Cabanas

Lazy Poet’s Thursday Haiku

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An old, fisherman’s table

Rusted now and all forlorn

‘Gainst the shimmering

Stealing my title from Gilly this morning, but I know she won’t mind.  I’m just sharing a last few soothing Algarve images before I return to the real world.  If you’ve never met Gilly, you’re in for a treat.  Go and say hello!

CBBH Photo challenge- same subject, different time

Marianne at East of Malaga knew I was going to be predictable in her CBBH challenge this month.  Well, when you know a lovely spot, why not share it?  So here we have Tavira, in the Eastern Algarve, at different times of day.

Ponte Romana in Tavira

Ponte Romana in Tavira

And in the evening, it gets better

And in the evening, it just gets better

And better, don't you think?

And better!  I love those reflections under the bridge.

And when the tide's in, it's different again.

And when the tide’s in, it’s different again.

I can’t compete with the drama of Marianne’s disappearing mountain.  It’s a stunner!  But by this stage of things I’m getting mellow, with a glass of port and the swifts for company.

I like the view in the other direction, too, looking away from the Ponte Romana to the Old Military bridge. (which is so old it has holes in!)

It's peaceful and calm in the evenings

It’s peaceful and calm as the sun sets

And sometimes the colours are simply stunning

And sometimes the opalescent colours are simply stunning

I don't take many full evening shots

Then the lights come on, and it’s different again

Maybe Cabanas is more your kind of place?  You won’t often see it this empty.

I can almost hear the clop of sandals on the boardwalk

No telltale clop of sandals on the boardwalk

Or flip flops!  Much more peaceful.

Ssh, flip flops are quieter!  Who IS that smiley lady?

Later in the day, there’s a little more vibrance.

Is this what's called a rosy hue?

I guess this is what’s called a rosy hue?

I’m not certain that this is quite what Marianne had in mind, but I’ve got 4 weeks before the challenge finishes, so I can always try again.

But first, let me introduce Ventisqueras.  Sometimes a blog comes along that really excites me, and this lady does exactly that.  We struggle with language because my Italian is just a few words, but sometimes that doesn’t matter.

I um and err when I have to choose blogs, but I know there are a lot of pet lovers out there.  I found Bailey Boat Cat quite recently and it did make me smile.  Such an elegant feline.  Enjoy checking them out and have a great month!

I is for Ilhas (islands)

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Landing stage on Tavira Island

Landing stage on Tavira Island

This is where it all began for me- the knowledge that there were islands off the southern shore of Portugal.  And ever since, it has been one of my special delights, whenever I’m in the Algarve, to seek out an ilha, or island, to explore.

As you fly into Faro, often the plane will follow the coastline and dip low over the Ria Formosa, a natural habitat of salt marshes.  Still, it does not really prepare you for the fact that there is an island life out there, just waiting for your approach.

If you’re staying in Tavira, of course, it immediately becomes apparent.  “Where is the beach?” you enquire, knowing full well that the Algarve boasts some of Europe’s finest.  You will be directed to the ferry terminal, and there begins your adventure.  If it’s summertime you can catch the ferry from the town, and chug away from Tavira’s beguiling skyline through the salt marshes.  In winter you will have to be a little more independent and make your way to Quatro Aguas, on foot or bike.  It’s a half hour walk, and not one that you would happily undertake in the heat of summer.

The quayside at Quatro Aguas

The quayside at Quatro Aguas

Chugging out past the salt marshes

Chugging out past the salt marshes

And then you arrive

And then you arrive

If you’re feeling lazy, you can just plonk down on the river beach and watch the to and fro-ing of the boats.  Occasionally a jet ski might zip past, disturbing the calm, but more often it’s the sailing school, out to practise manouvres.  For the wider expanse of the ocean, you can cross over the island, beneath fragrant pines, running the low key gamut of a few restaurants, ever open for business.

On the shoreline, simply stroll, with the tongues of water teasing and licking at your toes.  Look back over your shoulder and you will see the ilha of Cabanas.  I have a gentle love/hate relationship with Cabanas.  To me it represents that commercial face of the Algarve that I came east to escape.  Yet poke about in the back streets and the character is there still.  In the off season you might even regard it as perfection.  The fishing village is undeniably eroded, but catch the water taxi across to the island and all is forgiven.  I have walked and walked till I could barely stand, until finally the beach begins to undulate and break up into sandbars.

A Cabanas water taxi

A Cabanas water taxi

Ilha de Cabanas from the boardwalk

Ilha de Cabanas from the boardwalk

Ria Formosa

Ria Formosa at Cabanas

A Cabanas sunset

A Cabanas sunset

Cabanas is the most easterly of the ilhas.  Tavira Island comes next as you head west, and can also be accessed from Santa Luzia and Barril.  Yes, it IS that big.

