Portugal

Jo’s Monday walk : Party time in Ayamonte

You could be forgiven for thinking that I don’t really like living in Portugal at all!  Here I am, hopping on a ferry and crossing the border to Spain, yet again.  Actually, I was trying to salvage a day that was rapidly turning into a disaster.

Not for the youngsters, and Spanish families, though.  Owing to my bad timing I managed to completely miss the traditional Three Kings procession at Vila Real de Santo Antonio in the Algarve last week.  They had already ferried across to Ayamonte when I got there and not a trace of them was to be found in the sleepy streets.  Portuguese families were quietly strolling, sipping coffee in the cafés and contemplating lunch.  In a vain effort to catch up with the action, I persuaded the other half that we too should ferry across the Guadiana.

The atmosphere couldn’t have been more different in Spain!  It felt like the whole world was on the streets, out for a thoroughly good time.  A party was brewing and each and every plaza resounded with lively Spanish chatter.  But still no sign of the Kings!  Taking a breather from the hubbub, we climbed steps through the old side of town to look down on the river.

Back at ground level, everyone seemed to be walking in the same direction, the noise level constantly rising.  Tempting to take refuge for a while in the tranquility of the marina, overlooked by a faded sunset drama.

From across the street another mural smiles at me, inviting despite her tattered appearance.  As people settle into bars and reach for another beer, I begin to realise that I am not destined to see the parade.  The sun is already sinking low in the sky and the last ferry will be leaving soon.  It’s a short ride across the river but a long walk back by road!

Time to make the best of the situation and simply enjoy a beautiful sunset ride home, on a warm and lovely January evening.

Next year I promise to be better organised.  Did you notice, we didn’t even stop for cake? (though I did pick some up to nibble on the ferry  🙂 ). If you’d like to know more about the celebration, this link gives a little background.  Right now I have walks to share.   Join me next time on Jo’s Monday walk?  You’ll be more than welcome.

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Say hello to Natalie!  She’s doing her best to get us all fit this year :

Wellness Post #1 : A Fresh Start

Suzanne’s not trying quite so hard.  Coffee and cake, anyone?  And beautiful scenery too, of course :

A Walk around Mt. Maunganui Mauao

There’s no doubt that Carol’s right!  The waterfront at Vancouver is the place to be :

In the Right Place

Is it Winter somewhere in the world?  Apparently so!  Drake’s tracked it down for us :

Live and let’s snow

No such problems at Alice’s place!

Outdoors in January

While Geoff launches a series of fond memories with his Dad :

Walking With The Wind At My Back : Part One

Jackie always seems to have a plan or two up her sleeve :

New Year Appetizer

And Anabel has always just been somewhere interesting and beautiful :

Hebridean Hop 18 : Vatersay

More amazing architectural explorations with Cathy, this week :

Chaco Culture: Pueblo Arroyo & the Casa Rinconada community

You may not wander far but, if you look, you can always find something interesting.  Pauline and Jack set a fine example :

Lens-Artists photo challenge : Curves in Buddhism

Next week I shall be sharing purely Portuguese almond blossom.  For now my attention is seriously distracted by Australian Open tennis and the return to play of Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.  Have a great week, won’t you?

 

Six word Saturday

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Can you believe, perfect blossom already?

The earliest I ever remember seeing it!  We’ve had such wonderfully sunny days, but, ooh, it can be nippy on a night.  🙂  Debbie’s a bit of a wonder, too.  How does she keep turning out such perfect Six Word Saturdays?

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Jo’s Monday walk : A romp in El Rompido

Two lighthouses for the price of one!  Driving into the village of El Rompido in Southern Spain, they are almost the first thing you see.  The smaller of the two was erected in 1861, marking the mouth of the Piedras river.  It no longer works, but its much taller amigo came along in 1975 and now lights up the estuary.  Striking though they are, it’s not the lighthouses that have brought me here.  El Rompido is home to the Marismas de Piedra y Flecha nature reserve and there are beautiful walks around the salt marshes.

