Castro Marim Medieval Fair (2)

Looking down from the fortress walls in Castro Marim

Looking down from the fortress walls, in Castro Marim

In yesterday’s post I left you looking out from these walls to the border with Spain.  Beneath the castle, tickets were going on sale for the Castro Marim Medieval Fair.  8 euros bought you an earthenware cup (to fill with your tipple of choice), a cardboard crown (one size fits all- or almost!) and entry to the castle.  The streets were starting to fill up, and it seemed a good time to browse the stalls, before the entertainment began.

Click on any photo to view the gallery 

Any fair maidens aboout?

Any fair maiden needing a headdress?

A skirling of pipes and the thunder of drums had me glancing over my shoulder.  Look out- the excitement is just about to begin!

Here they come!

Here they come!

Such focus!

Such focus!

Just time to immerse myself in Arabia before the next group!  Exotic teas, cakes, sweets, nuts and magic lanterns.  A cornucopia of delights!

A little more music!

A little more music!

The stalls are full of enticements and exotica, and the hand-crafted furniture is enough to make a maiden swoon into a finely carved seat.

But for all the razzle, these are my favourites

But despite all that dazzles, the lady in blue is my favourite

At this point it becomes impossible to focus on shopping.  The parade has arrived- an amazement of  stilt walkers, tumblers, weird and wonderful costumes and masks, and the most hypnotic and enigmatic of magicians.  I am enthralled.

But this guy stole the show for me

This guy stole the show for me

There was just something about him!

His skills defied the camera!

Food stalls tempt and wonderful aromas waft, but dusk is about to descend and the time has come to mount the steps to the castle. Yet more entertainment is planned for the evening.  What else can there be?

The scene from the church steps

The scene from the church steps

I won’t discourage you by showing the number of steps and the cobbles, shiny with age.  But take it slowly, wear sensible shoes, and the excitement and momentum will carry you there.  Once through the ancient gates, a Medieval world appears before your very eyes.

There's always a Fool!

There’s always a Fool!

The scene is set

The scene is set

And the sinking sun adds to the spectacle

And the sinking sun adds to the spectacle

Up on the castle walls, I look down on the church

Up on the castle walls, I look down on the church

And then back at the setting sun

Then back at the setting splendour

The air is thick with the scent and smoke of barbecuing meat.  More and more people throng into the castle.  Small faces look up at me, aglow with the lamplight and the excitement, clutching tightly to a parents hand.  Shadows flicker on the walls.

Beyond the wall the moon gently glows over the salt pans

Beyond the wall the moon gently glows over the salt pans

There is courtly dancing, a banquet to eat (but the queue for tickets is long!) and later the promise of medieval combat and jousting, but it’s time for me to slip away, sated with the day.  Down in the streets the party is in full throttle and people continue to arrive.  I am seduced by the notion of sangria of figs.  Just one small indulgence before I go.

And the dance goes on!

And the dance goes on!

This is the second part of a post that I have linked to the Capturing History Challenge and I hope that you’ll take a look.  I couldn’t help but smile, though, when I saw that the Daily Post challenge this week is entitled Happy Place, a place to escape to and ‘recharge your groove’.  Most of you who know me are well aware that the Algarve is my happy place.  For 51 weeks of the year the village of Castro Marim is an oasis of peace and calm. Perhaps you can use your imagination and make these people disappear.

Apologies to my Six Word Saturday friends.  I won’t be taking part tomorrow.  I hope you can join me on Monday for a walk instead.

Castro Marim Medieval Fair 2015 (1)

The castle at Castro Marim

The castelo at Castro Marim

Seldom have I seen such a sleepy little place so transformed, and yet you have only to look at these fortifications to know that Castro Marim has a turbulent past.  Situated at the cut and thrust of the Portuguese border with Spain, the Medieval Fair brings back to life the mighty fortress of São Sebastião.  In the 14th century the castle was a stronghold of the Knights Templar, but it fell into disuse when additional fortifications were built on the hill opposite, in the 17th century.  The fortress is seldom open to the public so I was delighted to find it playing a major role in the festival.

