By the time you read this, I’ll probably be on the way to the airport. Faro, that is. These past two weeks have been a tumble of emotions, but right now I’m full of excitement. The beach will have to wait till my return.
Travel isn’t easy right now, but I think I’ve ticked all the boxes. Vaccine certificate acquired. Tests undertaken and booked. Checked in and locator form completed. Mask at the ready. Packing the suitcase is the least of your worries. What awaits at the other end is what’s important.
Have a great Summer and I’ll hope to see you when Still Restlessjo goes live in the Autumn.
As I won’t be around to share for a while, here are the latest walks you’ve sent me. No more, please! With gratitude. It’s been enormous fun.
I’ve received many walks over time, taking me to places I’ve always wanted to go. Here’s another, from Teresa!
What is it with me and cliffs? An element of wanting what you don’t have, I suspect, because I live at the flat end of the Algarve. But I do love them, both looking up, and looking down! I’ve found few more sensational than the falesias~cliffs~ at Ponta da Piedade, the most far distant point of Lagos. Shall we start the lazy way, by catching the little train from the marina? Always a hotspot for me!
So, we board the train and off we go, the full length of Avenida dos Descobrimentos, and out beyond Praca Infante Dom Henrique and the fortress. Past Praia da Batata (Spud Beach!) and onto Estrada da Ponta da Piedade. It’s definitely a good ride for the money! Praia Dona Ana is the beauty spot on this bit of coast, but we stay determinedly in our seats till the end of the line, the lighthouse at Piedade.
We can choose to go down to the grottoes, or along the cliff top on a rather magnificent boardwalk which stretches far off into the distance. ‘Just a little way?’ I ask. It’s my husband’s birthday so the choices are not mine to make. Irresistible, though, isn’t it?
A pirate galleon is anchored out in the bay, and as we round the cliffs we spot a shoal of canoes. We later discover that they are towed out there from the harbour in Lagos, to explore the caves. A combination of boardwalk and concrete path dips and sways around the rocky headlands, making it easy for most people to access these magnificent views. The adventurous young persist in leaving the boardwalk and scrambling to precarious lookouts, despite the warning that cliffs crumble. And it’s a long way down!
In the distance we can see Porto de Mos, another fine looking stretch of sand, but it’s time to turn around if we want to have a look at the grottoes. Maybe another day! Back to the lighthouse we go and, behind the cafe, we find another lovely view, looking back this time, towards Lagos.
We linger on the cliff tops a while, before starting the descent to the grottoes. Approaching midday, it has become much busier than I would have liked, but still it felt like a ‘must do’. I didn’t remember to count the steps, but there were a lot of them! Even more coming back up, or so it seemed. That elusive breeze never managed to find it’s way down into these canyons.
So many lumps and bumps and arches! It’s easy to see why the grottoes are a popular boat trip out of Lagos. The last time we were here we hopped a boat from the harbour, but it was good to see the stacks from above.
Just time for a coffee, and back onto the little train. Meia Praia is at the opposite end of Lagos and we’ve only ever seen it from a distance, and usually crowded, but I was assured by a Portuguese friend recently that it was ‘maravilhosa’. A rare treat, then, to find it so empty! But we’d found that naughty wind again, so maybe it had blown everybody home. As a saving grace, it was a warm wind.
The waves rippled gently to shore, as we went in search of a birthday lunch. A humble cafe would have done, as a we planned something celebratory for evening. Leaning into the wind, we laughed. It was good to be carefree again, if just for a little while.
The only place we could find on that windswept stretch of coast was a rather grand looking restaurant, A Gaivota Branca, white seagull, the symbol of the restaurant perched imperiously on the crisp white wall. As the maitre’d rushed enthusiastically towards us we rolled our eyes. Too late to back out, but I did restrict myself to a glass of white and a rather wicked cake. I explained that I wasn’t really hungry, but what a perfect spot they had. I was assured that I was very welcome and that I could simply sit and enjoy the view. The birthday lad was a little more self indulgent and his chunky chips did look good!
Afterwards he paddled happily back towards the town, a night of gaiety still to look forward to.
It seems ages ago, now, as the arrival of our son overshadowed everything. A full year since we were together! One short week, in which to celebrate a birthday, and even to look at a possible wedding venue. But that’s for the future.
