Loule

Jo’s Monday walk : Loitering in LOULÉ

I always try for variety in my walks.  Sometimes I have to look back to see where I’ve taken you, as was the case with Loulé .  The attractive tile panel of the Arab market, shown above, was hidden away in a Pingo Doce supermarket. (I was looking for a birthday cake at the time, strangely enough)  Loulé is one of those places you can go when the Algarve weather is not all that you might have hoped for. (yes, it happens!  Though not often, in my experience.)  There’s always something of interest to see and do there.

Despite the urban sprawl, it has a rather elegant old quarter, resplendent with calçadas, so I’m sure my friend Madhu would enjoy it.  Billowy panels fluttered above the streets, evidence that it had been consistently hot and sunny.  Meandering on Rua 5 de Outubro, I had an urge to go and see Nossa Senhora da Piedade.  It’s an uphill climb to the church, but I think it’s worth it.

As luck would have it, I was diverted before I could even begin my climb.  A banner on the side of a church building proclaimed the closing days of an art exhibition, by João Garcia Miguel.  A smile from the receptionist, just inside the doors of Convento de Santo Antonio, invited me inside.

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But what an extraordinary sight greeted my eyes.  I’m afraid the art exhibition took second place.  The central nave of the church had been restored, in a plain and simple style, while retaining the crumbly but beautiful arches and alcoves of the side chapel.

A solitary, beautiful fresco vied with the artwork.  The most joyful experience!  The cloisters were barriered off and in poor condition, but restoration appeared to be ongoing.  I will return, for sure.  But first, a hill for us to climb…

I won’t dwell too long on Nossa Senhora da Piedade, as we’ve been there before, but I’m sure you can see the attraction.  The tiny chapel was built in 1553, almost survived the earthquake of 1755, and has been restored in all its exquisite detail since then.

Overshadowed by the huge dome of the 2oth century addition, you might never know this chapel exists, but it’s been bringing the crowds here for the Easter procession since the 16th century.

I must have had my religious head on that day because, wandering back into town, I found myself drawn to Nossa Senhora da Conceição.  Sitting in a quiet corner on Rua Paio Peres Correia, there’s often a queue outside this small chapel with its beautiful 18th century azulejos.  I was lucky!

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So many riches in my walk today!  I think we’ll just tootle past the bandstand and head for home.  But, wait a minute!  I’ve not treated you to cake lately, have I?  Better put that right.  Please, be my guest!

I hope you enjoyed returning with me to Loulé today.  Next week I plan to take you to Cascais, on the Lisbon coast.  A change is as good as a rest?

Thanks so much for the lovely response I got last week.  I’ve got some great walks to share, so let’s get that kettle on and settle in.  Join me with a walk of your own any time.  Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.

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Anabel starts us off with a walk around a delightful Scottish island I’d never even heard of!

A walk round Kerrera

Cathy wanders in all sorts of fascinating places.  Some day I’ll catch up!

A walking tour of Pest & a confusing (but fun) visit to the szechenyi thermal baths

And closer to home :

Maryland Heights : the Overlook Cliff Trail

This week Jackie is being disgustingly lazy.  I know- I’m jealous!

Tutti Frutti

And Ellen only breaks into a saunter now and again :

Going for a Crazy Cabbagetown Walk/Atlanta, Georgia, Pt.2

Not our Sue, though!  Energy is her middle name :

Irish Cliffs of Moher and Selfie Shenanigans

Hikeminded!  Isn’t that a great name?  I hope you’ll read her post too :

Berlin Day Hike : Fallen Leaves in Blumenthal

I think Carol deliberately set me up with this one.  May not be quite what you expect :

Roaming in Roma

Shazza stays close to home, and braves the weather :

A waterfall walk in the Dales

And talking of weather, these seas look awfully cold, Drake!

Traveling boxes

Australian beaches are a sight to behold, especially in the company of Meg  :

Eurobodalla beaches : Josh’s Beach

Woolly tells me that there are more than 2,500 Commonwealth War Grave cemeteries on the Western Front.  So much sadness!

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Come boardwalking in the sunny south with Pauline!  It’ll set you up for the week ahead :

Joining Jo on a Monday walk

Another sunny city that I’ve always wanted to see (and don’t miss the Transporter Bridge)- thanks Cadyluck Leedy!