If you’re interested in the history of Castro Marim the link will tell you more.  For myself, I’m going to take a quiet stroll, before the crowds descend.

The church is looking wonderfully festive

The church is looking wonderfully festive

You can click on any of the galleries below to see the photos in more detail.

These steps won't be empty for long!

These steps won’t be empty for long!

Time to ascend the steps to the fortress

Time to ascend to the fortress, above the village rooftops

You can see it was built on solid ground!

You can see it was built on solid ground!

The view across to distant Spain

The view across to the castle, and in the distance, Spain

It was a sultry day and not hard to get into the mood.  From within the fortress came grunts and clangs, the ‘masters’ putting the youth through their paces.  A smattering of people looked on, choosing a favourite.

Who will come off best?

Who will come off best?

I was astounded by the thickness of the walls

I was astounded by the thickness of the walls

The bridge to Spain is just visible

The bridge across the River Guadiana to Spain is just visible, behind the castle

I’m ready to saunter back down into the streets, where the parade is about to start.  Before I do, I’d like to link this post to Ed Mooney’s Capturing History Challenge, which I’ve been meaning to join for a week or two.  He’ll explain how it works to you, and I’ll be back tomorrow with the parade and a look inside the castle.  Join me then?

Jo’s Monday walk : Carrapateira

A nice way to travel?

A nice way to travel?

Don’t get too excited- we’re walking, of course!  On our recent trip to the Algarve, we picked up a guide to walking trails in the local Tourist Information Office.  It’s available to download online, but with more than 30 walks and over 100 pages, it’s much easier to pay 7 euros for your own copy.  I’ve included the link, just so you can see what you’re missing.

Today’s walk is based on ‘Trail of Tides’, a shortened version of no. 16 in the guide.  I didn’t undertake the whole 19kms, not because I’m lazy, but because we had already, that day, driven down the coast from the Alentejo and a riverside walk there.  Nothing too strenuous was planned.

A paddle might be nice before we get started

A paddle might be nice, before we begin?

The walk starts in the tiny village of Carrapateira, just off the west coast of the Algarve.  A cluster of cafes, a surf shop and a church- who needs more?  Oh, and there’s an old windmill too!  At the southern end of the Southwest Alentejo and Vicentina protected nature park, a small stream, the Ribeira da Carrapateira, flows out through the dunes.

You walk out of the village through a straggle of houses, in the direction of the coast.  It’s a tarmacked road initially, and as it winds up the hill you could be forgiven for wondering why you hadn’t brought the car.  My husband did!

But then, you'd miss views like this

But then, you’d miss views like this

And even better, this!

And more importantly, this!

As you crest the brow of the hill you begin to appreciate

As you crest the brow of the hill you begin to appreciate just where you are

On top of the world, with the whole of the Portuguese coastline rolling away from you on either side.  At this point you exchange tarmac for dirt track, but still occasional cars continued to bump past us.

There are plenty of boardwalks to get closer to the cliff edge

There are plenty of boardwalks to take you closer to the cliff edge

The glint

Where the tantalising glint of the water beckons

The coast curves invitingly

And the coast curves invitingly ahead

Despite the beauty of the views the sun was beginning to lower in the sky, and it still felt like a long way back to our beginnings. Perhaps it would have been a wise move to bring the car, and park at each of the viewing points, as many seemed to do?  But that would have been cheating, wouldn’t it?

The lookouts are at strategic points

The lookouts are at strategic points

Pontal was a danger for sailing ships

In the distance, the rocks at Pontal

Carrapateira point, or Pontal, has a jutting headland that made it a likely place for shipwrecks in the past.  The rock formations look deceptively similar to Cabo de S. Vicente, the south west tip of Portugal, eleven miles further south.  The rapid southbound current that adds to the danger also creates perfect conditions for surfing.

