Portugal

Six word Saturday

A peaceful contemplation of the night

Subtitled : Stillness when the storm has abated  It was a humdinger of a storm yesterday morning.  Exceptionally high tides flooded the centre of Tavira.  I hope calm has been restored.  Meanwhile, Debbie has a great message for us on Six Word Saturday.  Enjoy your weekend!

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Jo’s Monday walk : Street art spotting in Sáo Brás

Leaving the sea behind for a little while, one of my favourite roads in the Algarve is the N270.  It winds steadily up into the hills, a series of twists and turns, with glimpses of small villages in the valleys below.  As the road levels out you come to the market town of Sáo Brás de Alportel.  It’s a nice peaceful spot for a wander.  Come with me and we’ll see what we can find.

As with most traditional towns in Portugal, the streets are mainly cobbled.  Claiming a convenient patch of shade, a snowy white cat regards me solemnly with its one green and one blue eye.  Is it my imagination or does that lady on the wall look more anxious as I look back at her?

Around the corner, the entrance to the episcopal palace gardens, beyond which sparkles the municipal pool.  This lovely outdoor facility was renovated last year and I expected to see it busy on this warm summer day.  Another casualty of Covid-19, I suspect.

Much of Sáo Brás is a little dog-eared and worn, but resourceful locals have done their best to brighten the shabbiest walls.  The local tourist information office and art gallery was open and I popped in to examine current trends.  An interesting perspective on a corn field?

The town has a lovely church, the scene of devout and colourful celebrations at Easter.  The streets are decorated with a multitude of flower heads and floral torches are paraded through them to a chant of ‘Hallelujah’.  Not this year, of course, but at least they can’t take away the beautiful view.

Somebody must have had a job lot of paper swallows, because they appear on several of the artworks.  How many swallows make a summer?

But the town is not short of more conventional beauty.  The azulejos are as fine as any you will see.  This cheerful scooter picks out the lemon of the background tile rather nicely, don’t you think?

The central square had a makeover a couple of years ago, and has become home to several modern art pieces.  I was happy to find this metal family in a nearby street.  Very appropriately, wearing their masks.

Perhaps you’d like to see the town in happier times, Celebrating life at Easter.  We have to believe they’ll come again.

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Meanwhile, just a few walks to share this week, which inclines me to think I could make Jo’s Monday walk a fortnightly feature, and confuse everyone!  Today I’m going to join Sami, who shares street art every week on Monday Mural.

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Ducks and dragonflies… I’m smitten, Janet :

Monday walk…Sweetwater Wetlands

He’s home again!  Not such a terrible place to be, Drake :

Back in town

Is anything more splendid than this?  A Cornish garden, much loved by Jude :

Herbaceous borders

While Albert goes in search of another splendid view :

Sherwood Homestead (Former) Walk via Mountain Creek Road (Plus)

Ending with Janaline in exotic Shanghai :

Monday Walk in Century Park

Wishing you all a good week, though I know life is difficult right now in many places.  Take care till next time!

Jo’s Monday walk : a sea breeze

A week or two ago I caught the very busy ferry from Olháo across to the barrier island, Culatra.  The sea was flat calm and a limpid blue and the air scarcely moved, such was the heat.  Alighting at Farol, I followed the path across the island, passing chalet houses, a couple of cafés and the lighthouse for which it is named, to the beach.

A cluster of people were relaxing there, but I was surprised at how rapidly the ferry’s full load had disappeared.  My aim was to walk along the beach, catching whatever breeze I could, until I reached the small hamlet, Culatra.  There I would have a light meal while waiting for the ferry to carry me back to the mainland.

It’s a relaxed place, and I sat watching a youngster entertaining himself by throwing hoops, beside the church.

I sat for an hour or so, and in that time the wind steadily increased.  The umbrellas began to flap and sway and, as I looked out across the water, white horses began to prance and the boats to bob wildly.  A galleon at anchor in the bay had started to unfurl her sails, but must have thought better of it, for soon they were neatly stowed away.

