Culatra

Jo’s Monday walk : Remember Culatra?

Some weeks I have no idea where to take you.  After all, there are only so many hills I can drag you up and down in search of cake, aren’t there?  So, I thought we’d take it fairly easy this week and hop on a boat.  Always my default setting.  You might recognise the marina at  Olhão, above.

With 20 minutes of smooth calm sailing, you just about have time to say goodbye to the mainland before you’re approaching Culatra, one of the Algarve’s barrier islands.  You can leap off at the first stop, or continue along the shoreline towards the lean white lighthouse at Farol.  There’s a small village at either end of the island and, after a meander through the cluster of villas and shacks, you can slip off your shoes for a paddle.

It looks like somebody’s been shipwrecked here!  Still, with a ferry every couple of hours, rescue is pretty certain.  It’s a long swim to Fuzeta!

Paddling done it’s time to cross over the boardwalk and pootle about with boats.  I’ll not spend time lingering among the narrow alleyways, charming though they are.  If you remember, we had a good look around last time I brought you here.  A lot of work is going on, laying new paths on the island, so maybe change is afoot.  Hopefully nothing too drastic!

It doesn’t always pay to nose around.  I almost fell foul of this little creature.  He was sitting innocently beside a boat, when I unwittingly invaded his territory.  Leaping and snarling, he made quite sure that I wasn’t up to no good.  I beat a hasty retreat, making what I hoped were soothing noises.

The seagulls were completely indifferent but a couple of small boys playing football were highly amused.  I raised a cheer when I lobbed their ball back to them, over a fence.  Kids here lead a simple life.  In warmer weather they become water babies, diving off the pier again and again, to the cheers of their mates, and swimming like gleeful fish.

On board again, we chug back across the water.  Entertainment is provided by some fellow passengers feeding the gulls, which swoop and perform aerobatics to snatch the bread.  In no time we’re ashore and strolling along the quayside, seeking refreshment.

We find it down an inviting passageway.  Such a nice reward for a minimum of effort.  Healthy, too?  I hope you enjoyed sharing.

More great walks this week.  Do find time to read them, please.  You might make some new friends.  And if you can, join me next week on Jo’s Monday walk?  You know I like a bit of company.

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Cathy honoured me with a link to her Camino walk last week, but I missed it.  Please don’t!

(Camino: day 4) Zubiri to Pamplona

And sometimes she takes me places I’ve never even heard of!  Who says blogging isn’t educational?

Great Sand Dunes National Park

I’m always in awe of her photography, and jealous of the places she’s been.  Thanks so much, Debs!

Victoria Harbour walk

You can share anything on my walks… and Drake often does!  🙂

Equipment

Denzil is right on my wavelength.  A peaceful riverside walk with a castle or two  :

Walking around Westerlo: river, castles and an abbey!

When she’s not eating, she’s shopping!  Always good fun with Jackie :

Market Fresh

All the way to Guatemala next, with Natalie :

Postcard from Antigua, Guatemala

Lisa’s taking us on one of her favourite walks, by the Hudson river :

Jo’s Monday Walk

A short walk with a stroller sometimes suits Alice :

The Welcome Station City

While Irene cheers us with ice blue (and a warm coat and scarf!) :

Sunshine and Blue Skies

Snow can look so pretty, but I’m keeping a safe distance!  🙂  Thanks, Eunice :

A snowy walk to Smithills Hall

Ending with Susan, and some fascinating memories of her time in the Peace Corps, and a very different world  :

Walking Bogota, Colombia

Have a great week, everybody!  Me?  I have another week of walking, t’ai chi, stuttering along in Portuguese and hopefully more lovely sunrises.

Jo’s Monday walk : Culatra- an easy amble

I’m going to be a bit lazy for my first walk back with you.  After all, I’m still in the Algarve, nominally on holiday, but in fact testing out a new lifestyle to see if it suits me.  Many of you won’t be surprised to find that it does.  I have taken you to Ilha da Culatra before, but my Stroller friends were going there recently and I just had to tag along.  I’m sure you’ll see the attraction.

