Eastern Algarve

Jo’s Monday walk : Easter in Tavira

I’m taking you back to Palm Sunday in Tavira for this week’s walk, and an evening heady with emotion.  It’s some years since I spent Easter in the Algarve, but I vividly remembered some of the treats in store.  And I’m not just talking about sweet Folar cake, though that’s good too.

At 5pm people were still strolling nonchalantly towards the Carmo Church.  The ceremony was about to begin but urgency is almost unheard of in these parts.  Eventually a priest left the church and unhurriedly mounted the low stage to address the crowd.  Children fidgeted and skipped about, the smallest ones being hoisted high on shoulders.  The scent of lavender hung in the air, a crushed carpet beneath our feet.  The band were roughly assembled, waiting for their moment.  But first the priest must intone his lengthy benedictions.

Then came the moment.  At a signal from their leader, the band struck up, and began a slow-stepping march.  With varying degrees of enthusiasm, they were joined by members of the congregation, who spilled slowly from the church, banners aloft.  Parents watched anxiously as the cubs shuffled past, shy in the spotlight of so many strangers.  Teenagers, with more assurance, grinned at friends in the crowd.

Cameras began to flash as the floats made their way from the church, gravity and the weight of their years etched on the faces of the bearers.

Against a mackerel sky, on this warm evening, the floats began to sway past us, plaintive music their accompaniment.  A substantial crowd had gathered, the lucky ones sitting up on balconies or gazing through open windows, the rest of us hushed in awe.  The floral decorations were a triumph in themselves.  Never have I seen Birds of Paradise and lilies displayed so eloquently.

Slowly the drama unfurled, as float after float was lofted by, stopping to adjust the weight on shoulders and to negotiate the corner.  Gently, gently down a perilous incline, the crowd following respectfully.

The numbers swelled as we gathered momentum, though the streets are too narrow for speed.  A slow march brought us eventually to the Ponte Romana bridge, decorated with sentinel palms for the occasion.  A few of the cubs carried them too.

On through the main square, some taking the occasion very seriously, others happy just to enjoy the spectacle.  No judgement.  No harsh words.

Such a human affair, you couldn’t help but be moved.  The faith and dedication, the hard work to bring it all together, witnessed by so many in a glorious coming together.  The military, caught smiling in a moment of relaxation.  The band bringing up a valiant rear!

And then the crowds disperse and wander off home, or out to supper, as we did, leaving the day to end, peacefully.

Why this particular procession?  I’ve witnessed a few this past week, including the atmospheric night time lament on Good Friday.  And the joyful ‘Hosannah’s of the Festa das Tochas Floridas in São Brás de Alportel.  But this was my first Easter in my new home town, and my first ever Palm Sunday from my local church.  I hope you enjoyed it with me, and that you, too, shared peace and love this Easter.

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Another Jo’s Monday walk, and time for a different kind of share.  Please do visit and enjoy!  And many thanks to all of you.

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Debbie always makes me smile, then amazes me with her beautiful photography :

Chomping at the bit for Chihuly

Natalie kindly takes me to Mostar this week – a place I wished I’d visited from Dubrovnik, many years ago :

Day Trip to Mostar, Bosnia and Herzegovina

I’m always being assured how beautiful New Zealand is.  Another lovely ‘stroll’ with Suzanne!

The Tuahu Kauri and Sentinel Rock Trail

Now come and join me and Gilly, and Becky, in Topsham.  You won’t be sorry!

Last Thursday

Jude leads me down the garden path, again.  🙂  A very beautiful one  :

Trelissick Woodland Walk

Trelissick Garden in Spring

A little bit of initiative in the garden goes a long way :

Quick Tip – Yard Walkabout/Storm Repair

Two introductions next!  First, Suburban Tracks :

Stroll through Wild Street- Colors

Then a beautiful landscape, in Rajasthan :

The Wild Wet

And someone you know well- thanks Rupali!

The streets of Malaga

Geoff, meanwhile, shares his love of walking and of books, while Dog stays at home :

Walking With Rosie #bookreview #therosieresult

It’s not every day you see a couple of Penny Farthing’s rolling down the street.  Thanks, Irene!

Back in Time

Speaking of time, doesn’t this forest look primeval to you, Sandra?

Grand Ridge # Hike in Springtime

And stepping back in time, I’ve walked this landscape and loved it.  Thanks, Nadine!

Day 13 on the Pennine Way: Greenhead to Bellingham, 21.5miles

Anyone been to Luxembourg?  Looks nice, Drake!

Grand Duchy

Another day with Cathy, a sea of vineyards and reflections on life :

(Camino day 13) Ventosa to Azofra

No cake, you’ll have noticed!  I over-indulged you on Saturday  🙂  I’m sure there will have been a few chocolates.  Wishing you all a great week!  I will be back with coverage of the Tochas Floridas.  It was sensational this year.

