Portugal

Jo’s Monday walk : Almodôvar, and the red shoes

It can get very flower laden around here at this time of year, so today I’m going to take you on a stroll around Almodôvar, a little known village in the Alentejo.  Why?  Well, just because I can, and also because I was intrigued by these red shoes.  Seriously, don’t you ever want to go somewhere just to see what’s there?  I do it all the time.

It’s not the easiest place to get to, and after an hour and a half of rocking and rolling along switchback country roads, car sickness was beginning to threaten.  I knew that, once over the border from the Algarve, the land would begin to flatten out.  Still, it was a relief to step out of the car.  An elderly lady was pegging out her washing and regarded me with some curiosity. Visitors from out of town are obviously a rarity.

It’s an ordinary enough place, the likes of which you will find throughout Portugal.  The charm lies in wandering the quiet streets, simply observing life.  It was just before Easter and preparations were underway in Igreja Matriz de Santo Ildefonso, the imposing 16th century church which dominates the main square.

A map on a nearby wall points out places of interest in the village.  Just what’s needed!   Number 2 is the clock tower, or Torre do Relogio.  In the 8th century, Almodôvar (literally ‘place in the round’) was rebuilt by the Muslims, with a surrounding wall.  No trace of this exists today.  A clock tower, served by an outside staircase, would typically have been part of the ramparts from the 17th century.  The clock was housed in the right tower of Santo Ildefonso, but was removed in 1889 when the parish church was struck by lightning.

As so often in Portugal, the smartly modern sits alongside the shabby and forlorn.  A pedestrianised shopping street comes as something of a surprise, but I am no longer surprised by wall art.  Meet poet Fernando Pessoa, and friends!

Still loosely following the map I headed along Rua do Convento, the convent of Our Lady of Conception inviting me closer.

What to make of this?  I hunted high and low for an explanation of this fanfare of an art installation.  Why red shoes, I was at a loss to know.  No clues inside either, but the interior was a show stopper. All that glitters…

I did solve the mystery, though.  Close by the convent there’s a 6 metre high sculpture of a cobbler on a roundabout.   Marked ‘Aureliano, 2001’, in researching it I discovered that Almodôvar had a history of shoe making.  Between the years of 1940 and 1970 there were around 200 manual shoe makers working in the town, and selling their wares at fairs throughout the county.  This sculpture, made by Aureliano Aguiar of Coimbra, from cogs and recovered bits of metal, is in their honour.

I strolled back to the sleepy little square with a fountain, and found a cafe opposite the museum. In the shade of the trees, sensible villagers idled to pass the time of day.  This place would be like a furnace in full summer.  I was melting in March.  So when I was offered a half litre bottle of vinho verde (they didn’t sell it by the glass) there was nothing to do but sit and watch the world go by.  Of course, I needed a substantial amount of food.

Back in the car, we rolled down the N2 towards the coast, passing the village of Ameixal with its Thursday morning roadside market.  The stalls were all but empty.  A venue for another day?  I had been thrilled by the wild irises, dusting the kerbside, on our way north.  Worth a last quick leap!

And that was Almodôvar.  I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did.  I do like a wander.  Sorry about the lack of cake again.  I was too full after that enormous toastie.  Speaking of which, it must be time to put the kettle on.

Cuppa to hand, it’s time for this week’s wonderful shares.  Thank you all for your company and the great support I receive on here.  If you’d like to join in at any time, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  You’ll be made very welcome.

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Look where Lexi’s landed!  Doesn’t it look fine?  You just might be surprised :

Happy in Houston- Part 1

I love a sing-a-long, and where better than the charms of Paris? (and Drake) :

Unforgettable

From one magical city to another! So lucky to have Debbie show us the heights :

Views from Montjuic

There’s always something to be thankful for in the company of Lady Lee :

52 Weeks of Thankfulness- Week 43

Geoff’s lessons on life, ably assisted by Dog :

Brecon Beacons- a lesson in green living

Jackie’s not quite so exuberant this week, but then, look at the weather!

Day 2- So Cal, Monterey

It’s not every day that I’d go walking around a complex, but Sedona surely makes a stunning backdrop.  Thanks, Marsha!

Resort Walk Reveals 15 Top Things to Love

Woolly wins it for excitement this week.  Up, up and away!

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Amy goes hunting for wildflowers in Texas, and finds boots and saddles!

Texas Hill Country

But Dawn is more than happy with her finds :

WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge : Surprised and Delighted 

I went looking for wood sprites or elves with Denzil, in Belgium :

The Valley of the Hoegne

And then I really struck lucky when Gilly found me a baby dragon!

A Forest walk

And finally, what did Carol find at the top of a hill?

Unrivalled Views

My English walk today has been rained off!  And it’s not even a Bank Holiday.  That’s next Monday, isn’t it?  See you then!