Jo’s Monday Walk: Bilboa, Spain

That’s it for another week.  I have my last pre-Christmas walk with my walking group today, so I expect mince pies will follow.

Six word Saturday

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An explosion of colour and fun

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After flirting with Monochrome this week, I though it time to inject a little colour into our lives.  It seems ages since I waved and cheered with the crowd as the Carnival floats passed me by in Loule, but it’s only a couple of weeks.  After 110 years of celebrating the event, this Algarve town really knows how to party.  Can you shimmy?  Or make like a pirate?  Or maybe, be a mermaid?

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Whatever you choose, you need to be good with paper flowers, and happy to smile and wave for three hours.  That’s a lot of waving!

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There’s always a Pierrot, and lots of dancing girls.  The children are spellbound; many of them in costume and eager to be a part of it all.

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There’s a large political element to the whole festival.  The Portuguese love an opportunity to have a ‘dig’ at their politicans and celebrities.  They have a valid point because money is very hard-earned in this country.  But this is a time of celebration and it’s all done in a wonderful, family oriented spirit.  And, of course, there are a few jiggling ladies for the dads.

The pirate theme is highly appropriate.  Most people would agree that politicians rob and plunder.  And if all else fails, there’s always Pinocchio.

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I hope you enjoyed your trip to this year’s Carnival with me.  Next year, maybe come along and we’ll party?

Meantime, it’s the weekend again.  Hoping you’ll have a good one.  Don’t forget to pop in on Cate at Six Word Saturday.  And save some energy to come walking with me on Monday!

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Six word Saturday

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Carnival, for old and young alike

As always happens, I came back from Tavira with far too many photos and far too much to do!  But I couldn’t let Six word Saturday pass without a wave from the kids at this year’s Carnival.  I was a little greedy this year because we were there throughout the Carnival period, which starts with a children’s parade, on the Friday before Shrove Tuesday, in most of the towns and villages.

The main event in the Algarve takes place in Loule, where this year 110 years of Carnival were celebrated.  I managed to go there on the Saturday and happily rain kept away for the day.  Sunday in the small town of Sao Bras de Alportel was fine and sunny.  On Shrove Tuesday the weather was less kind, but I managed to catch a few shots over the tops of the umbrellas in the village of Moncarapacho. We’d been walking that morning but I was still in the mood for some samba.

No one is left out-  young, old or disabled, and it doesn’t matter if you’ve money to spend or not.  Long may it continue!

I have some shots of the fabulous Carnival floats, but no time to post them here.  I’m off to zumba and, later today, some real excitement!  I have a ticket to see Vincent Sirmione and Flavia dancing in their Last Tango show.  Fans of ‘Strictly’ will know how happy that makes me.

I hope you have a great weekend and can find time to join me for a Monday walk, when I’ll be taking you to see some beautiful almond blossom.   

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Jo’s Monday walk : Loulé Uncovered

Nossa Senhora

Nossa Senhora da Piedade

Perched high on a hill, overlooking the Algarve, Nossa Senhora da Piedade at Loulé is one of those places I’d always meant to visit.  When I finally did, it had a wonderful surprise in store.

A ‘scramble’ of a market town, Loulé dates back at least till Roman times.  We’ll have a wander through the historic centre shortly, but first I want to take you up to the heights with me.

It's a long way up!

Looking down from the Chapel

The original Chapel of our Lady of Mercy (Nossa Senhora da Piedade) was built in 1553, but was partially destroyed in the earthquake of 1755.  Driving along the A22 motorway past Loulé, the modern dome is clearly visible above the town.  I had often wondered how it looked in close up.

The dome

The dome in close up, with alarmingly grey skies

Looking up to the bell tower

Looking up to the bell tower

On Easter Sunday a huge celebration begins here, Festa da Mãe Soberana (the feast of the Sovereign Mother).  A statue of the patron saint is carried from her resting place, in the Sanctuary, down the hill to the Church of San Francisco, on Festa Pequena.(Small Feast)  Two weeks later, on Festa Grande, she is returned to her home on the holy mountain, with full ceremony, prayers and fireworks.  I would love to see the spectacle of the procession.  For now I have to content myself with a look at Mãe Soberana, quietly waiting.

