Algarve hills

Jo’s Monday walk : Sáo Brás de Alportel, then and now

One Monday morning, earlier this year, I was wandering in the sleepy back streets of Sáo Brás de Alportel.  In a ruin mostly used for car parking I stopped to examine the remnants of old photos pasted onto the walls.   This is a town rich in tradition, where paper flowers are liberally used to decorate the streets at Easter time.  The scenes feature a quiet nearby street, the bombeiros or fire brigade, a local dance, and a lorry load of cork.  A museum in the town is dedicated to the cork industry, and piles of cork can often be seen drying in the surrounding hills.  The use of Monochrome can make a scene look ancient, but in Sáo Brás the past never seems very far away.

Until the council decided a change of image was needed.  New fountains on slick marble squares, and metal animal sculptures now grace the centre of town.  It’s surprising what a game changer this is.  The whole mood of the place is altered.

In the same way, replacing the colour in a photo with monochrome creates a change of mood.

It’s a gentle palette in Sáo Bras.  Washing adorns the wall as it must always have done.  Azulejo panels softly crown each doorway, predominately blue and white.  Modern art blends with old and crumbling buildings.  And in the countryside, bleached fields patiently await a turn in the season.

But it will take more than a few sculptures to separate Sáo Brás from its claim to antiquity.  You can follow a Roman road through the back streets of town.  And where better to savour that most traditional of Portuguese tarts?

My walk today isn’t at all what I intended, but I was having far too much fun on Saturday and left my camera and phone at a party.  I hadn’t downloaded my photos from last week’s adventure in Seville, so that will have to wait.  Not half so famous and a fraction of its size, but I think this little town in the Algarve hills has its own brand of charm.  I hope Patti will accept my contribution to the Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week.

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Not too many shares this week, so please take the time to visit if you can.  Many thanks to all who participate.  Contributions are always welcome here on Jo’s Monday walk. Have a great week everybody!

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I love a leafy hollow in the woods.  Drake takes us speeding through :

Life beyond forestry

Natalie takes us through some very different woods to a beach :

Hiking the Tonquin Trail

Lots of leaves about this week.  Good to share a smile with Lady Lee :

The Weekly Smile for October

And linger a while with Irene :

Autumn on the Trail

A healthy splash of colour from Eunice this week :

Dublin street art

And a city I’d love to revisit.  West coast with Alice :

San Diego Waterfront- Seaport Village

How much do you know about Waterloo?  Denzil takes us through some of the history :

Walking the Battlefield of Waterloo

While Cathy is still on the Camino, but the end is in sight :

(Camino day 41) Triacastela to Sarria

Who doesn’t like to end on a high?  Thanks so much, Gilly  🙂

A glorious November day

I’m easing off this week after a slightly manic time.  Many thanks to all of you for following along and for your good wishes.

Jo’s Monday walk : Dramatic skies over Querença

I’m taking you back to Fonte Filipe and the peace of the countryside this week.  This time we will head towards Querença, a small but lovely village, high in the Algarve hills.  I know it best for the Sausage Festival in January, and nearby Fonte de Benemola, a lovely oasis of green.  This was a warm day of beautiful skies, and good company.  We started out in shade and headed up through the trees, relishing the simple joy of being alive.

Almond blossom has dwindled and the nuts are on their way, but in these rolling Algarve seasons there’s always something to admire.

If you’re not fond of rust hued farm equipment, maybe a tumble down cottage or two will catch your eye?  It’s a great place to indulge your ‘house in the country’ fantasies.  With a few, stubborn roses clinging to a weathered wall, and perhaps a shady bench.

There are signs and markings to keep you on track, though dilly dawdling as I often do, it’s easy to get left behind.  Usually we’ll have a back marker, or good shepherd, tasked with keeping the flock together.

Today I’m transfixed by the cloud patterns overhead.  Just lately there have been very few of these loiterers, tracing patterns in the blue.  Gnarled trees snag my attention too.  It’s no wonder I so often get left behind.

Passing through a tiny hamlet, I’m further distracted by the harvesting of carobs.  The farm hand is only too happy to pause in his labours to smile and give a thumbs up.  We’re not far from Querença now.

At the heart of the village lies a magnificent square, the church looming over it protectively.  It’s a fine spot for a coffee, but the leaning pines suggest that you might sometimes need to huddle indoors.  It’s high and exposed here, the chapel nestled quietly, further down the hill.

Just past the chapel, if you keep your eyes peeled, you’ll find a little turn off signed Beco dos Faiscas.  This leads down a lovely old cobbled path, beneath shady trees.  Just around a bend, something that looks like a small seat- what my mother would have called a ‘cracket’- to sit a spell.

A well maintained flagged path leads through the valley.  Beside some rushes, an abandoned mill wheel hints at former occupation.  A ‘for sale’ sign adorns an ornately topped post, and then the mill house appears, behind a hedge of extravagant crimson.

All too soon the walk is over, and you’re back at Fonte Filipe, no doubt wondering what’s to eat.  Can I tempt you with the ‘arroz doce’?

There are other choices, of course, but we’ll save them for another day.  Hope you enjoyed the walk!

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Just a word of warning!  I won’t be posting Jo’s Monday walk next week, but I’ll share any walks that arrive in the meantime the following week.  Meanwhile, please do read and enjoy these.

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Cheryl’s Skywalk takes walking to a whole new level.  You’ll love it!

