Pippi Longstocking

Lubian Travel Blog

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Pippi Longstocking

Who can remember that crazy imp with the patchwork clothes, long striped stockings and plaits that curled up in a U-shape? She was one of my favourite TV characters growing up and I always aspired to have crazy adventures like Pippi (with a little magic thrown in for good measure)

Well, back on the Camino I stayed in Pueblo de Sanabria in the old part of town high up on a hill near to the Castillo (15th Century). I treated myself to a night alone in a Pension with some privacy and crisp sheets instead of my restrictive sleeping bag. After taking some time to go through the contents of my pack and clean up the assorted ´souvenirs´(now debris), I made my way up towards the Castillo to find a bar with atmosphere to hang out in and watch the world go by.

Puebla de Sanabria patio

I found a stunning 2nd storey old ´bohemian´bar with a friendly barman. It appeared to have once been a family home and the rooms now housed lovely rustic tables and chairs, decorated in an old but cosy style. The main bar was quite long and built of old heavy wood. The low exposed beam ceilings gave the place a comforting feel as soon as you walked in.

The barman was singing songs from his favourite collection played at a tasteful volume - a refreshing change from the terrible game shows normally played on TV in every bar. Behind the bar there was a shelf of board games for patrons and several groups of young people came in and straight away selected something to play while enjoying a hot or cold drink.

I perched at the end of the big bar with a steaming Café con leche, looking out the open terrace door to the building opposite, only about 4 metres away.

Puebla de Sanabria street scene
The small terrace opposite was lovingly filled to overflowing with pots and pots of pink, fuschia, magenta and red colour. An hour later I was looking for excuses not to leave so followed my ccl with a Patxaran (that lovely Basque medicine for the soul)

The next day was an early rise and a white frost. From my cosy room I was not expecting the countryside to be so cold and I was totally underdressed: my NZ merino wool Icebreaker singlet, a lightweight fleecy, cotton shorts and my Moben (cycling) sleeves for gloves. It was two of the coldest hours of my life as I trudged along the side of the quiet Carreterra at daybreak. It was two and a half hours later before I could start to thaw out with my forst Café con leche at the first open bar! Note that the three tiny pastries I had for breakfast also assisted in warming my veins before continuing.

Brrrr - leaving in the cold morning light

[Although not medically sanctioned, I can thoroughly recommend the ´walk 1000 km´diet to enable you to eat exactly what you want to]

The sun was now out and my shadow clearly visible on the road directly in front of me. Up until a few days ago I had been walking form South to North but my direction is now East to West and therefore the sun is directly behind me in the morning. I was playing around with my new shadow shape and picked up my two little plaits, holding them to the side of my head. Instantly a shadow of Pippi Longstocking was imprinted on the path in front of me. My elongated legs and crazy hair were the spitting image of the imp I remembered from long ago. It was clearly going to be a ´Pippi´ day!

 The following two days required me to walk up and over two high mountain passes and the first of these was in my sights now.

The scene of my bush bashing adventure
It took me from 900 to 1350 metres. The camino meandered underneath three striking road viaducts in a huge horseshoe shape with views up and down the valleys. From here I had a final steep zig-zag path to conquer to get me to the top of the pass.

Some way up this zig-zag, I noticed a small yellow Camino arrow pointing up through some scrub as a shortcut to the road route. I took this option without any trouble and once on the road again, I noticed another arrow cutting out another corner. At the road yet again, I could see a rough track in the scrub but no arrow. The ´Pippi´in me came out of hiding and I decided to repeat the process for the third time, hopefully cutting some time from my 35km day.

I followed this ´track´ into the scrub for about 25m and then it petered out completely.

Grace - AKA Pippi
I tried to pick it up by trying different directions finally taking the route of least resistance. It was difficult but I continued to push through the dry bushes and thick gorse and lupin which now surrounded me on all sides at shoulder height and more in places. I was in the middle of another ´scenic detour´without the scenery.

My pack had now become a dead weight attached to my shoulders and every loose strap and clip was collecting branches as I pushed on. With every step I was swallowed up further and further into the thick bush, expecting at any moment to disturb a wild boar or wolf (very common in this area). As I could not retrace my steps and had no idea which way was forward, it was time to re-group so I stood perfectly still and breathed, hatching a plan.