 

Walking on water

I’ve done and seen some wonderful things down the years, but I never had any thought that I could walk on water!  For one thing, I’ve never worn a halo.  Water wings would be more useful.  Nevertheless, last Saturday I found myself joining a queue to walk across the River Guadiana- a distance of approximately 720 metres- from Alcoutim, on the Portuguese side, to Sanlucar de Guadiana, in Spain.

Alcoutim is normally a sleepy little place and, over on the far shore, the enticing white village of Sanlucar is even quieter. If you have any desire to cross the river, you first have to summon a ferryman, who may or may not be located somewhere near his craft, but will always greet you with a friendly smile.  Not so on this occasion.  The ‘Festival do Contrabando’ was in full swing and, even as I walked down towards the river, I could hear the hubbub of the crowd.

Entertainment was in full swing, with a feisty matador swinging his cape at a ‘burro’ as the band played on, and the crowd cheered as clay pots were hurled through the air and skilfully caught.

This was not the Alcoutim I knew!  I eased through the crowd to the ‘ticket office’, where I purchased the mandatory bandana, for my admission fee of 1 euro.  I joined the queue to cross the river, wondering at what rakish angle I should wear it, and why some were wearing red ones when the vast majority were blue, like mine.  Just then the washer ladies arrived, and I was scolded gently and treated to a rub with scented soap.  I obviously wasn’t clean enough to join the party.

Slowly the queue shuffled forward, controlled by customs officers, of course.  The red bandana folk caught the ferry.  Maybe they had a pressing engagement in Spain.  I followed the washerwomen, laughing and calling out to each other as they flounced ahead.  The moment finally arrived and I stepped out onto the pontoon, trying not to look concerned as it wobbled.  What a bizarre sensation!  The river lapped gently all around me and I rolled slowly with its motion.  Gasps and giggles came from my partners in crime, as we staggered towards the middle of the river, not quite believing in what was happening.

Fortunately it was a calm day.  I think I might have felt a little seasick otherwise.  As it was I had assumed the rolling gait of the mariner by the time I reached dry land.  And a huge smile split my face.  I had walked on water!

Over in Sanlucar de Guadiana the antics continued.  Flamenco, involving the crowd and a very attractive ram.  A good time for all was guaranteed.  I wended my way past wondrous craft stalls to a quiet corner where I could survey the scene.

A mooch among the stalls and it was time to join the ever growing queue to return to the other side.  A few clouds had rolled in and there was talk of storms brewing, but fortunately the weather stayed clear and dry all weekend.  One last look back, and I’m home.

For a fuller account, including the story of the ‘last smuggler’, all of 97 years old, read Becky’s An unusual walk into Spain.  That’s it from me, as my son arrives tonight.  I’ll be back with a walk on Monday, 15th April.  Take good care till then!

Carnaval in Tavira

I know Becky will forgive me for this.  Tavira doesn’t have a full scale Carnival procession but, weather permitting, each year the schools in the area gather together for their very own celebration.  Rather more soft and cuddly than Spiky, but that sword is quite sharp.  Don’t miss the gallery today!

Jo’s Monday walk : Rock cistus and water

If there’s anything that fills me with delight, it’s the sight of a hillside covered with wild, rock cistus.  Back in January, I took you to Furnazinhas in the Algarve hills, and we walked south of there to the reservoir of Odeleite.  The cistus were just beginning to open, and I hoped that when I returned to do a second walk from the village they would be more advanced.  As we drove north from Castro Marim, cistus lined the road.

We left the village following the sign PR10 for Barrancos, though as Becky will tell you, nothing is guaranteed when following Portuguese trails.  We were forewarned that this might not be straightforward but, with a bit of perseverance, managed to find a way through the overgrown path to confront our first water crossing.  A wobble or two and I was across the stones, and feeling triumphant.

To be fair, we were lucky, because there has been just one solid, downpouring day in the last couple of months, so following the course of the Beco da Maria Galega was not as tricky as it might have been.  In fact, we were surprised at how green and fresh everything looked, with new growth everywhere.  We even spotted green lavender!  The rockbed was equally fascinating, as Becky describes.

I loved the variety of this walk.  As I followed the stream, a cottage with a small farmstead peeped through the trees.  Down at my feet, flowers cavorted nimbly in the grass and tiny pink stars winked up at me.  A frog played lazy hide and seek with the shade.

Rounding a bend, I heard the gentle chuckle of water.  A waterfall had formed in a deep cleft in the rocks, and I peered into its clear green depths.  On the stiller waters nearby, tiny white starlets floated.

We had Crocs and a towel with us but, as always happens when you come prepared, we had no need of them.  Although we did cross and recross the water any number of times, mostly a hop, skip or even just a stride was more than adequate.  Spring was all around us.

