I left Boi on Friday morning on the 8.30am school bus and eleven hours, four buses and three hours in Lleida bus station (a place where they lock the toilets when the attendant goes for her siesta) later I was in Logrono.
This is the nearest town to two UN listed monasteries, the bus timetable for which I checked out on my arrival. Buses can go weird at weekends here and sure enough I found that on Saturdays the only bus there leaves Logrono at 8am, which I could handle, but the one returning is at 8pm. As the monastery tours each take under an hour this did not sound like a good plan. It was too late to move onto another town so I thought I might as well spend a weekend looking at Logrono itself instead. Although attractions are often closed on Mondays so that could stretch out the wait for the monasteries until Tuesday. To sort this out I needed internet access and for that I needed somewhere to stay. Luckily the information booth at the bus station was open and had a map with hotels marked on it.
The first two I tried were full, the third closed for holidays and the fourth only had a three person room that it could let me have at a small discount and for one night only. There was a festival on all weekend. I took the room and settled in. The sound of brass bands in the street outside drew me out onto the balcony and I discovered I was directly over the parade route and just along from the cathedral and its square full of food and gift stalls, childrens’ rides and the political protest camp every town currently has.
That night there was a great deal of parading by bands and groups in regional and medieval costume (many carrying large flower arrangements), followed by fireworks and church bell ringing in the run up to midnight. Saturday, the 11th, is the day itself – the festival of St Barnabas – when they celebrate the town’s victory in 1521 over French invaders who had been besieging the city.
I was woken the next morning by three musicians parading down the street and the rest of the morning random groups and bands would pass by. I’d moved from my balcony to the cathedral square by now and was in the right place at midday to see the departure of a procession of town dignataries, church officials and statues of Saint Barnabas and the Virgin Mary from the cathedral.
Two hours later they returned, now attended by a group of tall twirling carnival figures, presumably representing key players in the 1521 events.
There were also a number of people wearing big head costumes, including Popeye and this one which I was so shocked by I couldn’t stop photographing it:
I left in late afternoon to go to Burgos (I’d decided not to try to find another hotel room in Logrono) so missed the evening festivities but I’m so glad I’ve caught at least one Spanish festival.