Chimney pots to coach and horses
Found in Quarteira bus station, though I wasn’t waiting for a bus. Have a happy weekend, all, and don’t forget to play 6WS!
Found in Quarteira bus station, though I wasn’t waiting for a bus. Have a happy weekend, all, and don’t forget to play 6WS!
I’ve always meant to tell the story of Flor de Sal, so much a part of summer here in the Algarve. A walk through the salt marshes is one of the joys of summer, though you do have to pick your days as it can be unbearably hot. A hint of breeze can make all the difference.
The pink colouration, from crill, especially transfixes the eye. The fusion of sunshine and salt water creates the salt crystals, which need high temperature and strong sunshine with only gentle winds. This year conditions have been perfect and it’s a very good harvest.
The process starts around April, when the tanks are prepared. Mud and clay has hardened over the years and a first channel of salt water is fed in with the tide, to a good depth. The system of tanks or reservoirs are connected with locks and channels, and gradually the saltwater is transferred to increasingly shallow tanks, warming the water in the process. Finally it reaches the crystallisation tanks where, from June to August, ‘flor de sal’ is formed. The fragile crystals form on the saltwater surface. Harvesting is done by hand, the ‘marnotos’ being highly skilful in collecting the crystals, which must never touch the bottom of the pans. They are raked gently off and left to dry in the hot sun for 7 days, where they become more crunchy, and identifiable as the ‘flor de sal’ which is sold in the markets. Their appearance through a microscope is like a flower. Just one more miracle of summer.
Many thanks to Paula, at Thursday’s Special, for the inspiration.
Although I love a good walk I would almost never turn down a boat trip. This one came with the option of an hour’s guided walk at our destination, Foz de Odeleite. But it was hot and I was feeling lazy, so I declined. Put your feet up and ride along with me?
We leave from the quayside at Vila Real de S. Antonio, at the mouth of the mighty Guadiana river. Briefly we head towards the ocean, passing the glossy marina, while our guide relates a few facts and figures. Midstream we turn to head up the Guadiana, with Portugal on our left hand side and Spain on the right. Ayamonte, with its plazas and tapas bars, sits directly opposite to Vila Real.
Soon we are passing the inlet that leads to Castro Marim, with its fine duet of castles and church. A wonderful Medieval Fair in late August usually brings the town to life, though not this year, of course.
Ahead lies the road bridge that links the Algarve with Spain, closed for a while when Covid-19 was at its peak. A small car and passenger ferry also shuttles to and fro between Vila Real and Ayamonte.
As we approach the bridge it becomes less attractive, swaddled for protection while repairs take place. The water is flat calm and smooth, but we are astonished at the apparently endless fleet of jellyfish streaming past us out to sea.
The first of several former customs offices maintains a sleepy vigilance on the shoreline as the gentle hills drift past us. These hills never seem so gentle when you are on foot, but now we are at leisure to observe. Perched high in a tree, someone spots an eagle and we crane eagerly to see it.
And then we are approaching our mooring at Foz de Odeleite. Another boat docks ahead of us and we hover, waiting our turn.
An ugly, half constructed building has overlooked the tiny, picturesque village for as long as I can remember, and we wonder if it will ever be completed or removed. A short walk takes us uphill to our restaurant, where we can swim or sit in shade while a few energetic people take the hour long walk. It’s an area we have walked before and it’s much too hot to feel guilty.
I have to say here that organised trips, with entertainment, are not normally our thing, but we were a group of 8 friends, happy to be together, and we all agreed that this was a great way to spend a day. The food was excellent and our hosts did their utmost to give us a good time. Everyone, kitchen staff and our guide included, joined in with the singing.
We booked online with Riosultravel and were made very welcome at Quinta do Rio. I would recommend it. Both on board and in the restaurant it was easy to maintain social distancing. Soon enough we returned to our boat and the journey back downstream. The atmosphere was mellow, and singing and dancing continued for a while, till we subsided to watch the world glide by.