The trail leads out around the edge of El Rompido, once a quiet fishing village, and in the off season still retaining much of its charm.  Bypass the small marina and the golf course and you are surrounded by nature in all its finery.

The area is a magnet for bird watchers.  The White Stork, Montagu’s harrier, stone curlew, the little grebe, the hoopoe, the spoonbill, the stilt, marsh harrier, the canastera, common tern, northern pintail, teals, the oystercatcher, the sandwich tern, the sandpiper, the plover, and the laughing gull can all be found here.  As usual, my group was chattering like a flock of magpies so I failed to capture the evidence, but I did distance myself, once in a while, to admire the landscape.

Information boards along the way give you clues as to what to look for, and in places the trail diverges so you have a choice- longer or shorter. If you’re with a group, pay attention, or you’ll find yourself taking a wrong turn.  It hardly matters though, as the landscape is flat and you can see for miles.  The humpbacked bridge is visible long before you get there.

We have only crossed the border into Spain and driven half hour out to the coast, so it’s no surprise that the landscape is similar to that of the Algarve.  Water rules here, too.  A key difference arises as you turn into the woodland, where magnificent plumes of Umbrella pine line the path.  These are not so common in the Algarve, but we share the prickly pear.

The trail turns back towards the village, and a boardwalk carries you past the golfers.  It’s lined in places with the pretty lanterna that abound at this time of year, pink and yellow the most common.  I especially like the rarer yellow and white variety.

Before long you are passing the lighthouses again, with time to wander the back streets of El Rompido, nonchalantly examining shop windows for a trinket or two before they close for siesta.  Or perhaps you are hungry and need to head straight to your restaurant.  There are any number to choose from, some with rather nice sea views.  Do stop in at the tourismo, beside the church, if you possibly can.  The friendliest, most informative receptionist I have ever met!  It’s worth a return trip just to talk to her, and maybe even try the ferry crossing.

I like to end with a treat or two.  The almond flavoured pudim flan was lovely, and isn’t that the most beautiful hibiscus you ever saw?  And in case you are wondering what I’m doing in Spain, this is the other half of a pre-Christmas visit.  I’m home in the Algarve right now, and it feels good.

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The midnight hour at New Year, as planned, was spent on Ponte Romano bridge in Tavira, in company with some lovely people.  We were told the fireworks weren’t as good as last year, but it really didn’t matter.  We were where we wanted to be.  Thank you all for accompanying me on the journey.  You’re welcome on Jo’s Monday walk at any time.  Let’s share some walks, shall we?

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Susan pushed herself right to the edge on this one!

Walking Valencia Peak Trail

Join Alice in sunny Savannah :

A walk in the square

It was a very merry Christmas with Jackie :

Feliz Navidad

And Eunice celebrated the New Year with some lovely bright skies :

New Year’s Day walk 2019

Spot the likeness with Debbie, down at the souq?  She’ll bash me for being cheeky  🙂

Unlimited fun with Debbie

You just can’t have better company than Becky if you’re going on a walk.  Do let her show you Porto :

A day of contrasts

Many of you will know Sartenada.  I’m including this walk because it beautifully portrays 20 year old memories for me :

Holiday in Italy – Capri

I do miss him when he’s not around!  Drake travels the world, and shares generously :

Through the Twenty-Eighteen

Cathy risks heat stroke exploring more fascinating desert ruins :

Chaco Culture : Chetro Ketl & Pueblo Bonito

Some of my UK friends will be familiar with this one.  Happily for me, I’m too far distant to test myself :

UK Hiking – South West Coast Path, Branscombe to Sidmouth

The festivities in the Algarve are finally over and it’s onwards into another year.  I have more to share than I can possibly make time for.  Life is full here- new friends, new language.  Be patient with me?  I’ll do my best.

Jo’s Monday walk : Canalside in Leeds at Christmas

It was a strange Christmas for me.  How about you?  I flew into Stansted, in spite of being destined for Leeds Bradford airport.  Nine hours later than planned, a neighbour’s very kind son deposited me at my hotel, tired and somewhat bemused at the chain of events.  It could only get better, and mostly it did.  Christmas Day should be spent with people you love, and it was.  Blue skies in Leeds in late December, however briefly, a bonus.  Put your gloves on and join me in a sparkly, frosty walk.  You know you need the exercise!

