Algarve

Jo’s Monday walk : Illuminating Lagoa

If you’re a regular visitor to the Algarve, chances are that you will have bypassed Lagoa numerous times.  Sitting just off the busy E125 road, it’s not somewhere that you would necessarily make a beeline for.  So my husband looked at me askance when I asked if we might visit the town for Mercado de Culturas… A Luz das Velas – the ‘market of cultures… by candlelight’.  I had never heard of the festival before, but it was apparently in its 4th year.  This year’s theme, Rota de Seda -Silk Road, sounded inviting to me.

After a lazy beach day, we headed along on a sultry Sunday, for the last evening of this 4 day event, not entirely sure what to expect. Looking for parking, our first encounter was a bit of a surprise.  Strong sunshine created deep shadows, even at 8 in the evening.

A small park with a war memorial leads to an imposing church.  Few people are about and you begin to wonder if you are in the right place.

And then, turning a corner, the atmosphere changes discernibly and we have the first hint that something special might be about to happen.  Rose coloured paving with white spots cannot disguise the fact that the area is shabby.  On a raised platform there is a display of bonsai.

And, close by, the first of the unlit candle arrangements, laid out on boards on the floor, in a Chinese theme.

It wouldn’t start to get dark for another hour, so plenty of time to explore the narrow streets, and have a bite to eat.  We wandered into the impressive Convento de São José, founded around 1710 by Carmelite nuns, who fostered and educated abandoned girls.  There are beautiful cloisters and the surrounding rooms have been turned into a museum and exhibition space.

Street stalls offered an array of tempting food and artisans worked quietly beside their wares.  A clattering of drums announced the arrival of two Chinese dragons, who cavorted and rolled winsomely at the feet of the laughing onlookers.

As dusk gathered there was a frisson of excitement.  The first of the 12,000 candles were being lit.  It would take quite some time, and a whole lot of effort, till all were burning brightly together.

Following the trail of candles, we come to a large square, with restaurants and a church whose interior glowed invitingly.  Stepping inside to admire the white wood panelled ceiling and the medieval painting behind the altar, we are met with a ‘brother’.  His face lights up as he tells us the history of his church, Igreja da Misericórdia, and the processions that celebrate Easter.  We reassure him that we have a church of the same name in Tavira, and have enjoyed those same processions, and we part good friends.  

The lights flicker on, ahead of us and behind.  Watchful candle lighters step forward to replace guttered candles and the whole world glows.

Music ripples in the air and, as it grows darker, a Persian dancer twines her body in graceful poses and the night casts its spell.  A small crowd are gathered in the doorway of a chapel, lit in a rosy hue.  Serenely a lady plucks the strings of a lute.

I know that the merriment will continue till long after midnight on this warm evening, and find it hard to tear myself away.  But we have a long journey home ahead, and I am thankful to have witnessed this wonderful celebration of light.  I hope you enjoyed it too.  Perhaps, if you should be in the Algarve next July, it’s one to look out for.

Thank you for your patience and support, especially those of you who have posted walks for me. I returned home late on Thursday and am still trying to find my UK groove.  Time to put the kettle on and enjoy some great company.  If you’d like to join me any time, details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.

Are you a fan of trees?  Let Geoff poetically show you one or two :

The Book of Trees#dulwich#trees#villagelife#poetry

Canada Day was a big one this year.  This is how Jackie (and the big duck) celebrated :

Let’s Celebrate!

Toast Master

Miriam has enjoyed every step of her Aussie adventure :

Stepping into a Magical Outback

Summer Solstice is always a bit special, isn’t it? Share a bonfire with Lady Lee :

Summer Solstice

I’m almost ashamed of myself not to have walked this.  Debbie has (and Becky too!) :

Water on High

Woolly continues his visits to the sadness of the war graves :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk27_Serre-Rd_No-2_Cemetery

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk27_Serre Rd_No-2 Cemetery-Pt2

Lisa cheered me up with a return to her roots, and some cliff tops, not too very far from me :

Hull – Part II

And Jude’s usually cheerful (though occasionally grumpy).  A bit more of Queen Mum’s old place?

Garden Portrait: Glamis Castle Italian Garden

It wouldn’t be a Monday walk without Drake, would it?  Two more for you this week!

Surrounded by architecture

Under the arches

And speaking of architecture, look where Indra’s been!