The statue, resting inside the Sanctuary

The statue, resting inside the Sanctuary

From afar the domed building appears to be the entirety of the church, so I was delighted to find the chapel restoration alongside. Known as the ‘House of Candles’, the tiny space is exquisite. Ceiling paintings dating from 1760 had been damaged by smoke from the candle offerings but were restored when the modern building was constructed.  The wall panels depicting the Passion of Christ are from a later date.

Ceiling paintings from 1760

Ceiling paintings from 1760

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I love the contrast of old and new.  Time to come back down to earth and begin our stroll.  I would not recommend climbing the steps to Nossa Senhora. Doing so carrying the saint must be quite an ordeal.  Unless it’s Easter, there’s ample parking up there.

Leaving the Sanctuary behind

Leaving the Sanctuary behind

The streets below are made for strolling.  Tile patterns beneath your feet enhance your wander.

The pedestrianised streets of the centre

The pedestrianised streets of the centre

The excellent website  Loulé Uncovered will guide you around Loulé better than I could ever hope to do.  There you will find a map and suggestions of what you can hope to see.  On Saturday mornings the market will be in full swing. At most other times you will still be treated to the splendour of the Arabian style market hall.  Poke your nose inside. The sights and smells will capture your senses.

The main street and the Arabian market

The main street and the Arabian market

Loulé Castle dates from 13th century and still retains its imposing walls and a keep. Artisans practise their crafts in the surrounding streets.  Follow them through to the Largo da Matriz and the main church of Loulé, Igreja de S. Clemente.  The procession will pass by here on Festa Grande.  A small garden, Jardim dos Amuados (Garden of Sulks) nestles behind the church. The view sweeps out across the valley and there on the hill, Nossa Senhora da Piedade.

Click on the gallery and we’ll stroll

 

I hope that you found Loulé interesting.  I was so glad I finally made it up that hill.  My L is for Loule has a few more details, including some lively Carnival scenes.

Next week my walk will bring me nearer home.  I would love it if you could join me there.

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How to join in with the walks?  Click on the logo or my Jo’s Monday walk page for the details. Thank you so much to all my contributors.  You brighten up my Mondays.  Let’s get that kettle on and settle back for a good read, shall we?

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Sit beside the fire in a cosy armchair with Drake.  Or party at magnificent St. George Hall!  :

Beyond the Frontage

Debbie’s found another intriguing canal in the city(with street art!) :

Vienna’s Arty Canal

I asked Esther for a walking song and this is what I got!  Applaud the lady!

Walk with a Crocodile

Amy has such fun on her Sunday walks.  You have to join her!

The Final Race

Geoff’s been checking up on street art too, including the famous Stik :

Dulwich Street Art 

What can you say about Yvette?  A heart of gold comes to mind :

Florida and B & W Day 3 

Please welcome Becky everybody.  She likes to spend some of her Winter on the Algarve, and enjoys bird watching :

Ludo and Lago de Sao Lourenco

Not so fortunate, Violet Sky joins us again with some seriously depressing weather  :

Expect delays

Japan has a culture all its own, and I’m enjoying learning about it with the Eternal Traveller  :

Do you speak English?

And lastly, a riverside walk beside the Exe, with lovely Gilly (and her dogs)  :

Strolling Route 2

I’m nearly ready to head off out now.  Hope you all have a wonderful week and can make time for a walk or two.

All set to Shimmy!

Seriously?

Seriously?

It’s not every year that Valentine’s Day coincides with Carnaval, but there was definitely something in the air at Loule this year.  As the band ratcheted up the volume, toes tapped, hips swayed and a full-blooded shimmy was just a heartbeat away.

It was my second visit to the Algarve’s biggest Carnaval event, so I had a good idea what to expect.  The Portuguese have a healthy disrespect for politicians and celebrities, and this year’s theme of Sport poked gentle fun at heroes and villains alike. The floats are beautifully constructed labours of love, and there’s an infectious atmosphere of gaiety and excitement. The children have their own mini Carnaval in the schools, and often wear their costumes to the grand parade.  Here are just a few of the scenes that made me smile.

Let the show begin!

Let the show begin!

