Hi! I’m Jo! Johanna when I’m feeling posh, Jan to my Dad, and Joasiu to my Polish family. A bit of a mix-up, that’s me. The one constant, however, is my restless nature. I love to travel and to explore our world. It doesn’t have to be the big wide world. I can be ridiculously happy not too far from home, so long as I’m seeking new horizons.
Of course I have a wish list, and it was to help me fulfil my dreams that I started to write travel guides for a venture called Simonseeks. I’d always kept a travel diary, and it was hugely satisfying to share my experiences and to make new friends who shared my passion for travel. Alas, Simonseeks hit a few troubles, but I still find myself writing about my travels. I’ve become addicted. I’d love to share them, and to make more friends.
So, it has to be a blog- right? Or do I mean- write?
By the time you read this, I’ll probably be on the way to the airport. Faro, that is. These past two weeks have been a tumble of emotions, but right now I’m full of excitement. The beach will have to wait till my return.
Travel isn’t easy right now, but I think I’ve ticked all the boxes. Vaccine certificate acquired. Tests undertaken and booked. Checked in and locator form completed. Mask at the ready. Packing the suitcase is the least of your worries. What awaits at the other end is what’s important.
Have a great Summer and I’ll hope to see you when Still Restlessjo goes live in the Autumn.
As I won’t be around to share for a while, here are the latest walks you’ve sent me. No more, please! With gratitude. It’s been enormous fun.
I’ve received many walks over time, taking me to places I’ve always wanted to go. Here’s another, from Teresa!
What is it with me and cliffs? An element of wanting what you don’t have, I suspect, because I live at the flat end of the Algarve. But I do love them, both looking up, and looking down! I’ve found few more sensational than the falesias~cliffs~ at Ponta da Piedade, the most far distant point of Lagos. Shall we start the lazy way, by catching the little train from the marina? Always a hotspot for me!
So, we board the train and off we go, the full length of Avenida dos Descobrimentos, and out beyond Praca Infante Dom Henrique and the fortress. Past Praia da Batata (Spud Beach!) and onto Estrada da Ponta da Piedade. It’s definitely a good ride for the money! Praia Dona Ana is the beauty spot on this bit of coast, but we stay determinedly in our seats till the end of the line, the lighthouse at Piedade.
We can choose to go down to the grottoes, or along the cliff top on a rather magnificent boardwalk which stretches far off into the distance. ‘Just a little way?’ I ask. It’s my husband’s birthday so the choices are not mine to make. Irresistible, though, isn’t it?
A pirate galleon is anchored out in the bay, and as we round the cliffs we spot a shoal of canoes. We later discover that they are towed out there from the harbour in Lagos, to explore the caves. A combination of boardwalk and concrete path dips and sways around the rocky headlands, making it easy for most people to access these magnificent views. The adventurous young persist in leaving the boardwalk and scrambling to precarious lookouts, despite the warning that cliffs crumble. And it’s a long way down!
In the distance we can see Porto de Mos, another fine looking stretch of sand, but it’s time to turn around if we want to have a look at the grottoes. Maybe another day! Back to the lighthouse we go and, behind the cafe, we find another lovely view, looking back this time, towards Lagos.
We linger on the cliff tops a while, before starting the descent to the grottoes. Approaching midday, it has become much busier than I would have liked, but still it felt like a ‘must do’. I didn’t remember to count the steps, but there were a lot of them! Even more coming back up, or so it seemed. That elusive breeze never managed to find it’s way down into these canyons.
So many lumps and bumps and arches! It’s easy to see why the grottoes are a popular boat trip out of Lagos. The last time we were here we hopped a boat from the harbour, but it was good to see the stacks from above.
Just time for a coffee, and back onto the little train. Meia Praia is at the opposite end of Lagos and we’ve only ever seen it from a distance, and usually crowded, but I was assured by a Portuguese friend recently that it was ‘maravilhosa’. A rare treat, then, to find it so empty! But we’d found that naughty wind again, so maybe it had blown everybody home. As a saving grace, it was a warm wind.
