La Rioja – Spanish wine country

We did not plan to go here but some friends had been a few years ago and we thought why not? Also we could not find anywhere else in the Pyrenees to visit that appealed.Generally we have found the Pyrenees much steeper and more difficult to access even in the little car. We managed to find a campground 15 minutes west of Logrono the main city of the region which was also very close to the Basque wine country on the northern side of the Ebro River.

Logrono was in full harvest festival mode when we were there. The Festival of San Mateo is the biggest festival of the year and combines with the harvest festivals. The fountains are wine coloured in celebration of the importance of wine to the local economy.

Bands from various vineyards cruised the streets making lots of noise – especially the percussion bands.

The old town was crowded out – especially the streets lined with bars or specialising in tapas.

I decided it was time for a trip to the hairdresser while in Logrono. I was recommended one by the person in the tourist office. Lovely people but no English- I was saved by a French speaking client when I tried to book – many laughs all round. It was the first time i have braved a hair salon when not able to communicate at all. We managed with Google translate – until the point where she asked me something I could not understand then used Google translate. It translated as “I knock you out” . I went “what the …..?” It turned out she wanted to know if she had trimmed enough from my hair. End result – I was very happy as they took a lot of care.

We had read about the various vineyards that have been pushing the architectural design boundaries so decided to visit the pretty medieval town of Laguardia to the north of the river and the vineyards nearby.

This vineyard building emulates the hills and mountains behind- it extends an equal distance to the left

We treated ourselves to a special 14 course dégustation lunch at the renowned restaurant at the vineyard below

The building is stunning – totally at odds with the old buildings around but has become famous.

The roof is made of multi coloured titanium sheets and reputedly cost 85 million euros to build. There is a 5 star hotel there too

The Marqués de Riscal vineyard hotel and restaurant building

Our meal was superb – staff were lovely and the food was the best we have had anywhere – perfectly executed.

“Olives” made of soft cheese, anchovy and red pepper glazed with squid ink – delicious

The pigeon was very good – we have had it a few times now

The meal was a great experience. Highly recommended if you are a foodie.

Next stop – the Basque coast west of Baaque

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