Saying our goodbyes at the airport was not as painful as usual, for we have flights to the UK booked for 12th August. Our wedding anniversary, and in the circumstances, a perfect present!
Let me share a few walks before I make my farewells.
I guess now is as good a time as any to announce that I won’t be renewing my subscription to my Restlessjo site on WordPress when it runs out in the middle of this month. That’s not to say that I won’t still be walking, and you’ll always be welcome to come along. I intend to go back to basics and start a new blog, in which Jo’s Monday walk will still make an appearance. Further details will follow, but I don’t expect to be up and running before September. An English summer with family and friends will keep me occupied. I hope you have great plans too. Take care and see you soon!
Isn’t that just the most infectious smile? Reminds me of Mitzi Gaynor in “South Pacific”. Oops, showing my age! Truthfully, I didn’t intend walking with you this month. I know you’re all busy squaring like mad, and I’m busy…well…just living! It’s really too hot for a conventional walk, but your walks kept rolling in and I thought it was time to share a few.
Mondays are traditionally street art days, aren’t they? And it just so happens that I was in the Algarve capital of street art last weekend. Lagos played host again this summer to ARTURb, a project ‘with the concept of art on tour’, encouraging the free circulation of ideas and aesthetics in the art world. I had downloaded the map, and off I went, in extremely hot pursuit.
It was a very grey day by Algarve standards, and sticky with heat and humidity. Luckily I had a few distractions. Exiting through the archway to the castle, I found myself beside Forte da Ponta da Bandeira, always a good place to observe life. The sea was remarkably empty, several youngsters having thought to launch their boats at the yacht club, but then thought better of it. The waves were just a little too frisky!
Even on the cliff top there was little breeze, but I was on a mission. Braving the spray from the fountains in Praca Infante Dom Henrique, I headed back into town, where the streets are an intriguing mix of modernity and neglect. And almost guarantee a surprise around every corner.
Looking back you can see the scale of the original fortress walls, but little remains of this grandeur. Like many, the town was a victim of the 1755 earthquake. Some of these artworks have been in place for a number of years and bear the scars of age and disrespect.
Did you spot the pair of trainers dangling in the second from last? Potentialy useful? Political references abound and the eyes of the hurt and mistrustful hold your gaze. I did like the crinkly character below. A hint of mischief? Seen it all and still amused?
But it’s a town full of life and youthful exuberance, and I love that about it. A nautical town, it was a favoured residence of Henry the Navigator, and these days boasts a marina full of proud, expensive vessels. Another good spot to linger.
There are many aspects to Lagos. Next time I’ll take you to the cliff tops on a bright and beautiful day. Meanwhile I’m sharing with Sami’s Monday Mural and Marsha, lovely co-host of PPAC#5-Brilliant Art.
And so, to the walks!
Demonstrating her ease with architecture and a camera, it’s always a delight to walk with Debbie :
Many thanks to everybody for sharing! I still anticipate the arrival of my son next Sunday and am keeping everything crossed for that. Hopefully I’ll be able to share another walk on Monday, 2nd August. Take good care till then!
If you saw my last post you’ll know that I spent the previous weekend in Aljezur. Wild, west coast beauty, and quite unlike my own gentle Algarve shoreline. An untamed ocean pounding the cliffs. It can take your breath away- literally, sometimes, as the force of the wind hits you. I could never persuade my husband to live here. For him, warmth trumps beauty. But if I can spend time on these cliffs and beaches I’m in a world of my own. Come with me to the windswept beach of Monte Clerigo….
The weekend hadn’t gone entirely to plan, but then, mine seldom do. Part of life’s rich tapestry, you might say. Because we had just one night available I had selected a hotel close to the beaches, and offering breakfast. The night before departure an email advised me that, thanks to Covid-19, breakfasts were not available in May. A quick look at the map assured me that we would find somewhere to eat not too far away, so off we went! In Tavira the temperatures were hovering around 27C. Not so on the refreshing west coast! Pulling my cotton shirt tight around me, I rounded the corner of the hotel to observe the pretty swimming pool. Waves were rolling across the water, in the icy blast! No idling by the pool with that book, for sure. Supper at the local Mexican restaurant was to have been a spicy compensation. The heat of the jalapenos almost lifted me from my seat, but the burrito, sadly, was cold. Outside people huddled in padded jackets, trying to escape the howling wind. And the last straw? The only dessert available was a chocolate banoffee, and I can’t abide mushy banana. Are you feeling sorry for me yet?
