Jo’s Monday walk

Jo’s Monday walk : Porto Pim

I have just one more walk to share on Faial, before moving on to the island of Pico.  Porto Pim is a strip of sand and pellucid bay, tucked between Monte Queimado and Monte da Guia, to the west of the town of Horta, where we walked last week.  At least, it was, the day we took this stroll.  Pretty as it is, there’s a dark side to this story.  Take note of the factory on the far shore.

The beach is a conservation area, and is the first part of the island of Faial to have been settled, back in 1460.  The ruins of a fortress guard the entrance to the bay, and there was once a thriving port here.

Today all is peaceful, though we did note that a lone yachtsman, moored and enjoying the serenity, was asked to move on by the maritime police.  He wasn’t exactly disturbing the peace, and communications were friendly, but he very quickly upped anchor and away.

The shoreline is ragged with rocks and it’s easy to imagine volcanic activity here.  A straggle of houses line half of the bay.

I can dawdle by reflections and shimmering water all day, but eventually I tore myself away and continued around the bay.  I had half a mind to climb up to the Senhora da Guia, but had already been to the top previously, by taxi.  Clouds were scudding about and when the sun disappeared it was cool.  Against my better judgement I headed towards the whaling factory.

It’s a sad fact of life that man and beast often struggle to live side by side.  In the 19th century these islands were the base for a titanic battle between man and whale.  With often averted gaze, I observed the tiny craft which the islanders used to corral the whales and harpoon them to death.  Horrifying though I find it, it was a way of life and a means of survival for islands that were poor and isolated.  I can’t bring myself to share details of the industry but the Fabrica da Baleia (Whaling Factory) explains it for you.  From as young as 13, the men of the islands took to sea, rowing these flimsy vessels in pursuit of their victims.

Whaling was outlawed just 70 years ago.  I’m so happy that leisure boats have replaced the whalers.  The 20th century brought submarine cables to the islands, ensuring telegraphic communications between America and Europe, and now tourism is thriving.

Peace has been restored.  I found this bay oddly disturbing.  Perhaps because of the carnage that once took place here.  I was happy to move on, and we returned to Horta for a meal at Peter’s Sport Café, famous in these parts and full of flags and souvenirs from passing sailors.  You’ll be happy to know that I had a wonderfully healthy hummus salad.  The other half didn’t even have space for cake after his bumper burger.  How sad!

walking logo

Lots of walks again this week.  Thank you all, and please find time to visit- especially any blog you don’t know.  Details over on Jo’s Monday walk.

…………………………………………………………………………………………………….

Debbie has me discombobulated in old Valencia this week :

A casual circumambulation of Valencia’s Barrio del Carmen

Jackie is a terrible temptress, with a love of art :

Summer Tarts

Amazing what you can do with corn!  Just ask Janet :

Monday walk… in tall corn

Toronto looks to have some nice suburbs.  Pay a visit with Indra :

Toronto Summer- Unionville vibes

A few clouds, a bench or two and some lovely old stonework- that’s Anabel in Scotland :

Castle Semple Country Park

While Rosemay revives a few memories for me :

Valley Gardens Harrogate – Walk to Harlow Carr

And Drake is, as always, at home by the water :

Back to the Normandy

Ulli takes us to a place I know quite well from my days with Polish family :

Vast diversity of Wroclaw

Coffee and cake with Irene, but that’s not all!

A Walk to Starbucks

Ruth took a stroll yesterday.  I never mind what day we walk, so long as we do :

Sunday Stroll -Tranmere Coastal Path

Or even linger a little while, like Carol :

Behind the Walls

But if it’s a long walk you want, Cathy’s your expert :

(Camino day 25) Carrion de los Condes to Calzadilla de la Cueza

And finally, let me introduce Anne.  Please do pop over and say hello :

Frome riverside walkway

Feeling quite virtuous with no cake in sight.  This week I’ll be taking you across the water to Pico.  You’ll love it!  Have a happy one!

Jo’s Monday walk : Cosmopolitan Horta

Our first ferry ride!  And would you believe it, the day dawned surly and grey?  Sad, maybe, that we were leaving Sáo Jorge for Faial.  In less than 10 minutes Velas receded into the mists, and we were racing alongside of Pico in bright sunshine, trailing clouds behind us.