Jo’s Monday walk : Around Salir

You knew I’d end up back in the Algarve hills eventually, didn’t you?  I love to travel the scenic route up the N2 to Barranco do Velho.  When you look back down, the vivid blue of the sea has faded to a smokey distant haze.  This is cork territory and the ancient holm oaks enfold you as you turn off towards Salir, on the N124, in the foothills of the serra.

It’s a small village, notable for its loftily perched water tower, but one that is often bypassed in favour of prettier Alte or the mighty Rocha da Pena.

I didn’t have to worry too much about my route as I was following a walk leader.  What I did have to worry about was keeping up with the ‘Striders’. Not so easy to focus on the beauty all around whilst keeping half an eye on the walkers.  Blink, and they’d gone!  From the sports stadium at the back of the village we were quickly out onto a country lane, with views across to the Rocha, standing proud in the distance.

Oops!  Don’t miss that sign!  The trail leads steeply uphill (the Striders do seem to love hills!) to the left of the house.  Calla lilies caught my eye, and another of those precious water tanks, so vital for the hot summers.

There’s not a lot to tell about Salir.  It’s a sleepy place, with a benign 16th century church and a few castle ruins from the 12th century, keeping watch over the surrounding fields.  The softly curving Serra de Caldeirao forms a lovely backdrop.

It’s a lovely time of year.  The colours sing out, begging you to capture them.  So what, if I get left behind!

It would be well worthwhile, because look what I found, growing in the long, damp grass.  Wild orchids!  They are so exciting!

A quick scurry to catch up, but there are a couple of signposts.  This walk crosses the Via Algarviana, which spans the Algarve from Alcoutim in the east right across to Sagres in the west.  All around, the cistus are cheering me on, their crushed paper faces turned to the sun.

On this walk we’d been asked to bring a picnic, a bit of a disappointment to those of us who relish the usual restaurant stop at the end.  A couple of stone benches by a fonte made a good resting place, then we were striding off again.

I often remark to people that the Algarve is full of surprises.  Passing the cemetery at Palmeiros and an oddly colourful wall, we crossed over a bridge and made a right turn down a narrow country lane.  Expect the unexpected!

A battered drum kit in the garden told the unlikely tale.  The rest of the walk seemed almost anticlimactic after that, as we meandered back towards Salir.  The pace of the walk slowed after lunch, allowing more opportunity to chat.  Another water wheel or two and we were back where we started.

That’s the first of my recent Algarve walks completed.  I hope you enjoyed it.  Let’s put the kettle on now and see where everyone else has been.

Thanks so much everybody, for your company and kind comments each week.  I love walking with you.  If you’d like to share a walk, the details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  If not, just sit back and enjoy!

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I do like to introduce someone new on my walks, especially when the scenery is this good.  Meet Chandi  :

The Pathway of the Gods- Italy’s Most Stunning Hike

Versailles seems a long time ago to me, but Drake has brought it all back!

More glimpses of Paris

Lady Lee has been cavorting in water parks with the family :

Our Subic experience

Opulence personified from Jackie this week!

Hearst Castle

Richard has a crack at climbing the highest cliff in Cornwall :

Cracking Crackington Haven

While my Sunshine friend is making the most of the blossom in our capital :

London- A Walk in thePark 

And please, don’t anyone accuse Woolly of being full of hot air!

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If it’s not broken, don’t fix it!  Or, in Paula’s case, take a wonderful shot…

Unbroken

Can you imagine being smothered in cherry blossom?  Cathy can!  She’s in Tokyo at sakura time :

Cherry blossoms in the rain at Shinjuku Gyoen

Denzil has begun a new undertaking which proves, yet again, that Belgium has quite a lot to offer :

GR121, Stage 1: Wavre to La Roche

Does this look familiar to you?  Yes- me too!

Walking in Florence

I even accept wordless walks!  Especially when shared with my lovely friend, Meg :

Wordless walks : Jemisons Beach and headland

Finally, some great hills for rolling your paste eggs down, with Kathryn :

My weekly ramble

Wonderful, aren’t they?  It’s been a bit cool and damp in my part of the UK this weekend, but then, it was a Bank Holiday.  I hope you’ve had a good Easter celebration, and maybe a bit of walking?

Lazy Poet’s Thursday Haiku

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An old, fisherman’s table

Rusted now and all forlorn

‘Gainst the shimmering

Stealing my title from Gilly this morning, but I know she won’t mind.  I’m just sharing a last few soothing Algarve images before I return to the real world.  If you’ve never met Gilly, you’re in for a treat.  Go and say hello!

Six word Saturday

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The Algarve produces some beautiful shadows.

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img_5931Just wandering, as I like to do, in the Eastern Algarve, I found myself chasing shadows in the area of Lota.  The combination of lagoon, beach and boardwalk is an enticing one.  I loved the delicacy of the shell patterns, and a chance find- a sea urchin.

