Visit to Wine Capital: La Rioja

View of Square of Paseo del Príncipe de Vergar...After Burgos, we visited Logroño (La Rioja). I’ve always wanted to go to La Rioja…I don’t know, maybe because of the wine? 😀 Logroño is a very small city so I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought I was going to get there and entertain myself with vineyards and wine-drinking because there didn’t seem much to do. Luckily, in Spain there’s always something to do—and this small city was better than what I had expected.

It is a fun little place up there in the north of Spain!

We took a two-hour bus ride from Burgos and it wasn’t too bad. On our way, Chris watched movies on his laptop while I took pictures of the landscapes. What I saw: beautiful mountains, big country houses, and lots of vineyards. I mean lots. It’s almost all there was. I wouldn’t mind staying in Wine Land a little longer, but it’s not just about the wine.

Like every region in Spain, Logroño has an interesting history. It was at one point settled by the Romans. The Camino de Santiago de Compostela passes through this city. It is now the capital of the autonomous community of La Rioja. The economy of La Rioja depends mainly on wine, so no wonder the city of Logroño is literally covered with and surrounded by wine and vineyards. Wonderful, delicious, good-quality, inexpensive wine. Ahh…can we say heaven?

Panel which shows the name of the street where...

Perhaps one of the things I’ll definitely remember about this place is that Logroño’s gastronomy is bombastic. They have some of the most delicious pinchos (skewers) and tapas I’ve ever had in Spain. (And they tell me that it gets better as you go further north to Bilbao and Santander. I can’t wait!) There is a strip of bars and restaurants on a popular street called Calle del Laurel. We even favored a couple of bars on that street. So the first night that’s all we did; just visited a bunch of bars and tried the big selection of Rioja wines and raciones (half portions) of food.

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The next day we walked around and took a taxi to Bodegas Ontañon (a winery and wine museum). Sadly, I didn’t call beforehand and we got there at 1:00pm (just after a tour had ended) and the next tour wasn’t until 2:00pm and our bus to Madrid was scheduled to depart at 4:00pm. AND that just totally reminded me to tell the story of how we completed our own continual “amazing race” in Logroño.

Chris and I decided to grab some pinchos on Calle del Laurel. We went in this bar where, I guess, the owner/cook was Italian. They didn’t have the greatest selection of wine because, as the girl explained, it’s quick eating and people aren’t looking for good wine there. But the pinchos looked — and tasted — really good, it wasn’t crowded and so we stayed. I heard the guy say something in italiano with italiano accent, so I told Chris the guy was Italian. Since Chris is very proud of his Italian heritage (and I saw this coming) he thanked the guy with a “grazie” rather than “gracias” when he handed him the pincho.

Well, next thing we know the Italian guy got overly excited about finally “qualquno che parla la lingua” (finally somebody who can speak Italian) at his bar. The two men exchanged a few words—in SpanItalEnglish. ha ha! The guy sang some happy songs while he cooked…he sounded very excited. He gave us roasted pig nose on the house (yay or nay?) and entertained us so much that when I looked at the time we were suddenly late. We literally ran to our hotel to get the bags.

I called a cab on the run so that it would be at the hotel by the time we got there. Well, it wasn’t and we waited outside for five minutes. It was now 3:50pm and the taxi wasn’t there. I called back and the operator said she couldn’t locate an available taxi driver. I was freaking out. Our best bet now was to run to the station. I went inside and asked the front desk lady how many minutes away la estación was. Before I go on, I have to say that this was the first time we were not aware of our surroundings and how far or near everything was. “It’s right behind the hotel,” said the front desk lady. HAHA! Someone shoot me…

3:55pm, we are running with luggage in hand—and it’s pouring out—like we were chasing the last bus of the night (it kind of was). Right around the corner. The Logroño bus station was right around the corner from hotel Ciudad de Logroño and we went through all we went through? Unbelievable.

You see, we couldn’t miss this 3-hour, 45-minute ride to Madrid because we had to watch the Real Madrid vs. Barcelona soccer game (obviously not my idea) in Madrid at Si Señor, a Mexican bar. When these two teams face each other, the anticipation is high and people are tense—and intense— and we both sort of wanted to experience it all. I didn’t care about the game, but I thought it was unfortunate that Barcelona lost 2-1. Oh well, it ended up being a crazy and fun night.

It was a very eventful, physically tiring and fun weekend, from which we’re still recovering. If I’m going to die because of exhaustion, I’d like it to end this way then! 🙂

This very past weekend we went back to Alicante. Pictures to come…