lens-artists

Jo’s Monday walk : Sete Cidades

I was going to save this walk till the end of my Azores saga, but it feels right to include it now.  You could say that the entire purpose of coming to these islands was to see the lakes at Sete Cidades with my own eyes.  Could they really be as beautiful as they appeared in the photographs?

They’re back on the main island, Sáo Miguel, a short flight from Faial.  Standing on the runway at Horta airport, looking across the water at Pico, I had to wonder if this second week was going to be an anticlimax.  I needn’t have worried.  Very little about the Azores disappoints.  A smiling taxi driver had whisked us from Ponta Delgada airport to our luxury hotel and thermal spa at Furnas (more about that later) and from there to the north west of the island.  The unfailing good humour and willingness to help of the taxi drivers never ceased to amaze.  En route, Maciel stopped to let us look at Lagoa do Fogo, whetting our appetite for the main event.

As so often, I got it right, but I got it wrong first!  The area is full of smaller lakes and, thinking to save our legs, the amiable driver paused briefly at Lagoa do Canario on the way up the mountain.  A quick, sunny look, and back in the car.  I had read that the viewing point Vista do Rei (King’s View) was a must see, and asked him to drop us off there.  It was growing increasingly cloudy and I was in dread of a repetition of our visit to the Caldeira on Faial, when we didn’t see a thing.  The clouds wafted around and I waited for that golden moment when the sun hits the water.  Almost in vain!  It was time to start walking, back in the direction we had come from.  Gradually the clouds melted, leaving us to hike a warm 3km along the switchback of a roadside.   The one saving grace was that it afforded us views we otherwise would have missed.

Sete Cidades from Vista do Rei

Mountain weather is predictably erratic and I had my fingers firmly crossed when we finally reached the beginning of the trail, PR4.  It makes an 11km circuit of the two main lakes, Lagoa Azul and Lagoa Verde, after a bit of a steep climb.  Understatement!

I hadn’t known that there was rather a delightful surprise waiting for us.  A wonderful old, moss-covered aqueduct, Muro das Nove Janelas.

I gawped at it from every angle, before beginning the upward slog, gentle at first but soon arriving at a semi-vertical, narrow paved section, which led up, and up!  A couple of farmers climbed effortlessly ahead of us, turning off the path part way to herd the cattle to different pastures.

What a reward for effort!  As we climbed higher more of the lakes became visible, despite the lurking clouds.  At the top we heaved a sigh of satisfaction.  There before us spread four of the lakes, including Lagoa do Canario, our starting point.

Now all we needed to do was follow the rim of the volcano.  The trail upped and downed a little, and at one point we simply sat on a rock and gazed.  I can’t be sure but there may even have been a chocolate biscuit involved.  The view was too stunning to care.

Looking back the cloud still lingered but, as we made our way around the rim, more and more of Lagoa Azul and Lagoa Verde were revealed.  The light danced across the water, tracing patterns and changing colours on a whim.  On the horizon, the wild Atlantic, becalmed.

Wild flowers created beautiful borders for me, until finally I found what I had been hoping for- a wonderful spread of hydrangeas.

Gradually we came back down.  I had run out of superlatives and my feet were weary.  It seemed to take an inordinate time to reach the lakeside- we’d been walking about 4 hours- and as we did the cloud rolled back in.

How did the area come to be called Sete Cidades or Seven Cities?  It’s a historical reference, explained fully in the link, with explanations of the volcanic activity which gave rise to the lakes.  For us the big question was how to get to our next destination.  The only taxi in the village was busy, but the lady in the TI assured us he would come in half an hour.  He was late, but smiling, and singing to himself as he drove us back down the mountain, into the sunshine.

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The year is flying by, and one of the reasons I’ve chosen this walk is that it’s likely to be my last for a few weeks.  Next Monday I will be in England with a lively 6 year old to entertain.  Great fun but not conducive to lengthy posts.  I’d like to finish my Azores series this week, but there still seems so much to show you.  I’ll be away for 3 weeks so Jo’s Monday walk will be temporarily suspended.  Please do enjoy the following :

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All this lies on Lynn’s doorstep.  And orchids too!  What a privilege :

Local Walks: Kukutali Preserve

Carol has been walking with difficulty lately, but she can still contribute a wonderful browse around a market :

Let’s Go Shopping!