A brief stop at Sáo Roque, on the northern coast of Pico, confused us a little, but the crew, aware of the limitations of us landlubbers, did a head count before leaving the port.  All present and correct!  Rounding the tip of the island, we whipped across the water, eyes following every movement of the waves.  Somewhere in the depths, we knew, were whales, but no mighty tail breached the water.

Soon we were sailing into the harbour of Horta, legendary in the yachting world, and gaping at the endless shoreline.  Whisking our bags off the conveyor belt, within seconds we were breezing along Avenida 25 de Abril, in radiant sunshine.  Our destination?  Casa Buonvento, a beautifully converted former captain’s house, with a sublime view of the harbour.

Our hosts, Elena and Jerry, were a lovely couple, who took great pride in their beautiful home.  And sometimes Pico joined the party, looming in and out of the clouds like a genial host.  You know the drill by now- quick check in, freshen up, and out onto the streets to see what Horta can offer.

The marina was more fabulous than I had imagined.  I had seen many photos of the artwork along the quay, but they had never done justice to the entirety of the bay spread before me.  With the fortress looking sternly out to sea, it would take a brave pirate to venture thus far.  But of artists, there were many, including one doing a little ‘touching up’. (Hint- there may be one or two July Squares in amongst the blue)

All kinds of humour, and artistry, are represented, and you could easily while away an hour or two, just reading the messages and admiring each craft.  But there’s no time to loiter- we’ve a town to explore!  I always struggle, tearing myself away from boats.

Horta curves around the bay at the southernmost point of the island of Faial, with Monte da Guia jutting proudly into the ocean, protecting her from all comers.  The lovely little bay of Porto Pim nestles close behind.  There are many fine buildings throughout the town, as befits its status as commercial centre of these islands, and the pavements are charmingly enhanced with mosaics.

As so often, I climb to dizzy heights and look back down with satisfaction.  The day was lengthening as we reached the harbour again.  People seemed to be gathering on street corners, and the distant strains of a band reached our ears.  Yet again we had stumbled upon a procession!

Nothing to do but watch it go by.  And then return to the lovely old wood and polished timber floors of Casa Buonvento, where a bottle of Vinho Verde and chocolates awaited us.  And the sun setting on the harbour, at the end of another lovely day.

It’s a special week for the lovely ladies of Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, celebrating their first year together.  Tina talks about expanding horizons, friendship and things that are dear to your heart.  Jo’s Monday walks mean all those things to me.  Beautiful islands and boats are meant to be shared, aren’t they?

walking logo

As are walks!  And here you have plenty to enjoy.  Many thanks to all of you, for your time and patience.

……………………………………………………………………………………………….

First up this week is Amanda.  Apologies because I missed her link up last week :

A Famous Evening Walk – Coolangatta

And Albert sent me 2 walks, so here’s one of them :

Sherwood Homestead (Former) Walk via Blue Range Hut

Natalie has switched hosts to WordPress.  See what they made of Malta together :

Malta Highlights

Irene saw something wonderful, and…

Stayed Awhile

Ulli takes us to a fabulous building in Berlin, with a fascinating interior :

Water for The City

I do love a cottage garden, and this one from Jude focuses on some beautiful details :

A Summer Garden

Drake shows us a railway, and an old fort, on Alderney :

Give way, railway

Abandoned battlefield

While Alice has a fort from a different era, and bug spray!

Civil War Fort

Anyone for salad?  It’s hot here, so I don’t mind if I do.  Thanks, Jackie!

Mixed Salad

Anyone hankering after cool?  Sandra has a few snowy peaks for you :

Dege Peak, Mount Rainier National Park, USA

Cathy continues her personal journey :

(Camino day 24) Villarmentero de Campos to Carrion de los Condos

While Cheryl always finds somewhere fascinating to take us :

The Hidden Delights of Taehwagang Grand Park & Simni Bamboo Grove

And Susan?  Well, she’s trying to shed stereotypes :

Walking Ushuaia, Argentina

A good time had by all?  I certainly hope so!  See you next week on Jo’s Monday walk.

