Funny how an idea can spark from an innocent remark. ‘Have you done a walk featuring the personalities of trees?’ asked Frank, on my last walk. ‘Well, no-o…but?’ Frank likes walking on beaches, but his interests range far and wide. I like walking on beaches too, but they’re denied to me at present. So the idea of taking a twirl with a tree or two was born.
I talk to the trees, but they don’t listen to me
I talk to the stars, but they never hear me…
They surround me. Olive trees, ancient and new. Oranges and lemons, side by side, their fruit a dangling temptation. Figs and pomegranates are bare branches now, but their turn will come. This is the time of the almonds, bitter with dark pink blossoms, sweet, much paler. Both delicate.
I choose a path between fields lush with Bermuda buttercups. Over a stone wall, a new plantation of water-guzzling avocados. A flitter and a fluttering as a lime and lemon butterfly dances past, alighting for a few precious moments. I hope for the wings to still to display their full beauty. Bubbles of vibrant mimosa echo the lemon.
And then, the definitive old gnarled tree trunk. A home for bugs, birds and even small rodents. The perfect hiding place for acorns. With a peephole or two for that watchful eye. So full of character!
So many forms, and all part of my world right now. The boundaries are meaningless to you, but a beautiful straitjacket for me. I hope you enjoyed A glimpse of my world as it is at the moment. Thanks to Sheetal. A myriad of sights to gladden the heart.
As does sharing your walks. Find time for a browse?
Margaret did make me smile with this! You see, anyone can go for a walk… anywhere!
‘Tis the season, and it wouldn’t be Christmas for me without the lights. Family, friends… we’re all scattered and in the wrong places this year. The UK are locking down ever tighter, and friends who made it back there are not sure how or when they will be able to return. For me, I’m still sad not to be with family. But moping won’t help anyone, so let me lead you through the back streets of Loulé. We’re in search of a waterfall.
‘A waterfall?’ I hear you say. ‘In the back streets of Loulé?’ Well, why not? If you believe in Santa… We just need to twist and turn a bit, head down this paved drive, a sharp left into a narrow alleyway and look! Steps lead steeply down. You can hear the sound of tumbling water. And there it is! Complete with stepping stones, maybe a touch precarious. We’ll just look, from here.
Who would have suspected, so close to these apartments? What a surprising view they must have from their balcony. A private garden with a small orchard and a waterwheel. Let’s follow the fonte to see where it goes.
Ponte dos Álamos, the Bridge of Poplars, was built on a secondary Roman road that connected the now ruins at Milreu, north of Faro, with Loulé. Made unstable by the action of the water, the bridge was reconstructed and widened to permit traffic in 2011. It feels strange to be so close to the town and yet on the edge of open countryside. Curiosity satisfied, and vowing to follow the stream on our next visit, it’s time to head back to the centre. The sun is going down and soon the Christmas lights will come on. Look! There’s Santa flying past the castle.
I think I’d prefer a sleigh. The huskies look keen but I’m not sure that those bears are friendly. Now here come the stars…
Loulé has a very attractive pedestrian shopping area and a market that resembles something from the Arabian Nights, especially when lit by fairy lights. Ceramic tiles, hand-beaten copper lamps and beautiful handwoven rugs are just some of the things you can purchase.
This year we have to find the magic of Christmas wherever we can. Come on, Santa- let’s rock!
Hope you enjoyed my Christmas story, and can find a little bit of magic this Christmas time, and a whole lot of love. That’s what it’s all about!
Not sure that this is the best of times to be posting walks, when not everyone can get out to take them, but it’s nice to have something to look forward to, don’t you think? Merry Christmas, everybody!
Looking at this beautiful post, it’s not hard to understand why Jude lives in Cornwall :
A sleepy little village, and a gentle stroll down to the Guadiana and back. A bright blue sky, sun climbing steadily into warmth. A couple of friends for good company. What could possibly go wrong?
Nothing was further from our minds as we left Azinhal, nodding good morning through our masks to a couple of villagers and being careful to maintain a safe distance. Relaxed and happy, we removed the masks and breathed in the wonderful clear air. The trail led out past the church to the fields of crops beyond, hazy mist lining the valley below.
Aware of heavy rains in the previous days, we chose our path carefully, but the gritty surface appeared to have absorbed much of the wet. The oranges positively sparkled in their green surrounds. The old mill had lost its sails, but on the far horizon you could just make out a wind farm, propellers churning through Spanish air. Our nimblest walker climbed the trig point to play lookout.
From yon side of a flimsy rope fence we were eyed uncertainly by a herd of young bullocks. Avoiding eye contact we strode by, into the next valley, where a more pastoral scene met our eyes. A flock of sheep bleated warnings to their young. Gambolling legs had strayed from mother’s side.
We were back at ground level, the Guadiana sparkling beside us, and the smell of newly cut eucalyptus filling the air. An idyllic scene, with fisherman midstream, tending to his nets. Little did we know that all was soon to go horribly wrong. The path alongside the river was a bit muddy and wet, and within a short distance we came upon a rope preventing access to the next section of the walk. Our choices were to concede defeat and retrace our steps, or climb over the rope and chance going ahead. You know what we did, don’t you?
