Fuseta

Jo’s Monday walk : A sally through the salt marshes

Grey is not my favourite colour for sky, but sometimes there are compensations. (not cake- too soon for that!)  A friend had suggested a sally through the salt marshes, and I’m always seduced by the fusion of sky and sea.  I hadn’t reckoned on a grey day, but it was warm, so, no excuse!

The light on the water here is special on all but the glummest of days.  Passing by the fisherman’s huts there’s always a cat or two, trying to appear disinterested in today’s catch.  Down in the salt pans, birds wade, flap their wings, and glide across the still waters.

A pomegranate tree clings to the last of its fruit, and the reeds rustle and sway, bleached beige by the sun.  Small hillocks of salt gleam, white, against the sullen sky.  A mysterious pink has appeared in the salt pans, not reflected from the dense clouds overhead.

The light is changing and, looking to the hills, I realise that the clouds are beginning, ever so slowly, to roll back.  The water darkens, inexplicably, to a rich magenta and I watch, transfixed, as grey gives way to blue.

I’m rounding the marshes to reach Fuseta for lunch.  If I’m lucky the sky should be clear by the time I get there.

It’s almost unreal, the transformation in the skies as I head towards the sea, and I can only be a grateful witness.

I wander along the quayside, peering at the tiny fish milling around the boats.  If they were bigger I’d think they were pushing their luck, but it’ll be a while before they make anyone a decent supper.  Well, perhaps a ship’s cat?

Which brings us, of course, to the inevitable subject.  Does anyone have space for cake?  Someone’s been eating mine, again!

Not such a grey day, after all.  Replete, we sat in the sunshine, gazing out across the bay.

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Not so many walks this week.  Huge thanks to my regular contributors. Please visit each other, if you can, and don’t forget to get out there walking off all those cakes! Join me any time, here on Jo’s Monday walk.  You know you’ll always be welcome.

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What’s a little rain when you’re with a lovely friend?  Welcome back, Gilly!

A winter visit to ROSEMOOR

It’s a whole different world in Ecuador!  Join Natalie in her explorations :

Papallacta Hot Springs: A Delightful Stay

Or Drake, with his alternative view of Paris :

Insists on being alive

New Orleans!  Now that’s a place I’d love to visit :

Monday Murals : First Day in New Orleans

Never been to Berlin!  And Autumn seems long ago and far away now  🙂

Berlin Day Hike: Last Days of Autumn around Gamensee

With a much more thoughtful attitude to walking than mine, I’m sure many of you know Frank :

On a Beach Walk: #71 (Homeostasis)

He’s leaving the blogging world soon, so you might want to say goodbye.  And then, hello to Kammie!

Steps

Life is beautiful in Irene’s world :

Old San Juan

Let’s finish with Cathy, surrounded by the exotic on a…

A whirlwind tour of Fez, Morocco

Those clouds dumped a fair bit of rain, and I ended up wading on a couple of my walks.  Back to glorious blue this weekend, and set fair for summer.  See you soon!  Take care till then.

 

Jo’s Monday walk : Fuseta to Olháo

Something to always bear in mind when walking around our salt marshes is that they are tidal.  In a spirit of adventure, just after Christmas, I set out to explore the stretch between Fuseta and Olháo, entirely overlooking this fact.  In my defense, I was following the Algarve Cycle Trail and hadn’t envisioned that crossing water would be an issue.  On a glorious, sunny morning, I caught the train to Fuseta A (there are 2 stations in this small village, and the other one isn’t Fuseta B!)  A right turn will take you past the former fishermen’s houses and onto the coastal path.

Out in the bay the former coastguard station looks on without comment.  It’s a calm and peaceful scene, many people having not yet returned from the  holiday.  Birds wander, pecking and poking in the shallows, completely undisturbed when the occasional cyclist passes by.  The railway line also follows the coast, with minimal impact.  The colours of the heather are a lovely contrast in this sometimes dowdy landscape.

As often happens, a signpost throws confusion into the calm, either direction appearing to lead to Olháo.  The longer of the two, though interesting, doubles back on itself, but not before I have spotted the nesting storks, a rather endearing frog and a hoopoe.

Now it may seem a little early, but the sun is very warm and a decision is needed.  The perfect place to make it presents itself, a small restaurant, ‘O Farol’.  Does anyone mind a cake stop?  His and hers, of course!  Mine is the almond tart.

