Jo’s Monday walk : Peaceful Pecháo

It all started with a restaurant.  Some friends, who come to the Algarve a couple of times a year, particularly like to find new places to eat.  And so it became a Thursday habit for a small group of us to meet for lunch.  One such outing took us to Pecháo, a small village in the neighbourhood of Olháo.  Fully sated from a lovely meal, I thought I might take a look at the village church.  I was in luck, for it was open, and I slipped inside to look.

A couple were praying devoutly so I did not linger, but outside the church I stopped to read a notice board.  Apparently a chapel has existed on this site since 1482, and the current Igreja de Sáo Bartolomeu probably dates from the 18th century.  Close by the church the small ossuary, or bone chapel, took me by surprise.  Reading that there was a ‘route of churches’, we decided to return for a walk one day.

And so, a couple of weeks later, I found myself and partner in crime back in Largo da Igreja, examining our surrounds more closely.  Always one for the details, he had researched the walks, produced a map and decided which of three routes we should follow.  PR5OLH, at 7.5km, was a level, easy walk, which suited because I was succumbing to a virus and not at my best, but not willing to stay at home on such a beautiful day.

The walk wound through the back streets of the village, past a series of ageing gardens.  I was highly amused to find, at a convenient crossroads, a similarly aged chair beside a bench, and a waiting orange.  (On our return, three elderly gentlemen sat side by side, orange presumably shared).

Leaving the village we crossed the Ribeira de Bela Mandil, where water must once have flowed.  A path led alongside the dry stream, to the Nora de Viriato, an impressively solid-looking well.  Bright Crocosmia blazed beside a wearying olive tree.

We made a circuit of lanes and tracks, passing immense polytunnels (papaya?) and a few beautiful villas, meanwhile attracting a number of unfriendly canines, some of whom wag their tails.  I never know if this is a good sign, or not.  Pretty pink cistus winked at us, blossom trees leaning into the breeze one last time.  Confident of not getting the shot, I trailed a butterfly across a patch of Bermuda Buttercups.  Outwitted every time.

Soon we were in sight of the village.  The water tower, and cemetery- uncomfortably close neighbours, and yet they seem a natural fit.

But I know from long experience that your interest lies elsewhere.  I should tell you that the lovely place we ate was called Gunther’s– not a typical village restaurant, but I can highly recommend it.  No more Thursday luncheons for the time being, as our friends return to the UK this week.

Thank you for your patience.  I can tell you that I am now fully recovered and that I will be walking with you again next week.  After that I propose a short break while I get my thoughts in order.  So, if you have a walk that you’re longing to share, please do it this week.  You know the formula here on Jo’s Monday walk.  And I’ll try to make you welcome.

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Spring doesn’t always bring happiness.  Pop over and give Eunice a hug?

Snowdrops for Sophie

Rosemay continues her wander down Memory Lane, in London’s lesser known haunts :

Off the Tourist Trail in London- Stoke Newington and Clissold Park

There have been a few complaints about the weather lately, but not from Drake!

Wilderness of water

We all dream of different things.  Happy to view Janet’s from afar :

Jo’s Monday walk…my dream walk

But Irene says it’s been a mild winter :

Glimpses of Lake Michigan

Looking for an interesting Dutch city to explore?  Debbie has the answer :

A ramble around Rotterdam

Or you can have fun entertaining a 4-year old, with Margaret :

A Walk to the Planetarium

While Cathy takes us into the world of the Berbers :

Morocco: Merzouga to El-Khorbat

And me?  Well, it’s Carnival week.  Not Rio, but doing our best.  Take care till next time!

Jo’s Monday walk : Over the border

I’m keeping it short this week, rather like my trip to Spain.  In fact, this is a visit I wasn’t planning to share, but sometimes, despite my best intentions, the camera starts clicking of it’s own volition.  Before you know it, I’ve got another Monday walk!

