño and Zaragoza. Here in Logroño there is a primitive dame build of large rocks and pieces of concrete that appear to have come from some building that was knocked down. The building on the far side appears to be a hydroelectric generator.

Every Spanish city I have visited has a cathedral, and Logroño is no exception. This one, formally named the concatedral de Santa María de la Redonda. It was build over centuries, so it is a mixture of styles. To my untrained eye, the exterior looks Roman with its heavy, thick walls that only permit tiny windows on its front side. The Romans had not yet developed the technology to support the heavy roof with lighter walls with larger window openings. That knowledge was developed later in the Gothic period. However, because the church was added onto century after century, this cathedral does have some Gothic construction.

Roman-style churches are dark inside due to the small windows. This cathedral has been divided into two sections in modern times. The main part of the church seems to be left to the tourists. At the back, there was a separate, glassed-off area where mass was being held under bright electric lights. There were perhaps six people attending mass, on of whom had a backpack and appeared to be a pilgrim on the Camino. I did not photograph them out of respect for their religion.

Speaking of pilgrims, they seem to be the reason that the original church was built here in the eleventh century. It was a natural stopping place for pilgrims traveling to Santiago de Compostela after they had crossed the Ebro. The city still is a stopping place for pilgrims. The pilgrimage to Santiago has been going on for more than 1,000 years.

I had trouble getting a picture of the main nave of the cathedral with my small, primitive camera. The flash was not bright enough to illuminate the scene, so I had to take a long exposure holding the camera as still as I could. As a result, the picture is a bit blurry.

You can’t see it in the photograph above, but near the front of the church on the right side there is a confessional. Inside the confessional, a priest was seated alone reading what appeared to be a Bible, although for all I know he could have had a copy of Playboy stuck inside it. As I say, he was alone. There was no one there for him to confess.I felt so sorry for him, that I was tempted to give him something to do, but how would I have begun if I had knelt at the side of the confessional? “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been 55 years since my last confession?”

As gloomy as it was inside the cathedral, outside it was bright and sunny, although quite chilly. On top of the column pictured below, a stork has built its nest. As I took its picture, the stork looked down at me from its high perch with seeming disdain.

The bridge shown below is the same bridge that pilgrims have been using for centuries to cross the Ebro. Of course, it has been renovated and given a modern surface, because it also carries automotive traffic, but the original Roman-style construction can been seen in the large blocks of stone that form the bridge’s arches.

Not all pilgrims do the Camino on foot. Many do it on bicycles, usually mountain bikes, and a few do it on horseback. I have even seen one pilgrim walking the Camino with a donkey.

The young lady in the picture below at first didn’t want to give me permission to take her photo. She said she didn’t like being photographed. However, then she relented, and she posed for the picture with her loaded bike.

She said she is an American married to a German and living in Germany. She also said it is her second time biking the Camino. She and her husband plan to do it on foot when her husband retires and has more time.

I will close today’s post with a picture of one of the countless thousands of yellow arrows and clam shell images that mark the Camino’s route along 800 kilometers from Southern France and across much of Northern Spain. This one is more elegant than most. Most are simple yellow arrows made on a rock or the side of a building with a few strokes of a paint brush. If pilgrims walk for too long without seeing a yellow arrow, they know that they have wandered off the route.