Travel

Jo’s Monday walk : Paderne Medieval Fair

It seemed a strange time of year to have a Medieval Fair, and curiosity drew me to Paderne.  It’s another of those small Algarve villages that punches above its weight when it comes to the grand occasion.  It was a lovely day for a drive out into the countryside, so off we went, arriving unfashionably early.  Later we were glad that we had done, as parking became extremely fraught.  As it was, we had the streets almost to ourselves as we browsed the stalls, smiling and exclaiming at the range of goods.  Who to buy a hobby horse for, or maybe a many-legged puppet?

I was so busy looking that I scarcely noticed the beating of drums until the procession was almost upon me.  A curtsey may well have been in order, for I was swept contemptuously aside by an imperious lord.  Amends were made when a handsome knight stooped to kiss my hand, covering me with confusion.  Suitably embarrassed, I stepped back to watch the parade.

Drums beat and pipes skirled as they swayed towards me.  A lady with an enigmatic smile carried an unblinking owl, and another conjured with a crystal ball.  In a small square a stage had been set up, and here the entertainment began.  His Lordship welcomed the assembled crowd, many of whom were busy feasting at trestle tables.  The aroma of roasting meat filled the air, as dancing girls twirled voluptuously and masked drummers kept up the steady beat.  An accomplished violinist expertly filled any gaps.

The “village lasses” laughed and teased each other, flirting outrageously to the disgust of their “elders and betters”, who tried to shoo them away.

Next the turn of the pipe band, who blew up a storm before leading the procession off to another venue, by the church steps.  We followed, in search of refreshment, and were surprised to find camera crews setting up, and a young lady conducting interviews.  Time to move on.

The streets were colourfully attired, both for Christmas and the Fair, with traditional nuts, seeds and dried fruits stacked high on stalls.

In a quiet moment we slipped inside the church, where a simple crib scene had been set up in front of the altar.

A naive Presépio (Nativity scene) presided in a tiny hall opposite the church, and around the corner a donkey waited patiently in his stable.

There was little pause in the revelry and, wherever you lingered, you’d find your toes tapping to a constant rhythm.  No-one had been left out, with games and ‘medieval’ rides for the children and armed combat for their seniors.

Not forgetting the sinuously swaying lady with the veil.  All eyes were drawn to her swivelling hips and dainty feet, up on the stage.

Reluctantly we made our way out of the village for, soon after three in the afternoon, crowds were beginning to gather.  A main stage outside of the Medieval Fair provided boisterous entertainment with a more modern flavour.  I know which I preferred.

I’d like to add this post to Cathy’s beautiful Photography Invitation.  My intention was to capture the atmosphere of the fair in photos.

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No cake but we’ve over-indulged lately, wouldn’t you say?  And dried fruit must be a healthier option.  Many thanks to you all for wandering along with me.  Please find a little time to visit the good folk below.  And join me next time, here on Jo’s Monday walk?

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How about this for a brilliant idea?  Debbie knows I can only draw Stick Men  😦

An artistic walk in Milan

A distant deer is better than no deer, isn’t it, Janet?

Monday walk…waiting for sunrise

Street art!  Sandra wonders how you feel about it :

#Portugal Graffiti

Drake acknowledges that life isn’t always pretty :

Dark side of humanity

Take a step or two back in time with Anne :

Clevedon- A Broadchurch walk

Enjoy an unusually balmy January day with Irene :

A Chicago Adventure

Or an autumnal birthday jaunt, with Cathy :

Celebrating a birthday at Mary’s Rock

And lastly, a nice young man I’d like you to meet :

Trails to Trudge: Red Rock Canyon State Park

That’s it for another week.  Hope you enjoyed it.  Take care, and I’ll see you soon!

Six word Saturday

Star light, star bright, first star…

I see tonight.  I wish I may, I wish I might…”  Cheating on many fronts to bring you the New Year fireworks from Tavira -the first lights of the year 🙂 and join in with January Light and Six Word Saturday.  Have a happy weekend!