Culatra is an island of fisherfolk, but it doesn’t spurn the attention of tourists or beach worshippers who make the effort to cross over from the mainland.  I regularly promote Enjoy the Algarve, a monthly online magazine full of fascinating events and details.  Culatra features briefly this month and I thought you might like to see a little more.

Embarkation from Olhão is an easy affair.  Ida e volta will get you a return ticket.  We chose to disembark at Farol, the second port of call on this long, barrier island, guarded by a strut of a lighthouse with a red cap.

Weaving between a few cottages and a restaurant, almost immediately you reach the beach.

I couldn’t decide quite what the waves were jumping so playfully over, but they held me captive so that I had to scoot to catch up with the others.  Of course, you can linger at the beach for as long as you like, but the walkers are single-minded folk and food was a top priority.  A boardwalk turns inland, leading back to the village of Culatra, the first port of call.

To escape the heat of the sun there are several restaurants.  As usual I was more interested in my surroundings than food, so I grabbed a quick bite and set off again with my camera.

It’s a very basic lifestyle.  Sand and sea rule and necessities have to be shipped from the shore.  As I’m writing this a thunderstorm is rattling overhead and I know that the islands are in the frontline for inclement weather.  Hard to imagine on a day like this, but I’ve heard this ocean roar.

There’s an element of scruffiness that doesn’t suit everybody.  No manicured greens to tee off on here.  But I was highly amused to find, right by the water’s edge, a miniature football pitch.  Evidence of another Portuguese passion!

And then it’s time to make for the ferry, wending back past ochre houses, idle bikes and always a twist or two of flowers.

The still calm waters of Olhão await, Becky.  No changes yet!

I hope you’ve enjoyed being back in the Algarve with me.  I still have another week or so to go.  My daughter joins me on Sunday so I expect to be quite distracted but I’ll try to post another walk next week, and keep up with comments on this one.  Take good care till then!

Please find time to check out these walks, if you haven’t already done so.  Many thanks to all of you for your loyalty and support, even while I’ve been absent.  Special thanks to Meg and to Jude for lovely birthday surprises for me.

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I am a huge admirer of this lady’s work, so thank you very much for joining me, Debbie :

Street art galore

Another lady who always produces beautiful work.  Take yourself strolling with Susan :

A Saturday Stroll at Wave Hill

A Leisurely Sunday Stroll through Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery

I wonder what Jackie might have cooked up this week?

Home cookin’

There’s nothing like good company on a walk.  Tobias has a style all his own, and I love it :

Perigueux

Les Jardins d’Eau

Candy takes me to parts of Brittany I didn’t even know existed :

Pilgrim Route and Chapels

There’s much more to Birmingham than meets the eye, and you can rely on Becky to find it :

Dragons, Rags and Shiny Things

What’s Woolly been up to?  Keeping very busy!

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Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk40_Le-Hamel_Australian-Memorial-2

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Wk41_Tank-Monument

Carol explores her own backyard, but Australia’s a big country :

Staying Up, Looking Out

I do love a garden, and Cadyluck Leedy has a really fine one to share :

Jo’s Monday Walk : Sandhills Horticultural Gardens

And a place I’ve always wanted to visit :

Jo’s Monday Walk : Mont Saint Michel, France

Why not try it Marsha’s way?  The scenery is beautiful, even if the company is grumpy :

Why We Didn’t Take the Train to the Grand Canyon from Sedona

How to Get Someone Out of a Grouchy Mood Even if you’re at the Grand Canyon

I wouldn’t have expected to miss fog, but Jude’s walk on misty Bodmin is hauntingly lovely :

The Cheesewring

And finally, Kaz gladdens the heart with a gazillion, glorious jacaranda!

Jacarandas of Woolloomooloo 

Much love to you all from my sunny Algarve home.  See you soon!

 

Jo’s Monday walk : Ilha da Culatra

Shall we start with a ferry ride?

Shall we start with a ferry ride?

