October 7, 2018 Elciego SP

We are in Rioja country.  The plan for the day was to drive to the fortified town of Laguardia which is famous for its cave bodegas (wine cellars).  Ron did his normal research on where to stay for the night and found the location for an aire that he thought was in Laguardia.  After punching in the GPS coordinates we had a very pleasant drive of about 1 1/2 hours to the aire.  After parking we headed into town to look for a particular bodega (winery).  After wandering around the little village (which was quite nice) and some head scratching Ron realized we were one town short and not in Laguardia but Elciego.

In addition to wine the area is famous for peppers.  Any area that has good peppers is good with Ton.

We headed back to the aire and drove the 5km to Laguardia.  The town was humming with all of the local families coming into town for Sunday.  We finally found a place to park on the shoulder of the main road and headed into town.  Laguardia is a “puebla bonita” of Spain.  It is a hilltop fortified town surrounded by vineyards.  There was a concert going on in the main square and people socializing at all of the bars and restaurants.  We popped into the tourist office to ask a couple of questions.  She gave us the information we were looking for but than told us that as it was Sunday everyone but the restaurants was closing at 2pm for the day.  Ton and I took a pass thru town and decided it was worth coming back when everything was open, so we will return tomorrow.

When we pulled into Laguardia Ron thought there must be an event, but it was just a typical Sunday.
The clock tower with Basque Dancers.

In the end we decided to return to the aire in Elciego. The tourist information in Laguardia told us we were welcome to sleep in two of the town parking lots, but they were jammed.  Elciego is another wine centered village and has a fantastic hotel, winery, restaurant in it.  The Hotel Marques de Riscal is designed by the American architect Frank Gehry.  It really is an interesting building though you can debate whether it fits the terroir of the area.  At first Ron did not like it but it grew on him after we took a walk down to take a look at it and the surrounding vineyards.

The Hotel Marques De Riscal is quite arresting. Off season rate for rooms was €400. 
It is also harvest time here and the town was buzzing with tractors running thru town with grapes loaded on them.
These are wild grapes growing by the road.

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