We’re starting out around Granary Wharf, near to the railway station.  Underneath the arches, a neglected image of times gone by.  The Leeds and Liverpool Canal is sandwiched between remnants of the industrial past and modern apartment blocks, and on a bright day the towpath makes for a pleasant walk.  Don’t forget to check out the view behind you, and keep an eye out for those demon cyclists!

A colossal undertaking, primarily to transport coal for industry in the 18th century, the Leeds and Liverpool Canal runs for 204km in total, with 91 locks.  We’re only covering a tiny section today, right in the centre of Leeds.  It was Christmas Eve and I was avoiding the bustle of the city streets, whilst still hoping to meet our son for coffee.  In places the canal runs parallel with the River Aire, offering an alternate route.  Ugliness is a close neighbour with beauty here.  One moment I’m admiring lily pads and reflections, the next confronted with urban scrawl and litter.

All is redeemed when I round a bend and find a pair of swans communing with a family of ducks.  The natural world is at peace.

I’ve always been fascinated by locks, and find them a welcome distraction from gloomy tunnels and ever-present graffiti.  The combination of old mills and rippling reflections works like a charm, soothing with their beauty.

Remnants of once meaningful murals cling to tired brick walls.  The water races headlong, a solitary swan seeming not to notice his drab surrounds.

Where the sun’s soft caress has yet to reach, a hard frost remains.  I look back along the canal and know that I must retrace some of my steps.  A coffee laced with Bailey’s awaits, but more importantly, my son.

The path continues on for many miles and I hope some day to complete the section from here to lovely Kirkstall Abbey, a short distance away.  And just in case you thought I wasn’t keeping my eye on the time while I was in Leeds….

Time’s up, it seems!  Thanks, Becky.  Wishing you and yours lots of good times in 2019!

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This visit was all about family, and we managed to unite son and daughter, and their partners, in Nottingham, after a tortuous journey by road.  Worth it, of course!  Now I’m back in the Algarve with my memories.  And some more walks to share.

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After a flying visit to England, I’ve embraced cold.  Debbie too!  She’s sharing Icelandic beauty :

A walk of all weathers

Give yourself an after Christmas treat!  Go walking the streets of Prague with Nicole :

Self-Guided Walking Tour of Prague

Margaret knows the way to a woman’s heart!  Walking in one of my favourite places :

Taking my new camera for a walk

Jackie has fun wherever she goes.  And the lady eats well!  Drinks well, too  🙂

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Cerveza Por Favor

I love poinsettias!  They spell Christmas to me, and to Alice too :

The country store

Lady Lee shares a wonderful Christmas tree and a post-birthday celebration :

The Weekly Smile

Fancy a swift walk with my mate Andrew?

Travels in Spain, A walk around Seville

Or something more contemporary with Tobias :

Goult – Evening Walk

Cathy gives us sweeping plains, petroglyphs and a great house, Chaco style!

Chaco Culture National Historical Park : the Una Vida Trail

Chaco Culture: Hungo Pavi

We’ve reached the last day of the year.  Goodness knows how!  It only remains to wish you all the healthiest of years ahead.  Mine will start with a bang, beside the bridge at Tavira.  A first for me, but not the last, I hope.  Happy New Year!

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Loving Christmas time in the Algarve

I’ve been seriously neglecting Becky’s Square challenge this month, but time marches on and it’s almost time to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

I’ve seen Aldeia dos Sonhos (the children’s Village of Dreams) in Loulé, a tree made of recycled plastics in São Brás de Alportel, and one decorated with firemen’s boots in Faro.  I’ve hunted down Presépios (Nativity scenes) in towns and villages all across the Algarve.

Perhaps I’m biased but I do think that Tavira’s lights are the best I’ve seen.  Square, or not so square, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

Wishing you all the joy of the festive season.  And let’s hope the year ahead is kind.  I will be whizzing around the UK, so no Monday walk for me next week.  But I’ll be home in the Algarve for New Year.  Hope to see you then.  Meantime, don’t miss Debbie’s beautiful six words.