Travelscapes -Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick

While, even further away, my lovely Meg dabbles her toes :

Wordless walk : Shelly Beach

And in the stunning scenery of the Banf National Park, there’s another adventure with Sheri :

Hiking Wind Ridge

Tobias always comes up with something a little different :

Documenting locations

I thought Amanda was taking her dog for a walk.  Wrong again!

Walking on Straddie with Maddie

And who better to give you a tip or two than our intrepid Sue?

10 Tips Before Hiking Table Mountain, Capetown

Welcome back to Denzil, with some practical advice on walking in Belgium :

GR121 Stage 2 : La Roche (Brabant) to Nivelles

And to Susan, with her lyrical West Coast writing :

Walking Harmony Headlands

I know there are loads.  That’s what happens when I take a break.  Please find time to visit, especially anybody you don’t already know.  I’m off to enjoy that rare commodity in the north east- a sunny day!  Take care till next time.

 

Six word Saturday

The life of a floral display

In Summer there are countless celebrations across the Algarve, but it’s always a delight to arrive and find the streets decked with paper flowers. Last Friday in Tavira all was splendour, but after the weekend came the slow process of deflowering.  What better way to share than a Collage?

It’s Saturday and yet again Debbie has six words to make you smile.  Do go and join in! And have a great weekend!

Restless by name, restless by nature

Restless?  Who me?  You could say that.  I don’t know quite when or where it all began, nor do I know when it will end, but I hope to enjoy it while I can.  It’s not as though I don’t have beautiful places to wander to.

It’s sometimes a blessing and sometimes a curse.  How is it that some people never have the urge to roam? (my husband being one of them)  I only have to see a boat moored up to be champing at the bit.  Take me with you!

Debbie set the theme Restless on her One Word Sunday challenge this week.  How could I possibly not join in?

 

Six word Saturday

Light fades on another lovely memory.

It’s more than 6 weeks since I got back from Tavira, in my lovely Algarve.  Time to round up a few of those photos I never got around to sharing, and move on.   A new roof top bar provides a great overview of this beautiful place.

Up on the castle walls

Until next time…

Don’t forget to share your six words on Debbie’s little bit of fun, and have a great weekend.  I’ll be back on Monday with a very English walk.

Later that same day…

For those of you who feel sorry for me, getting nibbled by insects in my quest to bring you an interesting Algarve walk… this is what came next.

It was surprisingly breezy at the coast that day, which gave me an opportunity to pull up a seat in a sheltered spot and watch the waves.  You understand that I only did this to show you the diversity of the Algarve, not purely for enjoyment.

I can never sit still for too long and I soon needed to get a little closer to the action.

Armacao de Pera is far from being my favourite Algarve resort, but there’s a time and a place for everything.

What’s more Evanescent than a wave as it pounds the shore?  But there is no doubt in my mind that I’ll be back for more.

Jo’s Monday walk : Sitio das Fontes

Time to return to the Algarve for this week’s walk, on the estuary of the Rio Arade.  It’s a good distance from my normal stomping ground, but I had reason to be curious about Sitio das Fontes.  Earlier this year, Dave Sheldrake began to conduct photography walks, for a donation to charity.  I haven’t managed to go on one yet, but my interest was piqued when he went to this particular site.  I had to take a look for myself.

Sitio das Fontes is an area of wild parkland formed around natural springs (or fontes).  Sitting in tidal salt marshes, it’s a wonderful place to explore the diversity of nature.  The tidal mill overlooks a wide stretch of nature in the raw, with birds and bees aplenty.

Captivated by the tiny frogs, I’m getting ahead of myself.  The parkland lies just north of the village of Estombar, and on a sunny weekday in early March I had the place almost to myself. An old waterwheel lethargically guards the entrance to the park.

Follow the path round to the tidal mill, or dally by the spring.  There are plenty of good sized rocks to sit on and contemplate nature, or simply daydream a while.  A new-looking bridge crosses the spring and you can take the long view or gaze deep into the clear waters.

The map at the entrance to the park wasn’t very clear, or maybe I hadn’t been paying enough attention.  It didn’t seem to matter in the stillness of the lovely morning, the snail suspended somnolently on his stilts, and bee on blossom.

Beyond the tidal mill, a path leads off around the estuary.  The water was very low, exposing vast tracts of salt marsh and sludge, but still it was a pleasure to follow.  Shrubs and all manner of plant line the path, so progress is slow as you stoop to identify or smile in admiration.