A Walk Among the Clouds in Qingjing Farm

Something much gentler, and with a beautiful back story, from Suzanne :

The Waikareao Estuary Walk & Korero

Did you visit Delphi, with Debbie?  It looks phenomenal!

More dawdling in Delphi

Citrus Avenue!  How sweet does that sound?  Share it with Alice :

Citrus Avenue

Not everyone is so lucky with the weather, as Jackie will tell you!

Muy Buena Pizza

But it’s all relative.  It’s good to be happy with what you have :

Photo Challenges- South Jersey Spring has Sprung

A little grey in Denmark too, but there’s no place like home, is there, Drake?

Colors coming soon

She asks some daft questions, but Jude takes wonderful photographs.  Can you tell, the lady loves plants? :

Can you ever have too many Camellias?

Paris Focus: Jardin des Plantes

Share a little romance with Carol?

The Kissing Bridge

And follow ‘light spun with gold’ across northern Spain, with Cathy :

(Camino day 10) Torres del Rio to Logrono

Becky’s beaten me to it with this one!  I never thought I’d get to walk on water, but I did!

An unusual walk into Spain

I hope to post my take on the Smuggler’s Festival later this week, but I won’t be walking with you next Monday.  My son and partner are arriving soon, with a lively 6 year old, and I suspect I’ll have my hands full.  I’ll be back with a walk in 2 weeks time.  Take care till then!

Jo’s Monday walk : Natural beauty at Fonte Filipe

All that Carnaval razzamataz put away for another year, it’s back to the quiet life this week, in my sunny Algarve hills.  North of São Brás de Alportel lies a beautiful, green area which has provided me with many walks.  Twice lately I’ve started out from Fonte Filipe, a natural spring in the shape of a lemon, where legend has it a young girl appears at sunset, washing and singing in the fountain.

Leaving the fonte, I follow signs for Amendoeira.  Through the frothy wisps of tree branches, gentle humps hint at the surrounding hills.

A steady climb brings you to a villa, and a dog who looks down with casual indifference, lord and master of his landscape, for today, at least.  A drift of wild iris illuminates the path ahead.

Water is always the highlight of a walk for me.  I peer into ponds, ensnared by the meekest weeds, while reeds as straight as guardsmen protect me from the chorus of frogs.  Beyond them, cistus dance gaily in the slightest breeze.

Natural springs supplied the local populations of Amendoeira, Resinas, Carvalhal and part of  São Romão, and were used to irrigate the crops.  Stone pines grow freely here, their cones effervescent with colour at this time of year.  Mounds of cork lie drying in the sun.

It’s the turn of the pink cistus to dazzle now, the bees humming in ecstasy, while the wild narcissus gently nods.  Not to be outdone, there’s a flourish of cream and yellow among the rocks.

Back on the valley floor, a trickle of stream slides past the stepping stones.  I could paddle deliciously, but prefer to test my balance, pausing to enjoy the cool and the entwining of the shadows.

The trail from here is flagged, making easy walking.  It’s part of the Via Algarviana, which crosses the Algarve from the sea at Sagres to its border with Spain.  You need to keep your eyes wide open, for some jewels hide their beauty in the shade.  The bee eater orchid can be a shy creature.  Back into the sunshine, I pass a mill race, on the home straight now.  One more flurry of beauty and I’m back where I started.

From Fonte Filipe it’s an easy drive down into São Romão.  I stop to purchase homemade honey from a café, and a favourite restaurant, with views over the valley, supplies a wonderful panna cotta.

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Bombarded with walks this week, so you’re going to need to spend a little time here.  There are some beauties so please do visit if you can.

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A hard invitation to refuse, from Debbie :

Come Dawdle in Delphi

I just can’t believe I’m still sharing snowy walks!  Who’d be Canadian, Natalie?

A Walk to Canoe Landing Park

Drake knows where to find sunshine when he wants it (though he likes snow too  🙂  )

All day outdoors

I don’t mind a spot of rain sometimes, if we’re going somewhere interesting.  Thanks, Susanne!

A Walk through St. Augustine and Castillo de San Marcos

Janet’s post reminds me of the Leonard Cohen song, ‘Ring the bell!’  Funny the associations people make :

Goin’ to the chapel

Why not take it slow, and just enjoy the beauty, with Rupali?

Walking around 

Or you might prefer a bit of rough and tumble, with Alice :

Saint Patrick’s Day Rugby Tournament

And then you can always visit Jackie for sustenance :

Menu del Dia

Any baseball fans out there?  You might recognise this place :

China Basin Park

Mary shares some very beautiful murals :

Haibun : Cesar Chavez Elementary School

Short but sweet, and very familiar, from Becky!  Did you spot my Spiky Squares to welcome her back?

A stroll in the Barrocal

There’s nothing like looking at beauty through the eyes of one who appreciates it.  Double helping from Jude!

Godolphin Gardens in early Spring

Paris Focus : A Stroll along the Seine

Memories and much more, with Susan :

Walking Quito, Ecuador

And talking of memories, Amanda is testing my Polish this week :

A Little Polish Never goes Astray

Cathy plods on along the Camino, taking some interesting rest stops :

(Camino: day 8) Lorca to Villamayor de Monjardin

While Carol gives us a brand new definition for ‘close to the edge’ :

Edge Walking

Hope you enjoyed my company this week.  I certainly enjoyed yours.  Take care, and catch you next time on Jo’s Monday walk!