Today the water is

Today the water is deceptively calm

Alluring Amado in the distance

Alluring Amado, in the distance

Some days everything goes to plan, and some it doesn’t.  The famed surfing beach at Amado was still far ahead.  We knew that following the trail would take us there, but then we’d have to head inland, back to the village, in gathering gloom.  The joy of this particular trail is that there are alternatives.  Just beyond the headland the trail splits in two.  The left hand path will fairly swiftly bring you back to the village, or you can carry on down the coast.

The red cliffs tumbling away

The red cliffs tumbling away

Reassuringly Carrapateira appears ahead

Reassuringly, Carrapateira appears ahead

Another day I might take you to Amado, but you need to get there early.  The little car park soon fills up.  Carrapateira itself lies directly on the N268 coast road.  The link to the walking trails guide at the top of the page will give you full details, and a few other ideas besides.

Time to relax and put that kettle on!

walking logo

Yet again I have some wonderful walks to share with you this week.  Many thanks to all my contributors.  I greatly appreciate your loyalty, and I get enormous pleasure from sharing our walks together.  For anyone who doesn’t know the format, my Jo’s Monday walk page will tell you how to join in.  Just click on my logo.  You’ll be warmly welcomed.


What better way to start a new week than with a walk from Jude?

Garden Portrait: More from Nymans

Who knew Texas was this beautiful?  Thanks, Amy!

Monday Walk: Walking along the lake

Drake brings so much pleasure with his little insights and views on life :

Raid into the fall

Up hill and down dale- Geoff takes us to the Bec :

The Capital Ring: Crystal Palace to Tooting

I always have fun with Pauline, no matter where she wanders  :

Bangalow, a country gem

Time to get a little adventurous with Ruth.  Not too scary- you’ll like it!

Airwalk, glider and swing bridges

Deeply honoured to have Sonel joining us on the walks this week.  Don’t miss!

500px Fujifilm Global Photo Walk : Damwall and Schoemansville Oewerclub

Step back in time beautifully with Suzanne (and I DO mean back!)

A walk in the bush

Pauline’s garden is a tropical paradise!  No wonder she doesn’t mind going home  :

Home from the Hills

Look- the tide’s out!  Come on, be quick- follow Anabel!

Marwick Head and Birsay

And lastly, my favourite walk of the week.  I’m sure you’ll know why!

Cobbles and Blue Sky, a Tavira stroll

I have a slight dilemma facing me this week.  I hope to be with you to share more walks next week, but there may be problems.  No worries!  I’ll keep you informed.  Meantime you might like to give those guys at Monday Escapes a shout.  Have a great week, won’t you, and happy walking!

Six word Saturday


Waiting for a little night music!

The sun begins to set over FIESA in the Algarve

The sun starts to set on FIESA, in the Algarve

Click on any photo to view the gallery

What ARE they thinking?

What ARE they thinking?

Willy Wonka!

Disapproving of Willy Wonka?

The musical

It’s Show Time!

What did I say?

What?  What did I say?

Not late again!

Not late again!

I’ve visited the International Sand Sculpture FIESA, at Pera, several times, but never in the evening. This Summer I arrived just as the sun was starting to fade.  At first I wandered, nodding and smiling in recognition, and admiring the craftsmanship.  Choosing favourites.  Gradually the sand sculptures took on colour.  Just a spotlight or two at first.

Time to sit in the cafe with Laurel and Hardy and wait

Time to sit in the cafe with Laurel and Hardy, and wait

For the colours to deepen

For the colours to deepen

With great drama!

Enhancing the drama

And a smile or two

With a smile or two

And a frown!

And a frown!

A thoughtful d-j

Don’t knock the d-j!

And that inimitable group again!

Or the world’s greatest rock band

I imagine you’ve guessed that the theme this year is Music.  FIESA started in 2003 and runs from late March till October each year, so if you happen to be in the area, you just have time!  Full details are on the link.

Hope I’ve kept you entertained for a little while.  Have a great weekend and don’t forget to join me on Monday for a walk.  Better just pop in on Cate first, with your Six word Saturday.