Recognise anyone?

Recognise anyone?

Most sports were represented

Most sports were represented

It's all downhill for some!

It’s all downhill for some!

For others it's one big smile

For others it’s one big smile

And a hat full of feathers

And a head full of feathers!

Costume malfunction?

Costume malfunction?

There’s a delightful whimsicality to it all, but what really stands out for me is the pure artistry of the paper flowers.  Just look at these!

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Nobody is left out, from the largest to the smallest.  The oversized sunshine men reach down to the crowd, then touch foreheads together in a slow smooch.  A stern looking lady, with a splendid costume, ‘high fives’ youngsters at the roadside, between shimmies.  The littlest ones can bounce along on the back of a caterpillar or a panda. Everyone is intended to have the time of their lives, and if they don’t, they’re really not trying!

"Dance with me"

“Dance with me”

"High five!"

“High five!”

The skirt!

The skirt!

Nobody is left out!

“Bounce with me!”

Where's Mum gone?

“Where’s Mum gone?”

And the spectators are part of the show

And the spectators are part of the show

Isn’t he adorable?  The littlest Yoda!  Me and Michael were at one point on opposite sides of the parade.  A brief cloud burst had crowds and performers alike scattering for cover, and when they resumed we were grinning across at each other. He took this wonderful shot.  Mine was ‘side on’ to the little fellow and not nearly so good.

I have so many photos and I feel quite guilty leaving anyone out.  But I shall end with the ‘dancing girls’.  If anyone can shimmy, it’s them!

It goes like this!

It goes like this!

What more can I say?  If you’re ever in the Algarve at Carnaval time, you’re in for a treat.  I’m off to practise my shimmy, in celebration of my 500th post.

‘L’ is for Loule

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The market town of Loule

The peaceful market town of Loule

Loule to me means just one thing.  Carnaval!  This quiet inland market town in the Algarve is no Rio de Janeiro, but it knows how to party. For over 100 years they have celebrated the beginning of Lent with Carnaval, Portuguese style.  No shortage of dancing girls either, though they often have to dance hard to keep warm.

Bring on the dancing girls!

Bring on the dancing girls!

Carnaval 2012 was a classic, and I made a surprising guest appearance!  Fortunately I was very easily overlooked in the crowd. Numerous photos of the Carnaval floats, of a distinctly political but humorous nature, appear in my post ‘C is for Carnaval’, so I won’t reproduce them all here.  The town’s main street, Avenida Jose de Costa Mealha, is closed for the event and there is a small charge. Don’t miss it if you are in the neighbourhood!

Normally Loule (pronounced Loo-lay, incidentally) is rather more sedate.  One of the most distinctive features of the town is the Arab style market, pictured in my first photograph.  Smaller shops surround the market stalls and it is a treat for both eyes and nose.  On Saturday mornings an open air market takes over the outdoor space too.  Parking becomes no easy matter.

On my first visit to Loule I remember having to search for the remaining fragment of the town walls and the 13th century castle, but I liked what I found. Entrance to the walls is through a small museum, which traces the town’s history back through Roman to medieval times.  It has the vaulted brick ceilings that I love.

The older part of town is fairly compact , and the narrow cobbled streets reveal artisan workshops and some lovely craft shops. Following the twists and turns you will come to a small square containing the town’s main church, Igreja de S. Clemente, and a tiny garden, Jardim dos Amuados, an ancient Arab cemetery.

Loule’s main landmark is visible from the A22 motorway when driving past the town.  Nossa Senhora da Piedade is a dome shaped modern church which sits on a hill to the west of town.  At Easter there is a huge procession in honour of the Sovereign Mother. This must be one of the few things I haven’t yet managed to see in the Algarve.

Nossa Senhora da Piedade- courtesy of Wikipedia

Nossa Senhora da Piedade- courtesy of Wikipedia

The procession to the church at Easter

The procession to the church at Easter

Loule is well worth a look when you’ve tired of the beaches and need a little historical detail, or a shopping bonanza.  A few  parking hints and a lot of photos are available in C is for Carnaval.

