Travel

Jo’s Monday walk : Todos a Caminhar!

Something a bit different this week.  We’ve often remarked that we seldom see Portuguese people out walking, as we stride around the countryside.  Maybe they don’t regard it as a leisure pastime, or are simply too busy earning a living and looking after their families.  It obviously hasn’t gone unnoticed because, a few months ago, we came across an initiative called ‘Todos a caminhar’- walking for everyone!  Sponsored by local councils, it aims at promoting better health in the community.

Each Sunday morning, at 10.00, a different venue across the Algarve hosts the walk.  A couple of Sundays ago we turned up for the one at Castro Marim, a beautiful village right by the River Guadiana.  I had visions of tramping through the salt pans with flamingos wings beating the air all around me, but it was not to be.  Coaches had arrived from all across the Algarve and, there in front of the sports pavilion, a sea of people did variations on a ‘warm up’.  Unphased, we joined them, and off we all surged, on the road out of the village, but nowhere near the salt pans.

Almost immediately we were in open countryside, in an area unfamiliar to us, and surrounded by chattering groups of Portuguese.  Determined older ladies and their gents, who were keen to show they still had what it takes, groups of giggling teens, singles striding away, everyone using up those calories so they could enjoy a really good, late Sunday lunch.

A right turn took us up a hill, in the direction of Vista Real, and so it was, a royal vista.  Once we’d gained height, far across the fields I could just make out the outline of the mighty castle at Castro Marim, with the Guadiana beyond.  As the hill dipped again there was an option to collect a free orange and a bottle of water, and complete a shorter circuit of 3.5km.  Fitter individuals could tackle the longer 10km course.  Well, what do you think?  In for a penny…

It was a blustery day, with rain threatened, the scudding clouds encouraging us to pick up the pace.  The group was well spread by now and we were keen not to be last.  There were arrows marking every junction and cheerful helpers riding back and forth, ensuring no-one had come to grief.  After another steep climb, with views of the salt pans, there was a second opportunity for water and an orange.

A couple of horses, probably bored with the sparse grazing, took an interest in us motley passersby.  The route climbed through the village of Monte Francisco, a few characterful older properties and a sequence of mostly new villas.  Locals nodded a polite ‘Bom dia’.

The best views of all were afforded to the Castro Marim Country Golf Club, a swish establishment with as extensive and beautifully laid out golf links as any I’ve seen.  However, nothing surpassed my first sighting this year of a cistus in flower.

Smiling down the home strait, the blossom twirling in the breeze, I enjoyed the placid cows and the ruin.  Soon we’d come full circle, and finally I sighted my first flamingo.  And where there’s one, there’s often another, isn’t there?  Not quite as I’d hoped.

It took us about an hour and a half to complete the 10km.  We marvelled at the scale of the operation.  Not all are as big as this one.  There were ambulances on hand, in case anyone over exerted themselves, and everywhere, smiling, happy faces.  Best of all, the rain held off, the clouds blew away and afterwards we treated ourselves to delicious tapas on a lovely sunny corner in nearby Vila Real de S. Antonio.  Life could surely be worse!

So much variety, here in the Algarve!  I hope you enjoy sharing it with me.  Come back next week because I have something rather wonderful to share.  Meantime, thank you very much for your company, and if you have a walk you’d like to share with me, please feel free.  Details, as always, are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Please do visit as many of these walks as you can.

……………………………………………………………………..

Mosaics, history and emerging Spring in Israel from Lisa this week :

Shoham Forest

Meg takes us time traveling through the twists and turns of her beloved Australian landscape :

Aragannu

Let Amanda take you back in time with the amazing Pergamon Museum in Berlin :

Finding Heine and Treasures in Berlin

Still shivering with Irene in the Midwest!

Chilly Reflections

And heavens, Janet almost disappears in the snow!

Monday walk… winter walk

How about some warming stew with Jackie?