All at sea


All at sea!




Licking and licking,

With a greedy salted tongue.

Restrained by the tide



A starfish, rooted out of its home

Uprooted from home

A battle for survival

Battling for survival

Learning new skills

Learning new skills

And mastering them

And mastering them

Boys, ready for action

Poised, ready for action

Ships that pass...

Ships that pass…

I’m not sure quite where this wistful post came from.  It started life as a tribute to Lazy Poet’s Thursday Haiku and somehow morphed. Just me, rambling on Algarve beaches.  But this week, Gilly has the most beautiful Tanka.  Do go and see.


Jo’s Monday walk : Tyniec Monastery (a walk in two halves)

The Benedictine clifftop monastery at Tyniec

The Benedictine clifftop monastery at Tyniec

It was 8 years ago that I was first taken to Tyniec by my neice, Weronika.  Back then, it was all part of the newness of Poland in my experience, and my memories are indistinct.  I barely managed to grab a photograph!  Time to set that straight, but it was not quite so straightforward as I expected.

On a beautiful, sunny day I set out along the river bank of the Vistula, from Most Debnicki, in the heart of Kraków.  The route hugged the river closely and the name of the road, Tyniecka, seemed encouraging.  As I drew further away from the city, the path became quieter, with just the occasional jogger or cyclist for company.  It was wonderfully peaceful.  Too good to be true?

The river bank with Debnicki Bridge and Wawel in the background

The river bank with Debnicki Bridge and Wawel in the background

Looking across the river at St. Augustyna on the far shore

Looking across the river at St. Augustyna on the far shore

It looks imposing

It does look imposing!

In the distance another bridge beckons

In the distance another bridge beckons

What I hadn’t allowed for is that soon after the above bridge, the footpath runs out.  The only option becomes a busy road with no footpath on either side.  For a while I carried on, trying not to mind the passing traffic, but a sign suggested it was still 9kms to Tyniec. The option?  A bus, of course!  No. 112 runs about every 20-30 minutes, and deposits you in the pretty village of Tyniec.  Signs point the way to the monastery.

Tyniec lies 12km south west of Kraków in an area of limestone Jurassic hills, the highest of which is 293metres above sea level.  The first settlement here dates back to 3000 B.C.  In around 1040 a Benedictine abbey was founded by King Casimir the Restorer.  It was destined to have a long and turbulent history.  Aron, the first abbot of Tyniec , became a bishop of  Kraków, with the responsibility to restore order and cement the position of the Church in the newly formed Kingdom of Poland.  In 1259 the village was destroyed in the Mongol invasion of Poland. This was just one of a sequence of assaults.  In the Middle Ages the River Vistula was a political border. The Abbey would no sooner be repaired and extended than it was beseiged again.

When Poland disappeared from the map of Europe, divided between Austria, Prussia and Russia, the Abbey was used as a fortress to hold off the Russian troops.  In 1816 the Abbey was finally dissolved by the Austrian authorities and left to decay.  It wasn’t until July 1939, on the eve of World War II, that the Benedictines returned to their ruin.  Restoration was begun in 1947 and looking at the complex today it’s hard to imagine all that has gone before.

But this is how it looked when it was repossessed in 1939

But this is how it looked when it was repossessed in 1939

And how bleak it must have been in Winter

And how bleak it must have been in Winter

A series of information boards showed the devastation.  I would have liked to take a tour of the Abbey, but these were conducted in Polish unless you had pre-booked an English tour.  I doubted that I would benefit much and opted to simply use my eyes.  The life of the monastery continues uninterrupted from 5.30 in the morning, with the awakening bell, until 20.30 and the beginning of ‘night time silence’.  The website gives details of how a monk spends his day, and much more.

In the centre of a large courtyard sits a well, which reaches all the way down to river level below us. There is a wonderful sense of peace. The most recent additions to the complex include modern reception and shop but they are not intrusive. High on the wall, a small cafe, with beautiful views down to the river.  I know you would have liked to see my piece of szarlotka, but it melted into my mouth too quickly to be caught on camera.  Accommodation is available for guests, and I can’t help feeling that this could be a very special place to spend a few days.