The waves rippled gently to shore, as we went in search of a birthday lunch. A humble cafe would have done, as a we planned something celebratory for evening. Leaning into the wind, we laughed. It was good to be carefree again, if just for a little while.
The only place we could find on that windswept stretch of coast was a rather grand looking restaurant, A Gaivota Branca, white seagull, the symbol of the restaurant perched imperiously on the crisp white wall. As the maitre’d rushed enthusiastically towards us we rolled our eyes. Too late to back out, but I did restrict myself to a glass of white and a rather wicked cake. I explained that I wasn’t really hungry, but what a perfect spot they had. I was assured that I was very welcome and that I could simply sit and enjoy the view. The birthday lad was a little more self indulgent and his chunky chips did look good!
Afterwards he paddled happily back towards the town, a night of gaiety still to look forward to.
It seems ages ago, now, as the arrival of our son overshadowed everything. A full year since we were together! One short week, in which to celebrate a birthday, and even to look at a possible wedding venue. But that’s for the future.
Saying our goodbyes at the airport was not as painful as usual, for we have flights to the UK booked for 12th August. Our wedding anniversary, and in the circumstances, a perfect present!
Let me share a few walks before I make my farewells.
I guess now is as good a time as any to announce that I won’t be renewing my subscription to my Restlessjo site on WordPress when it runs out in the middle of this month. That’s not to say that I won’t still be walking, and you’ll always be welcome to come along. I intend to go back to basics and start a new blog, in which Jo’s Monday walk will still make an appearance. Further details will follow, but I don’t expect to be up and running before September. An English summer with family and friends will keep me occupied. I hope you have great plans too. Take care and see you soon!
Isn’t that just the most infectious smile? Reminds me of Mitzi Gaynor in “South Pacific”. Oops, showing my age! Truthfully, I didn’t intend walking with you this month. I know you’re all busy squaring like mad, and I’m busy…well…just living! It’s really too hot for a conventional walk, but your walks kept rolling in and I thought it was time to share a few.
Mondays are traditionally street art days, aren’t they? And it just so happens that I was in the Algarve capital of street art last weekend. Lagos played host again this summer to ARTURb, a project ‘with the concept of art on tour’, encouraging the free circulation of ideas and aesthetics in the art world. I had downloaded the map, and off I went, in extremely hot pursuit.
It was a very grey day by Algarve standards, and sticky with heat and humidity. Luckily I had a few distractions. Exiting through the archway to the castle, I found myself beside Forte da Ponta da Bandeira, always a good place to observe life. The sea was remarkably empty, several youngsters having thought to launch their boats at the yacht club, but then thought better of it. The waves were just a little too frisky!
Even on the cliff top there was little breeze, but I was on a mission. Braving the spray from the fountains in Praca Infante Dom Henrique, I headed back into town, where the streets are an intriguing mix of modernity and neglect. And almost guarantee a surprise around every corner.
Looking back you can see the scale of the original fortress walls, but little remains of this grandeur. Like many, the town was a victim of the 1755 earthquake. Some of these artworks have been in place for a number of years and bear the scars of age and disrespect.
Did you spot the pair of trainers dangling in the second from last? Potentialy useful? Political references abound and the eyes of the hurt and mistrustful hold your gaze. I did like the crinkly character below. A hint of mischief? Seen it all and still amused?
But it’s a town full of life and youthful exuberance, and I love that about it. A nautical town, it was a favoured residence of Henry the Navigator, and these days boasts a marina full of proud, expensive vessels. Another good spot to linger.
There are many aspects to Lagos. Next time I’ll take you to the cliff tops on a bright and beautiful day. Meanwhile I’m sharing with Sami’s Monday Mural and Marsha, lovely co-host of PPAC#5-Brilliant Art.
And so, to the walks!
Demonstrating her ease with architecture and a camera, it’s always a delight to walk with Debbie :
Many thanks to everybody for sharing! I still anticipate the arrival of my son next Sunday and am keeping everything crossed for that. Hopefully I’ll be able to share another walk on Monday, 2nd August. Take good care till then!