As we continued through the valley, two deeply-voiced birds startled us into silence as they called loudly to each other.  I’m no birder and didn’t recognise their cry at all, but my husband thought they might be corncrakes.  I happened to mention this on Hanna‘s blog, and she very kindly tried to help me identify the bird voices, as you’ll see in her Comments.

The trail was easy to follow, but a moment’s indecision arose around 7km.  Follow the road, or an interesting path that felt like you were on private property?  Hoping not to fall foul of any stray dogs, we chose the second.  Tiptoeing around what looked like newly tilled soil, I caught a flicker of pink and white in the long, damp grass.  Could they be early wild orchids?  The photos are, unfortunately, too blurred to tell.

A last flurry of cistus, thankfully no dogs, and we were back in the village where, once again, the cafe was closed.  But you’ve been a patient audience so I shall still reward you with cake.  It’s only right to celebrate your 1000th post, isn’t it?

Water is my element so I loved this walk.  I hope you did too.

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Lots to share again this week.  Thank you for your company.  It wouldn’t be half so much fun without you.  Please visit as many as you can, and join me here next time on Jo’s Monday walk?

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Lovely Debbie has spotted me a room with a great view this week, as she gallops around the world :

Ambling around Arachova

And Margaret has a nerve-tingling treat in store :

The foothills of the Sierra Nevada

You have to admire grit and determination, and the gurgle of water!  And Suzanne :

Hiking Mt Eliza Mine Loop

Janet finds some graves with a serene view :

Monday walk… a view to die for

And Alice goes looking for a piece of American Heritage :

Step into the Center of a Village dating back to 1135AD

While Susanne concentrates on a capital city :

A Capitol Tour of the Other Washington

I always enjoy a garden festival, don’t you?  Check this one out, with Sandra:

#Northwest Flower & Garden Festival (Post #2)

Heaven’s, Irene!  Will this lass ever be free of snow?

Reaching for the Goal

Drake must have chilly feet (but a warm heart  🙂  )

Streets of snow

And for any of you still missing ice and snow, Sartenada would love to take you walking in Finland :

Winter walk

How about a spot of sunny fishing with Jackie?

Pesca

Tea Bee mostly hikes in the English Lake District, but sometimes in warm, exotic places :

Visite du Jardin de Balata et la Route de la Trace, Martinique

Talking of exotic, how about this from Natalie?

Postcard from Guatemala City

Or better yet, stroll down Memory Lane with Susan :

Walking Otavalo, Ecuador

Cathy’s got us all looking up this week!

The Saint Louis Gateway Arch

It’s Carnaval week here in the Algarve and celebration is in the air.  I hope to bring a little singing and dancing your way.  Take care till then!

Living the dream… 3 months on

It was quite easy to leave England.  Or so I thought!  I had a home in the Algarve, and a ready made life, carefully nurtured over 15 years.  A variety of friends awaited, and activities to engage in.  I loved the place I was moving to.  You’ve seen the photos.  How could I not?  And yet… was the honeymoon over?

There was a certain euphoria in making the dream a reality.  Even saying goodbye to lifelong friends was done with gaiety, each one a celebration of our shared lives.  They could visit, couldn’t they?  And the same for my family, though not without a pang or two.  Everyone was excited and pleased for me.  The move went smoothly.  Fragments of my old life, packed in cardboard boxes, made its way overland to join me.  But when it arrived I was filled with dismay.  Much of it seemed irrelevant to my new life, here in the Algarve, squeezing our comfortable space till it felt cramped.  I closed the door on the second bedroom.  Avoiding it all.

I didn’t miss my old home in the UK, as I thought I might, but I did miss its warmth.  I had moved to a land of sunshine and blue skies, but the house was cold.  Designed to keep out heat in the summer, in the winter they are not so easy to keep warm.  Tiled floors, though beautiful, don’t help.  Out and about and busy in the daytime, I was happy enough, but returning home meant putting on extra layers of clothing.  The house is air-conditioned and individual rooms can be heated, but moving between them was uncomfortable, even with plug-in heaters.  I was miserable, and cross with myself besides.  Why was I not happy?  Everyone knew I was living the dream.

Language is so important to me.  I hide behind photographs, but I deal in words.  Somehow it hadn’t mattered when we came to our holiday home but, proudly obtaining residency, I felt inadequate and frustrated by my inability to converse freely with locals.  I still do, but I’m trying!

So much gloom!  Did you know?  Could you tell?  My life in pictures continued to shine forth at intervals.  I reinstated my Monday walks, reflecting the joy I still found in the amazing outdoors, but on a personal level I couldn’t quite find the idyll.  People here are kind, and my disorientation was noted.  We discussed heating issues, and others, and I was assured that the first year could be difficult.  The weight of expectation, perhaps?