In 1941 catastrophic gales hit this coast, wiping out much of the lowrise property and beach huts, and rearranging the sand spits and channels of the Ria Formosa.  This is the front line, which protects the Eastern Algarve from the ferocity of the Atlantic Ocean.  It comes as no surprise that the islanders, despite seemingly carefree ways, have huge respect for the nature that surrounds them.

Each August the whole island takes part in a thanksgiving ceremony to Nossa Senhora.  Maybe you have to be fearless if you’re born here.  By the ferry departure point the next generation lounge in the sun.  Minutes earlier they had been leaping with gay abandon into the choppy waters.

For a closer look at the island, let me direct you to an older post of mine, Ilha da Culatra.  Meanwhile, there’s cake!

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Many thanks for your company again this week.  Temperatures are starting to abate a little, and gentle walks will continue for the time being.  Join me whenever you like here on Jo’s Monday walk.

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Never mind the weather!  Mention food and Debs will be there!

A Borough Market wander for foodies

Come and count cacti with Janet?

Monday walk…Saguaro National Park

Alice certainly has some beautiful property on her doorstep.  Take a wander with her :

Harleston Village

Brambles or a story?  Take your pick with Susan :

Walking with a book in hand

Walking for blackberries

What is it about Drake and tractors?  Sark looks delightful :

In a way sailed back time

No traffic jam

Aseem might prefer crowds and big cities :

Photography: Daytime

But Sue has the beauty of nature right on her doorstep :

Brown Lowery Provincial Park – Calgary Day Trip Secret Gem

And Rosemay tackles the new block editor on our behalf.  Got to be worth a visit!

Torpedo Trail Yallingup

Another day, another dollar!  Well, hopefully, anyway.  Funny how Mum’s old sayings stay in your head.  Have a good week!

Six word Saturday

Spanning a river and several challenges

When Ann Christine suggests we Pick a Word on the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, I’m tempted.  But when Paula offers another five on Thursday’s Special… what’s a woman to do?  Give in, graciously!

Several bridges Span the river in Tavira, including Ponte Romana, a Roman bridge that isn’t; an uninspiring but very functional road bridge that soars across the water, and a small scale model of the same, nearing completion, to replace the former dilapidated Military Bridge.  Construction of the latter has certainly been a challenge!

One of my favourite things is sailing out of this river to the Ilha beyond.  Exuberant water fizzes and gurgles as it washes surfers and fishermen alike.  So often flat calm, I love the sight and sound of leaping waves.

Two out of ten will do for now, don’t you think?  And far too many words for Six Word Saturday!  Have a good one, everybody!

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Jo’s Monday walk : Alcácer do Sal

We had two choices for places to stay on our anniversary.  Alcácer do Sal was somewhere we bypassed on the way to Lisbon a few years ago.  What made it remarkable and worthy of a visit was the setting, and accompanying rice fields.  Fairly uncommon in Portugal.

You’ll notice a cloud or two in the sky?  When we awoke it was positively grey and the view we’d enjoyed of the castle at Santiago do Cacém had completely disappeared in swirling mist.  By the time we’d had breakfast, gazing hopefully into the gloom, it was sprinkling the finest rain.  I smiled determinedly through an endless succession of damp cork trees as we headed north.

I sometimes wonder if I was a princess in a former life, because I have this tendency to head for castles.  And so it was, in Alcácer.  We approached on the N120, from Grandola, crossing the Rio Sado on a metal bridge, which opens to allow passage of sailing boats, before the river widens into the estuary.  Directly ahead, overlooking the tumble of streets, the castle.  And the good news- it had stopped raining!

One of us wanted to find the TI and obtain a map, for the best way to ascend.  The other wanted to follow her nose.  Any of a number of narrow streets headed upwards, and I was impatient to get there, before the castle closed for lunch at 12.30.  We dithered, and dawdled, but the TI didn’t appear to be where my 16 years old Rough Guide alleged.  No help for it but to head on up!