Looking furtively around – there was no-one in sight other than the boatman, and some far distant workers – we lowered the rope and stepped over it. There was no obvious reason or explanation for it being there but, as the ground became increasingly squelchy and oozy, we began to have our suspicions. Feet slithered in the mud and we teetered precariously for a few yards. It sucked at our boots, clinging on and making balance difficult. Looking for an alternative, my husband climbed up onto the spongy grass alongside our path and, with blind faith, we followed. The Guadiana was flowing swiftly along, a few feet below, and definitely focused the mind. Sunny and warm though it was, no way did I fancy swimming practise. For what seemed like hours we tottered along, trying to find a firm foothold. Looking back the rope seemed impossibly distant, and the thought of slithering back the way we’d come a most unwelcome one. Whose bright idea, you catch yourself wondering.
The path stretched ahead and round a curve, looking equally muddy for as far as we could see. Legs were getting tired and a decision needed to be made. Far across the fields we knew there was a much drier path, but the terrain approaching it was very boggy. And somewhere within that area the young bullocks were roaming freely. There wasn’t really a choice so, reluctantly we ducked beneath another rope and set off across the field, choosing our steps with care. The land was saturated and many times a leap for dry ground was needed. But, eventually, we gained the far side and firmer ground, and heaved a collective sigh of relief. I broke out some sticky lollies in a moment of wild celebration. They’d been bought for Halloween and had sat patiently, waiting for trick or treaters, ever since. As we climbed steadily back towards the village we caught sight of a few bullocks. Happily the lush green pasture was more appealing to them than our lollies.
And us? As always we found a cake to suit the occasion. There is a café in the village which sells very delicious cakes, but it was closed. When the need arises, we can be resourceful! Almond cake, in case you were wondering. And so, with Azinhal and almonds, I’m joining Patti’s challenge.
My posts have become a little erratic lately, but I’m sure you’ll have noticed that this isn’t a Monday. It’s been a difficult week and the unexpected death of my stepbrother, Tony, on Sunday left me adrift. He was a kind and gentle man, who will be sorely missed. Two days later the life support of a friend here in the Algarve was switched off. Neither deserved to die so young. Finishing writing my walk has been a good distraction. I hope to have one more Jo’s Monday walk before Christmas. I can almost guarantee it will be on a Monday.
Tina’s inviting us to choose our own subject this week, and I’m going with water. My star sign is Scorpio and, though I’ve never really seen the connection between that curly-tailed creature and water, I have to admit that I have a strong attraction to it. I’m never happier than when I’m on the beach, examining shells and listening to the sound of the waves. But if I’m not near the ocean, a river will do, flowing gently but with determination towards the sea. Or I can be calm and happy by the still waters of a lake.
In my Algarve home, in the south of Portugal, nothing lies between me and Africa but water. The sandbar islands that I love sit serenely offshore, lapped by the tide, each a world in miniature. The water flows out into the lagoon and beyond them to the ocean.
It’s no coincidence that I chose Tavira as my home. It’s supremely placed to take advantage of the water that laps its shores and runs through it. From across the water the offshore island beckons. It cast a spell on me from the very first time I saw it. The Rio Giláo flows softly out to meet it.
It’s a wonderful coastline, with plenty of places to play. I hope you enjoyed sharing it with me. Thank you, Tina, for giving me a choice.
Ponta Delgada isn’t especially grand, as capital cities go. In fact, my initial impression was that it was rather shabby. But it is the gateway to an archipelago that captured my imagination long ago. The Azores for me were the fulfilment of a dream.
Sitting in mid-Atlantic, this group of 9 volcanic islands seemed to me a world apart, and yet so much of their architecture felt familiar. They are, after all, Portuguese islands. Ponta Delgada, situated on the largest island, Sáo Miguel, is their administrative capital. Funnily enough (history is a strange thing) the religious capital of the islands is Angra on Terceira, and the legislative process operates from Horta on Faial.
It was pure coincidence that we arrived on the island in the midst of their greatest religious festival, in May. Ponta Delgada is the traditional centre of Festa de Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres, and the Campo de Sáo Francisco and surrounding streets were decked in all their finery.
The Convent of Nossa Senhora da Esperanca is extraordinary both inside and out, especially by night when the whole square radiates light. From its origins as a small fishing village to the cosmopolitan city that it now is, Ponta Delgada retains something of the charm of these magical islands.
It takes a special person to induce me to delve into my archives. Viveka is making a guest appearance hostessing Lens-Artists Photo Challenge this week. Few people are more well-traveled than my lovely and generous friend, but I don’t think she has been to this particular Capital. Thanks for taking me back, darlin’. I enjoyed every second!
Maybe a little of each? Amy invited us to explore Layers in this week’s Lens-Artists Photo Challenge. I certainly did my best during my daughter’s visit. This photo is an October Square, so I think I can count a line or two for Becky, and Debbie is always generous with her Six Words. It just remains to wish you all a happy weekend. See you on Monday!
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.
Lagoa do Canario
Lagoa do Canario
Sete Cidades from Vista do Rei
View from the roadside
Can you see the hydrangeas, just beginning to bloom?
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.
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 :
All this lies on Lynn’s doorstep. And orchids too! What a privilege :
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!
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 warmer welcome at Sáo Roque
Racing across open water
The islands beckoning!
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?
As are walks! And here you have plenty to enjoy. Many thanks to all of you, for your time and patience.
First up this week is Amanda. Apologies because I missed her link up last week :