Jo’s Monday walk : Gorjões

Back to the countryside today, after all the excitement of Easter and that family visit that now seems so long ago.  This little treasure was almost hiding its light under a bushel but, once I found one, then of course it had companions.

We’re up in the hills again.  Look to the far horizon, where you can see that distant deepening of blue that is the sea.  I’m standing in the grounds of an abandoned building project, wondering why someone would go to so much trouble to build their house on a hill, and then desert it.  There’s a story here, but one I’ll likely never know.  For now, I take in the views and the infinity pool that never was.

I’m in the area known as Gorjões, barely a 10 minute drive to the busy market town of Loulé, but seeming a world away.  The hills are speckled with villas and beautiful homes, each clinging to their privacy.  The lanes are edged with abundant wild lavender, and I trail my fingertips in their delicate perfume.  Climbing higher still, I come upon the remnants of a mill.

The path levels out and I peep over an inviting stone wall.  A crossroads reveals a heap of rocks with names… Casa Clara… Casa da Bisavo…  Aids for the postman, I think, only to be scoffed at by a local.  ‘We don’t get post up here!  You have to go to the village to collect it’.

I have company, but it’s a slow-paced walk where we stop to point out treasures to each other.  Like the magnificent blue beauty, and its smaller companions, nestled beneath a tree.  Impossible to miss the pure flamboyance of the poppy at this time of year.

Tiny yellow flowers decorate any open stretch of grass.  I stop to admire a grandiose villa, envious of the lovely pool, but I could not live so far from shore.  In amongst the rocks the cistus continue to flourish, nodding cheerfully at the least hint of breeze.

And then we’re dropping down again, spying one last jewel, shy in the sun, and a rock whose message we struggle to read.

I am surprised to read, later, that the flatter of the surrounding lands had long ago been used to cultivate tobacco.  A connection with ancestors in Brazil.  There are many stories in these hills, but for now it’s time to go in search of sustenance.

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I hope you enjoyed my company this week, as much as I enjoyed yours.  Please do find time to read these, and maybe, another time, share a walk of your own?  Details, as always, on Jo’s Monday walk.

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There’s dedication and determination… and then there’s Heather!  She’s an inspiration :

Walking The Walk

A lighthouse on an island… a sight I never tire of.  Thanks, Debs!

Sauntering the sands at Yellowcraig

In case you didn’t get your share of treats at Easter, Jackie has plenty to spare :

New Treats

You know, it can be miserable when it rains.  But it all depends on your point of view :

Rain

Not much rain in Savannah!  Let Alice be your guide :

Starland

Margaret has been revisiting some of her older posts.  Doesn’t this look beautiful?

On the path of Cathar shepherds – revisited

Closer to my former home, Sharon is always out, finding places to explore with her dog :

Entwistle Reservoir

Not a lot of walking, but a whole lot of eating!  Thanks, Sandra!

LaConner Crab Cruise -#Photos

Sharing tranquility and daisies with Susanne is never a bad thing :

Flaming Geyser State Park, a Missing Flame, and Steelhead in Training

Anyone seen Liesbet lately?  She’s been surfing ‘The Wave’!

Catching ‘The Wave’ means winning the Lottery

I love to be surrounded by water, so this place looks pretty perfect to me, Carol :

Island Life

The endless roads, with Cathy, lifted by the beauty of the churches along the way :

(Camino day 14) Azofra to Santo Domingo de la Calzada & ruminations (week two)

Another good week, wasn’t it?  Well, it always is if we’re still here.  Thanks for your company, and see you next time!

Six word Saturday

Those white tents are up again!

I can’t say it hasn’t been a busy week!  Celebrating life at Easter was full of magical moments.  And this weekend, Mostra da Primavera, a show celebrating Spring, with music, dance and good food.  Last night we experienced spectacular Fado, by the riverside in the Mercado.

Today?  Well, it’s World T’ai Chi Day, and at 10.00 this morning I will be taking part in a Flash Mob in Tavira town centre.  Wish me luck!  Sorry, Debbie- I couldn’t say all that in six words.  I’m not ‘up to scratch’.  🙂  Happy Saturday, one and all!

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Celebrating life at Easter!

I cannot think of a better way to celebrate Easter than to attend the enormous street party that is Festas das Tochas Floridas, in São Brás de Alportel.  At around 5 in the morning the process begins of laying more than 3 tons of petals and flowers in a winding carpet through the centre of town.  More than a kilometre in length, by 9.30am the streets are ready to be opened to an excited public.  Yet another year in which this small town in the Eastern Algarve opens its arms to the world, to join in a celebration of Christ’s resurrection.