We checked out of the hotel early next morning, under a clear blue sky. The small beachside village of Monte Clerigo was a 5 minute drive, and the day began to look up. The wind still battered us, but I gaped in delight at the expanse of beach that went on, and on… Even I wasn’t foolhardy enough to sit on the outside deck of the beachfront restaurant, but my eyes stayed riveted to the view.
Before too long I was dancing along that beach! Well, more truthfully, heading for shelter, bent double, beneath the cliffs. But with the wind behind me, striding back was a joy. Look at that village, nestled into the hillside! The next task, to climb high above it, to the cliff top.
Steep, uneven steps lead up from the beach, around the back of the pretty village houses, and join with a gravel track. Cars and campervans can drive this stretch and there is even limited off road parking, but after a few minutes you reach the cliff path.
The views sweep away, up and down the coast, breathtaking in their beauty. For a moment you forget the breeze, and then it sucks at your clothing and you fight for balance. Far below, the waves crash. The path is sandy, making your legs feel heavy, sinking unsteadily.
The path twists and turns along the cliff, with every now and then a blue and green striped marker, just to ensure you are still on course. Pockets of tiny blue flowers gaze heavenwards, and a mass of yellow something huddles together, hunkered down against the wind. The fleshy roots of Livingstone daisies beam scarlet against the sand.
The rugged bays stretch ahead and behind, and in places there are strips of boardwalk. Erosion is a constant problem on these cliffs. An old watchtower or abandoned dwelling crumbles silently towards the shore.
We had intended to walk as far as Arrifana Beach, but the buffeting winds and our weary legs brought us to a halt a little short of there, for we still had the return journey to make. Every bit as enticing, the low growing shrubs rolling ahead of us.
But still, I was happy to see the end of the trail, and to collapse into the car, warm from our exertions. Homeward bound, we did stop off at Arrifana, just for a swift peak. A surfer’s bay, it was busy, and the hand rails lined with boards and wet suits. A Sunday lunch spot.
I’d like to dedicate this post to my lovely friend, Marie. She was no walker, but she loved the sight and the sound of the sea. I have to smile, or rather wince, at the memory of one stroll we took together, to catch a breath of sea air. I clumsily jammed a finger in her car door, and the stroll became a sit on the boardwalk, head between my knees. A permanent reminder of Marie, as if I needed one. We spent hours together, watching Rafa pull off yet another French Open, and during lockdown a Saturday night Chinese takeaway at hers was a rare treat. She was a kind and gentle soul, with a strong core. Which she needed for these last weeks have been harrowing. Yesterday evening the call came. Suffering is no more, but a very lovely lady is no longer here to share the laughter and tears.
Marie Teresa Brannan – 3.8.54 – 30.5.21 R.I.P. You will be sorely missed. My love and thoughts are with your family.
This was a hard post to finish, but thank you all for sharing it with me. As previously announced, I will be taking a break from blogging. It’s long overdue, and the hot summer days will often find me beside a beach. One last share before I go.
Come and have a look around Melbourne, with Teresa :
Take care of each other, and get out walking when you can. This morning I will be walking with friends, who all knew Marie. Part of the walk will be on the beach, and afterwards we’ll lunch at a restaurant she loved, and raise a glass. As her son said to me last night, ‘remember the good times’.
I thought I’d told you about Aljezur? It’s a place that’s indelibly printed on my memory because on my last visit, albeit a good few years ago, my left flipflop disintegrated as I trod the narrow winding streets up to the castle. Now you might say this was my own silly fault for wearing inadequate footwear. To be fair we were heading for a beach, but I never can resist a castle on a hilltop. I’d persuaded my husband to drive up the cobbled hairpin bends so we could have a swift look. He wasn’t best pleased, but there’s a limit to how far you can limp over rough ground. Our visit was curtailed in search of a flipflop shop, so my memories of Aljezur are fleeting. Let’s just say it didn’t make a huge impression.