Jo’s Monday walk : Blessing the fishermen

Why is it that whenever I suggest an outing to an event, my husband looks at me with some scepticism?  Granted, we have struggled sometimes to be in the right place at the right time, but we usually do get there in the end.  So it was with the Blessing of the Fishermen, in Quarteira this month.

I’d be the first to suggest that Quarteira isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but there are some occasions you shouldn’t miss, if you can help it.  Nossa Senhora da Conçeição is the patron saint of fishermen and of Portugal.  Every year on 8th December an image of the saint is carried to the harbour for a blessing of the fleet.  I had read that this took place at 3pm.  Thinking to have a bit of a stroll first, we arrived soon after midday.  All was quiet, but as we approached the harbour I was excited to see that the boats were all decked out in their finery.  Blue and white bunting fluttered in the air, colours considered lucky by the fishermen.

Access to the harbour was restricted to fishermen and their families, but you could walk right out along the molho, the sea wall enclosing them.  Music and laughter drifted from many of the vessels.  A black cat looked on disdainfully, just one of many opportunists.  At the end of the molho, a shrine dedicated to Our Lady.

A blessing did not look imminent, so we retraced our steps past the compelling street art and into the older part of town, hoping to find a church.  A red carpet seemed like an invitation, but turned out to be a herring of the same colour.  Dilapidation mingles with the mundane in Quarteira.

Back on the lengthy promenade, it was time for a drink.  I won’t show you the enormous piece of chocolate cake my husband managed to consume, without any help, I hasten to add.  I had seated myself next to an elderly gentleman, gazing out to sea.  Waiting for the action to transpire, we had soon exchanged histories.  He was from Lisbon, visiting his daughter and keen to see this event for the first time.  Gradually people were assembling, small groups chatting and families with children, weaving in and out on scooters and skates.  On the beach, a few sun worshippers appeared oblivious, but most kept an eye on the sea.

Sure enough, at 15.00 the fleet began to leave the harbour, tooting horns and shooting flares high into the cloudless blue sky.  Excitement rippled through the spectators.  The shorter arm of the seawall made a good vantage point, and I munched on roast chestnuts as I watched and waited.  Finally all the boats were lined up.  More flares ripped through the air, and they were off, racing back to shore.

Boats from all across the Algarve had come to join in the celebration.  We waited until all had returned to harbour, uncertain of what, if anything, came next.  And, just as we’d decided to call it a day, around the corner came the procession, led by a slow marching band, the Senhora held aloft.

We realised that the procession had made its way along the promenade, while the boats paid their tributes out at sea.  We were swept along with the crowd for a while, turning back at the busy harbour, where the priest would be waiting to give his blessing.  An afternoon to remember.

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I hope you enjoyed sharing this with me.  It was such a joyful, warm atmosphere.  Advent here in the Algarve is lovely.  I won’t be sharing a walk next Monday as it’s Christmas Eve and you might well have other things to do.  I will be stopping by with good wishes for the festive season before then but, in case I miss you, have a blessed and peaceful Christmas.  Meantime, my thanks to everyone for your company.  Let’s share some walks!

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Mount Baker makes an awesome backdrop.  I know you’ll love Lynn’s beautiful photos :

A Little Farther Into the Woods

Alice stays close to home for this week’s walk :

The Farmer’s Market

But Jackie’s still in Spain.  I would have loved to visit Monserrat :

Friday Nov 23 Barcelona

Why not let Geoff show you a few scores?

The Earliest Place #Lowestoft #walking

Yay!  ‘Tis the season, and where better to view it?

Walking in a Victoria Wonderland

Drake shares the love of his life.  From an angle you might not have seen her!

Down on the corner

Come and listen to the birds in Denzil’s homeland.  He’s always full of good, practical advice :

Walking around De Maten in Limburg

I don’t think Cathy will ever run out of beautiful walks to share!

Canyon de Chelly: the White House Trail

On Mondays there are always murals over at Sami’s Colourful World.  Pop along and see, if you haven’t already.  Don’t be too busy to enjoy life this week.  Christmas will be here and gone before you know it.