Nobody is left out!  From tots to teenagers, young adults to us older generation, all are welcome to come and participate.  I join the earlybirds in the streets, marveling at the patience and imagination, the pure creativity that has gone into making this a joyful day.

The Easter Day service takes place at 10.00 in Igreja Matriz in Largo São Sebastião, and while this is happening the streets begin to fill.  Faithful and simply curious, no-one is turned away.  I wander, camera in hand, along with many others.  Most, but not all, are respectful of the flowers and the occasion.  Needing 10 minutes peace before the procession begins, I retire to a back street for coffee.  There I observe a mini procession, of the young men from all over town, bringing their flower torches to assemble at the church.  Full of smiles, they are happy to pose.

Patterned bedspreads flutter from open windows as the excitement builds.  In front of the church a little jostling for position begins, and television interviews are held.  This is São Brás’ big day!  A last few stragglers with flower torches make their way through the crowd, the congregation leave the church and try to find a vantage point, and suddenly it all comes together and the procession begins.

Led by the priest and clergy, they wend their way slowly into the streets.  Everyone cranes to get a good view, but only the hard of hearing could miss the choruses of ‘Hallelujah’.  Every few yards they pause, the flower torches are brandished high in the air, and accompanied by a rousing chant.

I watch, spellbound, as it moves past me, hardly aware of what I might have captured on camera.  But there are ample opportunities for photographs on this day.  It takes around 2 hours for the entire circuit of the old town to take place, and I join and rejoin the procession at different intervals throughout the streets.

There are so many wonderful moments!  The small child hoisted on Dad’s shoulders, just a little tired and bored for the ‘selfie’; fathers, sons and friends embracing and beaming at their shared memory; and that young man in the band with the shy smile, who reminds me so much of a Polish nephew.  I love it all!  And it’s been a privilege to relive it with you.

A nicer person you will not meet in the blogging world than Ann-Christine, or Leya, as her blog is known.  Why that name, I often wonder?  The only one I know of is a princess in the Star Wars movies.  Not only does she find time to co-host the Lens-Artist’s Photo Challenge, but she also goes out of her way to congratulate me on being featured in Discover.  I might not otherwise have realised, despite the hike in my stats, so thanks, hon, and many thanks to WordPress too.

I hope you enjoyed sharing Creativity with me.

Jo’s Monday walk : Easter in Tavira

I’m taking you back to Palm Sunday in Tavira for this week’s walk, and an evening heady with emotion.  It’s some years since I spent Easter in the Algarve, but I vividly remembered some of the treats in store.  And I’m not just talking about sweet Folar cake, though that’s good too.

At 5pm people were still strolling nonchalantly towards the Carmo Church.  The ceremony was about to begin but urgency is almost unheard of in these parts.  Eventually a priest left the church and unhurriedly mounted the low stage to address the crowd.  Children fidgeted and skipped about, the smallest ones being hoisted high on shoulders.  The scent of lavender hung in the air, a crushed carpet beneath our feet.  The band were roughly assembled, waiting for their moment.  But first the priest must intone his lengthy benedictions.

Then came the moment.  At a signal from their leader, the band struck up, and began a slow-stepping march.  With varying degrees of enthusiasm, they were joined by members of the congregation, who spilled slowly from the church, banners aloft.  Parents watched anxiously as the cubs shuffled past, shy in the spotlight of so many strangers.  Teenagers, with more assurance, grinned at friends in the crowd.

Cameras began to flash as the floats made their way from the church, gravity and the weight of their years etched on the faces of the bearers.

Against a mackerel sky, on this warm evening, the floats began to sway past us, plaintive music their accompaniment.  A substantial crowd had gathered, the lucky ones sitting up on balconies or gazing through open windows, the rest of us hushed in awe.  The floral decorations were a triumph in themselves.  Never have I seen Birds of Paradise and lilies displayed so eloquently.

Slowly the drama unfurled, as float after float was lofted by, stopping to adjust the weight on shoulders and to negotiate the corner.  Gently, gently down a perilous incline, the crowd following respectfully.

The numbers swelled as we gathered momentum, though the streets are too narrow for speed.  A slow march brought us eventually to the Ponte Romana bridge, decorated with sentinel palms for the occasion.  A few of the cubs carried them too.

On through the main square, some taking the occasion very seriously, others happy just to enjoy the spectacle.  No judgement.  No harsh words.

Such a human affair, you couldn’t help but be moved.  The faith and dedication, the hard work to bring it all together, witnessed by so many in a glorious coming together.  The military, caught smiling in a moment of relaxation.  The band bringing up a valiant rear!