And then we were approaching the end of our trip, with Ayamonte on our left hand side. Hardly any walking this week, and our dessert was a healthy chunk of melon! Sorry to disappoint 🙂
This is as good a time as any to announce a rest from my walks. Over the spring and summer I felt unable to discontinue. It’s a popular feature and I wanted to stay in touch with you all. It’s been a strange one, hasn’t it? I will continue to walk with a small group of friends, as restrictions on numbers currently apply in Portugal, but the routes are unlikely to be new. There is still a lot of uncertainty regarding all our futures, but I’d like the freedom to post as and when I choose. I hope you’ll understand.
I have a wonderful selection of walks to end with. Please enjoy these, and thank you everybody for all your support and encouragement.
I always like to introduce somebody new (to me), and this is such a beautiful part of the world. Meet Vanessa :
Also in Germany, Ulli shares a few observations on life :
It’s a while since I’ve been in Italy, and never to this lovely place :
Drake often prompts me to song. ‘You must remember this, A kiss is still a kiss, A sigh is still a sigh…’ :
Let’s go rambling and ambling with Albert in North Korea :
Can we find Rupali, in the fog?
I hate grey skies! Mutter, mutter! But not with Margaret :
Eunice hit the jackpot with blue skies and a lovely canal path this week :
Not always the best weather but you’re spoilt for choice with Anabel. Got a favourite?
Prickly pear are the subject of Janet’s walk. Ouch! 🙂
If you ever find yourself in Belgium you could do much worse than try one of Denzil’s walks :
And if you can’t find something to delight here, with Lynn, you’re really not trying!
The last word, from Carol, in Oz :
Don’t worry- I’ll be back, in one form or another. This week I celebrated 9 years of blogging. It’s addictive, isn’t it? Take care till then!
Subtitled : Stillness when the storm has abated It was a humdinger of a storm yesterday morning. Exceptionally high tides flooded the centre of Tavira. I hope calm has been restored. Meanwhile, Debbie has a great message for us on Six Word Saturday. Enjoy your weekend!
Leaving the sea behind for a little while, one of my favourite roads in the Algarve is the N270. It winds steadily up into the hills, a series of twists and turns, with glimpses of small villages in the valleys below. As the road levels out you come to the market town of Sáo Brás de Alportel. It’s a nice peaceful spot for a wander. Come with me and we’ll see what we can find.
As with most traditional towns in Portugal, the streets are mainly cobbled. Claiming a convenient patch of shade, a snowy white cat regards me solemnly with its one green and one blue eye. Is it my imagination or does that lady on the wall look more anxious as I look back at her?
Around the corner, the entrance to the episcopal palace gardens, beyond which sparkles the municipal pool. This lovely outdoor facility was renovated last year and I expected to see it busy on this warm summer day. Another casualty of Covid-19, I suspect.
Much of Sáo Brás is a little dog-eared and worn, but resourceful locals have done their best to brighten the shabbiest walls. The local tourist information office and art gallery was open and I popped in to examine current trends. An interesting perspective on a corn field?
The town has a lovely church, the scene of devout and colourful celebrations at Easter. The streets are decorated with a multitude of flower heads and floral torches are paraded through them to a chant of ‘Hallelujah’. Not this year, of course, but at least they can’t take away the beautiful view.
Somebody must have had a job lot of paper swallows, because they appear on several of the artworks. How many swallows make a summer?
But the town is not short of more conventional beauty. The azulejos are as fine as any you will see. This cheerful scooter picks out the lemon of the background tile rather nicely, don’t you think?
The central square had a makeover a couple of years ago, and has become home to several modern art pieces. I was happy to find this metal family in a nearby street. Very appropriately, wearing their masks.
Perhaps you’d like to see the town in happier times, Celebrating life at Easter. We have to believe they’ll come again.
Meanwhile, just a few walks to share this week, which inclines me to think I could make Jo’s Monday walk a fortnightly feature, and confuse everyone! Today I’m going to join Sami, who shares street art every week on Monday Mural.