El Guisado Stew

And you can usually rely on sunshine from Lady Lee :

Gardens by the Bay, Singapore

My good Danish friend is giving us an easy option this week.  Thanks so much, Drake!

Walk the easy way

But Cathy doesn’t know the meaning of easy.  Go along with her and Mike, and just enjoy yourself!

Prague, Czech Republic : exploring Mala Strana

This one won’t take long.  You have to love Tobias’ sense of humour!

A tour of the Academy

Thanks again to you all for spending time with me.  I have another busy, but sometimes lazy, Algarve week ahead.  Take good care!

Six word Saturday

It may not be the biggest…

….or oldest, but Carnaval, Altura style, is still a whole lot of fun.  At this coastal village in the Eastern Algarve, the audience, and especially the children, are every bit as much a part of the show as the cast of characters, both on and off the floats.  The enthusiasm is hugely infectious.

I found it equally impossible to resist the boisterous charms of Carnaval at Loule, the big one, but I have shared most of my photos on my Restlessjo Facebook page.  I was invited along on a photographic walk with Dave Sheldrake, a successful Algarve photographer and a very nice chap.  If you want to see how the professionals do it, have a look on his wife Alyson’s Algarve blog.

Meantime, have a great weekend,  and don’t forget your six words for Debbie.  I’ll be back with a walk on Monday.

Jo’s Monday walk : Luz de Tavira to Fuseta

I’m often asked if it’s possible to enjoy the Algarve and its natural beauty without the use of a car.  My walk today gives you one example of how to do just that.  In much of the Eastern Algarve the railway tracks run quite close to the shoreline.  As well as a hands free ride through pleasant countryside and that age old delight of peering into passing gardens, you can hop off the train and pursue a gentle walk.  After my brief absence, I’m taking it slowly.

The place I’ve chosen to start is Fuseta, a very laidback town 10km east of  Olhão, with an active fishing fleet and a natural harbour.  You can easily while away an hour or two here and I’ll give you some thoughts on how later, but first let’s catch that train.  There are two railway stations in Fuseta, though I’ve only just discovered tiny Fuseta ‘A’.  It’s at the top of a hill, behind the restaurants at the western edge of town.  If this doesn’t appeal, Fuseta-Moncarapacho, the main station at the eastern end of town, will serve you just as well for the purposes of this walk.

It’s only a couple of stops from Fuseta to Luz de Tavira, a sleepy little spot if ever there was one.  Dismounting from the train you cross directly over the railway tracks.  A word of warning- there is no official gated crossing, but it’s a very flat area and you can see far along the track in both directions, so please do look both ways.  Safely over, turn right at the first corner and follow a leafy lane, passing a couple of country homes.  Prickly pear and almond blossom will vie for your attention in this early stage of the year.

Bear left and soon a glimmer of water will appear on the horizon.  You are joining a stretch of the Ecovia Litoral, a cycle track which threads its way along the Algarve coastline, but which in many places makes for relaxed and enjoyable walking.

Often times the boats are marooned on these tidal mud flats, beautiful in their ugliness.  If you are lucky the tide might be in.  In any case, the sea will glitter in the distance.  The ruins of a defence tower, Torre d’Aires, are largely ignored, lost in the pellucid landscape.

Along this shoreline, an elevated bungalow with a lovely tumble of garden calls to me, though my more pragmatic other half reminds me that mosquitos will be a severe nuisance in summer.  This is the heart of the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve, and a winter haven for migrating birds.

Just past the midway point to Fuseta you will find a cafe, O Conquistador.  Virtuously I did not sample them (I was to have a substantial lunch at the end of my walk) but the cakes did look extremely appealing.  Following an arrow the path now crosses through the salt marshes, with Fuseta and a towering mound of salt on the horizon and butter yellow oxalis rippling at your feet.

I am delighted to observe, busily guzzling in the briney water, a large flock of flamingos.  Their overhead flight makes a lovely ending to my walk.