And then the crowds disperse and wander off home, or out to supper, as we did, leaving the day to end, peacefully.

Why this particular procession?  I’ve witnessed a few this past week, including the atmospheric night time lament on Good Friday.  And the joyful ‘Hosannah’s of the Festa das Tochas Floridas in São Brás de Alportel.  But this was my first Easter in my new home town, and my first ever Palm Sunday from my local church.  I hope you enjoyed it with me, and that you, too, shared peace and love this Easter.

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Another Jo’s Monday walk, and time for a different kind of share.  Please do visit and enjoy!  And many thanks to all of you.

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Debbie always makes me smile, then amazes me with her beautiful photography :

Chomping at the bit for Chihuly

Natalie kindly takes me to Mostar this week – a place I wished I’d visited from Dubrovnik, many years ago :

Day Trip to Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

I’m always being assured how beautiful New Zealand is.  Another lovely ‘stroll’ with Suzanne!

The Tuahu Kauri and Sentinel Rock Trail

Now come and join me and Gilly, and Becky, in Topsham.  You won’t be sorry!

Last Thursday

Jude leads me down the garden path, again.  🙂  A very beautiful one  :

Trelissick Woodland Walk

Trelissick Garden in Spring

A little bit of initiative in the garden goes a long way :

Quick Tip – Yard Walkabout/Storm Repair

Two introductions next!  First, Suburban Tracks :

Stroll through Wild Street- Colors

Then a beautiful landscape, in Rajasthan :

The Wild Wet

And someone you know well- thanks Rupali!

The streets of Malaga

Geoff, meanwhile, shares his love of walking and of books, while Dog stays at home :

Walking With Rosie #bookreview #therosieresult

It’s not every day you see a couple of Penny Farthing’s rolling down the street.  Thanks, Irene!

Back in Time

Speaking of time, doesn’t this forest look primeval to you, Sandra?

Grand Ridge # Hike in Springtime

And stepping back in time, I’ve walked this landscape and loved it.  Thanks, Nadine!

Day 13 on the Pennine Way: Greenhead to Bellingham, 21.5miles

Anyone been to Luxembourg?  Looks nice, Drake!

Grand Duchy

Another day with Cathy, a sea of vineyards and reflections on life :

(Camino day 13) Ventosa to Azofra

No cake, you’ll have noticed!  I over-indulged you on Saturday  🙂  I’m sure there will have been a few chocolates.  Wishing you all a great week!  I will be back with coverage of the Tochas Floridas.  It was sensational this year.

 

Six word Saturday

Indulge yourself a little this Easter?

You can walk off the calories later!  I love beautiful presentation and that raspberry really spoke to me.  Just a mouthful  🙂  Happy Easter!  And don’t forget to visit Debbie with six words.

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Jo’s Monday walk : Zoo, zoo, Zoomarine!

There are few worse feelings than that waving goodbye at the airport, but I’m gathering up some happy memories to share with you this week.  This was our third, and possibly last, visit to Zoomarine.  There’s something so endearing about a dolphin.  You’d sacrifice your bath for a week or two if you were offered the loan of one, wouldn’t you?  I know I would!

It’s great to be surrounded by smiling faces, and the zoo-themed water park has taken a leaf or three from the famous Florida parks, including a ‘catchy’ tune.  It’s not something I would recommend for every day as it’s quite a costly business and in full summer would be far too busy for enjoyment.  At this time of year, though, the sunshine can be quite warm and the water parks themselves are not yet open, so you can quite effectively kill 2 birds with one stone.  But please don’t talk about killing birds around here.  They do have ears, you know!

Talking of birds, isn’t this the most wonderful tropical plant ever?  I always have to stop to admire the Bird of Paradise.

The flora and fauna create a pleasant environment for a stroll, and you can always spice it up with a ride or two.  The wave maker was none too rough, but you could whoop your way down the water chute, as mine did.

A particular favourite with small person was the rollercoaster.  ‘Hands up’ as you swoop downwards.  He quite liked being high above the park too.

The sea lion show was in the process of being revamped, but there were crazy pirate acrobatics to compensate, and some hefty dinosaurs were being craned into position for a future Jurassic feature.  Zoomarine has all the makings of a great family day out.

I suspect Patti knew I wouldn’t be able to resist her Delicious post this week.  I almost met the lovely lady when she passed through Portugal earlier this month, but it didn’t quite happen.  Hopefully another time.  She and the Lens-Artists are doing such a good job.  And for those of you who care about these things, the one on the right was my choice.

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Time to catch up with a couple of weeks worth of walks.  Please do visit any you’ve missed.  And many thanks to all of you for continuing to follow along on Jo’s Monday walk.  It’s much appreciated.

