May 27, 2008 Viana to Logroño

As I left Viana I took stock of my condition and realized I was hurting badly because of blisters. After several days of rain and mud my hiking shoes were still wet and my feet showed the resulting damage. I’d learned to push through the pain each day, knowing that the pain would go away after the first half hour or so. But the pain returned after breakfast or lunch or a break for another half hour at a time whenever I started anew.

So rather than plan a long walk I decided instead to walk only the 8 km between Viana and Logroño. This short day would give me a rest, and a hotel stay would give me a comfy bed, a good shower, and hopefully an Internet kiosk where I could make my plans for surprising Gail in Copehagen.

I left Viana and trudged my way toward Logroño. As I came down the last hill into town I followed the directions of the Brierley guidebook and stopped at the delightful home of Feliza. This wonderful woman has hosted pilgrims for many years, offering toast and jam and cafe to all who come by, giving a kind word and a sello (credential stamp) from the cool confines of her living room. In spite of blisters I felt cheerful as I left her house and I walked through old Logroño with its charming buildings and found a comfy, modern hotel in the newer section of town.

After my shower I looked out the window to see that a massive storm of rain and hail was happening outside. I was stunned to see the gutters filling with hailstones, thick as snow, and I was thankful not to be walking outside in this weather.

I laid out my grimy pilgrim possessions on the floor of my spotless hotel room. After one week my hiking shoes were a mess, my socks were stained with red mud, everything was damp.  I looked at my feet and they were a mess. Some of my blisters now had blisters on them. Even so, I was proud that I’d now covered 136 of the 800 km of this walk, and I knew I would make it all the way.

After the storm I headed out of the hotel to find a barber shop and get my hair cut. The hailstones had piled up to one foot depth in the lower portions of the main plaza of the old city. Nearby I found a hair salon and, while he cut m hair, I had a great conversation with a Spaniard who’d lived in America.

Before dinner in the hotel dining room I made reservations on the train from Burgos to Bilbao and flight reservations from Bilbao to Copenhagen and back. My plan now was to walk as far as I could over the next couple of days then catch a bus or taxi to Burgos, from which I’d connect to Copenhagen to surprise Gail. I went to bed, warm and comfortable with visions of seeing Gail in Copenhagen and feeling a little guilty about all those other pilgrims who’d had to weather the storms of the day and try their best to dry out in their cramped and crowded albergues.

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