Jo’s Monday walk : Simply Sáo Jorge

I was captivated by Sáo Jorge from the moment it appeared in the dusky blue, beneath the propellers of my SATA inter-island flight.  Having soared into thick cloud over Ponta Delgada in the afternoon, I was abuzz for the next stage of our adventure.  As the tiny plane dipped towards Sáo Jorge, it was bathed in glorious sunlight.  Beaming from ear to ear, I stepped from the plane and gazed in awe at Pico, with a delicate collar of clouds, right there on the horizon.  Gathering myself, I whisked through the tiny terminal and out into warm sunshine.  The bubble burst momentarily, when I found that the pre-ordered taxi to our hotel was nowhere in sight.  Panic swept in as I fumbled through my papers, seeking address/phone number, but they’re kind folk, these islanders.  In no time, a replacement had been found, and we were climbing the hillside around the bay to Velas.

This was the view from our hotel veranda, with the island of Pico floating dreamily on the horizon.  A lovelier, more peaceful spot than Velas I have yet to find.  I’ve already taken you to the top of the island, and you’ve had a glimpse or two of Velas.  Today we’re on a different mission.  Who could wake up to that view and not want to get out there and explore?

A lovely lass in the Tourist Information office had given us a bus timetable, and we were hopeful that we could make it to the village of Rosais, and walk from there to the lighthouse at the western end of the island.  A minibus not unlike a transit van pulled up, and the lady driver smiled benignly at us as we tumbled hastily in.  It was only a 15 minute ride, and I gazed excitedly at the passing landscape.

Rosais was a pretty enough village, and after just one false start we were headed in the right direction.  Uphill, of course!  After our efforts of the previous day, at Topo da Serra, the legs were already seriously tired.  A gentle 7km had seemed doable but, as we mounted progressively higher, the balmy weather deteriorated and we were quite cool.  Some folk don’t learn, do they?  But we were jollied along by chaffinches in the hedgerows, and a robin keeping a watchful eye on us.  Looking back down to the bay, Pico still loomed enchantingly, but a creamy horse seemed singularly unimpressed by our efforts.  Fortunately, there was an abundance of azaleas, and even a few hydrangeas as incentive.

Reaching an attractive picnic area known as Sete Fontes, and feeling shivery, nourishment was needed.  Yesterday’s leftover orange cookies were stowed in the backpack.  But a myriad of tiny ants had got to them first!  Disconsolate does not describe it!  Our pleasure in the day was rapidly diminishing.  Nothing for it but to press on.  The lighthouse at Ponta dos Rosais was signposted, 6km along a red dirt track.

I have never known such an endless 6km.  The track rolled on and on, in an sequence of ridges.  No sooner had you reached one, than you were plunging downwards again.  We looked for distraction in the surrounding fields, trying not to notice a huge rain cloud gaining on us.  A solitary gentleman, returning from the point, assured us it was not much further, and that it was a stiff climb but we really shouldn’t miss the viewing point.

The stiff climb was almost vertical and we hauled each other up, grimacing.  Part way up we had one of those coincidence, chance encounters that sometimes happen on holidays.  A young German couple we’d seen briefly on the Topo da Serra walk had also decided an easier day was a good idea.  We stood and chatted, discussing the islands and our itineraries, then parted company.  It was too cloudy for the views at the top to be brilliant so I soon started back down, thinking Mick had gone ahead of me.  But I couldn’t see him anywhere on the path.  Deciding he must have gone to the lighthouse, I turned in that direction.  Wearily, I might add.

There was just one small white car parked there, and it turned out to be our young couple, heading for home.  ‘Can we give you a lift?’ was music to my ears.  I really didn’t fancy the trudge back.  ‘Oh, yes, please!  But I can’t find my husband.  Have you seen him?’  ‘No, but we can hang on 5 minutes?’  I scuttled back to the viewing point and who should be strolling nonchalantly down the steps?  ‘Hurry up!  We’ve got a lift!’  🙂  He had, apparently, been reading a signboard that I hadn’t even noticed, all about the whaling industry.  We were so relieved to pile into that car!  And the ride gave us time to exchange a little history.  They were going to Faial next, like us, but then to Flores Island.  I was envious!  It’s the furthest away, and allegedly the loveliest.

