Los Arcos and Viana…

When we left Estella, we were sad to say goodbye to our incredible hosts, but had some important business to take care of:  THE WINE FOUNTAIN.  We had heard of such things, and dreamed of such things, but today we would see it.  On the wall of the winery Bodegas de Irache, there were two spouts, one for water and one for wine.  We arrived around 7:30 and read in dismay that the fountain didn’t turn on until 8am.  I guess drinking before 8am is frowned upon.  So we bought a plastic cup from the vending machine and waited with the other hikers like kids at the gates of the Willy Wonka Factory.  At 8am, we turned the knob, and it slowly started to drip out.  There were specific instructions NOT to stick your head under the faucet.  You can guess this was ignored.  After a week of hiking, I have the right to stick my head under a wine faucet.

For some bizarre reason I still can’t figure out, I felt really sick for the next few hours.  Wine isn’t okay for breakfast??  Worked in college.  But it passed, and the beautiful fall morning eventually calmed my angry body. The rest of the hike this day is not coming back to me, girls can you help me out?  We don’t seem to have pictures from it until we reached Los Arcos, so maybe it was a rough day on the feet.  I remember a lot of grapes.  And trees.  And sun.

Los Arcos Cathedral

We arrived in a very hot Los Arcos late in the afternoon and settled in to an albergue that I wasn’t a huge fan of.  The outdoor area was lovely and communal but my bed was up against a wall that I was convinced was full of spiders and other things with more that 2 legs.  Not a fan.  But we caught up with Daniel and our gang from the afternoon and had a lovely evening.  The town had one the most incredible cathedrals I’ve seen so far.

Viana: the land of strawberry ice cream, rock concerts, and sunsets

The next day was one of my favorites.

We stopped at a lovely cafe for a long second breakfast and had some silly time to get us moving again.  We discovered the pilgrim dance…the only dance you are able to do with 20 lbs. on your back.  I also found the first of 3 praying mantis’ I saw on the trip, a good omen in my mind.

That day we met some new friends.  As a group of men were walking into the cafe, I spotted one, and said, “Claire, I think you should marry that guy”  Claire was confused.  “I don’t know.  It’s just when I imagine what the guy you’re going to marry looks like, it’s that guy.”

Later, that particular guy and some of his friends passed us.  His name was Niall.  We started with very simple conversation because it turns out that both parties thought the other one was a native Spanish speaker.  After lots of “What is your name?” and “Where are you from?” type questions, Niall said “Wow, your English is great.”  That’s when all of us put two and two together…they were from Scotland, we were from America.  Win.  We chatted with them for a few hours and this picked up a whole new hiking crew.

We reached Viana and immediately noticed that there was a carnival going on.  Turns out that the running of the bull was the next day, something that sounded fun to watch, but I was not about to see a bull get killed.  So I’m glad we missed it.  Nonetheless, the town was hoppin’ and setting up for a big evening.  We checked into the large public albergue and since there was an awesome kitchen, set out to buy some food to cook.  Afterwards, we took a lovely nap in our triple bunk beds (so cool!).  But I woke up much earlier than everyone else did and decided to go for a stroll.  Between the weather, the festivities, and the beautiful town, I was on top of the world.  I ordered a strawberry ice cream cone in Spanish all by myself (nice and loudly!) and when I returned to the albergue, had a very loving message waiting for me on Facebook.  Look at me, I trusted that things would get better, and they had.

It was also September 11th.  So it was important to all of us that this ended up being a day full of beauty.

I happily answered  the email and bopped out of the computer lounge only to bump into Claire and Courtney who did not look pleased.  Apparently I had been gone longer than I thought and since I didn’t tell anyone I was going on a stroll, they thought I was missing and dead.  It was fair, I didn’t tell anyone I was wandering.  It was a quick lesson I kept it in mind.  But it all blew over and Courtney concocted a beautiful dinner.  Afterwards we all went out with Juliana and sat on the wall overlooking the city as the sun set.  Poor Courtney, who had been apparently harassed by a creepy old man when alone in the courtyard, sat and calmed down with us.  We were safe on the Camino, but sometimes these cities were a shock of reality.

We wandered around the town and followed our ears to a concert going on!  Crowds of people began to gather around a large stage.  Kids and babies appeared from all corners of the stone city.  That is something I love about Spain.  Children are out to all hours of the night.  There is the attitude that if you spend all night in an open square dancing and drinking with your family, it was a night well spent. Well not the drinking part for the kids, but you get it.

I’m glad that over the past several years 9/11 has become a date to reflect and make the most of the whole day.  It is a reminder to be grateful for being here.  Three years ago I danced around Viana.  Tonight I am seeing The Lion King on Broadway.  I used to listen to the finale on my iPod to help me through rough part of the hiking day.  Between that, and being a complete Disney nerd…I’m pretty darn excited.

4 responses to “Los Arcos and Viana…”

  1. Nothing happened between the wine fountain and Los Arcos. I checked back. It was boring wasteland. Also…OMIGAH I had actually forgotten about the creepy old Spanish guy! Blegh. That was the day we met Peter Pan, too, you know? When I came back into the albergue and was relaying the story to Jewels he got all crazy and knight-in-shining-armor like and went hunting the old coot. 🙂 I miss Carl and Daniel. I think we should start the planning for a reunion. American girls+California girl (lol)+Jewels+Canadian family+Daniel and Carl+our French parents+Niall the Lawyer. Ready go!


  2. I had a major “aha!” moment in Los Arcos. I remember sitting in the church after the service was over, contemplating God and the Universe and what it all meant, and if it all existed (you know, trivial questions). I was so frustrated and all I wanted was some sort of sign confirming what I wanted to believe. Then the woman behind me got up and started singing this Te Ze chant that we used to sing at my church all the time, Ubi Caritas. This song held a lot of meaning for me, and after days of music deprivation, it was the most beautiful thing I had heard in a while. I joined the woman, singing the harmony, and a few other pilgrims joined it. It was magical. It felt like God was talking right to me.

    I agree about Viana, a really wonderful day (and not just because we met Niall). The meal we made that night was one of my favorites. And that sunset was gorgeous. Also, do you remember when we walked through that town that clearly had had some sort of Festival the night before? There was confetti everywhere and several men dressed like chickens, who looked like there were still up from the night before (and probably still drunk), heckled us? Oh the ridiculousness!


    • I love that you had that moment with the singing woman. I feel like I have noticed so much more when things like that have happened since the Camino.

      And I FORGOT about the chickens!! Ahhh that was so odd!!


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