Decision made, we head in the general direction of the coast, hoping to be able to continue around the bay to Praia dos Cavacos.  And as luck would have it, we’re able to tiptoe around the edge of the sand and reach a boardwalk that looks quite new.  The surrounding buildings are unconventional, and ornamented with some rather wonderful artwork.

We are never out of touch with the quiet salt pans, which breathe life into this landscape.  You may have thought it all going swimmingly (bad choice of words  🙂  ) but a slight hiccup is just around the corner.

The railway track, which has followed us so patiently, decides to leap a gully full of water.  We shake our heads.  It’s too big a leap for human legs.  A family of cyclists approach from the direction of Olháo.  When they passed this way earlier the tide was out.  Bravely they hoist their cycles and cross the precarious track.  The alternative for us is a very long walk, so we grimace and hasten across the gap.  My heart is thudding.  If a train should suddenly appear… but minutes later we are in the heart of the nature reserve known as Quinta de Marim.

The plan was to skirt this park, and stay close to the campsite at Olháo.  But it’s simply a relief to be across the water.

The tidal mill is a beautiful sight at high tide.  It has not been operational since 1970, but the equipment still looks ready for action. I clamber up to the roof and look out across the water, to the low-lying barrier island, Armona.

The sun is low in the sky as we finally reach Olháo.  The contemporary theatre, itself a converted mill, stands in sharp contrast to the crumbling facades of neighbouring buildings.  Oblivious, the birds cavort on a high wire above.  Soon all trace of Christmas will be gone.

For us, it’s time to catch a train home.  If you should happen to repeat this walk, be very aware of the tide times.  And meanwhile, many thanks for accompanying me on the adventure that is the new year.

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Not too many walks to read as you get back into a routine.  Join me any time here on Jo’s Monday walk.  The welcome is always the same.

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Janet has enormous fun in a museum!

WNDRful walk

And we all know that Jackie never lets the side down :

Christmas Fare

No place like home, but Drake is happy to hang his hat in a number of places :

Not that boring

While Sandra takes me back to one of the most beautiful places I have ever been :

#Jerónimos Monastery – Lisbon, #Portugal

Irene shares the beauty of a beach in winter :

Winter Day on the Dunes

And Indra, the lush landscape of :

Ng Tung Chai Waterfalls-Hong Kong

In stark contrast, Karen takes us to Australia, where heat is a killer.  Do please donate something, if you can :

A parched walk in the Blue Mountains

Candy combines a history lesson with a great walk.  I had no idea!

The Roman Walls of Lugo

And Cathy takes us back to a very beautiful mosque :

Casablanca: Back to Hassan II, a walk along the Corniche, & Quartier des Habous 

Happy New Year to anyone I’ve missed.  Onwards and upwards!

Jo’s Monday walk : Fuseta at Blossom time

As promised, almond blossom in the Algarve this week.  This is a variation on a walk we’ve done previously, this time starting in the small seaside town of Fuseta.  It’s just a few stops west of Tavira by train.  Wave your passport at the conductor and you’ll get half fare if you’re a pensioner.  Well, there have to be some advantages to being over the hill!

Not too many hills this near to the coast, but it’s up and over the railway tracks and out into the countryside.  We’ve barely taken a few steps when we’re in a field, surrounded by almond blossom.  I stand and stare!  Blossom is opening up in trees all along the roadside, but this is the first time I’ve seen the flowers out in such force.

I can’t understand how my walking friends can be so oblivious of their surroundings, and I linger far behind.  Maybe it’s the lure of a coffee stop up ahead.  On they go, following a path through the fields, a glimpse of sea shimmering on the horizon.

Soon we’re on a paved lane, leading to the E125- a busy road which stretches almost end to end of the Algarve.  We are making a stop at Tianica, a pottery workshop with a cafe and terrace at the rear.

Avoiding temptation in order to have space for lunch, it’s back to the lane after coffee.  A track leads down to the edge of the salt marshes and we follow it back in the direction of Fuseta.  The tide is low, and boats sit silently in the sludge, waiting to be rescued when it turns.

It’s not a long walk, though you can extend it further through the marshes, which continue on the far side of town.  We thread between the fishermen’s cottages and the apartment blocks, and I’m delighted to find remnants of Christmas in the yarn bombed trees.

Go on, admit it!  You’re more interested in lunch.  A leisurely affair at La Plage, on the front at Fuseta, culminating in cake, of course.  I stood in line at the cabinet, hopeful that there’d be a morsel of tiramisu left.  I must have looked desperate, because the waiter served me the last slice and then added a scoop of profiterole to my plate.  Lucky, or what?

