Navarrete to Azofra – 30 April 2015

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The other pilgrims stirred early, so I found myself sitting down to breakfast at 06.30. This was a good thing, because never before have I been so unprepared for the Camino, and I needed to take fuel on board. I chatted to fellow pilgrims over toast and coffee, but set off alone, as I was hoping to start slowly and ease myself into the day. My feet, however, had other plans, and I soon fell back into my usual walking pace, and made good progress.

It is pure bliss to be back in La Rioja, where picturesque villages are framed by vineyards and snow-capped mountains. Ventosa came up quickly and again I attempted to take it easy, so I had 2nd breakfast here.

Then the excitement drove me out the door and onwards towards Nájera. Along the way I found some graffiti and this is what it said:

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With a little help from Google I came up with this translation, but please help me out if your German is better than mine!

Dust, mud, sun and rain.
That is the way to Santiago
For thousands of pilgrims
And more than a thousand years.

Who calls you, pilgrim?
What secret power attracts you?
Neither is it the starry sky,
Nor the great cathedrals.
Neither the bravery of Navarra,
Nor the Rioja wine,
Not the seafood of Galicia.
And not even the fields of Castile.

Pilgrim, who is calling you?
What secret power attracts you?
Neither the people on the way,
Nor the rural traditions,
Neither culture and history,
Nor the rooster of St. Domingo,
Not the Palace of Gaudi
And not even the castle of Ponferrada.

All this I see in passing
And this gives me pleasure.
But the voice that calls me
I feel much more deeply within me.
The force that drives me,
The power that attracts me,
Even I cannot explain.
This can only He who is above, alone!

DSC00578Nájera is an bigger town with a more industrial feel, so I passed through quickly.

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For my Aussie friends I took this picture, but I doubt any of you would care to stop here!

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Soon I took the fairly steep hill out of Nájera and crossed a more gentle plain to Azofra.

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Azofra is a fairly nondescript place but be sure to stay at the Municipal albergue, which is surely one of the best on the Camino. If has no bunk beds, but offers instead a series of cubicles with 2 beds in each, a secluded courtyard with a fountain, and a café/kitchen area where one can relax.

There is something to be said for basking in a warm courtyard, with my clean washing gently steaming on the line, and my feet chilling out in the fountain. And all of this just past 13.00.

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I’m particularly grateful that my feet are in great shape, unlike the guy next to me, who has blisters covering the soles of his feet. That toenail isn’t going to hang on much longer!

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