The sun was shining brightly as they dropped us off in Rosais.  The plan had been to catch the 2.30 bus back, but after a glass of wine we’d revived enough to consider the options.  The coast line looked superb and there was a quiet road that followed it.  Maybe, a gentle stroll…?  There was no hurry.  And the reward, a sequence of glorious views.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

I love the humps and bumps of this island, and the cows, who stare at you quite incredulously from every second field.  A person could acquire a complex.  Three horses galloped across to see what we might have to offer, but turned their noses up at our ant-ridden biscuits.  Hopefully the birds won’t have been so choosy.  The legs were starting to feel leaden as we reached the miradouro on the edge of Velas.  Overall we must have walked about 15km.  I hope you won’t begrudge us cake?

Cafe Livramento was right next door to our hotel.  How convenient was that?  And beautiful food too.  I hope you’re not bored with my ramblings in the Azores?  I promise not to spin it out too long, but this is only our second island.

walking logo

Meanwhile, it’s on with the sharing.  Thanks to everybody who stops by, and especially to those who leave a walk in the comments.  Be happy to see you next week, here on Jo’s Monday walk.

……………………………………………………………………………………………..

It seems such a long time since I was in Barcelona.  It’s full of striking buildings, like this one, from Debbie :

Short circuit with a view

Albert continues his walk this week, beside the Molongo River :

Uriarra Loop Walk

Sea pinks, Campion, and fields of waving poppies.  We must be in Jude territory :

Walking the Kelseys

I always appreciate sky and sea, in any colours, so thanks, Susanne :

Blue and White at Coulon Park

Drake seldom disappoints with the things he shares.  Step back in time with this one :

Outing in the backdrop

And, in case you’re in the grip of the current heatwave, saunter over to Sandra’s place for a cool off!

Silver Falls & Grove of the Patriarchs, Mount Rainier National Park

While Cathy plays with donkeys on this stretch of the Camino :

(Camino day 23) Boadilla del Camino to Villarmentero de Campos

There are lots of lovely Blues in this post, but I realise I’ve been most remiss in not squaring one.  After all, it’s July 1st, and Becky is full steam ahead again!  Never mind- I’m sure I’ll round a few up, and that many of you will too.  Have a great week!

Ponta Delgada- the gardens

I think we’ve agreed that the streets of Ponta Delgada by night are spellbinding, when Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres comes to town.  We savoured the atmosphere that evening, knowing that we had just a few hours the following day to confirm our impressions.  An afternoon flight was taking us onward, to the island of Sáo Jorge.  After breakfast, a left turn from our hotel led us uphill, in search of botanic gardens.  I liked the menagerie we passed by.  Down a cul-de-sac, still more lay in wait.

A small chapel looked down, from the top of the hill.  Some of the balconies were garlanded with flowers as we passed by, and hounds stood to attention, guarding the city shield.  17th century Capela de Sant’Ana is within the grounds of the Jardim Botanico José do Canto.  The gardens had scarcely opened, but a young man directed us up some ancient steps.  As we stepped inside, the gloom was pierced, lighting the wooden altar.

José do Canto(1820-1898) was a wealthy man with an interest in botany, collecting specimens from around the world.  His private collection covers about 2 acres, with palms, eucalypts, a flurry of agapanthus and lots of determined, softly nodding pink lilies, which seem to thrive in this climate.  I admired the bark and patterns created among the trees.  By far my favourite was the enormous fig tree (Ficus Macrophylla), with its fantasy of roots.  The conservatory, hiding in the background, gave it a wonderful air of mystery.

I really enjoyed the luxury of having this tropical paradise all to ourselves, but visitors were starting to arrive and I could no longer pretend I lived in the big house.  Just a little further along the road I hoped to find Jardim Antonio Borges.  A more public space, initially this was a little disappointing, but you had to marvel at the lake and grottoes.  Small cockerels strutted around, calling piercingly to each other, and there was an even mightier fig tree, providing doubtful entertainment as a playpen for adults.

The weather had turned grey again, and just a little damp.  We found ourselves killing time as we waited for the taxi to take us to the airport.  I know it’s not Monday, but what else but cake?