Ducks and dragonflies… I’m smitten, Janet :
He’s home again! Not such a terrible place to be, Drake :
Is anything more splendid than this? A Cornish garden, much loved by Jude :
While Albert goes in search of another splendid view :
Ending with Janaline in exotic Shanghai :
Wishing you all a good week, though I know life is difficult right now in many places. Take care till next time!
Lapping the shore, gently
A mantle of lace
Cloaking my shoulders in peace
My happy place, even when I’m sad. Share Six Words this Saturday? And have a great weekend!
A week or two ago I caught the very busy ferry from Olháo across to the barrier island, Culatra. The sea was flat calm and a limpid blue and the air scarcely moved, such was the heat. Alighting at Farol, I followed the path across the island, passing chalet houses, a couple of cafés and the lighthouse for which it is named, to the beach.
A cluster of people were relaxing there, but I was surprised at how rapidly the ferry’s full load had disappeared. My aim was to walk along the beach, catching whatever breeze I could, until I reached the small hamlet, Culatra. There I would have a light meal while waiting for the ferry to carry me back to the mainland.
It’s a relaxed place, and I sat watching a youngster entertaining himself by throwing hoops, beside the church.
I sat for an hour or so, and in that time the wind steadily increased. The umbrellas began to flap and sway and, as I looked out across the water, white horses began to prance and the boats to bob wildly. A galleon at anchor in the bay had started to unfurl her sails, but must have thought better of it, for soon they were neatly stowed away.
In 1941 catastrophic gales hit this coast, wiping out much of the lowrise property and beach huts, and rearranging the sand spits and channels of the Ria Formosa. This is the front line, which protects the Eastern Algarve from the ferocity of the Atlantic Ocean. It comes as no surprise that the islanders, despite seemingly carefree ways, have huge respect for the nature that surrounds them.
Each August the whole island takes part in a thanksgiving ceremony to Nossa Senhora. Maybe you have to be fearless if you’re born here. By the ferry departure point the next generation lounge in the sun. Minutes earlier they had been leaping with gay abandon into the choppy waters.
For a closer look at the island, let me direct you to an older post of mine, Ilha da Culatra. Meanwhile, there’s cake!
Many thanks for your company again this week. Temperatures are starting to abate a little, and gentle walks will continue for the time being. Join me whenever you like here on Jo’s Monday walk.
Never mind the weather! Mention food and Debs will be there!
Come and count cacti with Janet?
Alice certainly has some beautiful property on her doorstep. Take a wander with her :
Brambles or a story? Take your pick with Susan :
What is it about Drake and tractors? Sark looks delightful :
Aseem might prefer crowds and big cities :
But Sue has the beauty of nature right on her doorstep :
And Rosemay tackles the new block editor on our behalf. Got to be worth a visit!
Another day, another dollar! Well, hopefully, anyway. Funny how Mum’s old sayings stay in your head. Have a good week!
Several bridges Span the river in Tavira, including Ponte Romana, a Roman bridge that isn’t; an uninspiring but very functional road bridge that soars across the water, and a small scale model of the same, nearing completion, to replace the former dilapidated Military Bridge. Construction of the latter has certainly been a challenge!
One of my favourite things is sailing out of this river to the Ilha beyond. Exuberant water fizzes and gurgles as it washes surfers and fishermen alike. So often flat calm, I love the sight and sound of leaping waves.
Two out of ten will do for now, don’t you think? And far too many words for Six Word Saturday! Have a good one, everybody!
We had two choices for places to stay on our anniversary. Alcácer do Sal was somewhere we bypassed on the way to Lisbon a few years ago. What made it remarkable and worthy of a visit was the setting, and accompanying rice fields. Fairly uncommon in Portugal.
You’ll notice a cloud or two in the sky? When we awoke it was positively grey and the view we’d enjoyed of the castle at Santiago do Cacém had completely disappeared in swirling mist. By the time we’d had breakfast, gazing hopefully into the gloom, it was sprinkling the finest rain. I smiled determinedly through an endless succession of damp cork trees as we headed north.