Jo’s Monday walk : La Collina Verde to Moncarapacho

I don’t mind to watch a bit of golf on TV, especially if Tiger is in town, but I’ve never had the coordination or a serious desire to get involved in the game.  Portugal is famed for its golf courses and it was inevitable that our paths would cross at some point.  A couple of walking friends have a very nice villa on the small, countrified La Collina Verde course, in the Eastern Algarve.  They very generously provided coffee for all as we gathered to start our walk.  With the Strollers this time, it was a shortish, level walk at a gentle pace.

Skirting the golf course, we passed by pomegranate and orange groves, lush fruit dangling temptation on all sides.  A very obliging local squeezed his cart to one side and posed for the camera, his animal in full regalia.

Hot pink blooms assaulted my senses, while shadows fell across a rusted wheel, and a once-loved cottage trailed its timbers in the dust.

We had soon reached our halfway point, Moncarapacho, for a coffee stop.  It’s not a village that I know well.  My last visit was on a rainy February day, dodging umbrellas to watch the lively Carnival parade.  This time I was very taken with the old square, wedged between a couple of churches and a café or two.  While the others sat and chatted, I couldn’t resist a wander, especially thrilled to find the church door ajar.

We lingered a while, in no hurry to leave a sunny and engaging spot.  The locals gave us curious glances, till eventually someone got us all moving again.  It’s quite a big group and you can saunter at will, exchanging dollops of information with whoever is your neighbour at the time.  They’re a friendly bunch and conversation is always easy.  I count myself lucky to have come across the group in my early days in the Algarve.

The contrast with extremely stylish elegance and the tumbledown never ceases to amaze me.  Moncarapacho is well equipped with both.  A right turn or two and we were back on country lanes.  This is ‘nora’ territory and the wells abound, some still in working order but many just a legacy of times gone by.  Polytunnels seem to proliferate now.  I’m never sure what is being grown, but am simply grateful that this beautiful climate is being used to provide people with a livelihood.

We wended our way back to La Collina Verde.  No golfers in evidence but the clubhouse had been opened to provide us with a splendid lunch.  Should I leave you with a choice of dessert?  Don’t ask me which has more calories.  I haven’t a clue!

You can probably tell, I’m more than content with life just now.  A certain person has hinted that I may grow fat and happy.  With the miles we walk?  Seriously!  Besides which, I’m still running up and downstairs, finding homes for things.  Perhaps some of them should have been left in the UK.  I’ll know better if I ever move again.  Or I’ll buy a bungalow.

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I’m back in business, sharing walks again.  If you have a favourite I’d love to hear about it.  Join me any time, here on Jo’s Monday walk.  You’ll always receive a warm welcome.

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Eunice kept up the walking while I was gone, so here you have a choice of two :

Preston Dock – some history, useless information and curiosities

Radcliffe Tower and Close Park

A whirlwind tour of Spain with Jackie.  Stopping to eat, of course!

Spanish Tapas

Jaspa revels in the cold.  Rather him than me!

Old Town Montreal in the COLD!

I’m seeing a lot of cold water with Drake these days, but it’s very beautiful :

Water can be stiff

Us easterners have to stick together, don’t we Geoff?

Where The East Begins#capitalring#walking

I would never accuse Nadine of cheating!  I’ve ridden that steam train but I simply couldn’t shoulder the backpack :

Men in the hills and bulls in the field; day 5 on the Pennine Way, Haworth to Malham (with a train ride… 6 or 7 miles of walking)

Absolutely on top of the world, with Irene :

Top of a Rainforest

I did pretty much this same walk last week.  It’s a wonder I didn’t meet Becky!

Glorious views abound

And Cathy continues to astound with the most incredible landscapes and stories :

Canyon de Chelly: Antelope House, Mummy Cave and Massacre Cave overlooks

I’m currently walking Tuesdays, Fridays and Sundays, with occasional time off for good behaviour.  Or otherwise!  Have a great week and I’ll see you back here on Monday.