So if you haven’t already inferred from my numerous, occasionally long-winded, sporadically humorous blog posts, I have said adiós to the olive groves, flamenco fiestas and eternal sunshine of Córdoba in Andalucía, Spain, and traded it in for the vibrant, diverse northern city of Logroño, capital of La Rioja, wine country. I needed a change, and I definitely got one. So far, this year looks like it is going to be incredible!
I am going on year three (nonconsecutive) as an expat in Spain, and I have definitely had my fair share of tourist cities, especially after having lived in Salamanca, Madrid, and Córdoba. So when it came time to chose for this year, I really wanted to try something different. I went through La Rioja on the train once, 4 years ago, and I fell in love with the landscape here. Logroño is a decent-sized city in Spain, but in terms of tourism, it doesn’t have the name or draw that goes along with cities like Sevilla, Granada, or Valencia. However, I am slowly coming to discover that Logroño is a hidden gem, and definitely worth visiting. Logroño is well-known to people who have done the camino de santiago, a huge pilgrimage route that passes through Logroño from France across northern Spain to Santiago de Compostela in Galicia on the west coast. I always see people who are doing the camino passing through Logroño, with their hiking boots and walking sticks with a giant backpack with a shell dangling from it. I am contemplating doing the camino this summer if I can find someone awesome to do it with me. Applications are open, people!
Logroño is a stately, traditional Spanish city. It has a beautiful old quarter with narrow, quaint little streets (one of which I call home), and many green beautiful parks and plazas to hang out in. Being in Spain, there is no shortage of churches to visit, and a beautiful stone bridge that heads out of the city, crossing the Ebro River. It is a truly beautiful, small, historic European city, not to mention it was made famous this summer on HBO’s True Blood, anyone? anyone? I nearly peed myself when the 16th century Spanish witch said her name was Antonia Gavilán de Logroño. Of all the places in Spain to pick…
However, one of my favorite things about Logroño has to be the food. Seriously, the food here will blow your mind. Logroño is famous for its pintxos (tapas), and they have a wonderful variety. Expect to pay no more than €2.50 for a good pincho and a glass of red wine. There is a famous street here called Calle Laurel, which is nothing but pincho bars as far as you can see with a huge variety. On the weekends, this narrow street is packed to the gills with people, eating, drinking and having a good time. Going out in Logroño usually consists in meeting up around 10pm to get drinks and pinchos before heading to the bars and clubs. Most of the pincho bars have their own signature pincho, like three garlic mushrooms and a shrimp on a slice of baguette, a shrimp and pineapple kebab stick, or a little grilled pork sandwich with a green pesto type of sauce (that last one is my favorite). Did I mention I live 2 blocks down from C/ Laurel? Yeah, that’s right. I can wear all the uncomfortable high heels I want out at night because I only have to walk a maximum of 1.5 minutes to get back home. Now that’s a win! However, I do need to join a gym ASAP before all those pinchos catch up with me!
But what Logroño, and La Rioja is most famous for is its wine. If you ever buy Spanish red wine, take a look a the label; it probably comes from La Rioja. Wine is everywhere here, literally. You can’t escape it. It is the go-to drink in bars; there are bodegas everywhere, and it seems that everything has the grape symbol on it. I truly live in wine country, and I couldn’t be happier. Going out for pinchos, and a glass of red will cost you around €.60. Pay over a euro and we’re talking fancy vintage. It’s so wonderful! My goal is to leave Logroño (if I can bring myself to ever leave this magical city) as a wine enthusiast, and I am well on my way!
Wanna blend in in Club Europe? Put on a pair of stunna shades and tight white pants and get your dance on with two songs that have been blowing up the discotecas here in Spain: bailando por ahi and danza kuduro.
I’ll leave you with some pics of my new apartment.