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Jo’s Monday walk : Fuseta to Olháo

Something to always bear in mind when walking around our salt marshes is that they are tidal.  In a spirit of adventure, just after Christmas, I set out to explore the stretch between Fuseta and Olháo, entirely overlooking this fact.  In my defense, I was following the Algarve Cycle Trail and hadn’t envisioned that crossing water would be an issue.  On a glorious, sunny morning, I caught the train to Fuseta A (there are 2 stations in this small village, and the other one isn’t Fuseta B!)  A right turn will take you past the former fishermen’s houses and onto the coastal path.

Out in the bay the former coastguard station looks on without comment.  It’s a calm and peaceful scene, many people having not yet returned from the  holiday.  Birds wander, pecking and poking in the shallows, completely undisturbed when the occasional cyclist passes by.  The railway line also follows the coast, with minimal impact.  The colours of the heather are a lovely contrast in this sometimes dowdy landscape.

As often happens, a signpost throws confusion into the calm, either direction appearing to lead to Olháo.  The longer of the two, though interesting, doubles back on itself, but not before I have spotted the nesting storks, a rather endearing frog and a hoopoe.

Now it may seem a little early, but the sun is very warm and a decision is needed.  The perfect place to make it presents itself, a small restaurant, ‘O Farol’.  Does anyone mind a cake stop?  His and hers, of course!  Mine is the almond tart.

Decision made, we head in the general direction of the coast, hoping to be able to continue around the bay to Praia dos Cavacos.  And as luck would have it, we’re able to tiptoe around the edge of the sand and reach a boardwalk that looks quite new.  The surrounding buildings are unconventional, and ornamented with some rather wonderful artwork.

We are never out of touch with the quiet salt pans, which breathe life into this landscape.  You may have thought it all going swimmingly (bad choice of words  🙂  ) but a slight hiccup is just around the corner.

The railway track, which has followed us so patiently, decides to leap a gully full of water.  We shake our heads.  It’s too big a leap for human legs.  A family of cyclists approach from the direction of Olháo.  When they passed this way earlier the tide was out.  Bravely they hoist their cycles and cross the precarious track.  The alternative for us is a very long walk, so we grimace and hasten across the gap.  My heart is thudding.  If a train should suddenly appear… but minutes later we are in the heart of the nature reserve known as Quinta de Marim.

The plan was to skirt this park, and stay close to the campsite at Olháo.  But it’s simply a relief to be across the water.

The tidal mill is a beautiful sight at high tide.  It has not been operational since 1970, but the equipment still looks ready for action. I clamber up to the roof and look out across the water, to the low-lying barrier island, Armona.

The sun is low in the sky as we finally reach Olháo.  The contemporary theatre, itself a converted mill, stands in sharp contrast to the crumbling facades of neighbouring buildings.  Oblivious, the birds cavort on a high wire above.  Soon all trace of Christmas will be gone.

For us, it’s time to catch a train home.  If you should happen to repeat this walk, be very aware of the tide times.  And meanwhile, many thanks for accompanying me on the adventure that is the new year.

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Not too many walks to read as you get back into a routine.  Join me any time here on Jo’s Monday walk.  The welcome is always the same.

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Janet has enormous fun in a museum!

WNDRful walk

And we all know that Jackie never lets the side down :

Christmas Fare

No place like home, but Drake is happy to hang his hat in a number of places :

Not that boring

While Sandra takes me back to one of the most beautiful places I have ever been :

#Jerónimos Monastery – Lisbon, #Portugal

Irene shares the beauty of a beach in winter :

Winter Day on the Dunes

And Indra, the lush landscape of :

Ng Tung Chai Waterfalls-Hong Kong

In stark contrast, Karen takes us to Australia, where heat is a killer.  Do please donate something, if you can :

A parched walk in the Blue Mountains

Candy combines a history lesson with a great walk.  I had no idea!

The Roman Walls of Lugo

And Cathy takes us back to a very beautiful mosque :

Casablanca: Back to Hassan II, a walk along the Corniche, & Quartier des Habous 

Happy New Year to anyone I’ve missed.  Onwards and upwards!

Jo’s Monday walk : Benafim to Alte

I’m back in the Algarve for my last walk of the year.  Santa’s been, and I couldn’t ask for more.  It’s been an amazing year!  I’m taking you back into those hills that I love, to a tiny village called Benafim.  We are joining a group of choir singers for one of my nicest ever walking experiences.