Jo’s Monday walk : Ponta Delgada

Off to a flying start in the clouds last week, today we’ll have our feet much more firmly on the ground.  I’m taking you back to the beginning of our Azores adventure, and arriving in a rather dull, grey Ponta Delgada.  Quite a contrast to the sunny Algarve we left behind, but I was full of optimism and happy to finally be there.  It was mid-afternoon when we landed.  A 10 minute taxi ride from the airport, check-in, and we were out on the streets.  I needed a flavour of Sáo Miguel’s main city, and capital of the islands, because I would not be returning.  The following day we were flying onwards, to the island of Sáo Jorge.

My initial impression of Ponta Delgada was not kind.  Much of it looked neglected and unloved, the architecture reminiscent of an outdated Madeira.  But first impressions are not always fair, and my judgment was clouded by the heavy skies.  Nevertheless, the display at the airport should have alerted me that something special was happening here.  The billboards in the street were a definite clue.

The penny still not quite dropping, I wandered on.  The doors stood open on the church in the main square, and I ventured up the steps.

Sáo Sebastiáo, the Igreja Matriz or Mother Church, was magnificent.  I said a quick thank you for my safe deliverance and continued, drawn towards the waterfront.  I peered at the distant hills, willing the cloud to clear.  Down in the marina I was surprised to see paintings along the quay.  I associated these messages of goodwill with Horta, on the island of Faial, but the tradition must have spread to other islands.

So often my wanderings are defined by boats and churches, and this was to be no different.  I lingered hopefully, for just a patch of blue in the sky.  It was still warm enough for frolics in the outdoor pool, but I crossed the road to mount the hill to Sáo Pedro.

When I came out of the church, my husband was chatting to a mischievous looking small boy and his older, more sensible, sister.  They were giggling over their 4 or 5 words of English, while he manfully practised his Portuguese.  All were delighted with the situation.  We parted ways, in need of a coffee, and were amused to then find them sitting at the bus stop opposite our café.  They waved cheerfully as they waited for their bus home, and we ate our first Azorean pastries.

Our spirits lifted along with the clouds, and we strolled on along the waterfront.  By the Fort of Sáo Brás a bustling market was in full swing.  Across the Campo of Sáo Francisco, past the fountains and beyond the bandstand, a wonderful sight met our eyes.

The Church of Sáo Francisco was adorned with flowers.  Curious, we went inside.  Living in Portugal, as we now do, we are well used to splendid panels of azulejos.  Still we gawped at the walls and ceiling before us.  Yet these were not the main attraction.  A throng of people were gathered at the end of the church opposite to the beautiful altar, with their backs turned to it.  Slowly we edged forward to find a gap.  Behind a glass panel, this is what we saw.  We had inadvertently arrived on the island for the Festival of Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres.

This link contains a video which you do not need to watch all of to understand the significance of this.  We had missed the parade but could still revel in the beauty of the flowers and decorated streets.  And our first hydrangea!

After supper we returned for a look at the illuminated streets.  The City Gate looked far more imposing with its wash of blue.

And Sáo Francisco?  Well, judge for yourself.  A bit of a dazzler!

The night time shots have too much glare, but I think you can feel the atmosphere.  Perhaps I misjudged Ponta Delgada.

walking logo

I’m back in the Algarve now, but still marveling at the many sights I saw in the Azores.  Join me for more here on Jo’s Monday walk next week.  And many thanks for all your wonderful contributions.

………………………………………………………………………………………

Starting out with Ann-Christine’s beautiful homeland and a tribute to a remarkable man :

Thursday Thoughts – A Life’s Work

Then a little test for your fitness, with Suzanne :

Hiking the Henderson Tramline Loop

Something cool and soothing next, from Xenia :

A Walk at Leitir Easaidh

Not so hot in Toronto, either, but quite interesting.  Thanks, Indra!

Toronto Summer – Don River Valley

Some street art can be disturbing, but that’s part of its function, isn’t it, Ulli?

Urban Art Hall, Berlin

By contrast, lush growth and planting, from Jude.  I’ll make it to Cornwall yet!