This week’s walk is on the island of Culatra, so you’ll have the added bonus of a ferry ride- always irresistible to me.  But for those of you who are poor sailors, let me assure you of gentle, calm waters.  I referred briefly to Culatra in my I is for Ilhas (islands) post and I thought it might be time to take a closer look. I think you might like it.

Departure points for the ilha are from the city of Faro, the Algarve’s capital, or from the nearby fishing town,  Olhão.  It’s a short 30 minute sailing from the latter.  The ferries depart at 9.00, 11.00, 15.00 and 17.00, so what are we waiting for?  Don’t forget your sunscreen, and flip-flops will be just fine for this trip.

Is this water flat enough for you?

Is this water flat enough for you?

There's always someone who likes to make waves!

There’s always someone who likes a little fun!

The first port of call

Here we are, at the first port of call already!

The ferry docks first at the eastern end of the island, with a busy little marina, the church and a couple of restaurants.  If you like you can get off here and walk along to Farol, but I like to stay on till the second stop, 10 minutes later.  As the ferry chugs alongside the island, the lighthouse for which the settlement is named looms larger.  Often your flight path into the Algarve will carry you over the islands and you have an aerial view of Farol.

Almost there...

Almost there…

Ok, so you’ve indulged me the watery stuff.  Thank you!  Now it’s time to stroll a little.  You’ve probably guessed what we’ll be going to see, haven’t you?

 

But eventually you come face to face!

But eventually you come face to face!

The lighthouse is situated on a rocky headland, above a small beach, crowded with locals on a weekend.  Continue past that and you have seemingly endless sand.  Off with those flip-flops and away you paddle!

A good situation?

A good situation?

After a while you will see a sign board pointing inland and a boardwalk.  This is your cue to put the flip-flops back on and follow it, over some low dunes.  You will see the first port where the ferry docked ahead in the distance.  Arguably the best bit of the walk starts now.  As you approach the village the path becomes lined with an array of beach houses and their gardens.  All shapes and colours are represented- some tasteful, others… well, let’s say interesting.

Now you’re back at the marina, with its host of little fishing vessels.  There are several small bars and restaurants where you can blend in with the locals while you await your return ferry.  The ticket office only opens 10 minutes before the boat is due, but you might well have bought a return- ide e volta.  The ferry will stop again at Farol so you can do this walk in either direction, or both ways if you’re keen!

 

The church is at this end of the island, too

The church is at this end of the island, too

Watched over by Our Lady of Fatima

Watched over by Our Lady of Fatima

Then it's farewell Culatra

Then it’s farewell to Culatra

And hello Olhao!

And hello Olhao!

I hope you didn’t mind the boat ride too much?  One of my favourite things about the Algarve is the number of ferry rides I can take. My husband rather meanly keeps count and sometimes I’m rationed!  There were 8 boat rides this visit. (that’s there and back, of course)

Many thanks for your time and your company.  Will you join me next week on a Monday walk? The details are on my walks page or just click on the logo below.

walking logo

Now for the good stuff!  Time to put the kettle on and read my ‘shares’.

I didn’t have Alesund on my ‘list’ till I saw this post.  I do now!  Thank you, Cardinal  :

The City Center of Alesund

Show me a walk by a river?  I’m hooked!  Thanks, Drake  :

Other side of the river

Pauline keeps revealing interesting facets of Canberra  :

Inner city chic : I’m loving Canberra

If you’re a lover of tranquility you can’t fail to love Amy’s garden  :

Portland Japanese Garden

You’ll love this walk with Jude too.  It’s on level ground for one thing!  :

Wild Rye

One last nostalgic stroll with Sylvia…  But, don’t worry- she’ll be back to visit family.  Here’s to new beginnings, Ad!  :

One last nostalgic walk before we leave this paradise

And now, meet Ana.  I’m sure she’s known to many of you and I’m so happy she has joined us this week  :

A guided history walk of Guildford

And last but never, ever least, Yvette is back!  Have you been to West Point, Virginia?  You’ll enjoy this visit.  :

West Point, VA

Thanks again to all my contributors.  Have a happy week!

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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