Portugal

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.

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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!

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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.

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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

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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.

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Jo’s Monday walk : Vila Nova de Milfontes

Looking down from the castelo at Vila Nova de Milfontes

Looking down from the castelo of Vila Nova de Milfontes

I don’t know what it is about castles and beaches but they seem to me a very pleasing combination.  And the one above, in the Alentejo, isn’t the only one I found.  But we have to start somewhere so today I thought I’d take you over the Algarve border, and on up the western coastline of Portugal.  I have been to this area before but never so far as Vila Nova de Milfontes.

Situated at the mouth of the River Mira, the presence of the castle tells you that it was not always so peaceful here. Forte de São Clemente still has a drawbridge.  Dating back to 1485, the town had a key defensive role to play, and the wide estuary provided a safe harbour.  Today it’s not pirates we have to fear so much as tourists.  The town is part of the Southwest Alentejo and Costa Vicentina national park, which stretches all the way down the coast and into the Algarve.  As such it enjoys a good measure of protection, and development is largely low rise.

Not for nothing is this known as the windy coast, and in my short visit it was highly apparent that this could be a cool spot. (the wind sometimes whistled in the corners of my hotel)  But I also experienced some lovely sunshine, so let’s take a wander through the town.

We'll start here in the shade of the castle

We’ll start here in the shade of the castle

There’s a tiny square,  Praça da Barbacã, very atmospheric at night, which looks down on the ferry point.  A rather strange sculpture has pride of place.  It pays tribute to the role played locally in aviation between Portugal and Macau in the Far East.

This is the nicest part of town, as you wander gently uphill through a mix of older houses and new.  There’s a small, simple church and a few gift shops.  What appears to be a tiny cafe turns out to be a 3 storey Tardis, serving food to half the town, myself included!  I meander along, past ochre and immaculate blue and white, letting my eye drift, as it does.

But wait!  There are surprises in store.

I thought that there must be some kind of scarecrow festival going on, but this was the only evidence I found.  Just one ‘spooky’ street, with an interesting shop or two for delving.

Or a seahorse with attitude?

Maybe a seahorse with attitude?

This looks like a good place to stay

And on the street corner, a good-looking place to stay

Pausing, I look down to the right and catch a glimpse of water.  Like a magnet, I’m drawn.

Looking back you can see the road bridge spanning the River Mira which brings you into town, but ahead the estuary opens out. Locals race against the tide to winkle out errant shellfish. Beneath my feet, a shelf of lavishly coloured rock.

Gazing out to sea

Gazing out to sea

And here's the ferry point. It's lunch hour!

And here’s the ferry point, at lunch hour

A group of backpackers sit in the shade.  I wonder where they’re off to next.  It feels like a transient place, and I know that there are beaches aplenty, just waiting.

Time to mount the steps back to the castelo

Time to mount the steps back to the castelo- not too arduous!

And this is your reward!

And here you have your reward!

I hope you enjoyed our morning amble.  That fresh sea air always does me a power of good.  The resort has probably stayed so peaceful because it’s quite a distance from the nearest airport, Lisbon, and you would probably need to drive there.

Time to share some walks.  Got the kettle on?

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Some of these folks have had a long wait to be included this week, so apologies if you’ve already been there.  Please do visit them if you haven’t.  If you’d like to join in, details can be found on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Just click on the logo.  You’ll be very welcome.

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Let’s start the ball rolling with Bratislava.  Wouldn’t I love to accompany Debbie there?  This is SO pretty!

No Feeling Blue Here

Blue skies in the Shetlands for Anabel.  Lucky, or what?

Jarlshof to Sumburgh Head

Car boot sale anyone?  Actually Violet’s calling it a Farmer’s Market :

To market, to market

Random but very enjoyable rambles with Jackie and Frida Kahlo :

Monday’s Walk

Fairmont Banff Springs!  Sadly this luxury is not for me, but just look at Amy’s photos!

Monday Walk : Castle in the Wilderness (2)

Drake pays a wonderful tribute to ‘strong women’ :

The shades of Joan of Arc

And, in my absence, he took a little walk with the Beatles!

Nowhere walk

While Jaspa takes us strolling ‘down South America way’ :

The Streets of Santiago, Chile

Jill takes us for a fun wander (and I think there’s street art too)

Auckland City on a good day

What do Errol Flynn and Hobart have in common?  Find out with Ruth!

A walk around Battery Point

Fascination and excitement from the Southern hemisphere!  You’ll find it with Laia :

Rotorua: Maori culture and geothermal activity

And please welcome another ‘fit person’ to my walks.  You may have difficulty keeping up!

Memories of Ireland: Mount Brandon

Jude has excelled herself in my absence, with 3 new walks!  The most recent one unfortunately ended with a limp.

Garden Portrait : RHS Wisley part 1

Garden Portrait : RHS Wisley part 2

A painful memory or two here from Jude- suffering for her art!

Garden Portrait : Painshill Park

Unfortunately I won’t be walk leading next Monday as I’ll still be recovering from a Polish wedding.  I’m only gone a few days and hope to be back on track after that.  Seriously!  Meantime you might like to keep an eye on those lovely lasses at Monday Escapes.  Take care, and enjoy your walking!

 

 

Six word Saturday

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Hello, and how are you all?

The 'tents' return to Tavira

The ‘tents’ return to Tavira

What a fortnight, but what to select to show you what I’ve been up to?  In brief, of course.  More by luck than planning, the Mediterranean Diet Fair took place whilst I was in Tavira, which accounts for those little white tents and the variety of goodies within. It marked the end of an extremely hot Summer, in which the evenings were soothed by riverside entertainment.

The floodlit castle walls took on a magic of their own

The floodlit castle walls took on a magic of their own

And the churches opened their doors to show everyone the beauty inside

And the churches opened their doors to show everyone the beauty inside

Including the incomparable beauty of the Misericordia Church

Including the incomparable beauty of the Misericordia Church

With its wonderful azulejo panels

With its wonderful azulejo panels

The days were spent mostly wandering beaches.  I discovered a new obsession with buoys.  And I continued my exploration along the west coast of Portugal, up into the beautiful Alentejo.

Zambueira do Mar in the Alentejo

Zambueira do Mar in the Alentejo

Then there was the excitement that was the Medieval Fair at Castro Marim, with both castelo and mighty fortress an arena for combat, and an array of stalls and distractions.  Plus an evening of sand sculptures at FIESA.

Adding colour to Beethoven at FIESA

Adding colour to Beethoven at FIESA

I even managed to combine Morning Glory for Gilly with a hint of metal bench for Jude!  Yes, it was a fine holiday, and there are many tales to tell.  Gilly is going to the Algarve soon herself, and Jude always extends a warm welcome, so pop in and say ‘hi’ to them both.

A bench at Cacela Velha

A bench at Cacela Velha

I have to decide where to take you walking on Monday, and then I have a wedding in Poland, so I’ll miss Six word Saturday again next week.  I hope you’ve all had a great Summer, and if you’d like to share it with Cate I’m sure she’d be pleased.  See you soon!

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Six word Saturday

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The view that draws me back…

Looking down the years of our Portuguese home, there’s an image that appears over and over. It’s the bridge, Ponte Romana, in Tavira, with its lovely backdrop.  Many’s the evening I’ve idled, with a glass of port, watching the dip and swoop of the swifts.  Trying hard to catch their flight on camera, in an unsuspecting moment.

It’s just one reason to keep me going back.

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This week Brie Anne at The Daily Post asks if you have a ‘muse‘.  Something to which you are drawn again and again.

Meanwhile Cate has just six words at Show My Face.  How about you?

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In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Muse.”