Monday 30 September 2019

Logrono, Northern Spain

A new Biking Birder Adventure from The Ebro Delta in Northern Spain, cycling through Catalonia and Aragon before crossing The Pyrenees into France, all in aid of raising money for BIRDLIFE INTERNATIONAL.

Please make a donation via the JUST GIVING link attached to the BIRDLIFE INTERNATIONAL logo to the right. Thanks to all who do and I hope you enjoy reading about this latest adventure Biking Birder Adventure V.

Saturday 28th to 30th September

Tired & Tyreless In Logrono

A Hostel has a dormitory bed available at 14 Euros for a night and I book in. Nuria, the receptionist, gives me a business card for nearby cycle shop and checking on the internet I find that it will be closed over the weekend. Time to chill.

The late afternoon and evening is spent getting food and sitting with some other travellers staying here. All are talking about the famous El Camino de Santiago and are surprised that one, I am not cycling along it and two, that I know nothing about it.

Apparently a medieval Christian pilgrimage route across this northern area of Spain, the route is visited and either cycled or huked by over 300,000 people a year. Must have go, I determine that WHEN the bike is fixed I will go to Pamplona following the route.

Four of the other five people in my six-bed dormitory are exploring the way. Peter from Cologne Germany, is walking it, east to west. The three others, two from Argentina and one from Brazil are forestry expert colleagues who are cycling the same route as Peter.


It seems cold and I almost feel like wearing a jumper as I head out of the hostel towards the River Ebro. Looking on a map it is fascinating how this long river almost cuts Northern Spain off altogether from the rest of Spain. The river's delta might drain the waters into the Mediterranean but the source isn't many kilometres from the bay of Biscay and the Atlantic.

A medieval church is open for mass but, after photographing the eroded sculptures that surround the large wooden doors, I enter only briefly to find a spartan inside, free of any of the usual golden artifacts and paintings Catholic churches usually have so prolifically.

Walking along a rough path through a woodland of tall Poplar trees there are birds; Pied Flycatchers, Blue and Long-tailed Tits, Robins, Cetti's Warblers and Chiff Chaffs, Blackcaps, Tree Sparrows and a couple of Great-spotted Woodpeckers. A few Griffon Vultures coast by high overhead. A superb, bushy-tailed and large Red Squirrel species is impossible to photograph decently amongst the branches and tree trunks as it does what squirrels do.

There is also lots of litter and as the litter included large white carrier bags I pick up seven bags of recyclable items, drink cans, plastic bottles and the occasional glass spirit bottle.

The river is wide and slow and a few people are fishing but seemingly catching nothing. To the west of the city, just where a large cable-stay bridge crosses the river, there is a large weir system and it is here that I turn to return to the hostel.

The intention had been to get a bit of lunch at the hostel and then go into the city to explore the side streets and parks. As I sit down at a table in the dining area, a small group of South Koreans insist that I join them for a more substantial meal. The next hour is spent enjoying these wonderful people's company. From Seoul they are here to explore El Camino and every five minutes each in turn, Kim, Kim, Wu, Chen and Jon, gives a toast to say how happy they are to have met meand how life is great, on the conclusion of which filled wine glasses are clinked together with a loud exclamation. Every fifteen minutes Wuu decided it is a moment of laughter, the best medicine as he states in English and we all have to laugh, Santa-style for the given number of seconds and then spend time double high fiving each other, shouting Ho Ho Ho to each high five! Photographs and videos are taken and the friendliness is intense. Such a lovely surprise to enjoy moments like this when travelling. Travelling, can be described as the journey to places when one meets locals and fellow travellers. Tourist, a collector of names on a list, two ways to see the World.

I lay down to email home and fall asleep. On waking there are English speaking people in the dorm; Claire from London and Paul, originally from London but has lived in Madrid for the last twenty years. Claire soon leaves to attend Mass, leaving Paul to chat for the next hour or so about life, the Universe and everything. Both are walking the El Camino and have been friends for decades. Paul is just past five years with no cancer but has had both pancreatic and liver cancers to cope with. He baulks at being called an inspiration but truly is. Paul's passion is music and on me asking what his first gig was, I laugh as his first will be next. Once back in the UK I will see Steve Hillage and Gong in Birmingham on the 21st of November. Paul's first gig was back in the early Seventies of the same. I could have talked with this incredible man for hours about music but Claire returns and off they go for a meal. I stay and listen to a couple of early Gong albums before falling asleep.


The bicycle repair shop is closed for two weeks holiday!

I find another a bit further away in the city and await its opening. This Spanish city has the usual block system of roads and is spacious and light, making British cities seem dark, messy and claustrophobic.

The shop opens and on returning an hour later my bike has a new tyre and a couple of adjustments. Will this tyre make it back to the UK in one piece? Tomorrow will be the first day of showing me that it is capable of doing so.

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