Jo’s Monday walk : Benafim to Alte

I’m back in the Algarve for my last walk of the year.  Santa’s been, and I couldn’t ask for more.  It’s been an amazing year!  I’m taking you back into those hills that I love, to a tiny village called Benafim.  We are joining a group of choir singers for one of my nicest ever walking experiences.

The landscape is beautiful, with Rocha de Pena looming quietly in the background.  We meet our small group, mostly Portuguese, with uncertain smiles- an opportunity to practise the language- and set off through the village.  One of the group is carrying a toddler on his back, and an elderly gent relies heavily on his stick, so we know the pace will not be fast.  There are a couple of Scandinavians, who chat easily with us in fluent English.

Christmas is just around the corner and we observe the signs of celebration in the village.  It’s not a long walk, just 6.2km to the next village, Alte, but the gradient is steep in places.  Our guide is well aware of the limitations of the party, and stops at intervals to point out plants of interest.  Medicinal herbs and remedies, and one that was used in these hills before soap was widely available.  It’s warm, but with plenty of cloud cover.  There’s little shade up here in the heights.  We are following a short stretch of the Via Algarviana, which reaches end to end, the length of the Algarve.  We puzzle over some symbols on a rock- a message we don’t understand.

At the outset, we were asked if we would like a meal after the walk.  We are walking with some members of a choral group called Ossónoba.  Afterwards they will perform in the church in Alte, and we will be ‘very welcome’ to join them.  It seems like too good an opportunity to miss.

All are working up a healthy appetite when finally the rugged path levels, and we gaze down into a valley.  Alte is not far away, and it’s all downhill from here.  In the village, the sight of Singer sewing machines doubling as picnic tables makes me smile.

A hint of Autumn?  Yet it feels more like Spring.  We have been wondering how we will get back to Benafim, but this problem is easily solved.  A minivan takes the drivers back to collect our cars and bring them to Alte.  The rest of us proceed to the hotel, squeezing into the minivan with the excitedly chattering, choir members.  An elegant table awaits.

High on a hill, above the village, Hotel Alte is obviously used to hosting parties.  As we wait, a coach pulls into the car park and disgorges the rest of the choir, smartly attired in black and white.  Our walking friends  disappear off to the toilets, emerging transformed.  The choir are 40 strong!  Three of them sit at our table, and proceed to talk about their life, while we dine, very well indeed.  Meal over, we are treated to a rousing number, to stretch those vocal chords, before they all pile back onto the coach.  The best voice?  Our richly baritoned, minivan driver!

Is it any wonder that I love this village?  Still to come is the Christmas concert.  I had never been inside the church, so yet another treat in store.  The choir sings its heart out, in several languages; first surrounding us in the body of the church, and then from the gallery above.

Just down the road, Baltazar cocks an ear in his stable, and we drive contentedly home into the sunset.

Grupo Coral Ossónoba travel around Portugal (and occasionally abroad) performing.  Our walk together was a collaboration to promote the Via Algarviana.  Needless to say, we hope to take part in another, in the New Year.  We had a wonderful time.

walking logo

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, but even more than that, I hope that the year to come is kind to us.  And maybe you’ll join me in another Jo’s Monday walk?  You’ll be more than welcome.

……………………………………………………………………………………

I’m sure Jackie ate her share of festive food, aren’t you?

Holiday Cheer

Natalie started the holidays with a list.  Check out how she did!

Checking Off my Holiday Fun List

I’m always happy to admire this nation’s Capital, so thanks, Sandra :

Sidewalks and Tile – #Portugal

There’s nowhere Nicole would rather be than in the mountains :

Unforgettable Hikes along the Tour de Mont Blanc : Hike from Col des Montets to Lac Blanc

And such a nice atmosphere on the streets, with Drake :

Last Saturday street mood

Not much deters Becky when she feels like a walk :

We got nothing except seaweed

Margaret and Zoe were more than happy, just playing with bubbles :

Winter Walking on the South Bank

And not squidging in mud!

A Sunday walk, Accompanied by Thirteen Dogs

Let’s end with something a little more exotic, from Cathy :

Rick’s Café & a walking tour of Central Casablanca

Happy New Year to you all!  I shan’t be writing a review of the year, but I expect I’ll look back, as well as forward.  Thanks for your company!

115 comments

    1. It’s a major task after the holidays! 🙂 🙂 We actually did a longer walk with the choir yesterday. Quite different and it will appear here at some point. Thanks, hon, and welcome to 2020!

  1. I love following your beautiful walks in the Algarve Hills Jo – it looks such a special place. I do hope your blogging friend will be ok – it is beyond imagination to think what hell people are going through. Heartbreaking losses and on such an unprecedented scale affecting so many different regions – the loss of pristine bushland and wildlife is unbelievably sad.

    1. I heard from her yesterday, Rosemay. She has been evacuated. I can’t imagine what a hell it must be , watching homes burn. And on the other hand, I’m trying to follow the tennis action from Perth. Isn’t it a strange world we live in, and very frightening sometimes!

      1. Thank goodness she has got out Jo – the military are helping with evacuations. I can’t remember anything on this scale in the nearly 30 years I’ve lived “Down Under”. I hope she didn’t lose too much – it must be harrowing. I have found it hard to watch and read the news reports and footage so anyone living through it must be so traumatised. I haven’t really followed the tennis as it’s been so busy here and it’s in my backyard so to speak!!

  2. That sounds like a very special musical meander Jo. The Singer tables remind me of a small bar in the Jewish Quarter in Krakow – they had the same except the sewing machines were still in situ. It was called Singer! Wishing you a very happy year ahead.

      1. They seem to be predicting Armageddon this weekend. Me and Jude are anxiously watching a small patch where a very good blogging friend lives (do you know Meg?) She is expecting to be sleeping on the beach this weekend. It’s heartbreaking.

      2. Oh that is awful! I read today that the navy is evacuating people who fled to a beach and now are trapped. Utterly extraordinary. I sort of recognise the name Meg, so I’ve probably encountered her. Can you send me her blog link?

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