Monday 6 June 2022

Camino de Santiago 7 - Logroño to Azofra (Electric wheelchair style)

Four days before leaving for the second week on the Camino, the retractable support legs on my Genny Mobility wheelchair stopped working and stuck down. I would normally attempt this sort of repair myself but with so little time and requiring parts I had no option but to make a trip to the Genny Mobility factory in Switzerland. Getting this sorted meant a 1800 mile drive from St Malo in Brittany, France to Switzerland, before driving onwards to Logroño, Spain in my VW van to commence where I left off last October

Overall my wheels have been fantastically reliable with over 8000 miles on the clock in 6 years of operation. Apart from a few relatively minor issues, most of which were down to the Segway core power unit, Genny has been just great for a wheelchair that I ask so much of

Genny Mobility headquarters are based in Sant'Antonino in the southern, Italian speaking part of Switzerland. It is just up the road from the beautiful Lake Maggiore, where clear warm water is surrounded by tall mountains. Its about 40km west of Lake Como in Italy. After a long drive Genny Mobility were able to make the repairs which were down to the linear actuator which is a device a bit like a hydraulic ram you could see on a digger arm, however powered by 12 volts through a gear drive. Taking it all to pieces myself later I was able to see it was not down to faulty gears but a crack in part of the plastic moulded frame. This was not feasibly repairable without parts. I took the opportunity to have a full service whilst in the workshop   

Lake Maggiore borders both Switzerland and Italy


After a mad onward drive from Switzerland into Italy, the Mediterranean coast of France and into northern Spain I arrived in Logroño early evening giving me opportunity to visit the city, capital of La Rioja region. As with many cities and larger towns, Logroño has a beautiful historic centre complete with the Cathedral of Santa María de la Redonda

Unfortunately most Spanish Cathedrals seem to be accessed by flights of steps
 with generally poor disabled access 
Fantastic street art at a roundabout in Logroño   

With my van securely garaged, I commenced my second week on the Camino with a late 10 o'clock morning start in good weather. Anxious but excited I set off on my wheels with my small rucksack and sleeping bag hanging off the back. Because of the late start I had booked accommodation in Azofra 34km away

Pilgrims decorate the path adjacent to the road with home made crosses

The urban parts of of the Camino are generally less memorable excepting the historic town centres. Exiting Logroño however was through a series of lovely shaded green parks, before crossing a busy road and past a reservoir. the early route was part following the road and part in mixed agricultural land of cereals and vines

Following the yellow arrows of the Camino I passed the small town of Navarrete built on a hill and Nájera

Where a footbridge with steps crossed a stream leaving Nájera I was forced to find an alternative route and found a shallow section where I could wade my wheels without issue

Stream crossings need to be carefully negotiated with 22Ah of lithium batteries to consider
Many path edges and smaller fields in June were awash with poppies and other wild flowers

Lots of the building stone seemed to be pebbles shaped by water despite there being little
obvious water in the surrounding areas

I had made the decision on this section to stay in the smaller towns and villages where possible. I find the villages easier to navigate, they are simpler to shop and eat with a wheelchair but I was also considered the impact Covid over the last couple of years. With increasing urbanisation in the world these villages are probably only here because of the Camino. In Azofra I stayed in the Municipal Albergue which was a small and friendly hostel with a small courtyard water feature. With feet in the cool water I engaged with Camino life meeting Italians and Americans I would encounter again over the next days. How lovely to be back


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