La Rioja

Logrono is the capital of the province of La Rioja…yes the place where all that marvellous red wine comes from…or rather the little that which is left over for export! Located in the north of the province, it is well placed for day trips through the countryside. And the countryside is magnificent.

IMG_1609But first – our apartment. Located in a new urbanisation of 4 to 5 storey apartment blocks on the edge of town, it meant the local supermercado was not close by. There was only one bar a couple of blocks away (not downstairs), and the view across the road included four cranes working on a new build. However, this ground level apartment had a courtyard garden … with two terrapins and a tortoise! And a herb and vegetable garden! Bliss…I could happily potter around, feed the beasties, and have fresh herbs to boot.

Our travels included in La rioja included a couple of villages and a drive through the Canyon Del Rio LezaSanto Domingo de la Calzada has a Medieval quarter, small town feel, Santiago-bound pilgrims and a live rooster and hen foraging in a glass fronted cage the crypt of the cathedral. Don’t ask. Zaldierna, normally has a population of 19, according to the owner of the sole taberna. However, come August, it fills when everyone comes home for the holiday season. It was a tiny little place, with an old stone bridge crossing a tiny stream. The ancient stone cottages were beautifully restored.

The Canyon Del Rio Leza was fabulous.  We travelled along quiet, winding country roads, alert to wandering livestock. Small herds of cattle graze in the high pastures – unfenced common land. Eagles, hawks and vultures soared overhead…and that’s when we came across a flock of vultures feeding on the carcass of a dead steer. Their pale grey feathers shivered in the breeze as they manoeuvred for best position. Although the road was about 30m from them, they abandoned the carcass, their feathers floating like pale capes as they half-hopped up the hill.  Several took off to silently soar in circles until we drove away.