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 When we originally made this decision, the main thing people asked us was… why?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).
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.
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!
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!