A straggle of streets yielded fountains, lovely old azulejo tiles and dwellings old, and not so old.  Portugal’s usual blend of colour and character.  Alcácer comes from the Arabic word for palace, Al-qasr, and in 1191 the Almohad Caliph Ya’qub Al-Mansur gave orders to build his palace.  For many years it was a stage for fights between Christians and Muslims.

Easy to see that it was a strategic position for the defence of the area, evidence of building on this site dates back to Neolithic times.  The current structure is a rare example of a military rammed earth fortress, and what remains looks extremely solid.

But, of course, it was the views down onto the town that delighted me.  Fit for a princess!

Sometimes things go to plan.  Sometimes they don’t.  It had been my intention, by way of celebrating our anniversary, to venture into the former convent, now a luxurious pousada, to quaff a glass of their finest.  But I was thwarted by a sign at the door, announcing that, due to Covid-19, only hotel guests were permitted entry.  In my annoyance I almost certainly missed a trick, because I spurned the Archaeological Crypt, which adjoins the pousada.  I’m not fond of underground excavations, but sometimes they hold vital clues to the past.  Wilful head on, I determined that a quayside café would suffice in the quest for refreshment.

Meandering back down the hill, we chanced upon the perfect little getaway, complete with pool and view.  We’ve never had the bottle and determination needed to tackle a renovation project in Portugal, but there were opportunities aplenty on this hillside.  A small dog looked back at us, cocking his leg beside one, highly likely, possibility.  Down on the quayside, we at once spotted the missing Tourist Information office, right beside the bridge we had crossed into town.  A very willing assistant eagerly pointed out the high spots of Alcácer, including, of course, the Crypt that we really shouldn’t miss.  She did, though, direct us to the fishing village at Carrasqueira.

Meanwhile, we searched for the perfect confection, but it wasn’t till much later in the day that we finally succeeded, back in Santiago do Cacém.

You could say that we searched high and low.  But he was delighted with his chocolate cake.  As was I.  It didn’t last long!

All’s well that ends well, or so they say, and we certainly had an interesting few days in the Alentejo.  Hope you enjoyed them?

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A bumper collection of walks this week!  Hopefully I haven’t missed anybody, though looking in the Reader this morning there are lots of goodies.

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I keep the very best company around here, don’t I, Jude?

Another Hill, Another View

Let’s go ghost busting with Debs!  In broad daylight, so you’re all safe!

Ghostly creep around Greyfriars Cemetery

Janet cheats a bit, but very beautifully.  Why not let horses take the strain?

Monday walk… for the horses

It’s always a privilege to walk alongside Cee (and finally, she has a fridge!  🙂  )

Jo’s Monday Walk and Which Way Challenges – Swan Island Dahlia in Canby, Oregon

Meet Tina!  We’ve decided to find joy together :

Finding joy

Colline savours the last of her freedom before it’s back to school :

Walking Under the Bridge

Drake dines in the nicest places, and always with coffee :

Uphill lunch

History blows in the wind

Prepare to be dazzled!  This is purely beautiful :

Songdo: In the City of Blinding Light

Or visit the lovely Ardenne in company with Denzil :

Walking around the megaliths of Wéris

I have something to share with Tish, as well as a walk :

After the Storm: Big Skies on Wenlock Edge

 

Carob beans

From carob beans to daffodils.  Now there’s a leap for you!  Thanks, Albert :

Sherwood Homestead (Former) Walk via East-West Road

Rupali has found the perfect place to spend a day, high in the mountains :

Weekend 104: Just in time

And in Shanghai, Janaline shares a little of the earth’s laughter :

Monday Walk among the Blossoms

Whilst Ulli has found himself a small piece of heaven :

Feldberg in Mecklenburg-West Pomerania

That’s me worn out for another week!  Not sure that I’ll be walking with you next Monday, but I’ll keep you posted.  Have a good one, and take care!

Six word Saturday

Still playing with moods, and colour

Black and white can look a bit bleak to me, but inject a hint of colour and the mood changes completely, doesn’t it?  Brian was a bit naughty with his response to Jude’s 2020 Photo Challenge but I think we might have got away with it.  Meantime, strange things are happening on Six Word Saturday.  Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Jo’s Monday walk : Miróbriga

Last week we took a look at the town of Santiago do Cacém and its lovely castelo.  With only a couple of nights away from home there was little time for putting our feet up so, having checked in to our hotel, it was hot foot to the Roman ruins of Miróbriga.

