My Camino: Day 6 – Free Wine and a Hilltop Rubdown

There’s nothing like the promise of free wine to get me up and out of bed and back on the Camino de Santiago.

I’m not going to lie, It’s been a rough couple of days. My feet are a disaster; I’ve got three known blusters and more are on the way. My right big toe is looking dodgy, I’m pretty sure I’m going to lose that toenail, and then there are my thunder thighs – there’s an epic storm brewing under my skin. My muscles seize up the minute I sit to have a snack, drink or pee.

I’m walking like a hobbit and not the cute ones – more like those old ones Peter Jackson needed to show the Shire has been around a long, long time.

But today, I wrapped up my feet as best I could, drank some water with electrolytes, and made a beeline to the pilgrim trail – cuz the guide books say there’s free wine and damn it, I want me some.

I joined my fellow pilgrims as we marched out of Estella – a simply stunning town with four massive churches, former king palaces and Roman architecture to boot. Our destination today – Los Arcos! We are supposedly leaving the mountain areas and making our way down into the hill country – vast rolling hills with wheat fields and olive groves and vineyards.

Just outside of Estella is a Camino legend – the Irache wine fountain. It’s just outside the gates of the monastery which dates back to 958 – and the wine has aged well.

There’s a plaque on the wall reads, “Pilgrim, if you wish to arrive at Santiago full of strength and vitality, have a drink of this great wine and make a toast to happiness.” – All I need to hear – pour me a free one, I’ll toast to happiness!

The spigot turns on at 8am and I was there bright and early. But there were others ahead of me. God people it’s only free wine….but there was no shoving or pushing – these are pious people.

Now, I’m a cheap-pink-box o wine girl myself so I can’t tell you if the tannins were on target, or if you swirled the wine in your glass you could smell the rich dirt and essences of peaches and herb – but, IT WAS FREE and it went down and stayed down.

I’d give it an 86!

With our morning excitement behind us, we slogged our way up the never ending “rolling hills.”

My Irish friend “Mary” who I’ve met here on the Camino Frances came up behind and asked if the wine had helped my feet and legs. They were still hurting but I told her – “Right now, it’s not my legs, it’s my damn fanny pack giving me trouble.”

“Jesus,” she said taken quite aback, and then whispered “you know we call a woman’s ‘privates’ a fanny pack I hope that’s not what you’re talking about!”

Jesus, Joseph and Mary, don’t you know we howled about that one.

The landscape is dotted with abandoned churches, palaces and fortresses – it’s truly divine. And somewhere in the middle of the olive groves – I thought I was having a religious experience or suffering a stroke – I heard music, like real music.

Rounding a corner, there on two fold up chairs was an elderly couple playing Brahms Hungarian Dance 5 – him fiddling away, and her on the squeezebox. It was surreal. I clapped along, a nutty German danced by herself, and we all took pictures and tossed them a few coins.

By lunchtime my dogs were aching and I hobbled to a picnic area where some industrious Spaniard had set up a food truck complete with sandwiches, burgers, wine (not free tho), beer and foot cream! GENIUS.

My Irish friend surrounded me and tsk, tsk, tskd my condition. “Oh Hilda, you’re doing so poorly, can’t you put your feet up for a spell?”

Who the hell is Hilda?

Seems Mary thought that was my name. So I said, “yep I’m gonna sit a bit, but I’m afraid my thighs will seize up again – it’s the worst.”

Well then doncha you know – Mary comes at me, hands me some cool cream, says to rub it in – THEN – in front of God and everyone, Mary starts rubbing some muscle cream onto my thighs. Like, a perfect stranger is giving me a rubdown right there in front of all the pilgrims and the olive trees.

I laughed self consciously and said, “Mary what are you doing – we’ve only just met!”

And she looked up at me and said, “Who the fekk is Mary? My name is Shirley!”

Here are my stats

13.42 Miles Marched Today

(Estella – Los Arcos)

84.07 Miles Marched So Far


Miles Left To March

505.8: Total Miles to walk from St Jean Pied de Port, France to Santiago, Spain

Tomorrow: On to Logrono – the capital of the winemaking region of La Rioja!


  • urbanhikingden

    I know you don’t want to hear this, but I think you’re shoes are too small. Pull a Cheryl Strayed–call REI, have them ship you the next size up, and return the ones on your feet. You’ll get a full refund for the too small ones, and you’re feet will thank you. Granted, it might cost you an arm and leg for overnight shipping, but it’d be worth it.

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