While visiting my daughter in Vitoria-Gasteiz during spring break we had several free days to explore other places. Vitoria-Gasteiz is centrally located within the Basque Country and offers many daytrips to interesting cities including Logroño, Pamplona, Bilbao, San Sebastian, Burgos and Santander, all are easily accessible by bus. Since Koldo (and his car) weren’t always available to join Lauren and I, this was a great thing. For our first day trip we decided on Logroño to experience a bus wine tour (Logroño is in the heart of the wine country La Rioja) and because I had never been to the city. However, as we honed our plans we discovered that the bus wine tours didn’t coincide with my visit so we decided to spend the night in Logroño to explore the city instead.
We left the Vitoria bus station mid morning, passed lush valleys and vineyards as we rolled along through La Rioja, arriving an hour later in Logroño. The bus staion in Logroño is conveniently located downtown just around the corner from our hotel and a ten minute walk to the Old Town.
One of the benefits of not having a list of things to see is that we leisurely explored the Old Town. Con-cathedral de Santa María de la Redonda with its twin towers was impressive and a popular site during Semana Santa.
Eventually we spotted the tourism office where we acquired a map and discovered that there weren’t many sites to see without a car, and advanced reservations were required for winery tours, but that the pinxto scene was pretty incredible and located in the Old Town. Calle de Laurel is the main pinxto hub; a narrow street bustling with hungry people when we arrived.
Many of the bars tempt potential customers by displaying their pinxtos in an open window to the street. We were lucky to find a table at one of the first places we stopped in as people hovered about waiting to grab the next vacated spot.
The signature pinxto of Logroño is El Champi; mushrooms grilled in a buttery garlic oil, stacked on a slice of baguette and topped with a shrimp. A few bars serve this pinxto exclusively, including Bar Angel where we enjoyed ours.
Satisfied with our pinxto experience we crossed over the Ebro River along the footbridge located close to the Old Town. The sun had come out, brightening up the city, and we enjoyed the peaceful stroll along the promenade on the other side
We returned to the Old Town by crossing over the Puente de Piedra bridge which is the entrance to the city on the Way of Saint James.
In the evening we returned to the Old Town for a second round of pinxtos, stopping first at a hip wine bar on the way. From inside one of the bars we could hear loud drumming coming from the street. The procession for Semana Santa was passing by outside. I had seen this in Bilbao during my previous visit to Spain and I didn’t want to miss it.
It is a fascinating and somewhat eerie tradition to watch from my Californian perspective. Eventually we walked back to our hotel. The next morning we’d be catching an early bus to Laguardia.
Camino de Santiago passes through the city
Calle del Laurel, known as “the path of the elephants”