Totally replete, I sat by the waterside afterwards, keeping a lazy eye on life.  Finally I persuaded myself to stir in the direction of home.

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Short but sweet, I hope?  I bet you enjoyed the cake.  Got a walk you’d like to share?  Join me here on Jo’s Monday walk for a warm welcome.

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Shall we start with a good clamber?  I think Debbie wrote this one just for Sue :

Clambering through an old Omani village

Anabel is realistic about Scottish weather, but it doesn’t stop her enjoying the beauty :

Hebridean Hop 19 : Tangasdale

I never saw a prettier lighthouse than this one.  Thanks, Alice :

Harbour Town

What do you like in your soup? Can I have Coconut Shrimp for mains please, Jackie :

Soup of the day

The ‘Australian Outback’ on her doorstep is giving Suzanne lots of pleasure :

The desert up the road

Geoff continues the saga of walking with his Dad :

Walking With The Wind At My Back : Part Two

I know it can be beautiful, but I’m not missing this at all, Drake :

Day in the snow

Brian takes us to subtropical community gardens for a little heat.  Want to join him?

Lismore Rainforest Botanical Gardens – the paths

Much nearer to my new home, some beautiful Algarve clifftops :

A cliff walk from Carvoeiro to Ferragudo : the ‘Trail of the Headlands’

While Susan takes us back to a place where she once lived.  The lady has a fascinating past :

Walking Back Home – Pasto, Colombia

And Cathy explores a house not many of us would venture into :

Balcony House at Mesa Verde

That’s it for another week.  Please find time to read them.  I shall be out and about, as usual.  Hope the weather’s kind, wherever you are.

 

Jo’s Monday walk : Luz de Tavira to Fuseta

I’m often asked if it’s possible to enjoy the Algarve and its natural beauty without the use of a car.  My walk today gives you one example of how to do just that.  In much of the Eastern Algarve the railway tracks run quite close to the shoreline.  As well as a hands free ride through pleasant countryside and that age old delight of peering into passing gardens, you can hop off the train and pursue a gentle walk.  After my brief absence, I’m taking it slowly.

The place I’ve chosen to start is Fuseta, a very laidback town 10km east of  Olhão, with an active fishing fleet and a natural harbour.  You can easily while away an hour or two here and I’ll give you some thoughts on how later, but first let’s catch that train.  There are two railway stations in Fuseta, though I’ve only just discovered tiny Fuseta ‘A’.  It’s at the top of a hill, behind the restaurants at the western edge of town.  If this doesn’t appeal, Fuseta-Moncarapacho, the main station at the eastern end of town, will serve you just as well for the purposes of this walk.

It’s only a couple of stops from Fuseta to Luz de Tavira, a sleepy little spot if ever there was one.  Dismounting from the train you cross directly over the railway tracks.  A word of warning- there is no official gated crossing, but it’s a very flat area and you can see far along the track in both directions, so please do look both ways.  Safely over, turn right at the first corner and follow a leafy lane, passing a couple of country homes.  Prickly pear and almond blossom will vie for your attention in this early stage of the year.

Bear left and soon a glimmer of water will appear on the horizon.  You are joining a stretch of the Ecovia Litoral, a cycle track which threads its way along the Algarve coastline, but which in many places makes for relaxed and enjoyable walking.

Often times the boats are marooned on these tidal mud flats, beautiful in their ugliness.  If you are lucky the tide might be in.  In any case, the sea will glitter in the distance.  The ruins of a defence tower, Torre d’Aires, are largely ignored, lost in the pellucid landscape.

Along this shoreline, an elevated bungalow with a lovely tumble of garden calls to me, though my more pragmatic other half reminds me that mosquitos will be a severe nuisance in summer.  This is the heart of the Ria Formosa Nature Reserve, and a winter haven for migrating birds.

Just past the midway point to Fuseta you will find a cafe, O Conquistador.  Virtuously I did not sample them (I was to have a substantial lunch at the end of my walk) but the cakes did look extremely appealing.  Following an arrow the path now crosses through the salt marshes, with Fuseta and a towering mound of salt on the horizon and butter yellow oxalis rippling at your feet.

I am delighted to observe, busily guzzling in the briney water, a large flock of flamingos.  Their overhead flight makes a lovely ending to my walk.