One kilometre north west of the town, it would have been an easy drive, but some people like to do things the hard way.  When we finally arrived the site did not look too imposing, but the Romans seldom got it wrong so, bypassing the small museum, we set off to explore.

Wikipedia tells me that these Roman baths are among the best preserved in Portugal, and I do have a bit of a fondness for baths.  The settlement here appears to date back to the Iron Age, the Romans occupying and extending the site from the second half of the 1st century.

I talked about mood the other day, and how some places affect you more than others.  Although this is a sizeable site, with very visible paved Roman roads and the remnants of many shops and residences, it didn’t whisper to me as these places sometimes do.  It shouldn’t have been hard to picture a toga-less Roman or two lolling at their ablutions, discussing politics and which wench they had an eye for.  But somehow I couldn’t tune in to the gossip, as I might have done at beautiful Ammaia, near Marvão.

Information boards were plentiful and specific, giving details of the hypocaust system which heated the floor of the baths.  To the east of these is a small, single arch bridge which leads to the forum and temples.  It was here, if anywhere, that I felt the weight of history, crumbling in the cracks and uneven surfaces of the crazed paving slabs.

There were not many other visitors this late in the day, and it was easy to slip into the lodging house to examine the remains of ancient wall paintings, and finally to the elevated position of the forum and Imperial temple.

I gazed in vain for the Hippodrome, the only one in Portugal whose entire ground plan is known.  It was left to me to imagine the thunder of chariots, echoing in the silent Alentejo countryside.

Can you believe that in all this long day not a morsel of cake had passed our lips?  Where’s the justice, I hear you cry!  Where’s the cake?

A small café looked across to the ruins and we rested our weary legs there, listening to a couple of locals discuss their day.  Pickings were slim, as we might have been, because it wasn’t easy to find a restaurant to accommodate us that evening.  So, I’m afraid I’m going to have to keep you dangling till next week, when Michael finally gets his chocolate cake.  But I can leave you with a fine windmill and a heap of cork, observed on our walk back to the hotel.

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Thanks everyone, for keeping me company.  Time to share a few walks.  I shall have one last for you, from the Alentejo, next week.  Feel free to join me there, on Jo’s Monday walk.

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Fishing quotas can have disastrous effects, but they take Eunice on a really interesting walk :

A walk to Fleetwood wrecks

Go adventuring with Alice!

Fort Morris State Historic Site

Janet is home from the Wyoming she loves.  Lots of choices to share :

Monday walk…walk, ride or drive?

Which path will you choose?  Yvette would like to know :

Pathways – Monday Walk with Jo

Wondering how Drake’s feeling this week?

Blue mood

A walk through a very sad period in history, with Denzil :

The Reconstruction of Ypres

Sharing the beauty of this world, with Rupali :

Weekend 103: Trees and Trees

And finally, blow a few cobwebs away as we tramp across the Moors with Margaret :

A Bleak Walk is Just Perfect

Take care, all!  It’s a funny old world out there, isn’t it?

Six word Saturday

Isn’t it all about the mood?

I was asked this week if I never go anywhere that I don’t like.  I’m usually pretty upbeat on my travels and can almost always find something beautiful to share.  But not everywhere has the same appeal, and disappointments do arise.

A dramatic poster picture of Carrasqueira at sunset promised much.  Built on stilts, over the mud flats of the Sado estuary, the fishing village enables access to their boats for the fisherfolk.  But in the bright light of day, with the tide out and a sludge of malodorous ooze, I found it hard to love.  I don’t think my camera felt the same way, do you?

Happy weekend, and don’t forget to play Six Word Saturday!