Tremenheere Trees

Carol’s been in the wars lately, but she’s a real trooper :

More than a Battlefield

You can have such fun with photographs!  Sometimes I forget to play.  Thanks for reminding me, Lynn :

Local Walks : Wind in the Garden

The first of a series of walks by the Murrumbidgee River in Australia, in the company of a Wombat :

Molongo River Track (Crossing) – By way of Shepherd’s Lookout

While Cathy soldiers on, taking the good with the bad :

(Camino day 22) Castrojeriz to Boadilla del Camino

And Drake… well, he’s always off somewhere interesting.  Giverny is a favourite of mine :

Didn’t promise a rose garden

Breathing space

The following morning we saw just a little more of Ponta Delgada.  I’ll share it with you during the week.  Have a good one!

Jo’s Monday walk : Serra do Topo to Fajá dos Cubros

Me again!  A little bit of explanation is probably necessary before we start our next walk.  One half of this couple was not all that keen to go to the Azores.  For one thing, he doesn’t like airports or flying.  There were 6 flights involved in this holiday.  Secondly, only one of us drives, and the other is, shall we say ‘inconsistent’, with navigating.  Yes, even with Google Maps.  It has led to the odd fracas on previous jaunts.  In the interests of harmony, we had agreed that on this holiday we would use taxis or public transport, and that he would not hire a car unless absolutely necessary.

As it happens, public transport is extremely limited on the islands, and taxi hire a perfectly reasonable and accepted alternative to driving on some of the more tricky roads.  So it was that a lovely lady named Zélia, with bright orange finger nails and a dazzling smile, was driving us to the top of the island of Sáo Jorge.  Think ‘very steep’.  We left our base in Velas on a beautiful sunny morning, but were dismayed to find that high up on the mountain the mists were swirling damply.  Zélia informed us, with a cheery smile, that this was often the case, but that it would be fine further down.  Then she drove off, promising to pick us up again at 5.30pm at our destination, leaving us looking at each other in dismay.  Neither of us were clothed for wet weather, but at least I had on sensible shoes.

Which I needed!  Peering ahead and hoping that the going would not get too hard, we edged gingerly into the mists.  It was a little slippery under foot and concentration was needed, but I felt elated to be up there.  We started out at a height of 700 metres, and dropped relentlessly to ground level.  Tough on the knees, but I have to say that I’ve never done a more spectacular walk.  As the cloud swirled around us, occasionally we would catch an encouraging glimpse of the sea, far below.

What fascinated though was the appearance of the shrubs and trees.  Living their lives shrouded in moisture, many were clad in a thick fungal moss.

As the mist cleared a little, we stopped to munch on a couple of biscuits and restore our equilibrium.  Nothing was familiar, from the rickety, roped-together gates, to the trees, sprouting unexpectedly.  And then I spotted my first hydrangea.

We had thought that we were alone on the trail, but voices alerted us to the fact that we were being followed.  And then, ahead of us on the path, Ma and Pa, and two calves.  All of us showed the parents the greatest respect, but they seemed very placid and not at all alarmed at human presence.  The calves were a little more skittish and took avoidance action.

We exchanged pleasantries with the couple, who we were to meet again, picnicking by a waterfall.  Hopefully the worst of the descent was behind us, and we could look forward to a first glimpse of Caldeira de Santo Cristo.  Meanwhile we could enjoy nature’s playground, marveling at the ginger lilies and an abundance of tiny pink pom-poms.

And then suddenly, there it was in the distance, and I was challenged as to which view was better, the one ahead, or behind.  What a landscape!

It must be at about this stage that my husband’s knee began to play up.  Timing, huh?  The impact of all that downhill.  We took it as slowly as we could, which wasn’t hard because the views were stunning, but you still needed to concentrate on your footing.

Just in time we reached the sanctuary of Santo Cristo.  The church wall was the ideal place to sit and admire the Fajá (low ground) and salt water lake, and munch another couple of biscuits.  Looking at the map, we realised that we had only completed half the walk, and our final destination was nowhere in sight.  We had lived with worse views!

Luckily we had plenty of time, but the remainder of the walk was not as flat as we could have hoped and I could feel my husband wince at every downward step, let alone the ups.  Fajá dos Cubros still seemed a long way off.

Fortunately there were distractions.  In places workmen were repairing the track, and at one point gestured for us to walk forward through a trench of what looked like newly poured concrete.  Naturally we proceeded with caution.  Elsewhere there were signs of slippage and a new bridge was under construction.  Winter storms had taken their usual toll.  Slowly and painfully we covered the last of the ground, and I don’t know which of us was more relieved to see the spire of Nossa Senhora de Lourdes.

