Here’s a quick quiz question? Who wrote to the lyrics to this well known song. Clue being on benefits might NOT be the answer.

Life is fine every time
Thoughts of you leave my head
I was wrong, now I find
Just one thing makes me forget….

Cune – One of the many Rioja’s Lesley sampled

After overnighting in Vitoria Gasteiz, we took a scenic route over the hills towards Logroño. In spite of it being a large town, when we were only 15km away we couldn’t see any sign of the city. It was almost as well hidden in the surrounding landscape as La Paz in Bolivia is.

As we got closer it became apparent we were in a wine growing area since the hills became patterned with grapevines. On the outskirts of the city, we easily found the aire at Las Norias which was ideal with tree lined bays and quite empty. We chose a shady pitch 50 metres from the bus stop into town.

Cathedral de Santa María de la Redonda- Yes I know it’s ABC but the square was nice.

Logroño is the epicentre of tapas in Spain and the capital city of Rioja. As well as serving pintxos (an influence from the nearby Basque Country), the bars here often specialise in just one particular thing, be it mushrooms, scrambled eggs or spider crab fishcakes.

We got the number 3 bus from Las Norias into the centre of the town. Our plan was to do some sampling of the pintxos washed down with a few glasses of Rioja’s very fine wine.

Iglesia de San Bartolomé with a very impressive entrance

We wandered around for a while but everything was closed. It is not like the Bradfords to be early for anything but in this case we were. As we discovered when we went to the tourist information, most of the bars do not open until around 8:00-8:30pm.

Because of the split working day, eating late is a way of life here.

We headed towards the Museum of La Rioja to pass some time before the bars opened. It turned out to have lots of interesting information about the region and it’s history but nothing about wine. I wonder how many other unsuspecting tourists have been lured in expecting wine info….

We really liked these mushrooms soaked in garlic, yum, yum.

Having had our fill of Rioja (history), we found a bar and enjoyed a glass of white and one red with crisps for €2.40 – Yes cheap and very nice. That first bar gave us chance to make plan of attack – Bar1 Goat’s Cheese + Mystery thing, Bar2 Patatas Bravas and asparagus wrapped in ham and cheese mmmm v nice, Bar3 Garlic mushrooms with prawn (fav so far) Bar4/5…. well it get’s a bit hazy after that, but we did make it safely back to Las Norias and Charlie’s comfy bed.

The next day slightly worse for wear we set off for a scenic drive north through some pretty spectacular countryside.

We thought we ask this friendly piggy for directions – but we think he might have told us porkies… GROAN
We found an aire with a nice view in Onita.

Well as you might have already worked out it was Neil Diamond who sang the original in 1968 – We prefer the UB40 version… Red, red wine goes to my head. Makes me forget…..

Toodle Pip


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