For now I’ll simply thank Frizz for his inspiring A-Z series.  With Tagged L this week he is just about managing to keep me on track. Grateful thanks are also due to Julie Dawn Fox, who started the Personal A-Z Challenge a long time ago!  Some day I’ll manage to complete it for both countries.  Join me in the challenges if you can. banner4

C is for Carnaval

I fought long and hard to resist writing this, and then capitulated.  A bit like my husband when the dancing girls stopped in front of us and took each of us by the hand, to my expression of delight and his of abject dismay.  Happily for him, it was over in a flash and we were back in the crowd, minus my jester’s hat.  Shame!

Financial crisis hits Loule Carnival

It was our first experience of the Loule Carnaval procession and it fully lived up to our expectations.  Loule is an interesting market town, 16km north of Faro in the Algarve.  The remains of the castle date back to the 12th century and the almedina, the old quarter, is a maze of streets lined with artisan shops and cafes.  The Arab style market hall on Praca da Republica is a focal point, and there’s a lively street market on Saturday mornings.

Fountain and the Arabian market, Loule

Much of Loule is a modern sprawl and we were uncertain about access to this, the Algarve’s biggest Carnaval celebration.  For once, it turned out well.  We approached the town on the N270 from Sao Bras de Alportel and at lunchtime traffic was minimal.  There was the distinct impression that the townsfolk were conserving their energy to party later.  Establishing where the barriers were on the main street, Avenida Jose da Costa Mealha, we parked a little way out on Rua Alfonso de Albuquerque and strolled back into town in pleasant sunshine.

A pavement coffee and pastry to watch the excitement build was a good choice.  The 15 floats were towed gently into place and there was plenty of time to wander between them to admire and take photographs without the crowd.  Loudspeakers announced a 3pm start and it was time to seek out that good spot, having first paid your 2 euros at the kiosk.  It was entertainment in its highest form just watching the locals arriving, many of the children in costume and jiggling with excitement.  This year costume shops and stalls had been set up to encourage people to get into the spirit of Carnaval and shake off the doom and gloom.

The Portuguese are very happy to poke fun at their leaders and celebrities and the Carnaval has a political theme.  Many of the floats produced wry smiles if not outright chuckles.

Just a bit more shuffling of feet and the parade was assembled and off.  It was everything you could have hoped for and more- strange characters on stilts, who bent down to engage with the children, dancers by the score, trick cyclists, pierrots, and of course the “Samba” ladies in their provocative outfits.  As each float pulled to a standstill hoards of paper streamers and tiny keepsakes were flung into the crowd.  As the sun sank behind the buildings I had to jiggle harder to the music to keep warm.  It took over an hour for all of the floats to pass by- 2 euros very well spent.

Our dancing ladies were just feet away when Michael decided that enough was enough- he wasn’t going to be involved in another round of embarrassment.

My all too brief moment of fame, then I had to give the hat back!

We really did have a great time, but it was in fact our second experience of Carnaval, Algarve-style.  The event runs for three days, culminating on Shrove Tuesday, and on the previous Sunday we had gone to a far more low key and traditional style of parade at Paderne, a small inland village.  We were familiar with the village having spent time there seeking out an exquisite art gallery, Corte Real, and on another occasion following a trail to Paderne Castle.

The church at Paderne

Paderne regularly fools us and this time was no different.  Apart from some streamers overhead there was little sign of life in the village so, assuming we’d got it wrong, we set off for a stroll in the sunshine, down to the Fonte, a rather intriguing spring.  Half an hour later the village had mobilised into action and suddenly we were in the thick of the preparations.  The excitement was tangible.  Mystified we retired to a tiny café where a captivating toddler, dressed as a fluffy yellow chicken, was passed around its adoring family.  When we poked our noses back out again the parade was about to begin.

Although much smaller than its Loule counterpart, the procession was no less fun.  The setting was intimate, within just a few village streets, locals looking down from bedroom windows.  The lords and ladies mounted the floats and as they moved off four shimmering Chinese dragons manoeuvred into position.  I was delighted to observe that their scales had been constructed painstakingly from cartons.  The theme was Chinese business and a flutter of parasols and coolie hats took to the streets.

With enormous energy they paraded around and around, and as we made for home there were still queues at the kiosk.  We were left in no doubt that the Algarveans know how to party.

I’m entering this in the word a week photography challenge on celebrations as it just seems to fit so well.