Soñando Sunday: Logroño
Up on the blog today we are taking a break from a destination we have visited and welcoming a guest writer—Expat Jake—to share about his current home. Jake is an English teacher from England who currently lives in Logroño. He is the brains behind the Expat Jake Instagram and Youtube accounts which are dedicated to sharing his travels and expat experience here in Spain. You can also follow Jake's adventures on Facebook. We are honored to collaborate with Expat Jake and bring some of his expertise to the blog.
Without further ado, we would like to present Jake's tips for...
Logroño, La Rioja
Transport options to arrive:
The most common (and recommended) form of transport to Logroño is by travelling in a car or by bus. Logroño is situated in the north of Spain, 1.5 hours south of Bilbao, and 3.5 hours north of the capital Madrid. From Bilbao the bus company to use to get to Logroño is Cuadra Bus costing €10.
Logroño has a very small airport and only has a couple of flights a day to Madrid (and no other cities, except to some of the islands in the summer) which costs around €50. This is definitely the fastest way to travel from the capital. However, you can catch a BlaBlaCar for around €10-20, or the bus with PLM costs €18.
Recommended time of year to visit and length of visit:
The most energetic time of the year to come to Logroño is definitely during San Mateo – a week long festival during the middle of September to celebrate the harvesting the wine; there is bull-running, concerts, grape-crushing with feet, lots of food and drink stalls, and party games. The whole city is off work and everybody is within the streets throughout the days and nights celebrating.
A good length of time to visit Logroño is 3-4 nights. This will give you enough time to see the city, the nearby mountains and parks, wineries, as well as the nightlife.
La Rioja is one of the largest wine regions in the world, and it contains more than 1200 wineries. This means that the wine is extremely cheap. You can often buy half a glass of red wine in a bar for €0.90. The cheapest bottle of red wine (vino tinto) I have ever found in a supermarket costs just €1.29! (image above)
Top three must-sees:
1. Eating pinchos and drinking wine on Calle San Juan / Calle del Laurel: Pinchos in La Rioja are what a lot of people know by the name of ‘tapas’. Little dishes that are consumed alone or shared with a group of friends. They range from small burgers, calamari, grilled garlic mushrooms on bread, Spanish tortilla, chorizo on bread, and many more. Calle San Juan and Calle del Laurel are always buzzing with atmosphere during the evenings and nights on weekends, and both contain countless pincho bars. Pincho bar crawls are extremely common, whereby people have a pincho and a glass of wine/beer at one bar before moving along to the next one.
2. Cruz de Peña Bajenza (Mountain in Islallana): This is an incredible mountain range in Islallana, a 15-minute drive south of Logroño. The hike takes about 1 hour to arrive at the 941-metre peak and it has some of the most incredible views. Just take a look for yourself at the images below. This is the case where ‘a picture speaks a 1000 words’; I will let the photos do the talking from here!
3. Parque de La Ribera: I absolutely love this park. It is situated parallel to the river and is next to the Cantabria mountain. It is a beautiful and peaceful park with runners, picnics, wildlife, and a water feature. It is a great escape to relax and take in the amazing views!
A few bonus recommendations from our Pro: Visit a winery (Vivanco, Bodegas Ysios, and Bodegas Marqués De Riscal). Explore Parque de La Grajera (beautiful park with a lake and many deer). Climb Monte Cantabria (excellent mountain which overlooks the city, it is about a 1 hour walk from the city centre to reach the peak). The incredible views from Monte Cantabria can also be seen below.
One thing to eat or drink:
One of my favourite drinks is actually a shot (extra large shot), called ‘Machacado’ and contains vodka, lemonade, and some kind of raspberry (or another berry) juice as a sweetener. It is an old drink and I have only found it in one bar, called ‘Parentesis’, located on Calle Marqués de San Nicolás – the great thing is that it only costs €1, so be careful!
The poor image on the right (I haven’t taken many) shows the drink. You are given a cloth and a lid for the drink and you need to slam the drink on the counter to mix up the contents.
In terms of food, I am a big fan of the Spanish tortillas, but a new favourite pincho of mine is called ‘Bocata de Calamares’ which is essentially a burger bun filled with fried calamari and two sauces (a mayonnaise type and a spicy type). The bar that serves this is called Torres and can be found on Calle San Juan and on Calle del Laurel. An image of this pincho can be found here.