Skipping on along the coast, you come to the village of Fuseta.  From here it’s an easy ride across to the easterly tip of the next ilha in the chain, Armona.  What will you find?  Very little other than endless beach, and in some places an interesting perspective back to the mainland.

Fuseta from the ferry terminal

Fuseta from the ferry terminal

The salt marshes at Fuzeta

The salt marshes at Fuzeta

Looking back at Fuzeta from Armona

Looking back at Fuzeta from Armona

The main access to Armona is from the bustling fishing port, Olhao, which will be the subject of a later A-Z post.  If I were ever to take up residence on one of the islands, it would be Armona.  For me, it has everything I would need.  A pretty little harbour, lots of shallow inlets for paddling, charming beach houses, a couple of restaurants, a shop and a church.  All I would need would be my little boat, and the dream would be complete.  Meanwhile, the ferry does a fine job.  Saturday mornings, when the islanders come over to Olhao market for provisions, all kinds of everything are transported.

Looking across Armona to the mainland

Looking across Armona to the mainland

Armona beach houses

Armona beach houses

Culatra is the next ilha we meet.  Ferries make the round trip out of Olhao, calling first at the easterly tip of the island, and then at Farol, whose namesake, the lighthouse, can be seen from far and wide.  Not dissimilar to Armona in style, you will have to judge for yourself where your preference lies.  I gather that it’s a great spot for fishing.  Myself, I just like to get off at one stop and potter along the beach to the other.  Whether you do this on the landward side or by the ocean will affect what you are likely to find at your feet.

Farol, the iconic lighthouse on Culatra

Farol, the iconic lighthouse on Culatra

Faro, the capital of the Algarve, also provides access to Armona and Culatra, both by regular ferry and excursion.

The last of the ilhas is only accessible from Faro, unless you have your own boat.  Barreta, or Ilha Deserta as it is commonly known, is the most southerly of the islands.  Do not attempt a visit here without full sun protection.  There is no shelter, other than the restaurant “O Estamine”, from the sun’s blistering rays, although you might not always be aware of this due to a cooling breeze.

The view from Ilha Deserta

Ilha Deserta

That’s as far as my explorations have gone, so far.  Until I get that boat, I won’t be able to visit any of the smaller ilhas.  Be assured, when I do, you’ll hear of it.  Meantime if you have any questions or want details on getting there, you only have to ask.

Many thanks, as ever, to Julie Dawn Fox for providing the opportunity to share this post on the Personal A-Z Challenge.  To join in, and read related posts, click on the link or the banner below.

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Sunshine on the water

I’m not much of a sailor but I truly love the sea.  That glint of sunshine on water always lifts my spirits, and calls to mind that old John Denver song.  A warm mid-October day finds me strolling on the Eastern Algarve beach of Ilha Tavira.

The ferry had carried us out from Quatro Aguas, the meeting point of river and the salt water channels of the Ria Formosa.  Sailing boats bobbed alongside, trying to pick up a breeze on the silky calm water.

In the salt pans flamingos still lingered, not yet needing to head south for the winter.  As we cross over the island beneath fragrant pines, the warm breeze rushes to greet us.

Michael spreads a towel.  I wander from beach to shallows, slowly following the sand martins as they dart industriously about.  The retreating tide wriggles and squirms backwards.  Tiny pinpricks in the sand indicate where small sea creatures lurk, clinging on for dear life.  Portuguese fisher folk are only too keen to wrest them from their homes.

A lady nearby collects shells.  “Gorgeous, aren’t they?” I ask.  “Yes, I’m going to make them into a necklace”.  A magical idea for an enduring souvenir.  Perhaps I could try?  I like to think I have an “eye” but I’m really not good with my hands.

Train at Barril

Two days later we have crossed to the island from Barril, using the land train that always makes my husband smile.  The same sea, a different day- urgent waves slapping the shore.

A Dutch family launch themselves with huge delight into the bubbling foam.  All along the beach, castles and sea defences tumble, childish faces both captivated and dismayed at the rampant destruction.   Adults just stand and gaze at this awesome display of power.

Looking inland hazy blue hills rise gently to the heights of Monchique.

Another ferry, small and bustling this time, takes us from the smart new boardwalk at Cabanas across the lagoon to another impeccable stretch of beach.  Hot today and calm enough to lay at the water’s edge as it laps over you.

How can so much beauty be contained within a few short miles?  The images play over and over again in my mind.