And no, I didn’t manage to capture them, unless you wish to see a very blurred tail feather or three.  But I can share that I ate at Crispins, almost impossible to miss as you walk back into town.  The quayside makes a pleasant after dinner stroll, leading as it does to an expanse of river beach.  Grab a bench and gaze out to sea, or watch the locals playing boules behind the green.  In warm weather you can ferry across to Armona and an endless expanse of beach.  Make sure to carry water with you as you are unlikely to find it at this end of the island.

Feeling like something a tiny bit more strenuous?  You can climb up through the narrow streets, for a closer look at Igreja Matriz, the Mother Church.  Notice the red lighthouse in the bell tower.  Legend has it that many years ago, during a mighty storm, the women of Fuseta lit an enormous bonfire in the churchyard, the highest point of the village, to guide their fishermen husbands home.  The men were guided safely back by the distant light and the image of Our Lady of Carmel, on June 16th, an event still celebrated every year.

It has its gritty areas but Fuseta is quite an interesting town.  This video gives a fairly realistic view of it.

I hope you enjoyed my walk.  I do try to include the details you would need if you found yourself in the area, but I can highly recommend Becky’s blog as a walking resource.  Based at  Olhão, she covers much the same territory as I do, with the very useful addition of an interactive map.

Sorry that I’m overdue in sharing some of these walks, but I do like to step back from the blog sometimes, especially here in the Algarve.  I don’t stop walking but I do just relax into glorious scenery and good companionship.  Many thanks to you all for your patience and support.

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Did you know that Drake is a steadfast Liverpool supporter? :

Night in anticipation

You need plenty of fuel in weather like this, but Jackie never has a problem :

Bundling up

No place like home, for Kathrin :

Monheim am Rhein : A walk through my home town

Lisa gives us a history lesson and some beautiful views (and warm sunshine!) :

Holidays in Haifa

While Lady Lee lives the high life!

Puerto Princesa, Palawan

Miriam shares a charming place and a snippet of Australian history :

Old Chiltern Town

Marsha has a tendency to cheat a bit, but look out for those Monarch butterflies :

Plan your Travel Itinerary to include the California Central Coast

Nobody does a garden justice quite so well as Jude.  As a bonus, two gems, one old, one new :

Garden Portrait: Scotney Castle

Garden Portrait: Polesden Lacey

Yikes!  It was snowing at home when I received this from Elaine :

A wintery walk beside Loch Achray

And Irene’s post looked even colder!  Go and say  ‘hi’ and warm her up :

To the Top of a Dune

If that’s not cold enough for you, Hiking Maine is sharing some stunning ice formations :

An amazing Winter Hike on the Cathance River Trail in Topsham

Finishing here in the Algarve, Becky shares one of her passions :

The Olhanese architectural promenade

I hope to share another walk with you next Monday but I’m not making a full return to blogging just yet.  Take care of yourselves, and enjoy your walking, whenever and wherever you can.

 

 

 

Barco Casa – the Boat House

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It was purely by chance that I discovered Barco Casa, the Boat House.  A neighbour gave me her copy of the ‘East Algarve Magazine’ and there on the front cover was my ideal of simple perfection on the water.  I read the article, wreathed in smiles, and knew I had to follow it up.  The Boat House is moored off the shoreline of Fuseta, in the unspoilt Eastern Algarve.  The natural park, the Ria Formosa, surrounds the Algarve’s capital, Faro.  It was a simple matter to arrange a viewing.

Tiago met me on the quayside and, with building excitement, I was ferried out into the lagoon.  He patiently and thoroughly answered all my questions as he skippered the boat.  This innovative project is a dream fulfilled for local architect Ricardo Badalo.  He and his team at Passeios Ria Formosa have created a sustainable, eco-friendly, high quality home on the water.  The surroundings are sublime, with a 360 degree view on this natural marine world.

Take a look at the promotional photo gallery.  Imagine waking to watch the sun creep towards you across the water, and sunsets sitting on the sun deck, cradling your glass of wine.  Perfect peace and calm, and a retreat from the clamouring world.  A breakfast of fresh local fruits and pastries and the day is your own.  Take the rowing boat across to the ilha and laze or swim. Snorkeling equipment is provided, for these waters are rich in sea life.  A water taxi can take you ashore, if you want to venture further afield.

The Ria Formosa has been a protected natural park since 1987, with the aim of preserving the lagoon system.  There is a huge diversity of flora and fauna, including the largest community of seahorses in the world.  The area comprises 5 barrier islands and 2 peninsulas, the salt marsh and lagoon areas connected with a dense network of water channels.  It has to be seen to be believed, and I’ve yet to discover a better way to observe it than from the Barco Casa.