Roll the clock forward a few years and I’m back. Not going to the castle. Been there, done that! But I can’t help noting a few changes. A new pedestrian bridge over the river, so you no longer have to put your faith in haphazard motorists, and an updated square. But still an overwhelming feeling of stepping back in time. Where else are you going to see a mule pulling a plough, on the very edge of town?
It was hard not to stand and stare at this anachronism, but we crossed over the river on the new bridge. An entwined sculpture looked back at my favourite building, an inviting bottle green and white construction, side by side with the mercaria (market). Now, where to eat? The café Mioto had a trendy vibe, but a very inviting terrace, overlooking the river and the fields beyond. And very nice food too.
Deciding to defer cake till later, we set off on a gentle explore. I had hoped to follow the river out to the sea, but in the heart of town it meandered serenely under the bridges. I gazed a while at the ducks as they disappeared beneath a bridge and popped out again on the other side. They can play this game all day long.
Even here, street art has a role to play, the modern football stadium in stark contrast with the azulejo panel, depicting the town as it once was.
Show me the small Portuguese boy who doesn’t like to kick a football. The older ones love to ride their bikes noisily through town, tooting and waving as they go. Modern day pirates, for back in time their Moroccan ancestors may well have descended on the town, leaving their corsairs anchored in a nearby cove. A little looting and rounding up of villagers to be sold in the slave markets in Algiers. Who would think in so peaceful a place? Yet that castle was built to defend the town from just such events.
Aljezur was badly impacted by the earthquake of 1755, and the Church of Nossa Senhora de Alva was built a little way out of town to form the nucleus of a new population centre. I found that Aljezur had grown on me since that last unfortunate visit. It’s a place I might well come back to, not least because of the nearness of the stunning west coast beaches. But more of that next time.
I keep meaning to take a break from the blog, but walks keep coming in, and I do have at least one more lovely one to share with you. So, for now, please enjoy these, and I’ll keep you posted.
Idyllic Dales scenery and sheep! That’s Margaret’s offering :
Just occasionally a walk throws up a delightful surprise. We’d done the walk around Mesquita a time or two before. Often enough to know of the well, hidden among the long grasses, and of the windmills at the summit of the hill. It was a beautiful day and we took our time, chatting and catching up with each other’s lives as we went along.
The Moinho do Bengado stands proudly on the top of the hill, catching the breeze, as windmills do. No sooner had we reached it than a jeep pulled into the open space behind us. We hadn’t expected company, but were happy to share the beautiful old windmill. We were even happier when we realised that the newcomer had a key, and had come to show us the workings of the mill. Raymond Hilbers was a miller by trade in his native Holland. With an enduring interest in all things mechanical, he built a home in the Algarve 20 years ago, close by the windmill. In the interim years he became involved in the restoration of the mill and, with justifiable pride, he explained its workings to us.
Built in stone, in 1850, the windmill is of the Mediterranean type. It’s a halter mill, the oldest form of traction system, using rope and millstones to rotate the roof. I really hadn’t given much thought to how these things work, but was genuinely interested in the explanations. I won’t spoil it for you by giving away too many of the details. You might just find yourself there one day? The mill now opens to visitors twice a week, on Wednesday and Saturday mornings. Access is from the EN270, 4 km south of São Brás de Alportel, and arrangements can be made via the tourist office on firstname.lastname@example.org. There’s a downloadable map, here.
Mr. Hilbers is a very charming man, and was happy to spend time with us. A former sailor amongst us remarked on the new addition of sails to the mill, since our last visit (pictured above). The millstone is currently lodged in one position and must be freed to enable the sails to one day turn. What a wonderful sight that will be! Just one thing I should add. Space inside the mill is obviously confined, and there are narrow circular steps to the upper level. Not suited to everyone, but please don’t let that put you off a visit to this beautiful old mill.
We continued on our way, back down the hill, and up several more, in the way of walkers. The area around São Brás is cork oak territory and there were many lovely specimens on view. Beautiful villas grace these hills too, which would account for the large school, with its reminder of the times we live in. And I’m always smitten by poppies.