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Why not let Janet tempt you with an almond croissant?  Or even a small absinthe…

Monday walk…in the Franche-Comté

Monday walk…the green fairy garden

You’ll be full as a gun when you’re finished over at Jackie’s!

Warm and toasty

Debbie I can always rely on to find me a view I’ve never seen before :

Roaming ’round Rabat

And Suzanne to sing lovely New Zealand’s praises loud and clear :

Hiking the Whakarewarewa Circuit

But I could almost be homesick for England when I look at some of Jude’s posts :

Around Trencrom

Penlee Park

And then Tish really made me wish I’d made it to the Malverns :

Stepping Through Time and Space in the Malvern Hills (cue Edward Elgar)

Margaret seduced me completely by taking me back to Staithes, an old haunt of mine, and then disaster struck :

Ragtag Saturday: The Cleveland Coast

Les demoiselles de Caraybat, daffodils and gentians : revisited

Lisa, meanwhile, had her eye on a young eagle :

Jo’s Monday Walk

Life on the move.  Drake knows all about that!

Day on the go

Where did Irene get to this week?

Walk Along The Trails

Soft and gentle Spring time, with Rupali :

Weekend 76: Spring 2019

It’s fascinating seeing the world from different perspectives.  Susanne shared close to home :

A Walk through Fairhaven and Western Washington University

And Cathy… well, she’s always wandering  🙂

(Camino day 11) a day in Logrono

(Camino day 12) Logrono to Ventosa

But you could create your own Algarve walk, with a little help from a friend.  Many thanks, Becky!

A magnificent hike in the Lower Guadiana

It’s Easter next weekend and I hope to share with you some of the magic of this special time of the year here in the Algarve.  It would be great if you could join me.  Meantime, have a happy and peaceful week!

Walking on water

I’ve done and seen some wonderful things down the years, but I never had any thought that I could walk on water!  For one thing, I’ve never worn a halo.  Water wings would be more useful.  Nevertheless, last Saturday I found myself joining a queue to walk across the River Guadiana- a distance of approximately 720 metres- from Alcoutim, on the Portuguese side, to Sanlucar de Guadiana, in Spain.

Alcoutim is normally a sleepy little place and, over on the far shore, the enticing white village of Sanlucar is even quieter. If you have any desire to cross the river, you first have to summon a ferryman, who may or may not be located somewhere near his craft, but will always greet you with a friendly smile.  Not so on this occasion.  The ‘Festival do Contrabando’ was in full swing and, even as I walked down towards the river, I could hear the hubbub of the crowd.

Entertainment was in full swing, with a feisty matador swinging his cape at a ‘burro’ as the band played on, and the crowd cheered as clay pots were hurled through the air and skilfully caught.

This was not the Alcoutim I knew!  I eased through the crowd to the ‘ticket office’, where I purchased the mandatory bandana, for my admission fee of 1 euro.  I joined the queue to cross the river, wondering at what rakish angle I should wear it, and why some were wearing red ones when the vast majority were blue, like mine.  Just then the washer ladies arrived, and I was scolded gently and treated to a rub with scented soap.  I obviously wasn’t clean enough to join the party.

Slowly the queue shuffled forward, controlled by customs officers, of course.  The red bandana folk caught the ferry.  Maybe they had a pressing engagement in Spain.  I followed the washerwomen, laughing and calling out to each other as they flounced ahead.  The moment finally arrived and I stepped out onto the pontoon, trying not to look concerned as it wobbled.  What a bizarre sensation!  The river lapped gently all around me and I rolled slowly with its motion.  Gasps and giggles came from my partners in crime, as we staggered towards the middle of the river, not quite believing in what was happening.

Fortunately it was a calm day.  I think I might have felt a little seasick otherwise.  As it was I had assumed the rolling gait of the mariner by the time I reached dry land.  And a huge smile split my face.  I had walked on water!

Over in Sanlucar de Guadiana the antics continued.  Flamenco, involving the crowd and a very attractive ram.  A good time for all was guaranteed.  I wended my way past wondrous craft stalls to a quiet corner where I could survey the scene.

A mooch among the stalls and it was time to join the ever growing queue to return to the other side.  A few clouds had rolled in and there was talk of storms brewing, but fortunately the weather stayed clear and dry all weekend.  One last look back, and I’m home.

For a fuller account, including the story of the ‘last smuggler’, all of 97 years old, read Becky’s An unusual walk into Spain.  That’s it from me, as my son arrives tonight.  I’ll be back with a walk on Monday, 15th April.  Take good care till then!