Convento de Sáo Francisco

And to conclude….

A lovely place to end!  We had the odd misgiving when we arrived in Vila Franca do Campo, but we were completely wrong.

Such a wonderful renovation, retaining character and atmosphere, and with smiling, helpful staff.  Convento de Sáo Francisco was a real find.

I even found a niche to watch the final of the French Open tennis at Roland Garros, while a certain other enjoyed one last lounge beside a hotel pool.  All’s well that ends well?  Rafa certainly thought so!  And as we sashayed out to our final evening meal, would you credit it but a band struck up in the distance?  Just one more procession, albeit a very low key affair, which rather suited our mood.

And the sun finally set on an epic Azores adventure.  I have so enjoyed sharing it with you.

So sorry to have confused everybody!  I intended to schedule Vila Franca do Campo, my Monday walk, for today, but I got over-excited and posted it late on Saturday.  My links to everyone’s walks are over there so please do check back for any you’ve missed.  I doubt I’ll post again before the weekend.  Have a great week!

 

Jo’s Monday walk : Vila Franca do Campo

So!  The dilemma!  Our last night, close to the airport for an early start, or a beguiling monastery, not too far away?  When we rang the bell pull at dusk, and the narrow grill rolled slowly back, we could have been forgiven for wondering if we’d made the right choice.  A small door in the hefty green one was swung creakily back to admit us.  Were we spending the night in a cell?

Vila Franca do Campo was full of surprises.  On our bed, at Convento de Sáo Francisco, a glossy magazine, open at a feature… are you familiar with Bom Jesus at Braga, on mainland Portugal?  The image was something similar, but on a smaller scale.  Definitely an expedition for the morning.

On a bright blue day, yet another amiable taxi driver arrived to wind us up, and up, and up the hillside to Senhora da Paz. (and he would collect us at six for the airport, the following morning, still smiling  🙂  )  Breakfast of island cheeses, boiled eggs, fresh pineapple and wonderful local bread and honey had set us up for the day.  Nothing to do but start at the top, and amble slowly, back down the hillside.

The views down upon Vila Franca do Campo, with its offshore islet, were simply beautiful, the subtle stripes of the ocean stretching to infinity.  The azulejo panels tell the story of Our Lady of Peace, whose image was discovered nearby, in a simple grotto.

Reluctantly I tore myself away to begin the descent.  Mingled with the ever present hydrangeas, starry bursts of delicate agapanthus.

Did you notice the islet, on the horizon?  I didn’t manage to get there in the short time we had, but the ferries leaving the marina seemed popular.  But I’m jumping ahead of myself.  We wound our way down a tree-lined avenue until we were back in the town.  The houses had interesting adornments to delay our progress, and one garden was full of ripening bananas.  Most noticeable, though, were the coloured hoops across the streets.  A festival of some kind was set to happen, connected to the Senhora, I could only surmise.

Eventually the twists and turns brought us to a central square, and thirst led us from there to the marina.  A hot and lively place from which to observe the business of boats.  Something I’m able to do for hours!

A seawall led out around the marina, protecting it from an ocean mild as milk on this particular day.  We stopped to watch some youngsters bringing home their tiny craft, the instructor bellowing at them intimidatingly.  I was glad that I was ashore.

So many fascinating jobs to be done.  But not everybody loves boats, and it was time to follow the shoreline and head back up to our monastery/hotel.  Evidence here that someone loves cars too!

Through a very attractive square, whose church door was temptingly open.  And past the prettiest bandstand ever!

I think this may be a good place to leave this walk, though I hear anguished cries of ‘what about the cake?’  You can have too much of a good thing?

walking logo

I’m still in the UK till late Wednesday.  So much has happened since we were in the Azores!  I’m in transit to Nottingham tomorrow, and as some of you may realise, I’ve just hit Publish rather than Preview!  So you have a Jo’s Monday walk on a Saturday.  Whatever next?  I hope you’ll excuse me.  There will be a brief follow up on Monday.

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Meanwhile, Cathy has been trekking, and trekking, on her spiritual journey :

(Camino day 27) San Nicolás del Real Camino to Bercianos del Real Camino

(Camino day 28) Bercianos del Real Camino to Reliegos & ruminations (week 4)

And Sandra has been enjoying the great outdoors :

Flowers, Berries and More

Naches Peak Loop/Tipsoo Lake, Mount Rainier National Park

I always enjoy a step back in time.  Thanks, Irene :

Sense of Nostalgia

Meet Elina from Finland!  She has some wonderful sights to show you :

Rainbow Mountain

And guess what?  Drake’s….

Back in town

And he has full permission to walk on a day that’s not Monday  🙂

Village with red touch

While Rupali, after a break, is…

Back on track

And Ulli takes us on a majestic tour of the Austrian Alps :

The route is the final destination in Austria

Funnily enough, Suzanne, the Travelbunny, just featured a spectacular walk in Austria that I’d love to do :

Tiefenbachklamm – Discovering Austria’s Wild Side

And Debbie takes us to ever more exotic and interesting places.  I can’t keep up!

Bender Fortress

I’m sure she’d enjoy some of the street art in Cheryl’s walk, too :

The Highest Café of Jaman Mural Village

Another newcomer to the walks- please give a warm welcome to Nandini :

A Walk on Golconda Fort

And in case you’ve forgotten Nadine, something that made me feel very restless :

15 Photos that will make you fall in love with the Camino del Norte

And I almost missed Margaret, but here she is!

Country Mouse visits the Big City

It’s great that you’ve all continued to walk with me.  Comments were closed for a while, but I guess I’m back in business now.  I’ve loved my family time in the UK but I think it will be good to be home again.