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Jo’s Monday walk : Santiago do Cacém

‘Where shall we go for our anniversary, hon?’  Greeted with the usual shrug and ‘anywhere you want’.  After 31 years I know he doesn’t mean this literally, and current circumstances are such that even I hesitated to suggest anywhere too exciting.  Chicago, Japan and the Isles of Scilly passed fleetingly through my mind, before I settled on a more practical choice, the Alentejo.  Not too far, in driving terms, from our Algarve home, and much of it, for us, still uncharted territory.

The Troia peninsula, just south of Setúbal, holds great appeal, but it’s high summer and the beach hotels are expensive and likely too busy.  So, pointing my nose in that general direction, I settled on slightly obscure but potentially interesting, Santiago do Cacém.  A castle and a church, perched high on a hill.  What could be better….?  Yes, that was the spouse’s reaction when he saw the height of the hill in question.  But we started slowly, chancing upon the TI, beautifully located in gardens, and with an adjoining café.

I freely admit that I had little idea of what else there might be to see, but the gentleman in the TI was very helpful.  We had already passed signs for the Roman ruins of Miróbriga, on the outskirts of town. Time to start a gentle ascent to the castle.  There’s nothing I like better than a meander through quirky streets of crumbling houses, shored up by their smart neighbours, and with a smattering of compelling street art.

A towering pink fire station, dangling laundry, a neglected church with chorus of cherubs and Manueline doorway, a square with pelourinho (or pillory) and magnificently rusted door handles.  Not a bad haul for a couple of streets.  And the tiny courtyard with the shrine to a beloved pet.

So many distractions, I had scarcely noticed the gradient of our climb but finally we reached the Castelo de Santiago do Cacém, built by the Moors.

Originally the castle had 10 square towers and semi-cylindrical turrets, externally defended by a barbican, some of which have survived.  The ancient church of Santiago is integrated into the south east wall.  I had forgotten that the castle, abandoned in the 1700s, had become the town’s cemetery in the 19th century.  Glancing through the archway I saw the tombs and hesitated, not wanting to be disrespectful.  The palace and gardens of the Condes de Avillez adjoin the castle, and for a while I wandered in their atmospheric shade.

Then realisation dawned, and we entered the grounds of the ruined castle.

Rarely have I been in a more serene and lovely place.  I wandered among the tombstones, marveling at the details, and then climbed to the castle walls.  A solitary caretaker was busy removing and tidying, and gave us a cheery wave.

Reluctantly I made my way back through the stone archway, but there was another treat to come.  The door to the Santiago Church was ajar, and I stepped quietly inside.  A lovely young woman beamed at me and gestured that I should come in and enjoy the beautiful surrounds.

The gilded wood carvings told of hours of craftsmanship.  We exchanged smiles again, behind our masks, complicit in our appreciation.  Heading downhill, there was still a colourful surprise in store.  An art gallery, maybe?  I wasn’t sure.

I hope you enjoyed today’s wander.  We had the best view from a hotel room that I can remember in quite some time, and we made it to the top of the hill.  Next week I’ll take you to Miróbriga and the Roman ruins.

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Thanks again everyone, for the appreciation and for keeping me company on my rambles.  Not too many walks to share this week, so please find time to visit.  And if you have a walk you’d like to share, feel free!

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Gentle humour and a beautiful landscape, with a flurry of facts.  Thank you, Margaret!

In Search of a Druid or a Trout – Revisited

Do you know Lisa?  These photos are simply stunning!

Sunsets after work

It looks like life goes on as normal on Lîle de Ré, and very lovely it looks, too.  Thanks, Drake!

Forwards and backwards

Perle de l’Atlantique

Hooked on

Maybe even more serene and beautiful, Ulli shows us :

Sunny Stechlin – On the Trails of Theodor Fontane

Anabel is always hot on the trail, unless it’s raining, of course :

East Dunbartonshire: Trails + Tales

Susan is taking very mindful steps these days :

Walking small

While Rupali takes a hike, under the sun :

Weekend 102: Hiking again

Another week gone.  Halfway through an Algarve summer, where I sometimes feel the need to escape the heat.  Santiago do Cacém was rather a lovely place to do it.  Have a good week and see you next time!