And no, I didn’t manage to capture them, unless you wish to see a very blurred tail feather or three.  But I can share that I ate at Crispins, almost impossible to miss as you walk back into town.  The quayside makes a pleasant after dinner stroll, leading as it does to an expanse of river beach.  Grab a bench and gaze out to sea, or watch the locals playing boules behind the green.  In warm weather you can ferry across to Armona and an endless expanse of beach.  Make sure to carry water with you as you are unlikely to find it at this end of the island.

Feeling like something a tiny bit more strenuous?  You can climb up through the narrow streets, for a closer look at Igreja Matriz, the Mother Church.  Notice the red lighthouse in the bell tower.  Legend has it that many years ago, during a mighty storm, the women of Fuseta lit an enormous bonfire in the churchyard, the highest point of the village, to guide their fishermen husbands home.  The men were guided safely back by the distant light and the image of Our Lady of Carmel, on June 16th, an event still celebrated every year.

It has its gritty areas but Fuseta is quite an interesting town.  This video gives a fairly realistic view of it.

I hope you enjoyed my walk.  I do try to include the details you would need if you found yourself in the area, but I can highly recommend Becky’s blog as a walking resource.  Based at  Olhão, she covers much the same territory as I do, with the very useful addition of an interactive map.

Sorry that I’m overdue in sharing some of these walks, but I do like to step back from the blog sometimes, especially here in the Algarve.  I don’t stop walking but I do just relax into glorious scenery and good companionship.  Many thanks to you all for your patience and support.

……………………………………………………

Did you know that Drake is a steadfast Liverpool supporter? :

Night in anticipation

You need plenty of fuel in weather like this, but Jackie never has a problem :

Bundling up

No place like home, for Kathrin :

Monheim am Rhein : A walk through my home town

Lisa gives us a history lesson and some beautiful views (and warm sunshine!) :

Holidays in Haifa

While Lady Lee lives the high life!

Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Miriam shares a charming place and a snippet of Australian history :

Old Chiltern Town

Marsha has a tendency to cheat a bit, but look out for those Monarch butterflies :

Plan your Travel Itinerary to include the California Central Coast

Nobody does a garden justice quite so well as Jude.  As a bonus, two gems, one old, one new :

Garden Portrait: Scotney Castle

Garden Portrait: Polesden Lacey

Yikes!  It was snowing at home when I received this from Elaine :

A wintery walk beside Loch Achray

And Irene’s post looked even colder!  Go and say  ‘hi’ and warm her up :

To the Top of a Dune

If that’s not cold enough for you, Hiking Maine is sharing some stunning ice formations :

An amazing Winter Hike on the Cathance River Trail in Topsham

Finishing here in the Algarve, Becky shares one of her passions :

The Olhanese architectural promenade

I hope to share another walk with you next Monday but I’m not making a full return to blogging just yet.  Take care of yourselves, and enjoy your walking, whenever and wherever you can.

 

 

 

Spot the theme?

I’m interpreting the Weekly Photo Challenge to suit myself this week.  On Monday’s chilly walk I suggested that I still have a few warm Algarve images to share, and here they are in  Variations on a Theme

Those of you who know me will have spotted that the theme is Tavira.  I’m heading there this weekend and this will be my last post for a while.

I couldn’t leave without one more tribute to Paula.  She works hard and still manages to bring us Thursday’s Special each week.  Two views on the same subject.  What do you think?  Take care, till next time.

Jo’s Monday walk : Hetton Lyons Country Park

The choices this week were another boring beach walk in the sunny Algarve, or a quick romp in the frozen north east of England.  Well, it’s no contest, is it?  Grab your scarf and mittens, and no loitering, please!  Except to feed the swans.

There’s a crisp beauty to it, as the frost nibbles at your ears and glistens on grass and fences.  Distant dog walkers embrace the morning air.

Out past the barn, I head towards the windmills, on a narrow lane.  A public footpath crosses the fields, the frozen earth firm underfoot.  Patterns abound, all etched in white, whilst solid puddles of ice line the path.