If you saw my last post you’ll know that I spent the previous weekend in Aljezur. Wild, west coast beauty, and quite unlike my own gentle Algarve shoreline. An untamed ocean pounding the cliffs. It can take your breath away- literally, sometimes, as the force of the wind hits you. I could never persuade my husband to live here. For him, warmth trumps beauty. But if I can spend time on these cliffs and beaches I’m in a world of my own. Come with me to the windswept beach of Monte Clerigo….
The weekend hadn’t gone entirely to plan, but then, mine seldom do. Part of life’s rich tapestry, you might say. Because we had just one night available I had selected a hotel close to the beaches, and offering breakfast. The night before departure an email advised me that, thanks to Covid-19, breakfasts were not available in May. A quick look at the map assured me that we would find somewhere to eat not too far away, so off we went! In Tavira the temperatures were hovering around 27C. Not so on the refreshing west coast! Pulling my cotton shirt tight around me, I rounded the corner of the hotel to observe the pretty swimming pool. Waves were rolling across the water, in the icy blast! No idling by the pool with that book, for sure. Supper at the local Mexican restaurant was to have been a spicy compensation. The heat of the jalapenos almost lifted me from my seat, but the burrito, sadly, was cold. Outside people huddled in padded jackets, trying to escape the howling wind. And the last straw? The only dessert available was a chocolate banoffee, and I can’t abide mushy banana. Are you feeling sorry for me yet?
We checked out of the hotel early next morning, under a clear blue sky. The small beachside village of Monte Clerigo was a 5 minute drive, and the day began to look up. The wind still battered us, but I gaped in delight at the expanse of beach that went on, and on… Even I wasn’t foolhardy enough to sit on the outside deck of the beachfront restaurant, but my eyes stayed riveted to the view.
Before too long I was dancing along that beach! Well, more truthfully, heading for shelter, bent double, beneath the cliffs. But with the wind behind me, striding back was a joy. Look at that village, nestled into the hillside! The next task, to climb high above it, to the cliff top.
Steep, uneven steps lead up from the beach, around the back of the pretty village houses, and join with a gravel track. Cars and campervans can drive this stretch and there is even limited off road parking, but after a few minutes you reach the cliff path.
The views sweep away, up and down the coast, breathtaking in their beauty. For a moment you forget the breeze, and then it sucks at your clothing and you fight for balance. Far below, the waves crash. The path is sandy, making your legs feel heavy, sinking unsteadily.
The path twists and turns along the cliff, with every now and then a blue and green striped marker, just to ensure you are still on course. Pockets of tiny blue flowers gaze heavenwards, and a mass of yellow something huddles together, hunkered down against the wind. The fleshy roots of Livingstone daisies beam scarlet against the sand.
The rugged bays stretch ahead and behind, and in places there are strips of boardwalk. Erosion is a constant problem on these cliffs. An old watchtower or abandoned dwelling crumbles silently towards the shore.
We had intended to walk as far as Arrifana Beach, but the buffeting winds and our weary legs brought us to a halt a little short of there, for we still had the return journey to make. Every bit as enticing, the low growing shrubs rolling ahead of us.
But still, I was happy to see the end of the trail, and to collapse into the car, warm from our exertions. Homeward bound, we did stop off at Arrifana, just for a swift peak. A surfer’s bay, it was busy, and the hand rails lined with boards and wet suits. A Sunday lunch spot.
I’d like to dedicate this post to my lovely friend, Marie. She was no walker, but she loved the sight and the sound of the sea. I have to smile, or rather wince, at the memory of one stroll we took together, to catch a breath of sea air. I clumsily jammed a finger in her car door, and the stroll became a sit on the boardwalk, head between my knees. A permanent reminder of Marie, as if I needed one. We spent hours together, watching Rafa pull off yet another French Open, and during lockdown a Saturday night Chinese takeaway at hers was a rare treat. She was a kind and gentle soul, with a strong core. Which she needed for these last weeks have been harrowing. Yesterday evening the call came. Suffering is no more, but a very lovely lady is no longer here to share the laughter and tears.
Marie Teresa Brannan – 3.8.54 – 30.5.21 R.I.P. You will be sorely missed. My love and thoughts are with your family.
