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Logroño, La Rioja: A One Month Update

Logroño, La Rioja: A One Month Update

So, we did it guys. We did what many would consider the unthinkable and left warm and sunny Andalucía to explore the tiny, northern region of La Rioja, Spain. When we originally made this decision, the main thing people asked us was... why? We got a lot of that. We honestly didn't know much about La Rioja, just that we wanted to explore the north, access nature more easily, and be in a smaller city where our Spanish skills could be more thoroughly challenged. The region being so small also made it more likely that Sam and I would get placed close together, so for us it seemed ideal. At first we wondered if we'd made the right decision leaving beautiful Sevilla, but it didn't take long for us to realize just how much La Rioja had to offer: 

Of Course.... the WINE!

La Rioja is where the majority of Spanish wine comes from, so naturally it's the region's big claim to fame. I've heard there are anywhere from 800-1,000 wineries here, and so far we've only toured two! There's a big festival called San Mateo which celebrates the wine harvest every September that we got to participate in this year. Shops lining the streets all had displays celebrating wine, whether or not they even sold wine, grapes or anything related. Wine is such a big deal here that even the tiles on the sidewalks in Logroño even have little grapes on them. I've always considered myself more of a beer person, but with glasses of wine available for .80 cents and bottles available for under 2 euros, it didn't take long to turn me into a wine lover (sorry Cruzcampo).

 We were totally those tourists taking pictures of all the grape harvesting trucks when we visited Cenicero, the pueblo where Sam works. 

We were totally those tourists taking pictures of all the grape harvesting trucks when we visited Cenicero, the pueblo where Sam works. 

 When our friends Gabriella and Lea visited we went to Elciego and naturally had to pose in front of all the pretty vines.

When our friends Gabriella and Lea visited we went to Elciego and naturally had to pose in front of all the pretty vines.

 At the San Mateo wine harvest festival, a parade of people passed grapes out to us to eat as we watched the ceremonial grape stomping. We <3 grapes.

At the San Mateo wine harvest festival, a parade of people passed grapes out to us to eat as we watched the ceremonial grape stomping. We <3 grapes.

 Barrels of wine... painted with wine... at Marques de Carceres Winery.

Barrels of wine... painted with wine... at Marques de Carceres Winery.

 Sam and my first dinner in our new home would have been incomplete without a bottle of Rioja red. The photo of the man eating grapes in the background came with the place and our landlord gave us a bottle of wine as a welcome gift!

Sam and my first dinner in our new home would have been incomplete without a bottle of Rioja red. The photo of the man eating grapes in the background came with the place and our landlord gave us a bottle of wine as a welcome gift!

The Natural Beauty

When you Google search La Rioja you'll see the vast expanses of grape vines changing colors in the fall, the panoramic mountain views, and the little sandstone pueblos built around the Ebro River. Not to mention, El Camino de Santiago actually runs right through Logroño, so you frequently see people with backpacks making the pilgrimage through the city. All of these images danced around in my head before I got here, but honestly every time I've found myself in nature here I have been completely blown away. Getting to pick grapes, almonds, and apples while walking to new pueblos, being able to look over the whole region every time you reach the top of a hill... it is all completely magical to me and pictures simply do not do it justice. That being said, here are some photos of the nature I've been able to explore so far.

 Villamediana de Iregua, the pueblo where I work teaching English!

Villamediana de Iregua, the pueblo where I work teaching English!

 Stunning views from Haro, La Rioja.

Stunning views from Haro, La Rioja.

 Vineyards walking from Alberite to Clavijo, two pueblos in La Rioja.

Vineyards walking from Alberite to Clavijo, two pueblos in La Rioja.

 View from a castle on top of a mountain in Clavijo.

View from a castle on top of a mountain in Clavijo.

 Sam and me on the Clavijo hike

Sam and me on the Clavijo hike

 The streets in Logroño are dotted with tiles pointing out the path of El Camino de Santiago, a famous pilgrimage starting in France and ending at the western tip of northern Spain in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia.

The streets in Logroño are dotted with tiles pointing out the path of El Camino de Santiago, a famous pilgrimage starting in France and ending at the western tip of northern Spain in Santiago de Compostela, Galicia.

Pinchos With Friends!

We wound up with a great group of friends here, and one of our favorite things to do together is go on pincho crawls. Pinchos (or pintxos) are usually little skewers of delicious bites of food and bread. The famous street in Logroño, Calle Laurel, has tons of different pincho bars and each one has its own specialty. Meeting up with friends for pinchos usually involves ordering a pincho for everyone with a corto (small glass) of beer or wine to chase it down with. When you're done you just hop next door to the next bar and repeat. Such a fun way to eat food!

 Famous wall art in Logroño celebrating pinchos and the Camino de Santiago.

Famous wall art in Logroño celebrating pinchos and the Camino de Santiago.

 Spanish tortilla with spicy sauce. Spicy food in Spain.. our minds were blown!

Spanish tortilla with spicy sauce. Spicy food in Spain.. our minds were blown!

 One of the most famous pinchos we have tried yet... mushrooms with a yummy garlic sauce and topped with a shrimp from Bar Soriano. Apparently this place has been open for 30+ years!

One of the most famous pinchos we have tried yet... mushrooms with a yummy garlic sauce and topped with a shrimp from Bar Soriano. Apparently this place has been open for 30+ years!

 Meat skewers from Paganos with friends! Look guys we have friends!

Meat skewers from Paganos with friends! Look guys we have friends!

There's so much more that could be said about this little region. We are so happy with our new home, our new friends and how our lives have begun to unfold here. Turns out, I couldn't be more thrilled with our somewhat impulsive decision to come here! Look for more soon as I document pueblo trips, funny school stories and the constant work of managing self care through it all!

Autumn In Northern Spain

Autumn In Northern Spain

"Minimal-ish" Packing List for a Year of Teaching Abroad

"Minimal-ish" Packing List for a Year of Teaching Abroad