I really can’t leave a miller without at least one image of cake, now can I? This chocolate cheesecake was very delicious. Maybe one day there’ll be a little shop/cum café to sell the produce from the mill.
I realise my walk posts are a little erratic at present, but I really couldn’t wait to share this one. I hope you enjoyed it. Please find time to visit my fellow walkers this week. Happy to share on Jo’s Monday walk.
There are people you could just hug, aren’t there? Well, if it was allowed I would, Jude :
I don’t think I ever saw the Algarve looking greener than it does right now. I know it won’t last, as it starts to hot up this week, but it’s a joyful sight. Normally we’d only have four more weeks of walking before the group splits up and goes its own way. This year there is no group. We long ago dispersed, and have been maintaining contact with amusing anecdotes and photos. They would have chuckled to see us struggling through the undergrowth on this walk.
We left the village of Furnazhinas on a straightforward, if uphill, trail- PR10, Castro Marim. Efforts are made to maintain these trails and renew signs, but not always successfully. There has been so much growth with the damper than usual winter that a machete would have come in handy at one point. The cistus that I love for their beautiful flowers at this time of year are incredibly tenacious, clinging to our clothes as we tried to force a passage. A stream that we needed to cross didn’t help matters but, eventually, we found ourselves on firm ground. And undeniably beautiful.
We were following the bed of the stream for part of our route, and had thought to bring a towel and change of shoes in case of mishap. Not needed in this instance. It’s incredible how greedily this arid terrain can soak up water. A sea of lavender, from deepest purple to pale green, wafts us with fragrance, romping with wild abandon amongst the broom.
As always, oleander follows water, the buds bursting to open. The stream plays hide and seek over a slab of shale, wild sweet peas sprinkled in the long grasses. Tiny white starlets cling on to rocks, drifting helplessly on the water’s surface.
For a while the landscape opens out, and we catch our breath. The land has been left to fend for itself, thriving on the absence of human endeavour. Minute yellow and crimson flowers- more rock roses!- dot the trail, and I take great care not to trample them.
Rock roses, tiny and grand. Undoubtedly stars of nature. As are the crimson poppies at the water’s edge. And a wisp of softest, beguiling blue.
Just enough water, but not too much. Softening the surroundings. Nourishing the plants. Delighting the eyes. But not soaking our feet.
Lemon flowers of every description still carpet the bare patches, in this land where cistus rules. Almost at the end of the trail, I pause to admire the lichen. And then we’re back in the sleepy village. Not even a coffee stop in this one. We have to look elsewhere for cake and distractions.
And so we’re home. Another glorious day in our hills, which I’m privileged to share with you. I’m off up there this morning. Spring time is precious.
Just time to share a walk or two before I go. Thank you for your company and the kind contributions you make.
Jude knows which paths to lead me down. I love rhododendrons!
Hard not to smile at such a nosy sheep. All his friends were busy devouring the lush green stuff. He wasn’t exactly skinny so he must have eaten his share and was feeling conversational. Me, I didn’t have anything better to do. I’d left the house feeling just a bit grumpy. Walking the same lanes over and again, albeit in a different sequence, really didn’t suit. But then I began to look around me.
Blossom in the trees, rich wonderful hues, with sunlight filtering through them. Sky, the merriest shade of blue. Grass as green as you’ll ever see, the first poppies just beginning to nod. A time to go hunting in the shade for tiny, compelling wild orchids, the birds all a-twitter as I make my discoveries. And I know how very lucky I am.
For there is a lady who my heart goes out to. Her time on this earth has been brutally curtailed, and yet she faces each day with warmth, grace and humour. Sue Vincent is an extraordinary lady. Each morning I tiptoe into my Reader to check that there is another post, for her days are surely numbered. A writer with great charisma and insight, she has taken me on many beautiful journeys in the short time I have known her. I have found myself tramping across moorland, touching with awe the standing stones that entrance her, and poking around in quiet village churches. I don’t even know if she’s been to my lovely Algarve, but I feel compelled to share, in her honour, some of the beauty that surrounds me.
I sadly have to amend this post today because lovely Sue lost her battle. I can only say what a privilege and an honour it was to share this space with her. My thoughts are with her family and loved ones. RIP, beautiful soul.