This was a hard post to finish, but thank you all for sharing it with me. As previously announced, I will be taking a break from blogging. It’s long overdue, and the hot summer days will often find me beside a beach. One last share before I go.
Come and have a look around Melbourne, with Teresa :
Take care of each other, and get out walking when you can. This morning I will be walking with friends, who all knew Marie. Part of the walk will be on the beach, and afterwards we’ll lunch at a restaurant she loved, and raise a glass. As her son said to me last night, ‘remember the good times’.
So what was I doing in Aljezur last weekend, apart from not losing a flip-flop? I was collecting my copy of a book. A book in which I have a very humble part to play. When I was asked by Alyson if I would like to write a chapter for the anthology she was considering, I had no idea who my companion authors might be. I only knew that they were people who had chosen to live here, in the Algarve. I composed my chapter, revised it a time or three, and off it went. Months later, here I am, avidly turning the pages.
The stories are many and various, and I find myself in awe of the achievements of some. Debby Burton is the formidable organiser of the charity Alerta. Almost every summer wildfires break out in our tinder dry hills, and are fought by brave teams of poorly funded men and women. Fear and dread almost paralyse me at the thought, but Debby has coordinated the most amazing network of volunteers. They do everything from raising funds for essentials to manning a production line to ensure that the firefighters are fed and hydrated for their mammoth task. Ten percent of the revenue from sales of this book will go to Alerta, which make it a worthwhile read in itself, but this is just the tip of the iceberg.
Another charity that Alyson, and photographer husband Dave, have supported throughout their years in the Algarve is Madrugada. Life-threatening health issues were the basis for John Hough and his partner to seek help from, and then become involved in the running of, Madrugada. It provides care and support for people affected by life limiting illness and bereavement. But this is no sob story and the popping of champagne corks and extravagant wedding plans are all part of the saga. 22 chapters, including one from Alyson herself, tell tales of artists and sculptors, wine makers, cooks and caterers, a couple who run a yurt, an ayurvedic therapist, publishers of a high profile magazine… the list goes on. Our common bond is our love for this land which has adopted us, and given us all A New Life. I think you’ll find it an entertaining read.
Huge thanks to Aly for her sterling work on our behalf. This link will take you to the photos to accompany the book.
Now that I’ve pushed my six words to the limit, I’d like to add that this Monday will be my last Jo’s Monday walk for a while. Cheers, Debbie! Wishing everyone a great Bank Holiday!
It’s a very common sight on Algarve beaches, as the tide turns, for people to gather on the beach, digging a heel into the wet sand in a sort of shuffle dance. A lot of scuffling often produces enough molluscs to fill a plastic bottle for a lunch time snack, but there are guys for whom this is a serious business. They stand in the water, often waist deep, in whatever the weather gods throw at them. Treading backwards, they drag the net, hour on hour, for an often paltry reward of shellfish. I’m told it pays well, but I can think of easier ways to make a living. That certainly applies to Cady’s Just One Person from Around the World this week. She tells of an awesome level of commitment.
I thought I’d told you about Aljezur? It’s a place that’s indelibly printed on my memory because on my last visit, albeit a good few years ago, my left flipflop disintegrated as I trod the narrow winding streets up to the castle. Now you might say this was my own silly fault for wearing inadequate footwear. To be fair we were heading for a beach, but I never can resist a castle on a hilltop. I’d persuaded my husband to drive up the cobbled hairpin bends so we could have a swift look. He wasn’t best pleased, but there’s a limit to how far you can limp over rough ground. Our visit was curtailed in search of a flipflop shop, so my memories of Aljezur are fleeting. Let’s just say it didn’t make a huge impression.
Roll the clock forward a few years and I’m back. Not going to the castle. Been there, done that! But I can’t help noting a few changes. A new pedestrian bridge over the river, so you no longer have to put your faith in haphazard motorists, and an updated square. But still an overwhelming feeling of stepping back in time. Where else are you going to see a mule pulling a plough, on the very edge of town?