Incredible to find two different types of bee orchid within feet of each other!  The path ends on the edge of the Arade.   Looking across the estuary I wasn’t sure if it might be possible to cross over the mud flats with the water so low.  Good sense prevailed.  I didn’t really want to end up floundering, but I was curious about the ruins on the far shore.  No great hardship to retrace my steps.

A less obvious path runs along this shoreline, but with the bonus of more orchids, some tiny iris, not yet open to morning, and a large cricket who made me jump.  Beyond the ruins the path begins to ascend quite steeply.  I climb high enough to appreciate the view.

But it’s not apparent where the path might lead.  It’s getting warm, the insects are buzzing and it feels like a good time to head back.  There are picnic tables, a children’s playground and a visitor centre, still closed at the time.  Best of all, the tranquil and lovely spring.

How very different from the thermal springs in Bath, that I wrote about last week.  Yet all part of our strange and wonderful natural world.

I hope you enjoyed this week’s walk.  Details of how to get there are contained in the links, and of how to join me, on my Jo’s Monday walk page . Now for some sharing.  You’ll have your work cut out, because I have heaps of walks!  Please make sure to visit anyone that you don’t know. Many thanks to all my contributors, and to you folk in the armchairs, it’s time to put the kettle on.

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You might like to compare Alison’s walk from a couple of years ago?  Your secret’s well and truly out now, Aly!

Our secret Sitio das Fontes

The most beautiful rainbow and frescoes from Drake this week :

Cruise through idyllic city

AND the bonus of a trip to Monmartre :

On the edge

Lots of garden shots and a cute little bug from Lady Lee :

How does your garden grow?

Sunny California, sunny Jackie!

Day 7 So Cal Bakersfield CA to Las Vegas

Becky always knows the way to my heart, and to some lovely places too.  This one’s in the Alentejo :

A short stroll around the beautiful city of Serpa

This, much closer to ‘home’ :

Thank goodness, a cloudy day

Did you ‘walk’ with Vanessa last week?  This one’s not for the faint-hearted, but shows off Majorca’s true beauty :

Soller, Mallorca, Spain/The ‘Sa Costera’ Hike along the remote and picturesque coastline…

Sue, meanwhile, is tootling gently down Memory Lane.  I hope you’re well now, hon?

Postcards from my Past/3- Cornwall’s Old Mines

Cathy is still busy making memories.  This is fabulous!

Sankei-en Garden & the Shanghai Yokohama Friendship Garden

While Mari shows us how to live a long and happy life in a little known but beautiful part of Andalusia :

Walking in the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes Natural Park, Spain

Exquisite prose and the nostalgia of the end of Spring, from Susan :

Park Ridge Trail, Morro Bay State Park

And an English version, with lambs and wild garlic.  Please visit!  This lady is new to me :

Late spring hike in the Manifold Valley

Miriam triumphs in adversity!  You can, too!

Toolangi Trails

And Paula proudly shows off some of her lovely heritage.  Go on- take a look!

Istrian Heritage

Jaspa seems to like our English heritage.  What’s more British than Tower Bridge?

Sam’s Ses Challenge #18: Bridge 

And I bet Woolly is a fan of those famous Austrian tortes.  Double rations this week :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk20_ Vienna

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk21_Vienna-2

Andrew has been striding out in Valencia.  Not like him at all!

Travels in Spain, Valencia City of Arts and Sciences and a 12 Mile Walk

You might wonder what the natural world looks like in Israel.  Take a walk with Lisa to find out :

Nahal HaShofet

That’s it for another week!  It’s a Bank Holiday in the UK next Monday but I’ll still be walking.  I hope you’ll join me.  Take care till then!

 

Jo’s Monday walk : Odeleite, a beautiful disaster!

From one extreme to another, last week’s gentle look at village life to this week’s biting off more than you can comfortably chew.  Does this look like a promising start- the cemetery wall in Odeleite?  It was all downhill from here- a seemingly endless set of concrete steps, and yes, I did stop to wonder how I’d find the energy to climb back up them.  But all’s well that ends well, isn’t it?  There was a seat awaiting my return.

Odeleite is such a pretty village, as you can see, though not a little steep.  That morning I was surprised to find a skirmish of bikers, clad in leathers and revving their engines on a narrow terrace.  Much preferring the tranquil life, I moved on.

The first mistake was to follow an inviting sign.  My partner in crime has a nose for these things, so he tells me.  My mistake was to follow him.

The goat did try to warn us!  The water course looked very inviting, and with a picnic I could have lingered, but we had our walking heads on.