The links are few this week and I would not normally be posting a walk, but I think you’d understand if you met Sue.
Sometimes us walkers bite off more than we can chew. I think Graham was relieved to get home after this :
I feel a bit like that White Rabbit today, and if I had a pocket watch I’m sure I’d be consulting it and shaking my head. Whose ever idea was it to make my Monday walks a fortnightly event? Oh- mine! Well, not the brightest idea I ever had, because it’s too easy to forget which Monday my walk is due. If I can’t keep count, how can I expect you to? So, yes, I’m late! Having gleefully published a bevy of greens this morning, I then realised that I had a pressing engagement with my walking friends. I do apologise! But it’s still Monday in my part of the world so, shall we go?
We probably need a word or two of explanation here. Our neighbour and close friend needed to be at Faro hospital one day last week, and we agreed to take her. We are still expected to remain at home, but with certain exceptions and this was a necessary journey. Not sure how long the appointment would take, we set off to wander the streets of Faro, to see what changes had been wrought by the pandemic. All was eerily calm- no blaring traffic horns, and most of the shops closed. Like many a city centre, and especially here in Portugal, the streets are a total melange of architecture. New rubs shoulders with old and care worn, if not completely derelict, while some old and stately residences have been beautifully preserved. Street art has become commonplace.
The railway runs along the front at Faro and just beyond the railway station stands an imposing but not pretty building. A former flour mill, starting in May it’s set to be turned into an apartment block, so I was glad that I had an opportunity to inspect the artwork. Normally I would turn right from the railway, passing the bus station and head towards the marina and old town. The hub of the city, the cafés are usually busy and the shiny red fire engines on standby for duty.
Sturdy walls enclose much of the old town and vendors ply their trade beneath them, selling trips to the barrier islands and to observe birds and dolphins. Across a vast expanse of water lies the airport, and planes normally roar overhead at regular intervals. But not today! All is silent, until the train trundles along the tracks to discharge its pitiful cargo.
The kiosks are shuttered and the former fishermen’s huts stand forlorn. The occasional passerby passes, masked like ourselves, usually with averted gaze. The gaiety has gone from our lives, leaving behind suspicion and mistrust.
A sign of life, and even laughter, comes from a bizarrely painted shop in the city walls, and beyond that, the strange mournful sound of a didgeridoo. I recognise the sound before I see the performer, a young man in a beanie, sitting propped against the wall, playing for himself alone.
We’re happy to return to the hospital, past the empty car park, and pick up our friend. Faro, like many another, no longer feels like the city we love. But finishing on a positive note, life is set to return to the Algarve when current restrictions start to ease after Easter. And in the meantime, I’m sure Sami will be happy to add this to her collection of murals.
You may remember last fortnight I had a mild flirtation with the trees here in the Algarve. I enjoyed it so much that I thought I might get a little closer to the ground this week. Across northern Europe, Spring is beginning to bloom. Here it is already well established. Shall we dance?
Life may have its limits for us humans right now, but nature doesn’t seem to have noticed. Colourful blooms burst forth with exuberance, and we can only try and replicate the joy of their dance. Remember Terry Wogan’s terrible Floral Dance? He was never without a smile.
Bees buzz and twirl in partnership with the wild flowers that carpet the land. Yellow seems to predominate in amongst the luxuriant green, with here and there a spike of deep lilac or a smudge of blue. The dance can lead us up to the hills or out towards the sea, dipping to stroke and admire, filling our senses. The white broom shivers seductively in the hint of breeze, its days already numbered.
Filled with the serenity the sea can always bring me, I turn my steps inland. Here the cistus are flirting with the hills, dancing in wild abandon.
Much water has flowed down these hills this winter, and the gurgle of a stream we sometimes cross has become a clamouring torrent.
Time to turn our steps for home, but the dance is not yet done. Almost on my doorstep, the blooms still court my attention.
The softness of an Algarve Spring is all around me. A world full of softness and abundance. I hope that Ann-Christine approves.
Walks proliferate this week. I noted in my Reader this morning that there are a couple of others and I’ll include them next time. Please try and visit each other. I’ll be back in two weeks. Join me next time on Jo’s Monday walk.
A volcanic lagoon seems like a great destination to me. Thanks, Graham!