LOGRONO: HEY BROTHER POUR THE WINE
Logrono is a few hundred miles and about fifty years away from Madrid.
It is in a Spain situated before Europe happened. It is Spain where people still take long lunches and close up shop for a civilised nap in the afternoon and it is Spain where the evening doesn’t begin until at least 9pm when the entire population seems to take to the streets for the night’s paseo, a few drinks and then a damn good meal.
It is also a town which boasts Calle Laurel, a street which lays claim to the highest density of bars of any street in the whole of Spain with over forty occupying a small stretch, each offering up their own speciality.
Although the town is smack bang in the heart of La Rioja wine country and on the Camino De Santiago, it was, in late May, still pleasingly bereft of tourists with only ourselves and a handful of walkers joining the locals as they hopped from bar to bar for the evening meal.
After a three and a half hour journey from Valladolid on a train, which appeared to come from an age when Franco was a lad, arriving in a city that too seemed trapped in time, seemed fitting. We found our way to our hotel and headed straight out to see what was on offer.
The answer, plenty. Each small bar proudly trumpeted its signature dish from dishes of pickled garlic, grilled baby squid on skewers, ears of baby lamb in batter, lambs intestines fried until nice and crispy and then served on a layer of sweet red peppers and a particular favourite, meaty mushrooms griddled on the hot plate with lots of garlic and butter.
We interspersed glasses of refreshingly cold beer with small shots of wine from the region which, it will come as no great surprise to find out, are chosen from a huge range of Bodegas and quality at great prices.
Inevitably, this morning, we awoke slightly less than bright eyed or bushy tailed for our bus to Haro. But, I didn’t mind. I didn’t even mind the long walk to the bus station lugging my unfeasibly large rucksack. After all the travelling, that bit is easy and after all, I am back in Spain a country I have been in love with for over twenty years.
Coming to towns like Logrono, where Brussels is a place in another country not a threat, reminds me, if I still needed it, just why I fell in love in the first place.
Next stop, Haro