Now I have to confess that if things don’t go my way, I can get a little grouchy.  As we climbed the hill, away from the village and leaving the water far behind, I niggled a bit.  After all, we had set out to walk beside the water.  Or at least, I had!  But my persuasive other half insisted that route PR5 was exactly what we needed, and would bring us back to the river, in a loop.

A rock pool or two spliced through the charcoal stone and everywhere rock roses waved and bobbed at our passing.  Hard to stay grumpy in surroundings like this.  After half an hour of dips and rises, we came to a village called Alcaria, where things began to look promising.  It’s well known I can be won over by a glass, or two!

Tucked down a back street, casa do pasto Alberto’s had a couple of outside tables. Unfortunately it was Sunday lunchtime, and inside was heaving with locals, tucking in.  We managed a chunk of gooey meringue apiece, before sadly moving on.  We were about to make our next mistake. The choice was a 2km return to Odeleite or to continue on the PR5.  Blame the wine, if you like, but I found myself agreeing to the latter.

Did you notice that the sign said PR4?  Somewhere along the way we had left our PR5 behind. As we approached the river, a field full of sheep tinkled their bells at us.  We knew that we would have to cross the river to reach Odeleite, but where was the nearest bridge?

Some way distant, of course.  With great relief, we finally crossed a road bridge.  The sign read Foz de Odeleite.  Familiar territory!  At least, I recognised the restaurant.  Still quite a way to go to our destination, but the sky was blue and the scenery beautiful.  And I was following my river!

Over on the far bank we spotted the sheep we had passed earlier.  A tempting tumble of apples by a deserted farmhouse…  if I took one, would a dog race out, barking?  With serenity all around us, it was a shock to the system to find that trouble was lurking, just ahead.

A ford that we really hadn’t bargained for, and quite deep.  Retracing our steps was unthinkable, so it was off with the shoes and a slow, steady wade across, holding hands.  On the far side a Portuguese family watched, the small boy busy amusing himself.  Stones and rivers go together, don’t they, but he stopped play, open-mouthed, to watch our progress.

We dried off, and a sign pointed us directly towards Odeleite.  What could be easier?  Smiling cheerfully at the family, away we went.  Along with the cistus and lavender, tiny blue iris winked shyly at us.

Tired but hopeful, there was yet one more twist in store.  Always observant, my partner had realised that the river was flowing in the ‘wrong’ direction.  Increasingly doubtful, he wanted to go back, ‘just to be sure’.  Abandoning whatever good sense I had left, I returned with him to where the bewildered Portuguese family, fortunately, still remained.  Halting language, gestures and smiles confirmed what I already suspected.  We had been on the right track, and had to retrace our steps.

Eventually, we did make it back to Odeleite, after 6 hours of walking and at least 16km.  As we came into the village, it was immediately obvious the mistake we had made.  Isn’t it always?  We had started out in completely the wrong direction.  The walk we were ‘following’, Terras da Ordem, from the Walking Trails in the Algarve book, gave 2 choices of starting place.  Maybe we’d have been better off with the other! At least we didn’t have to climb those woeful steps.

If you’re feeling brave and want to try it, you need to scroll almost to the end of the website, to page 140.  And in fairness to the better half, we were at the junction of 2 rivers, as the map will show. Confusion all round!

Thanks folks, for following my weary feet.  Sometimes it’s not such a good idea.  I will struggle to respond to you today because very last minute plans mean that I am in Bristol as you read this.  I hope to have WiFi at some point, and if all else fails I’ll be home again late Tuesday. If I haven’t shared your walk this week, it’ll be here next Monday.  Kettle on now, and feet up, my happy band of armchair walkers!

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Becky, the laugh was on us!  One of these days we’ll walk together and I won’t get lost!

Nightingales in the Pomegranate Trees

Bavaria is so pretty, isn’t it?  Lady Lee spent a few days there :

Bamberg – The Changing Seasons

Jackie’s still battling the elements and having fun in California :

Day 3 So Cal- Monterey and Area

Woolly shows his serious side with an Anzac Day post :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk17-Anzac-Day

While Drake has fun with a broken bus in Lancashire :

Wanna be free

Meg keeps me well supplied with beautiful beaches.  Tread carefully on this one!

Eurobodalla beaches : Plantation Point

It remains to say that I hope you had a great weekend, Bank Holiday or otherwise.  Words will struggle to describe mine.