I do know that it was wonderful to sit beneath the vines in that serene and lovely spot.  And who should be there but our nice French couple, eating icecream.  Seemed like a good idea, but first I had a glass of wine, while I listened to their story.

But I couldn’t leave it there!  With Mick sitting peacefully, I had to look at the lagoon at Fajá dos Cubros.  The stillness of the place was remarkable.  I don’t know when I have experienced anything like it.  Lava bridges separated the pools, and the light was starting to fade a little.  I was all alone, with this haunting, eery beauty.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Just minutes later, Zélia collected us, full of apologies.  She runs a little cleaning business in addition to taxi-driving.  A cleaner had phoned in sick, and she’d had to cover for her, making her slightly late.  She more than compensated as she swept us back over the majestic mountain, chattering merrily, and stopping to let us look back down at the view.  What a day!  Should you be tempted, the 10km walk was PR01 SJO.

I don’t know if you’ll agree, but I think this is possibly the most beautiful walk I have ever undertaken.  I had half written the post when I came upon Ann-Christine’s Lens-Artists challenge for this week.  I know that she loves these islands as much as I do, and would like to dedicate this walk to her.  I think that there are just enough Trees.

walking logo

Sorry if this is a bit long-winded, (and no cake, Brian!) but it is such a powerful memory for me.  I’ve attempted to keep track of all the walks in my absence, but if I’ve missed anyone, I’m sorry.  Just give me a nudge.  Normal service resumed on Jo’s Monday walk.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

You know when Debbie says casual amble, that it won’t be.  Anything but!  Another place that I love!

Casual amble around Cascais

It’s a beautiful part of the world, and even better with great weather.  Thanks, Margaret!

Moors and hills and rugged coast : walking Northumberland

Chihuly and Kew in the same sentence, with a little bit of whimsy from Geoff :

Forming a Disorderly Kew #Kewgardens #Dalechihuly

Janet takes us wandering in France.  You never know what you might find…

Monday walk…in Saint-Bresson

Monday walk…La Chapelle de Beauregard

There are still some places that I’m cross with myself for not seeing.  Natalie shares a few, here :

Croatia: Delightful Dalmation Coast

Sounds like a sitcom, but life with Jude is never that.  It’s more about sharing beauty :

The Lanes in May

If you go down to the woods today… you might well find Susanne  🙂

Walking Midst the Tallest Trees on Earth

Or for something more exotic, try Drake’s place :

Brightening eyes

A grey reminder of England, in a city I know to be lovely.  Thanks, Rosemay!

York – A Walk Round the Old City Walls

An unusual one from Tammy :

Photography Challenge Neon Signs

Days 18-21 on Cathy’s road.  Some good, some bad, but with a happy ending :

(Camino day 18) Atapuerca to Burgos

(Camino day 21) Hornillos del Camino to Castrojeriz & Ruminations

‘Get your kicks on Route 84’ just doesn’t sound right somehow, now does it?

Haibun : Casa Grande

Rupali shares the beauty of the Land of the Midnight Sun :

Weekend 82 : Midnight walk

Ending with a display of the military that made me smile, from Carol.  Read why over in her comments :

Feel the Beat

Have a great week, everybody!  I’ve heard that Summer is about to begin in Britain.  Good news, hey?

Jo’s Monday walk : Mértola’s 10th Islamic Festival

Time to stray across the border again.  A different border this time, crossing the northern boundary between the Algarve and Alentejo, and high into the hills above the River Guadiana, to wonderful Mértola.  A place so rich in beauty and history it almost hurts, not least because of the steep gradient of its streets.

I was there on a mission.  The 10th Islamic Festival had come to town, and my good friend Becky had advised me not to miss it.  Interested in all things archaeological, I knew that she had been impressed with her exploration of the ruins there, but more of that later.  For now, let’s bring on the dancing girls, to the insidious beat of the drum, as they snake beneath the castle walls.