Drake honours the departed, 75 years on :

Remembrance of partnership

The island of Maui, seen through Irene’s eyes :

Just a Glance

While Alice has found us the prettiest little lighthouse :

Rear Range Lighthouse 1879

Beautiful views, with Janet, whichever direction you look :

Monday walk… Look out!

Anne tells an interesting tale of quarries and disaster :

Coombe Down and the story of Bath Stone

While Candy is exploring the green spaces of Deptford :

Margaret McMillan Park in Deptford

And from one Margaret to another…  🙂

Tabariane: New Light on the Dark Ages revisited

Golden light streaming from this one of Cathy’s :

(Camino day 26) Calzadilla de la Cuenza to San Nicolás del Real Camino

I don’t know that this totally fits the bill, but I think Ann-Christine would agree that these are Dreamy landscapes.  Certainly I dreamed of seeing them for a long time.  And Cathy has an ongoing Photography Invitation you might like to join?  Have a great week!

Jo’s Monday walk : Cosmopolitan Horta

Our first ferry ride!  And would you believe it, the day dawned surly and grey?  Sad, maybe, that we were leaving Sáo Jorge for Faial.  In less than 10 minutes Velas receded into the mists, and we were racing alongside of Pico in bright sunshine, trailing clouds behind us.

A brief stop at Sáo Roque, on the northern coast of Pico, confused us a little, but the crew, aware of the limitations of us landlubbers, did a head count before leaving the port.  All present and correct!  Rounding the tip of the island, we whipped across the water, eyes following every movement of the waves.  Somewhere in the depths, we knew, were whales, but no mighty tail breached the water.

Soon we were sailing into the harbour of Horta, legendary in the yachting world, and gaping at the endless shoreline.  Whisking our bags off the conveyor belt, within seconds we were breezing along Avenida 25 de Abril, in radiant sunshine.  Our destination?  Casa Buonvento, a beautifully converted former captain’s house, with a sublime view of the harbour.

Our hosts, Elena and Jerry, were a lovely couple, who took great pride in their beautiful home.  And sometimes Pico joined the party, looming in and out of the clouds like a genial host.  You know the drill by now- quick check in, freshen up, and out onto the streets to see what Horta can offer.

The marina was more fabulous than I had imagined.  I had seen many photos of the artwork along the quay, but they had never done justice to the entirety of the bay spread before me.  With the fortress looking sternly out to sea, it would take a brave pirate to venture thus far.  But of artists, there were many, including one doing a little ‘touching up’. (Hint- there may be one or two July Squares in amongst the blue)

All kinds of humour, and artistry, are represented, and you could easily while away an hour or two, just reading the messages and admiring each craft.  But there’s no time to loiter- we’ve a town to explore!  I always struggle, tearing myself away from boats.

Horta curves around the bay at the southernmost point of the island of Faial, with Monte da Guia jutting proudly into the ocean, protecting her from all comers.  The lovely little bay of Porto Pim nestles close behind.  There are many fine buildings throughout the town, as befits its status as commercial centre of these islands, and the pavements are charmingly enhanced with mosaics.

As so often, I climb to dizzy heights and look back down with satisfaction.  The day was lengthening as we reached the harbour again.  People seemed to be gathering on street corners, and the distant strains of a band reached our ears.  Yet again we had stumbled upon a procession!

Nothing to do but watch it go by.  And then return to the lovely old wood and polished timber floors of Casa Buonvento, where a bottle of Vinho Verde and chocolates awaited us.  And the sun setting on the harbour, at the end of another lovely day.

It’s a special week for the lovely ladies of Lens-Artists Photo Challenge, celebrating their first year together.  Tina talks about expanding horizons, friendship and things that are dear to your heart.  Jo’s Monday walks mean all those things to me.  Beautiful islands and boats are meant to be shared, aren’t they?

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As are walks!  And here you have plenty to enjoy.  Many thanks to all of you, for your time and patience.

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First up this week is Amanda.  Apologies because I missed her link up last week :

A Famous Evening Walk – Coolangatta

And Albert sent me 2 walks, so here’s one of them :

Sherwood Homestead (Former) Walk via Blue Range Hut

Natalie has switched hosts to WordPress.  See what they made of Malta together :

Malta Highlights

Irene saw something wonderful, and…

Stayed Awhile

Ulli takes us to a fabulous building in Berlin, with a fascinating interior :

Water for The City

I do love a cottage garden, and this one from Jude focuses on some beautiful details :

A Summer Garden

Drake shows us a railway, and an old fort, on Alderney :

Give way, railway

Abandoned battlefield

While Alice has a fort from a different era, and bug spray!