The landscape is beautiful, with Rocha de Pena looming quietly in the background.  We meet our small group, mostly Portuguese, with uncertain smiles- an opportunity to practise the language- and set off through the village.  One of the group is carrying a toddler on his back, and an elderly gent relies heavily on his stick, so we know the pace will not be fast.  There are a couple of Scandinavians, who chat easily with us in fluent English.

Christmas is just around the corner and we observe the signs of celebration in the village.  It’s not a long walk, just 6.2km to the next village, Alte, but the gradient is steep in places.  Our guide is well aware of the limitations of the party, and stops at intervals to point out plants of interest.  Medicinal herbs and remedies, and one that was used in these hills before soap was widely available.  It’s warm, but with plenty of cloud cover.  There’s little shade up here in the heights.  We are following a short stretch of the Via Algarviana, which reaches end to end, the length of the Algarve.  We puzzle over some symbols on a rock- a message we don’t understand.

At the outset, we were asked if we would like a meal after the walk.  We are walking with some members of a choral group called Ossónoba.  Afterwards they will perform in the church in Alte, and we will be ‘very welcome’ to join them.  It seems like too good an opportunity to miss.

All are working up a healthy appetite when finally the rugged path levels, and we gaze down into a valley.  Alte is not far away, and it’s all downhill from here.  In the village, the sight of Singer sewing machines doubling as picnic tables makes me smile.

A hint of Autumn?  Yet it feels more like Spring.  We have been wondering how we will get back to Benafim, but this problem is easily solved.  A minivan takes the drivers back to collect our cars and bring them to Alte.  The rest of us proceed to the hotel, squeezing into the minivan with the excitedly chattering, choir members.  An elegant table awaits.

High on a hill, above the village, Hotel Alte is obviously used to hosting parties.  As we wait, a coach pulls into the car park and disgorges the rest of the choir, smartly attired in black and white.  Our walking friends  disappear off to the toilets, emerging transformed.  The choir are 40 strong!  Three of them sit at our table, and proceed to talk about their life, while we dine, very well indeed.  Meal over, we are treated to a rousing number, to stretch those vocal chords, before they all pile back onto the coach.  The best voice?  Our richly baritoned, minivan driver!

Is it any wonder that I love this village?  Still to come is the Christmas concert.  I had never been inside the church, so yet another treat in store.  The choir sings its heart out, in several languages; first surrounding us in the body of the church, and then from the gallery above.

Just down the road, Baltazar cocks an ear in his stable, and we drive contentedly home into the sunset.

Grupo Coral Ossónoba travel around Portugal (and occasionally abroad) performing.  Our walk together was a collaboration to promote the Via Algarviana.  Needless to say, we hope to take part in another, in the New Year.  We had a wonderful time.

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I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas, but even more than that, I hope that the year to come is kind to us.  And maybe you’ll join me in another Jo’s Monday walk?  You’ll be more than welcome.

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I’m sure Jackie ate her share of festive food, aren’t you?

Holiday Cheer

Natalie started the holidays with a list.  Check out how she did!

Checking Off my Holiday Fun List

I’m always happy to admire this nation’s Capital, so thanks, Sandra :

Sidewalks and Tile – #Portugal

There’s nowhere Nicole would rather be than in the mountains :

Unforgettable Hikes along the Tour de Mont Blanc : Hike from Col des Montets to Lac Blanc

And such a nice atmosphere on the streets, with Drake :

Last Saturday street mood

Not much deters Becky when she feels like a walk :

We got nothing except seaweed

Margaret and Zoe were more than happy, just playing with bubbles :

Winter Walking on the South Bank

And not squidging in mud!

A Sunday walk, Accompanied by Thirteen Dogs

Let’s end with something a little more exotic, from Cathy :

Rick’s Café & a walking tour of Central Casablanca

Happy New Year to you all!  I shan’t be writing a review of the year, but I expect I’ll look back, as well as forward.  Thanks for your company!

Six word Saturday

O come, let us adore him…

Our hotel room looked directly out on Leeds Cathedral.  On Christmas morning the bells rang out, inviting us to celebrate a special birth.  I hope you had a beautiful time, too.  Happy Six Word Saturday!

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