Sumptuous smells assault the senses, and materials of every conceivable shade waft and billow above and around you.  Lanterns glisten and twinkle in the light as you are transported back through time, to the Souk.  The drum beat fades as you stop to browse the stalls.  Leather bags and sandals and slippers in every style imaginable, mounds of spices, nuts and tiny cakes fight for your attention.  The stall holders smile, and try to barter with any potential customer.  Beautifully fragrant soaps claim to be good for the environment, as well as your skin.  It is overwhelming, but fascinating.

In a quieter corner, beneath the castle walls, craftsmen ply their trades.  Exquisitely carved woods, a loom for weaving, gleaming metal jugs and canisters, artfully and painstakingly decorated.  Some items are extremely useful, others prized purely for their beauty.

Below the castle, Igreja Matriz awaits, her doors invitingly open.  I enter reverently, delighted by this rare opportunity.  Behind the altar, the remains of the mihrab from the 12th century mosque, since converted to a Christian temple.

A garden slopes away behind the church, and I look down upon the makeshift roofs of the market to the Guadiana, far below.

But then, the icing on the cake!  And please don’t take that literally.  In the many years that I’ve been visiting Mértola, I’ve been aware of an archaeological dig.  Becky alerted me to the fact that great progress had been made and, sure enough, the gate was open.  Firstly you are invited inside a life-sized replica of an Islamic home.

15 such dwellings were found in the surrounding area.  The 70cm foundations were of stone, the walls of taipa (rammed earth) and the roofs, sloping down to the patio, Roman roof tiles placed on a layer of canes.  The floor was usually of beaten earth and inside walls adobe (mud brick).

Much of the detail is lost, but information panels reconstruct and explain some of what was once there.  An Episcopal palace in 6AD and a style of living far beyond the grandeur we have today.  It must have been fine to saunter in the cool, between the columns, and sit contemplating those carefully wrought hunting scenes at the end of another hot day, the sound of water tinkling in the background.

The castle watches sombrely over the graveyard and the ruins below.  I climb to its heights where, from the castle walls, I can sweep my gaze over the terrain beyond.  The distinctive shape of the church below is like a beacon.

Things are beginning to bustle down below, and preparations to feed the hungry are going full pelt.  I have walked past innumerable vendors of caramelised nuts, twitching my nose appreciatively, but it’s time for something more substantial.  Overhead the washing flaps.

The Mértola website is a feast of information.  I can’t believe that it was actually back in May 2016 that I last took you strolling there.  At that time I hoped to attend the biennial Islamic Festival in 2017.  They say all good things come to those that wait.  I’d have to agree.

Just one more hill to climb, for the view, of course.

I’m aware that this is a bit of a blockbuster of a post, but it will be my last walk with you for a while, so I hope you’ll indulge me.  Next week I’m off to the Azores and I will be a whirl of panic and packing next Monday.

walking logo

There’ll be stories to tell when I get back!  Meantime you can still send your walks and I’ll catch up when I can.  Thanks so much for the support and good company.  Here are some more great reads :

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

Bluebell time ‘back home’.  It passes so quickly!  Let Debbie show you the way :

A walk into the land of fantasy

One treat always follows another around here.  Bask in the land of beauty, with Jude :

Fairy Flowers

Hopefully the floods have subsided since Janet sent me this walk.  Glad she’s keeping an eye on things :

Monday walk…walking on water

There’s always space for an oddity around here.  Especially when it’s from Dad’s homeland :

The Crooked Wood in Pomerania/Poland

It’s a while since I walked with Denzil.  He’s very knowledgeable about his native Belgium :

On foot through the Hageland

What do you know about Norway’s Constitution Day? I’m sure Rupali can enlighten you :

Weekend: National Day

Ever rambled with a Wombat?  Maybe you should try it!

A walk around Lake Ginninderra

There’s something about waterfalls that gets me every time.  Thanks, Carol!

A Different View

Irene’s sharing beautiful flowers this week.  I expect she’d like some company :

Walk in the Garden

And it wouldn’t be Monday without a Cathy’s Camino walk or two, would it?

(Camino day 16) Villamayor del Rio to Viillafranca Montes de Oca

(Camino day 17) Villafranca Montes de Oca to Atapuerca

‘Don’t cry for me Argentina!’  A city of history and beauty shared, with affection, by Susan :

Walking Buenos Aires, Argentina

That’s all for now, folks!  Take good care till the next time.