You can make this a purely self catering experience, or opt to employ the services of a trained chef to add that touch of luxury. Tiago, who is passionate about the project, was formerly a chef in Lisbon, and can provide everything from oysters and champagne on the beach to a  simple barbecue, with freshly caught fish.

Be as active or as lazy as you feel inclined.  Ricardo has a keen interest in bird watching and marine biology and the company provide a full range of related tours.  I’ve started to daydream about my romantic getaway.  Maybe you will too.

I’m not given to writing promotional posts.  This is my personal space and I like to keep it that way.  But if I find something that excites me, it’s only natural to share, isn’t it?  Further details can be found on the website http://www.passeios-ria-formosa.com.

Jo’s Monday walk : Salt marshes at Fuseta

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It’s that ‘betwixt and between’, Christmas time and the New Year.  The weather has been atrocious in so many places and some people will be spending it mopping up and repairing their homes.  I haven’t managed too much walking lately myself, but I do still have some happy memories to share.  Shall we take a little salt marsh stroll in the Eastern Algarve?  Nothing too strenuous!  At day’s end, we can even linger by the beach awhile.

The sky is blue, and that’s a good start!  I’ve taken you to Fuseta before.  It’s a little off the beaten track, but beloved by campers for the beachfront camp site.  New development unkindly overshadows the distinctive fishermen’s homes.  Prime location is key, after all, but the fishermen pursue their livelihood as they always did.  The settlement dates back to 1572, and the fishing boats still cluster together in the mouth of the Rio Tronoco.

Approximately 10km east of Olhão, you turn off the E125 and follow the narrow road, over the railway tracks and down past the river mouth to the shore.  Except in high Summer you will find ample parking beside the camp site.  With the sea on your left, walk between the fishermen’s houses and the new apartment blocks facing the sea.  The salt marshes open out where the road ends.

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It’s a distinctive landscape, and habitat for all kinds of birds.  I’ve grown to love it’s oft times, unkempt appearance when the tide is low. Spears of sunlight glinting on high water will reward my patience later.  Coots bob gently on the surface, while their longer-legged friends peck, and choose.

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Paths lead between the salt pans but you would be ill advised to follow any that are not obviously well trodden.  Cyclists zip past, some with a smile and a wave.  Looking back, houses randomly dot the marsh borders, and in the distance the new builds gleam, whitely.

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You can follow the cycle track all the way to Olhao if you wish, but I did promise you a shorter walk, so I’m meandering back, on the main path across the marshes.  I know of a good bench or three, where you can watch the locals play boules and still keep an eye on the sea.IMG_1198

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You’ll be wanting a stop at the beach cafe, but I might just tempt you to a stroll along the river mouth first?  You know I like a boat or two!

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It’s a little ragged around the edges, but Fuseta is a real and honest place, with a working population.  I hope you enjoyed accompanying me on my stroll.  Shall we head back to that cafe now?  I hear there’s cake!

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I’ve had a great time walking with you all this year.  Thank you for the support.  It has been amazing!  I worry sometimes that the formula is growing stale.  I know that I will carry on walking and sharing, because I love it, but I would hate for you to be bored.  You can say so, politely, in the comments, if you wish.  I promise not to take offense.  For now, I’m going to put that kettle on.

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Not many shares this week, as you’ve all been busy with Christmas!  Hopefully you’ll find time to read just a few excellent ones.  Many thanks to my contributors!  My Jo’s Monday walk page gives details of how to join in.

Drake’s post was wonderfully Christmassy!  Happy New Year to you, sir!

Walkaround

Over at Junkboat Travels they were making a proper holiday of it :

Mazatlan, Mexico

Why not visit Jaspa’s favourite city?  You may be in for a surprise :

Secret Itineraries Tour, Doge’s Palace, Venice

One of my joys on Christmas morning was this precious gift from Meg.  Please don’t miss it!

Eurobodalla beaches : Wasp Head 

And my lovely friend Gilly proves that murky weather doesn’t have to make you miserable :

A Boxing Day stroll

Please do join me on Jo’s Monday walk next week, when I’ll be celebrating the launch of Jude’s new Garden Photography Challenge.  I have a rather nice English garden to share.  But first,  I’d like to wish you a very happy and healthy New Year, and lots of walking!