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The Weekly Photo Challenge has confused me a little by moving to a Wednesday.  But I didn’t let it cast a Shadow on my week.  Well, perhaps one or two!  A little like the six words that I like to share with you here on a Saturday.

Apologies in advance to those of you who walk with me on Mondays.  Next week there will be no blue sky.  Have a great weekend!

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Jo’s Monday walk : Legends of Marim

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I’m turning the tables on Becky this morning and putting my own slant on one of her walks. Exploring the delightful Legends Way will supply all the details you need, so I can quite simply enjoy myself.

The Algarve abounds in legends.  In Olhão they have been brought to life in sculpture.  The stories are a little naive, but no less lovable for that. Alina and Abdala, above, are star-crossed lovers in the traditional sense, and I love the way that her hair flows around him.

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I started my wanderings (with Becky, I might add, but more of that later) at the beginning of Caminho das Lendas, or Legend’s Way.  I paid due attention to the maps but, inevitably, then followed my nose.  The little chap above was one of my favourites.  So poised and graceful in the way that young boys have, with a ball at their feet.

Beware who you invite into your game though.  He might just bewitch and spirit you away!  It’s such a ‘lived in’ looking place, Olhão!  The ravages of time have certainly got to some of it but you could be kind and describe it as full of character.

I really don’t much care for the Boy with Big Black Eyes, so I couldn’t resist having a little fun with him.  I thought I looked my best all wobbly, but he doesn’t look very amused, does he? Distinctly bad-tempered, in fact!

The next character struck me as rather sorrowful, but who wouldn’t be, if swallowed by a whale? The wonder of it is that Arraul survived!  But I’m glad that he did as he allegedly created the sand barriers that protect the Algarve to this day.

There’s one other character you ought to meet, but I was feeling rather wilful and the boats moored in the marina were demanding my attention.

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Bom Sucesso, the caravel that sailed the Atlantic to Brazil, always draws my admiration.  I usually meet Becky close by here, her husband Robert having cast a discerning eye over the day’s catch in the fish market.  Both are lovers of fish and they had a treat in store for me.  I’d been hearing about Vai e Volta and was keen to try out this ‘all you can eat’ fish restaurant.

For just 10 euros, the fish kept on arriving!  I sampled salmon, sea bass, sardines, and tuna among others.  It all depends what the boats bring in that day.  In addition there was delicious cornbread, salad, potatoes and a tasty dip.  What more can you want?  Simply amazing for the price!  And don’t forget to ask for the sweet menu, especially if you like carobs and figs.  I would show you, but I was so full that I was sharing mine with the other half.  I daren’t stop to take the photo, else it disappeared!  I’ve given you the link to their Facebook page to help you find your way there.  Not everybody is lucky enough to go with Becky!

I almost forgot to mention Floripes, a voluptuous lady in white who was stranded far from her Moorish home.

That’s it for legends, and back to boats!  I never can resist them for very long.

The sun was starting to set and it was time to leave.  In writing this I had cause to look back at O is for Olhão and remember what a very interesting maritime history this Eastern Algarve town has.  It’s well worth a visit.

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Legend of Marim

Lovers entwined in metal

Lost to the river

Feeling quite poetic.  Must be time to put that kettle on and read a few posts!

Thank you so much for keeping me company on my rambles.  It is very much appreciated.  I’d love you to join me with a walk of your own and it’s very easy to do so.  Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Please find some time to visit these walks.  You won’t regret it!

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I’m always thrilled when a great photographer joins my walks!  Thank you, Tobias!

Dunes

That bit of blue makes all the difference, and it’s beautiful where Eunice lives :

A walk up to Crow Castle

Lady Lee keeps on coming up with places on my list of dream destinations :

Ten Things in Sicily

A friendly chat in Dollar and a money mushroom.  That’s what I call value, Anabel :

Dollar Glen

What’s that about diamonds and best friends?  Sadly, Woolly can’t afford these!

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Jackie doesn’t think money matters in Vegas.  It costs nothing to look, after all!

Trippin’ the Light Fantastic

On the other hand, safaris don’t come cheap.  But just look at what Geoff got for his money!

A Time in Africa- Part two

It’s always an artistic look at life with Jesh :

WHICH WAY?

People will keep showing me fabulous places I’ve never been!  Thanks, BiTi  🙂

A visit to Beziers

Part of Hanna’s personal history, I loved this walk with her :

Vikings, The Sea Stallion from Glendalough and Roskilde Cathedral

My friend Drake knows a thing or two about Vikings, past and present :

Misty back to the past

I always like to share pretty places, and Rosemay seldom lets me down :

Strolling Round the streets of Potsdam

Splendid isolation with Paula, another very special photographer :

Walk into Solitude

And just in case you didn’t follow the link earlier on, here’s lovely Becky!

On the other side of the river

I think I’ll be back to grey skies and an English walk next week.  You’ve been warned!  Have yourselves a great week.