I sometimes wonder if I was a princess in a former life, because I have this tendency to head for castles. And so it was, in Alcácer. We approached on the N120, from Grandola, crossing the Rio Sado on a metal bridge, which opens to allow passage of sailing boats, before the river widens into the estuary. Directly ahead, overlooking the tumble of streets, the castle. And the good news- it had stopped raining!
One of us wanted to find the TI and obtain a map, for the best way to ascend. The other wanted to follow her nose. Any of a number of narrow streets headed upwards, and I was impatient to get there, before the castle closed for lunch at 12.30. We dithered, and dawdled, but the TI didn’t appear to be where my 16 years old Rough Guide alleged. No help for it but to head on up!
A straggle of streets yielded fountains, lovely old azulejo tiles and dwellings old, and not so old. Portugal’s usual blend of colour and character. Alcácer comes from the Arabic word for palace, Al-qasr, and in 1191 the Almohad Caliph Ya’qub Al-Mansur gave orders to build his palace. For many years it was a stage for fights between Christians and Muslims.
Easy to see that it was a strategic position for the defence of the area, evidence of building on this site dates back to Neolithic times. The current structure is a rare example of a military rammed earth fortress, and what remains looks extremely solid.
But, of course, it was the views down onto the town that delighted me. Fit for a princess!
Sometimes things go to plan. Sometimes they don’t. It had been my intention, by way of celebrating our anniversary, to venture into the former convent, now a luxurious pousada, to quaff a glass of their finest. But I was thwarted by a sign at the door, announcing that, due to Covid-19, only hotel guests were permitted entry. In my annoyance I almost certainly missed a trick, because I spurned the Archaeological Crypt, which adjoins the pousada. I’m not fond of underground excavations, but sometimes they hold vital clues to the past. Wilful head on, I determined that a quayside café would suffice in the quest for refreshment.
Meandering back down the hill, we chanced upon the perfect little getaway, complete with pool and view. We’ve never had the bottle and determination needed to tackle a renovation project in Portugal, but there were opportunities aplenty on this hillside. A small dog looked back at us, cocking his leg beside one, highly likely, possibility. Down on the quayside, we at once spotted the missing Tourist Information office, right beside the bridge we had crossed into town. A very willing assistant eagerly pointed out the high spots of Alcácer, including, of course, the Crypt that we really shouldn’t miss. She did, though, direct us to the fishing village at Carrasqueira.
Meanwhile, we searched for the perfect confection, but it wasn’t till much later in the day that we finally succeeded, back in Santiago do Cacém.
You could say that we searched high and low. But he was delighted with his chocolate cake. As was I. It didn’t last long!
All’s well that ends well, or so they say, and we certainly had an interesting few days in the Alentejo. Hope you enjoyed them?
A bumper collection of walks this week! Hopefully I haven’t missed anybody, though looking in the Reader this morning there are lots of goodies.
I keep the very best company around here, don’t I, Jude?
Let’s go ghost busting with Debs! In broad daylight, so you’re all safe!
Janet cheats a bit, but very beautifully. Why not let horses take the strain?
It’s always a privilege to walk alongside Cee (and finally, she has a fridge! 🙂 )
Meet Tina! We’ve decided to find joy together :
Colline savours the last of her freedom before it’s back to school :
Drake dines in the nicest places, and always with coffee :
Prepare to be dazzled! This is purely beautiful :
Or visit the lovely Ardenne in company with Denzil :
I have something to share with Tish, as well as a walk :
From carob beans to daffodils. Now there’s a leap for you! Thanks, Albert :
Rupali has found the perfect place to spend a day, high in the mountains :
And in Shanghai, Janaline shares a little of the earth’s laughter :
Whilst Ulli has found himself a small piece of heaven :
That’s me worn out for another week! Not sure that I’ll be walking with you next Monday, but I’ll keep you posted. Have a good one, and take care!
Black and white can look a bit bleak to me, but inject a hint of colour and the mood changes completely, doesn’t it? Brian was a bit naughty with his response to Jude’s 2020 Photo Challenge but I think we might have got away with it. Meantime, strange things are happening on Six Word Saturday. Have a great weekend, everyone!