Day 1. Rioja to Alboloduy (24 km)

I started off with @peregrina2000 and 2 others who walked a bit faster than my preferred rate. They also solved all the world’s problems animatedly while walking uphill. I needed to save my breath for oxygen!

It was a hard day, being the first day with backpack and all, It was mostly up and down dry hills and there were some double-black-diamond descents to navigate, and a long stretch on concrete path along the “river”.To illustrate the descent, have a look at the photo below. See the path in the foreground just to the right of centre? See how it curves a bit to the right and disappears? I couldn’t take any more photos because I needed both hands on my walking sticks and my full attention to foot placement until I got down the very steep hill  to the road that appears in the photo on the lower right side.

I caught up with my friends at a nice restaurant for dinner at 3:30 (having texted my food preferences ahead to them before the kitchen closed). This was the new Restaurant Luís Peña – on the right side of the riverbed just up from the main highway entrance/overpass to the village. It was quite good. There is also a shop in the village proper and the Bar Luis Peña (a big entrepreneur, it seems) where we are currently having breakfast.

The village has some 600 residents although it is built for over 2000 – the common problem of declining populations in villages in Spain.

Calls to the hospitaleros got us access the the albergue, which serves also as a casa rural, on top of a hill by the village.

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