Day 15 – Torres del Rio to Viana

  • Distance today:                   6.6 mi
  • Distance Camino 2017:     97.9mi

A few minutes after leaving Torres del Rio we began a rollercoaster ride. A 3 mile rollercoaster ride going up and down and up and down with very short intervals of flatness to recover. The good news was the mostly absent sun. Every time we reached a peak, the ever rising sun got stronger, but we then headed down again to a bottom then back up again, all the time shaded by the hills around us.

After about 3 miles we carefully maneuvered our way down a steep hill with over a dozen, steep switchbacks into an apparent valley and took advantage of the reprieve to munch a walking breakfast of a tortilla (frittata) in a baguette. We know, it doesn’t sound all that appetizing, but with growling stomachs, it was delicious and gave us a needed burst of energy for what came next.

Coincident with swallowing our last bites, the valley stroll changed into the steepest climb of the morning as we inched back up to the top into the sun and adjacent to a two lane highway that has shadowed the Camino since Roncesvalles.

The shade gone now, we put on our hats and walked the next mile or so either beside or on the asphalt pavement, which fortunately had scant auto/motorcycle traffic on this Sunday (Domingo) morning.

Just before we arrived at Viana, the Camino veered away from the highway and we followed a dirt path until entering the town limits at 9:45 am.

Viana is dominated by the Iglesia Santa María de la Asunción, a very large Gothic style church built between 1250-1312. It’s massive door was locked, unfortunately typical of many churches on the Camino ( go figure), so we took some outside photos of the impressive structure and moved on.

The Camino continued along Rua de Santa María through this delightful walled town with attractive cafes which specialize in pintxos. Our brunch, lunch and dinner consisted of a variety of pintxos sampled at cafes, mere steps from Pencion San Pedro, our Viana residence for the next 20 hours.

We had a brief panic when Linda’s backpack wasn’t included with those delivered to our hotel. The hotel manager got on the phone and tracked it down and arranged to have it expedited to our hotel, averting a potential issue. The pack was delivered a couple of hours after we checked in and Jim left Linda to catch up on her routine activities, while he ventured out into the town and began sampling pintxos and tinto (red Navarre wine). After verifying they we were indeed in a pintxos paradise, Jim returned to the room and with Linda sought out one of true delicacies of the Camino Frances.

An extraordinary Camino moment occurred while we were savoring our pintxos. First, a 70+ (young) something Spanish serenader began singing with a opera quality voice, personally serenading various people seated at tables lining the Rua Santa María outside the cafes. After several marvelous performances, a lady at one of the tables began singing with him, she with an equally professional voice. They appeared to be singling out people who they knew and making a personal tribute to them in the serenade.

This was all impromptu and just folks enjoying themselves and each other.  Several other male and females joined in and we sensed we were in the midst of an opera. We did not know any of the pieces they were singing, but we couldn’t help but become engaged as teary eyes appeared in several singers and listeners alike. It was a very moving experience and helped us appreciate the lifestyle and values of this community and others that have based their existence on supporting pilgrims on the Camino Frances for over 1000 years.

Entering our place for the day/night

With smiles on our faces and our pintxo appetites sated (for today), we relaxed outside the Cafe la Rua in the warm, dry afternoon shade for just a while longer before retiring to our room for the day.

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