I’ve mentioned several times that on Sundays I generally take part in Todos a Caminhar (Let’s all walk!).  A health initiative, organised by the local council, the walks take part across the Algarve and, once a year, extend across the Guadiana to Ayamonte parish, on the Spanish border.  Last year we went along, on a romp through salt marshes very similar to those in our Algarve.  You might wonder about the point of this.  On my part it was mostly curiosity.  I wanted to see if it differed from the Algarve walks, and I always enjoy walking in new territory.  No such excuse this year, but some friends wanted to go, so we volunteered to give them a lift.

As we neared the sports centre, venue for the walk last year, we remarked on the absence of cars.  Last year they had lined the road.  Worse still, when we parked up in Punta del Moral, the streets were empty.  Puzzled, we listened for the sound of music or some sign of activity.  Slowly it was dawning on us that we might be in the wrong place.  Fortunately a number of others had made the same mistake, including a coachload of prospective walkers.  When they radioed for help, and were obviously redirected, we scurried back to our car and followed.  The venue was not as advertised, but in the nearby resort, Isla Canela.  We arrived just in time to join the throng, and head off through the starting gate.

I assumed we would be heading across the salt marshes on roughly the same trajectory as last year, but no!  We stayed on the footpath, and followed the road back in the direction from which we’d arrived.  A bit of a disappointment, but it did mean a closer look at the Torre Canela.  One of 40 towers, commissioned by Felipe II in the 1500s for the defence of the Andalucian coast, it was reluctantly paid for by a fishing tax on the local community.  The tower is special in that it contains a well at its centre, but the site is closed on Sundays.

Next we were directed around the back of the resort, closed and tired-looking in its winter garb, out to the lengthy promenade.  The almost deserted beach doesn’t have sands as golden as those that surround me in the Algarve, but the palm trees and lace curtains of white broom create a fragrant backdrop.  So beautiful, it’s just one more sign that Spring is rolling along in my part of the world.

Eventually we arrive back in the immaculate marina, the focal point of this rather soulless resort.  Building work continues so there must be a market, but I was happy to cross the water to the real Spain, no less attractive for being a little shabby round the edges.

We chose a restaurant by the waterside to look back on Isla Canela.  Faced with a menu in Spanish we became surprisingly fluent in Portuguese, but the waitress was kind.  And we can ask for dessert in many languages!

We thought the roses a rather romantic touch.  And my triple chocolate mousse was delicious.

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I’m still in a state of wibble regarding future scheduling, but there will be another Jo’s Monday walk next week.  Thank you so much for all your kind thoughts.  It’s not easy to stop when we have so much fun together.  You are great company!

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All’s right in Amanda’s world!

Walking with Kangaroos and Galahs

Isn’t this a lovely name?  We could all do with a bit of this, Alice :

Thankful Square

I was so relieved when I found it was the geese Janet was talking about!

Jo’s Monday Walk…morning light and taking a bath

Just when I’m starting to think warmth, Irene has me shivering again :

Rescue on the Ice

Food and art- 2 subjects dear to Jackie’s heart :

Breaky

Eunice loves street art, too.  Her lovely dog has just died, so please visit.  She might enjoy the company :

Bolton’s street art

If anyone has a spirit of adventure, it’s Mel, but she’s also an appreciator of art :

Art Outside – Getting Out Amongst Walcha’s Sculptures

Drake has a sense of adventure too, and an eye for an interesting shot :

Color hunting

While Cathy takes an intimate look at Italy’s capital :

Rome: Continuing the “heart of Rome” walk past the Spanish Steps & the Trevi Fountain

And Natalie gets up close and personal with a waterfall :

Hiking to Devil’s Cauldron Waterfall

Let’s finish with Jude.  Who wouldn’t want an amble with her?  I’ll get there myself one day!

Hayle: Copperhouse Trail

Have a great week everybody!  This last one has flown.

Jo’s Monday walk : Corte Pequena

At this time of year I’m seriously enamoured of almond blossom.  Singly they are like small girls, spreading their skirts in a graceful curtsy.  On a laden bough, they are the chorus line in Swan Lake, fluttering together in delicate motion.  Like the dying swan, their days are numbered, for already they’ve been in bloom for a month.