Despite the sun, the ice persists, tingling the toes, yet some of the fields are surprisingly green.  The blades whirr noisily above my head.

Fronds of bracken huddle beneath the hedge, the occasional, lucky one gilded by sunlight.  A forbidding, firmly-locked gate denies access.  No matter, as the country park lies straight ahead, just beyond the farmhouse.

The small pond is frozen solid, but most of the lake is clear and sparkling.  A path skirts the shore and the swans glide hopefully forwards.

There is a small cafe if you need a warm up afterwards.  As we drove through Hetton I saw a sign for homemade broth.  Sounded like a good idea!

I think the sign was on Market Street, but I was distracted by the mural.  Hope you didn’t get too cold walking with me.  I still have a few warm Algarve images that I may get to share with you before I go, but this is my last walk for a couple of weeks.

Many thanks for all your wonderful shares.  Please take a little time to read the following walks, especially if it’s someone you don’t know.  You may find a new friend.  There are lots this week but I’ll be in the Algarve for a few weeks, so you can make them last.  Once I get settled I hope to be back out with you again.

……………………………………………………………………………….

Let’s start with a little stunning alpine scenery from Drake :

From a peak

And here’s a fair bit of the white stuff from Anabel too!

The Birks of Aberfeldy (and other walks)

You birders will love this!  Take a walk in the wild with Lisa :

In Search of the Endangered Slaty Becard- (and finding so much more!)

Dom hosts a regular walk feature on Wandsworth Radio.  Why not have a listen?

Walking Wandsworth Episode 6- Battersea Arts Centre

And you could munch along with Jackie while you do :

Comfort foods

“One of the most glorious landscapes I’ve ever been fortunate to have hiked in”, says Nicole :

A Magical Hike in Chile’s Parque Andino Juncal

Kathrin’s in a very happy place and I think you’ll like it too :

Hopfen am See aka my Happy Place

‘There’s gold in them there hills!”  Well, there was once, wasn’t there, Carol?

The Ten Dollar Town

You can just picture Pauline and Jack, having fun with all these folks!

Meandering in Uki Market

Lady Lee is back from her holidays.  You might be jealous!

New Year’s Eve and Day in Manila

Cornwall can still compete with most places, if the weather behaves.  In French, and English :

Hike around Lizard Point, England

And while we’re down that way, a sort of revisit, from Jude :

Garden Portrait : The Lost Gardens of Heligan Part 1

This time last year I was getting very excited about a trip to Tuscany.  Thanks for the memories, Woolly!

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk49_Pisa

This year I’m just days away from an extended stay in the Algarve.  Thanks for a lovely reminder, Becky :

There’s a pig loose

And just to thoroughly spoil you, here’s that warm beach walk I know you fancied, courtesy of Meg :

An early morning walk and an act of gross disloyalty

Lovely skies here this morning but still slippy stuff on the ground.  Take care out there!  I’ll be keeping an eye an you, and I’ll let you know when I’m walking again.  Bye for now!

 

Six word Saturday

Has anyone dropped a stitch lately?

On the bleakest of Winter days, I still couldn’t resist a little yarn bombing, this time at Saltholme Nature Reserve.

The details are amazing, aren’t they?  I couldn’t see a dropped stitch anywhere.  I had to keep on the move too, because it was SO cold!

It wouldn’t be complete without a tea party, would it?  (Hover over the smaller photos to see the captions, or click to view them in a gallery).  Have a great weekend, whatever the weather, and don’t forget to join Debbie with six words.

 

 

Silence in the Salt pans

Couldn’t you just lose yourself in this silence?  The end of another hot day in the Algarve, and the sun sinking gracefully into the salt pans.  The scene was so different when I walked out to Quatro Aguas earlier in the day.

A different quality of silence and not so easy to savour.  Almost harsh.  I like the gentler, reflective tones, when you can daydream a little.

How does silence look to you?  We had a different silence again here in the UK this morning, with a soft blanket of snow.