Gradually I am getting there.  Most of the boxes are unpacked, and painting done.  With new settees and carpet our home feels comfortable and welcoming.  But I’m not flexible and adaptable.  Why didn’t I know that about me?  My husband has made the adjustment far better, and retained his much needed sense of humour.  And he can still make me smile.  How lucky am I?  Living in ‘almost paradise’.

Linking to Cathy’s Prose invitation, over on Wander.essence.

Jo’s Monday walk : Boa Vista

Clouds seldom make an appearance on here.  I’m a sunny sort of lass!  But they can be very beautiful.  Slogging up a hill called Boa Vista, I didn’t mind too much that the sun wasn’t beating down on my head.  The shafts of light piercing the water held my gaze captive for at least as long as it took for my breathing to return to normal.

Leaving Tavira by the N270, towards Sao Bras de Alportel, you very soon come upon a sign for Hortas, on the right.  This walk is vaguely in that direction, taking in a tiny bit of PR11.  I did look back at my diary for that day, but the notes are very non specific, so the photos will have to tell the story.  With a bit of prompting from me, of course.

As these things often do, we started with a bit of a hill climb, out of the village.  Always best to put a hill behind you at the start of a walk, if you can.  As you can see, the clouds are hovering already, but not yet threatening.

Funny what catches your eye!  This rose trailed, almost sadly, against a grey wall, seeking to capture all the brightness it could from the day.  The best days of the almond blossom are over, but here and there a lovely reminder lingers.

Up hill and down dale, never knowing what surprises the next corner might bring.  Floor tile industry, in this case.  In the open air, with just a tarpaulin for cover.  It looks to be a slow and painstaking process.  Hard at work, he pauses, momentarily, with a grudging smile.  At the farmhouse next door, an enormous turkey cock preens, in expectation of applause.

The hamlets are sparse around here, a few fine villas intermingled with ruins.  Former life looks out through sagging windows and doors, and neglected blooms straggle, without purpose but clinging hopefully.

Another climb and we’re cresting a hill, the sea a distant glimmer.  Bright bobbles of acid yellow acacia light the occasional tree, while at ground level agave and prickly pear intermingle, peacefully. (thanks, Jude, for the correction  🙂  )

The clouds have been steadily thickening and I know that we’ve seen the best of the day.  Down on the valley floor, I catch sight of my favourite lanterna, still sparkling brightly.

There was a cloud over all of us that day.  We had heard that a very special walking friend had died suddenly, and far too young.  I would like to dedicate this post to Bobby, who loved this place as much as I do.  We will always remember her, walking in these hills.

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Quite an array of walks this week, and some real beauties!  Please do try to visit as many as you can, and especially any from a blog you don’t know.  And join me next time, here on Jo’s Monday walk if you’d like?

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Going Dutch with Debbie this week :

A wander around Utrecht

Nicole is a keen hiker who knows and loves the Tucson area.  Why not take her advice?

Best Hikes in Tucson: Hiking the Ventana Canyon Trailhead to Maiden Pools

And while you’re there, how about a little street art?

Monday Murals : Hotel McCoy, Tucson, Arizona

Everyone knows how beautiful the Banff area is, but Rosemay reminds us to keep a good lookout for bears :

Hiking Trails near Banff – Lake Johnson

South Carolina looks like a place I could settle.  I believe Alice is in real estate :

Cross the Cooper River in Charleston

The drinks are on Jackie this week :

Drinks, Anyone?

But I think Janet can help out if we run a little short?

Monday walk… Fougerolles distillery

Natalie has some fabulous ice sculptures to share :

Wellness Post #2 : Icefest 2019

And it’s distinctly chilly where Drake is too :

Out in the inside nature

Irene has finally found a little warmth :

Progression of Spring

But Timeless Lady shares some disturbing information :

Phascination – Mantis Pods/Yes or No?

Some day I hope to check out Indra’s statement :

Goa… is still there

When a lady offers to show you her home town, what can you say but ‘thank you, Susanne’ :

A Walk through Seattle’s Chinatown

It’s a while since we joined lovely Miriam, Down Under, isn’t it?

Twelve hours in the Yarra Valley

Is this a better thing to do with your day than eat chocolate?  Just a morsel, please, Jude!

A Valentine’s Day Walk

I expect she’d enjoy sharing a garden experience with Sandra  :

#Northwest Flower & Garden Festival – Saturday Snapshot

Enjoy a step back in time with Amanda!  A privileged look at a Norwegian mining village :

Living History at Roros

And what a beauty this is!  One not to miss!

Summer Palace, Beijing Part 3

And finally, my world traveling friend, Cathy, completes another stage of the Camino :

(Camino: day 6) Pamplona to Muruzabal

That’s it for another week!  Hope you enjoyed it.  See you all next time!