It was hard not to stand and stare at this anachronism, but we crossed over the river on the new bridge. An entwined sculpture looked back at my favourite building, an inviting bottle green and white construction, side by side with the mercaria (market). Now, where to eat? The café Mioto had a trendy vibe, but a very inviting terrace, overlooking the river and the fields beyond. And very nice food too.
Deciding to defer cake till later, we set off on a gentle explore. I had hoped to follow the river out to the sea, but in the heart of town it meandered serenely under the bridges. I gazed a while at the ducks as they disappeared beneath a bridge and popped out again on the other side. They can play this game all day long.
Even here, street art has a role to play, the modern football stadium in stark contrast with the azulejo panel, depicting the town as it once was.
Show me the small Portuguese boy who doesn’t like to kick a football. The older ones love to ride their bikes noisily through town, tooting and waving as they go. Modern day pirates, for back in time their Moroccan ancestors may well have descended on the town, leaving their corsairs anchored in a nearby cove. A little looting and rounding up of villagers to be sold in the slave markets in Algiers. Who would think in so peaceful a place? Yet that castle was built to defend the town from just such events.
Aljezur was badly impacted by the earthquake of 1755, and the Church of Nossa Senhora de Alva was built a little way out of town to form the nucleus of a new population centre. I found that Aljezur had grown on me since that last unfortunate visit. It’s a place I might well come back to, not least because of the nearness of the stunning west coast beaches. But more of that next time.
I keep meaning to take a break from the blog, but walks keep coming in, and I do have at least one more lovely one to share with you. So, for now, please enjoy these, and I’ll keep you posted.
Idyllic Dales scenery and sheep! That’s Margaret’s offering :
I think I might have saved the best for last. The memories go on and on, but for now I’m ending this series, on beautiful Capri. On another scorching day, in what was apparently the hottest May for 20 years, we caught the morning ferry from Sorrento. Not the high speed hovercraft, but the journey was short. Shimmering in a heat haze, from the second we disembarked on Capri the only way was up. Avoiding the queues for the funicular, we crammed onto a bus and strap hung as we zigzagged up and up to Anacapri. I don’t think I’ve ever been higher without flying! Can there be a lovelier place to stop and eat? Ravioli Caprese, with Tiberio white wine, at La Terrazze.
It all went a bit wrong from there. You can blame the wine if you like, but we started to descend by a series of steps and didn’t stop till we reached the harbour at the bottom, completely bypassing Capri town. I was soundly berated by the husband. Not that he wanted to see Capri town, but he definitely didn’t want those endless steps in the heat. It did no good for me to point out the glorious landscape. Appeasement had to come in the form of chocolate and almond cake and reviving Spumante. I left them to it while I raced back to the cliff lift. I couldn’t possibly miss out on the Piazetta and those iconic Faraglioni Islands. I’m sure I wore an exhausted but beatific smile on the ferry journey home.
I wish I had more photos from those golden days. Islands always call to me and we just had time to squeeze in Ischia on our second last day. I’d glimpsed pictures of hot springs and thermal baths in an idyllic setting, but had no idea where to find them. In a spirit of optimism we boarded the round the island bus, sure to come upon them! We got off at the terminus and looked bemused, until the kindly driver of an endearing little taxi-bus, with open sides and stripey seats, took pity on us. He took us to the booking office for the Aphrodite Thermal Park in Sant’ Angelo, and from there we were whisked by water-taxi across the harbour to paradise. Time flew in those fabulous gardens, and soon it was time to find the bus back to the port, and one last coffee in the harbour beneath that Aragonese castle.
Enough reminiscing. He’s 31 now, and about to buy his first home. I wish him a bright and happy future. Thank you all for traveling with us.
What does purple look like to you? I’ve been somewhat demented in the last couple of weeks, even though Jude supplied me with a palette to help matters. I thought purple was purple, not that plummy, damson colour, and it seems I have a distinct fondness for violet, at the bluer end of the spectrum. Oh, what the heck? It’s only a challenge, isn’t it? And the point is to take photos you like and that are interesting. Don’t you think?
(You do need to open the gallery to see the photos in full. Block editor loves to chop them off!)
When is purple, pink? Or violet? Don’t ask me! I’m just an innocent bystander. Happy Monday everyone!
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