The variety of colours confuses me.  I was told recently that the paler blossoms are sweet almonds and the darker ones are bitter but I haven’t been able to verify this.  I’m happy just to admire.  In any case, I digress, and it’s time to get started on our walk.  You will have gathered that I’m back in the Algarve hills, this time our start point a small village, Corte Pequena, with its own orange grove.

On a Saturday morning all was peaceful, far removed from the bustle of the city.  A small terrier took it upon himself to defend his territory, but soon realised we were harmless enough and gave up.  We didn’t have to walk far to find blossom.

Nor the wild clover that blooms everywhere in the Algarve at this time of year.  It’s widely regarded as a pest, but so pretty!  We followed the gentle gradient of the hills, climbing to a vantage point overlooking the dam at Odeleite.  In the distance a herd of goats graze.

Despite recent rains the water levels are still quite low.  Strangulated trees lean into the valley, some twisted by nature while others were burnt out some years ago.  Bamboo follows a narrow stream through the valley bed, but we find a good point to cross, with just a stride or two and a held hand.  Sometimes it can require a good plodge.

Soon we have come full circle and the village is spread out before us.  As we descend a young dog decides that we will make good company.  He gambols playfully alongside us, setting off a chorus of warnings from his wiser elders.  Perhaps they are aware that sheep wander loose here.

For a moment we think that we are going to be playing Pied Piper to the flock, followed by an irate shepherd.  But fortunately sheep have a short attention span and we are less interesting than the juicy grazing.  I suspect you know the feeling.

That has to be one of the tastiest almond tarts I’ve ever eaten.  The mural and wonderful metal sculptures were at the start of the Amendoeira (Almond Blossom) Trail, at nearby Alta Mora.

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I’ve been walking with you weekly (or weakly!) for 6 years next month, and I’m thinking I should call time on our perambulations.  Or cut back to a monthly, or fortnightly, event.  I’m just as restless as ever, but I’m resident in Portugal now and many of my wanderings are local.  I don’t want to bore you all, and I might like to try something different.  I expect there’d still be occasional cake.

Meantime, thank you for your support and your wonderful company.  Here are this week’s walks.

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If only Janet could walk in a straight line!

Monday walk… weaving around

Alice lives in a very beautiful place, and is happy to share :

A Symbol of Hospitality- Pineapple Fountain

A gentle look at life from Drake this week :

Winterly mood

It’s ages since I went along to the other end of the Algarve.  This is a lovely walk!

Randonnée / Hike from Armacáo de Pera to Praia de Marinha

Reminding us that Valentine’s Day is almost here, Natalie takes…

A Walk Among the Roses

While Cathy looks at local and Civil War history in Virginia, US :

Cedar Creek & Belle Grove National Historical Park

And Rosemay checks out a little family history in north London :

Off the Tourist Trail in London – A Stroll round Islington

Wishing you a great week!  Hopefully the storms have passed.

 

Capital, in a small way : Ponta Delgada

Ponta Delgada isn’t especially grand, as capital cities go.  In fact, my initial impression was that it was rather shabby.  But it is the gateway to an archipelago that captured my imagination long ago.  The Azores for me were the fulfilment of a dream.

Sitting in mid-Atlantic, this group of 9 volcanic islands seemed to me a world apart, and yet so much of their architecture felt familiar.  They are, after all, Portuguese islands.  Ponta Delgada, situated on the largest island, Sáo Miguel, is their administrative capital.  Funnily enough (history is a strange thing) the religious capital of the islands is Angra on Terceira, and the legislative process operates from Horta on Faial.

It was pure coincidence that we arrived on the island in the midst of their greatest religious festival, in May.  Ponta Delgada is the traditional centre of Festa de Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres, and the Campo de Sáo Francisco and surrounding streets were decked in all their finery.

The Convent of Nossa Senhora da Esperanca is extraordinary both inside and out, especially by night when the whole square radiates light.  From its origins as a small fishing village to the cosmopolitan city that it now is, Ponta Delgada retains something of the charm of these magical islands.

It takes a special person to induce me to delve into my archives.  Viveka is making a guest appearance hostessing Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week.  Few people are more well-traveled than my lovely and generous friend, but I don’t think she has been to this particular Capital.  Thanks for taking me back, darlin’.  I enjoyed every second!