Delight at finally finding the path again
I firstly made the choice to have some fun (always of primary importance when having an adventure) and then looked around for anything that could give me a clue. I could just make out the top of a power pole so decided I would aim for that as best as I could. This involved a fair amount of ´bush bashing´and I could feel significant damage to my exposed flesh, mainly legs and arms.

Ten agonising minutes later I made it to the pole! I lunged out of the undergrowth and was so elated to find myself on a little road that I ignored the blood trickling down both legs and my shredded arms. The only appropriate response was to dance around like Rocky Balboa in ´Rocky´and sing the tune to the movie! Have you got the picture?

I am not sure if it would have been a Pippi response but I know that she would have enjoyed every second of her adventure as I did.

Chorizo at the little cafe
In the end, no harm done and only a few scratches. Now it was time to get back on track as I was still technically ´lost´. I used the sun to direct me down the road and in less than 100m I spied my first Camino arrow - another Rocky moment and more stupid dancing!

The next village was called Padornelo and once I found the friendly bar/tienda/café I ordered some food and licked my woulds (not literally). I am not sure whether it was the adrenaline or out of necessity but I also bought a new pocket knife from the lady in the store. It is a tiny French one (Opinel) and before the day was over I had cut myself three times making sandwiches. My old Swiss Army knife is now only useful for extracting corks from bottles.

Life changed once again as I left the tienda and continued on the camino path through a beautiful thick wood; stone walled laneways, moss covered stones, lichen hanging off tall shady trees and glorious tiny wild orchids.

Beautiful Galicia
This part of Spain is very lush and sees rain all year around so my constant companion for the past two days has been the sound of gurgling riochuelos (streams) as well as the birds high above me enjoying the many lovely trees. At one point on this path, the Camino literally was a part of a small stream and I was walking down the middle of it (now I am walking on water?) picking my way on the many stepping stones. It was definitely a balancing act but a lot of fun and the water was crystal clear and shallow anyway. If I try to dream of a more perfect way to spend and afternoon alone, I would be hard pressed.

The next tiny hamlet called Aciberos was tucked away in the bush and the stone houses all had dark charcoal slate roofs. I nominate it as the friendliest village in all of Spain.

tears from the heart
I passed six inhabitants on my way through the main cobbled street and each one of them made a point to stop me and chat. The first question is always ¿sola? (are you alone?) so I always answer with a big grin; ´si, me gusta!´(yes, I like being alone!). One divine elderly lady just wanted to chat and chat and I think she might have taken me home with her if I had let her. On my departure, she held my face lovingly in both her hands and kissed first my left and then my right cheek ´besos a ti´

I walked softly out of this wonderful place with a smile on both my soul and face, and two giant tears.

The laneway from here to Lubián was just as beautiful and led me the final 4km to my home for the night. I passed through a small green meadow, home to a herd of fat happy cows and their bubs.

Aproach to Lubian
Each mum sported a snappy leather collar and a clanging brass bell. I had to gently move a couple of them off the path so I could continue and they happily obliged.

There are many cats in this area and the older homes that still have wooden front doors cater for their moggies by cutting a small circular hole in the bottom of the door. One Church I passed today had a magnificent old wooden set of front doors containing 20 panels. Each panel had a carved scallop shell (pilgrim symbol) except for the bottom right hand shell . This had been drilled out to make a cat hole for the old Church!

Arrival in Lubián was via the crumbling old houses no longer inhabited by man but still home to a few farm animals. It was another lovely stone Albergue on the edge of town with two small dormitories up and down. Antonio was also there and stayed up top with an Italian couple who arrived late in the evening. I was lucky to have the downstairs all to myself so I could potter around in the early morning without disturbing everyone.

Today I am minus the plaits but always ready for adventure

Besos, Grace (Pippi for a day)

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Pippi Longstocking
Pippi Longstocking
Puebla de Sanabria patio
Puebla de Sanabria patio
Puebla de Sanabria street scene
Puebla de Sanabria street scene
Brrrr - leaving in the cold mornin…
Brrrr - leaving in the cold morni…
The scene of my bush bashing adven…
The scene of my bush bashing adve…
Grace - AKA Pippi
Grace - AKA Pippi
Delight at finally finding the pat…
Delight at finally finding the pa…
Chorizo at the little cafe
Chorizo at the little cafe
Beautiful Galicia
Beautiful Galicia
tears from the heart
tears from the heart
Aproach to Lubian
Aproach to Lubian
Lubian
photo by: Gracethepilgrim