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Logroño

I went to Logroño last weekend and LOVED IT. Honestly, the best thing to do there is just hit up the tapas bars at night and enjoy "pintxos" and good red wine- either "vino verde" (younger wine) or "crianzas" (older wine... and in my opinion, the best!).

The first thing I noticed about Logroño was that I felt like I was back in Hinojosa- everywhere I got the essense of small-town Spain-- hardly any (English-speaking) tourists, the narrow streets, lots and lots of people out on the streets or in the bars at certain times, and then of course NOBODY out during certain times. It's amazing really how in small-town Spain either EVERYONE is out, or NOBODY is. They follow the same schedule! This so does not happen in Madrid- everyone is out all the time! Madrid is really un-Spanish, so that was the first thing that made me love Logroño- how Spanish it was.

We took a day trip out to Haro on Saturday to visit a bodega, which was cool, but not all that necessary for me- I´d been to the wineries in Porto which are free, whereas the ones in Haro cost money. We went to Muga, which cost 6 euros, but for 6 euros it includes a few free glasses of wine, and you get to keep the glass. They give you a little baggie to carry it, too! For me, the best thing about going to Haro was the bus ride- it stopped in various pueblos on the way, which made me wish we could have rented a car, just so that we could stop in some more of these little towns! I think any time you´re exploring a region of spain rather than just a city, if you can afford to rent a car, you should do it. But it´s at least nice that they have such a good bus system that day trips are still possible without a car.

In Logroño we sampled delicious food and wine along the famous Calle Laurel, and every guide book and Spaniard will recommend this to you. I´ll give you an extra tip, though- Calle San Juan also has a lot of tapas bars. It also happened to be the street our hostal was on. This one place between the two streets, near the cathedral, called "La Taberna de Manu" had a deal 2 euros for a crianza and a pintxo of chicken- it was like asian-spanish fusion. And it also had the typical Spanish (croquetas, and typical Logroño food.... including PIG EAR and PIG FACE! The bartender, who was from Málaga, told us that even for her that was strange. Her specific comment, I believe, was "I´m from Andalucía, where we just have jamón serrano and such... we don´t eat... um,.... *this* stuff...."
On calle Laurel, we had very gooey though delicious patatas bravas at Taberna Laurel, which was a bit overpriced, I thought (4.50 euros for the patatas plus the wine), since most other places serve you a pintxo plus wine for 2-3 euros. Though to be fair, the patatas were like media-ración size rather than pintxo size. Nearby we stopped at La Queja, which has an outdoor order window that I suppose is great in summer but not so great in winter! Nearby there is a bar called "La Granja" which is larger, hence does not feature the classic, intimate Spanish tapas bar atmosphere that the other places did, but nevertheless they had great pintxos and crianzas. I had this interesting pickle-car thing!

Something random we experienced- we met up with this girl from Couch Surfing, and she showed us this cool bar called Biribay Jazz Club that had a Beatles night on Friday. We had fun watching bands of Spaniards singing "Sergeant Pepper´s Lonely Hearts Club Band", "Day Tripper", etc.... some with better knowledge of the English words than others! So it was quite amusing.

Other travel advice for this trip that I'd like to offer- take the PLM bus- they offer Madrid->Logroño for 15 euros, as opposed to ALSA, which charges 20. Even cheaper if you buy round trip... we didn't buy round trip just in case we decided to head to Pamplona on the last day. While I'd like to be able to say I've been to Pamplona, there doesn't seem to be that much to see outside of it's famous "Running of the Bulls".

All in all, Logroño was the perfect short weekend getaway, just to go enjoy the ambiente, the pintxos, and the wine.

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