Civil War Fort

Anyone for salad?  It’s hot here, so I don’t mind if I do.  Thanks, Jackie!

Mixed Salad

Anyone hankering after cool?  Sandra has a few snowy peaks for you :

Dege Peak, Mount Rainier National Park, USA

Cathy continues her personal journey :

(Camino day 24) Villarmentero de Campos to Carrion de los Condos

While Cheryl always finds somewhere fascinating to take us :

The Hidden Delights of Taehwagang Grand Park & Simni Bamboo Grove

And Susan?  Well, she’s trying to shed stereotypes :

Walking Ushuaia, Argentina

A good time had by all?  I certainly hope so!  See you next week on Jo’s Monday walk.

Six word Saturday

Azores?  Impossible in just six words!

See the cone shape in the background?  That’s Pico, a volcanic island with the highest mountain in Portugal.  We could see it from our bedroom.

Hard to say which was my favourite island.  Probably Pico or Sáo Jorge, but we had another great bedroom view from Horta, on Faial.

Just the tip of the iceberg.  Come to think of it, that’s a great Six Words! (or maybe, the volcano?)  The captions will help.  Happy Saturday!

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Silves- a winning formula!

Where should I be the other day but in Silves, showing my friends from the north east of England this lovely city.  Once I’d spotted another alluring electricity box, playfully painted, the hunt was on for some more of these beauties.

If you remember from Street Art in Silves, the colours are vibrant and the subjects very endearing.  I might have cheated a little with some of these but they completely reflect the character of the place.

Ian really got into the spirit of things, didn’t he?  They’ve gone home again now, but I know they enjoyed themselves.  And, boy, did they love cake!  Have you added any Street Art to Patti’s collection yet?  There’s still time.

Jo’s Monday walk : Back lane beauty

Captivating?  He was very cute.  Desperately eager to get through the fence to us but, when he did, a little shy.  On a warm and cloudy afternoon, a couple of weeks ago, we decided to leave the car at home and explore our back lanes.

We live on the northern edge of Tavira, and beyond us the countryside sweeps gently away to the Algarve hills.  It’s about half an hour’s walk to a rather nice pottery and garden centre, with an exceedingly nice café.  This was our destination, but by a rather more roundabout route.  You wouldn’t want to get to the cake too quickly, now would you?

Such a moody sky!  Almost a collector’s item with the boundless blue we have experienced lately.  Capelinha!  That’s the name of the area, and a rather lovely farmhouse still bears the name.  We turn down a path edged by stone walls and the journey of discovery begins.

The almond blossom is long gone, but firm pods of almond are ripening everywhere.  We puzzle over a creeper with unusual blooms, the leaves well-chewed in places.  Did you spot the culprit?  Vibrant loquats vie for our attention, while the Hottentot fig escapes gracefully over a garden wall.

Rows of orange trees march off into the distance, trailing fragrance behind them.  We cross a river bed and find, among the dry bamboo shoots, lilies glowing like pallid candles.  A young man and his lady, pushing their bikes up the hill, pause for breath and smile.

A meadow opens out before us, a sweet symphony in green, orchestrated with notes of pink and lemon.  A butterfly flits ecstatically from one to another and I wait, and wait, for that moment when the wings are still enough to capture.  I almost make it!

I could have played all afternoon with that butterfly, but there were other distractions.  A soft haze of pink, with a tiny snail.  A zing of cornflower blue.  More orange trees- mature this time.  I have to restrain myself from reaching out for a handful of luscious figs, temptingly close.

The leaves are such interesting shapes.  Then a dense orange flower, heralding pomegranates in the autumn, and a ladybird astride a wall.

A cluster of houses, and a bike or two.  A potato vine, prettier than its name would suggest.  And a flamboyant blossom.  Pretty rural scenes.

In such agricultural country a paddock full of horses and a donkey is no surprise.  Nor is the tinkling of bells and the sheepdog herding his flock home.  But one sight did make me look twice.  What a fierce-looking captain!

Tina talks this week about what constitutes Harmony.  Nature provides it effortlessly, don’t you think?  Perhaps someone should tell Mr. Billy Goat!