I had wondered if it would be possible to come to Tyniec by boat from Kraków.  Steps lead down through the trees to the river below, and there I found the evidence.  Sadly, only in Summer, on Saturdays and Sundays.  It would make a wonderful alternative route back.

But trying not to disturb the peace

Trying not to disturb the peace

The best view of the monastery would be from the opposite bank of the Vistula, but I saw all that I could.  The path threads beneath the mighty limestone crags and disappears off around the bend.  The temptation to follow it was strong, but ‘home’ lay in the opposite direction.

A colossus in white

A colossus in white

Beside the ferry point there’s a small cafe where you can enjoy a beer and a few Polish snacks.  A path leads back towards Kraków and I followed it for a while, not sure if it would rejoin the ‘main’ road through Tyniec.  A grand looking restaurant sits back beneath the cliffs, and in the distance, views of Bielany.

Satisfied with my outing, I retraced my steps up through the village and back to the bus stop. This time I stayed on the bus back to the centre.  The rest would keep for another day.

walking logo

Thanks to everybody for their patience and the kind contributions that still flowed in despite my wandering ways.  There are double rations from a few people this week, and you may have seen some of these but please be sure not to miss any.  If you would like to join me, now or in the future, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Just click on the logo above.  Now please grab that coffee and settle down for a good read.

Drake has two offerings- a beautiful moat and castle :

Royal architecture

Or maybe Lorelei would suit you better :

Between ruins and rivers

Anabel keeps on finding sunshine in Shetland.  A neat trick!

Lighthouses and cliffs: three Shetland walks

Who’s up for a little turtle spotting with Violet Sky?

Fairy Lake

A really good guided walk takes a lot of beating, as Laura will tell you :

Guided through the city

Elisa goes people watching in the rain, in that most beautiful of cities :

A Paris Habit

Lessons in geology, and pure beauty, from my pal Meg :

Eurobodalla beaches: Bingie Bingie headland 

While Ruth manages to combine beauty and practicality :

A bush walk with links to fire management

Whooshy water always appeals to me, and Rosemay is lovely company :

Wild Seas at Canal Rocks

You’ll enjoy this sunset with her too :

Sunset at Cape Naturaliste

Over the hill takes on a whole new connotation with Pauline and her four-legged friend :

Time for walkies 

And you can just picture Pauline and Jack pootling about these stalls :

Market Day at Mullumbimby

Then stopping for fish and chips (not greedy- sharing a portion of chips)

A walk along the river

Jesh shares some of her beautiful paintings :

The Tale of one of my Plein Airs and an Imaginary Walk

And Jill shows us the beauty of her native coastline :

A wander around Ahuriri Estuary

The scenery’s a little more bleak with Jaspa :

Sewell, Chile: UNESCO World Heritage Ghost Town

Tish is known to be fond of elephants.  Combined with bubbles, let’s finish with a smile!

Summer came back on Saturday and took us to the Fair

Many thanks to all of you and I hope you have a wonderful week ahead. (weather prospects in England are good!)  See you all next Monday, when we’ll probably be back in the Algarve.  Take care till then!

Six word Saturday


A few random images of Poland

The spires of the Mariacki Church will always say Krakow to me

The spires of the Mariacki Church will always spell Krakow to me

Sunflower heads on the market

Sunflower heads on the market

A gallery from Ogrod Botanyczny (the Botanic Gardens) for Jude– click any photo for a close-up

An adorable ball of fluff!

An adorable ball of fluff!

And a few more wedding memories

Ending with cake, of course!

Ending with cake, of course!

I expect you can see, we had a good time in Poland!  If you missed The joy of a wedding you might want to take a closer look at the celebrations.  I will be rounding off my Polish excitement with a monastery in my Monday walks.  Till then, have a great weekend, and don’t forget to pop in on Cate with your six words.