Doing my best to restore harmony.  Well, everyone likes cake, don’t they?  Feel free to indulge because I won’t be around to walk with you next week.  I have some lovely friends arriving from Newcastle.  I suspect we’ll be eating lots of cake!

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Meantime, please do read and share!  And thanks to all of you for your continued support.  It wouldn’t be Jo’s Monday walk without you!

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Jackie managed to be first this week, and so, of course, …

It’s Coffee Time

A choice of 3 from Natalie- and all beautiful!

3 Walks to take in Slovenia

I absolutely love these windows, so thanks, Debs!

Rambling around another Rabat

Serious, full-on walking with George!  I could only gaze in admiration.  Don’t miss it!

A Big Day in the North

Janet enriched my life with a little ‘forest bathing’ this week :

Monday walk…on the wild side

It sounds a bit like a sitcom, but you will be charmed.  Thanks, Susanne :

The Ducklings of Clark Lake

And there are few sights more beautiful than this!  Thanks for sharing, Sandra!

Tiptoeing through the Tulips – #MtVernon, WA 

Although Jude is offering lots of temptation this week.  And we’re not talking cake!

The turn of the rhodies

And funnily enough, so is Rupali, though they are many miles apart :

Weekend 77: Rhododendron

More Camino with Cathy, though she’s actually in Tuscany right now.  Lucky girl!

(Camino day 15) Santo Domingo de la Calzada to Villamayor del Rio

Nice to welcome Lady Lee back :

Bremerhaven

May will be very low key on the blog while I have company but I should be walking with you again on 20th.  At the end of the month I’m off to the Azores- a long held dream- and I most definitely will not be around.  Take good care till then!

Celebrating life at Easter!

I cannot think of a better way to celebrate Easter than to attend the enormous street party that is Festas das Tochas Floridas, in São Brás de Alportel.  At around 5 in the morning the process begins of laying more than 3 tons of petals and flowers in a winding carpet through the centre of town.  More than a kilometre in length, by 9.30am the streets are ready to be opened to an excited public.  Yet another year in which this small town in the Eastern Algarve opens its arms to the world, to join in a celebration of Christ’s resurrection.

Nobody is left out!  From tots to teenagers, young adults to us older generation, all are welcome to come and participate.  I join the earlybirds in the streets, marveling at the patience and imagination, the pure creativity that has gone into making this a joyful day.

The Easter Day service takes place at 10.00 in Igreja Matriz in Largo São Sebastião, and while this is happening the streets begin to fill.  Faithful and simply curious, no-one is turned away.  I wander, camera in hand, along with many others.  Most, but not all, are respectful of the flowers and the occasion.  Needing 10 minutes peace before the procession begins, I retire to a back street for coffee.  There I observe a mini procession, of the young men from all over town, bringing their flower torches to assemble at the church.  Full of smiles, they are happy to pose.

Patterned bedspreads flutter from open windows as the excitement builds.  In front of the church a little jostling for position begins, and television interviews are held.  This is São Brás’ big day!  A last few stragglers with flower torches make their way through the crowd, the congregation leave the church and try to find a vantage point, and suddenly it all comes together and the procession begins.

Led by the priest and clergy, they wend their way slowly into the streets.  Everyone cranes to get a good view, but only the hard of hearing could miss the choruses of ‘Hallelujah’.  Every few yards they pause, the flower torches are brandished high in the air, and accompanied by a rousing chant.

I watch, spellbound, as it moves past me, hardly aware of what I might have captured on camera.  But there are ample opportunities for photographs on this day.  It takes around 2 hours for the entire circuit of the old town to take place, and I join and rejoin the procession at different intervals throughout the streets.

There are so many wonderful moments!  The small child hoisted on Dad’s shoulders, just a little tired and bored for the ‘selfie’; fathers, sons and friends embracing and beaming at their shared memory; and that young man in the band with the shy smile, who reminds me so much of a Polish nephew.  I love it all!  And it’s been a privilege to relive it with you.

A nicer person you will not meet in the blogging world than Ann-Christine, or Leya, as her blog is known.  Why that name, I often wonder?  The only one I know of is a princess in the Star Wars movies.  Not only does she find time to co-host the Lens-Artist’s Photo Challenge, but she also goes out of her way to congratulate me on being featured in Discover.  I might not otherwise have realised, despite the hike in my stats, so thanks, hon, and many thanks to WordPress too.

I hope you enjoyed sharing Creativity with me.