Jo’s Monday walk : Culatra- an easy amble

I’m going to be a bit lazy for my first walk back with you.  After all, I’m still in the Algarve, nominally on holiday, but in fact testing out a new lifestyle to see if it suits me.  Many of you won’t be surprised to find that it does.  I have taken you to Ilha da Culatra before, but my Stroller friends were going there recently and I just had to tag along.  I’m sure you’ll see the attraction.

Culatra is an island of fisherfolk, but it doesn’t spurn the attention of tourists or beach worshippers who make the effort to cross over from the mainland.  I regularly promote Enjoy the Algarve, a monthly online magazine full of fascinating events and details.  Culatra features briefly this month and I thought you might like to see a little more.

Embarkation from Olhão is an easy affair.  Ida e volta will get you a return ticket.  We chose to disembark at Farol, the second port of call on this long, barrier island, guarded by a strut of a lighthouse with a red cap.

Weaving between a few cottages and a restaurant, almost immediately you reach the beach.

I couldn’t decide quite what the waves were jumping so playfully over, but they held me captive so that I had to scoot to catch up with the others.  Of course, you can linger at the beach for as long as you like, but the walkers are single-minded folk and food was a top priority.  A boardwalk turns inland, leading back to the village of Culatra, the first port of call.

To escape the heat of the sun there are several restaurants.  As usual I was more interested in my surroundings than food, so I grabbed a quick bite and set off again with my camera.

It’s a very basic lifestyle.  Sand and sea rule and necessities have to be shipped from the shore.  As I’m writing this a thunderstorm is rattling overhead and I know that the islands are in the frontline for inclement weather.  Hard to imagine on a day like this, but I’ve heard this ocean roar.

There’s an element of scruffiness that doesn’t suit everybody.  No manicured greens to tee off on here.  But I was highly amused to find, right by the water’s edge, a miniature football pitch.  Evidence of another Portuguese passion!

And then it’s time to make for the ferry, wending back past ochre houses, idle bikes and always a twist or two of flowers.

The still calm waters of Olhão await, Becky.  No changes yet!

I hope you’ve enjoyed being back in the Algarve with me.  I still have another week or so to go.  My daughter joins me on Sunday so I expect to be quite distracted but I’ll try to post another walk next week, and keep up with comments on this one.  Take good care till then!

Please find time to check out these walks, if you haven’t already done so.  Many thanks to all of you for your loyalty and support, even while I’ve been absent.  Special thanks to Meg and to Jude for lovely birthday surprises for me.


I am a huge admirer of this lady’s work, so thank you very much for joining me, Debbie :

Street art galore

Another lady who always produces beautiful work.  Take yourself strolling with Susan :

A Saturday Stroll at Wave Hill

A Leisurely Sunday Stroll through Brooklyn’s Green-Wood Cemetery

I wonder what Jackie might have cooked up this week?

Home cookin’

There’s nothing like good company on a walk.  Tobias has a style all his own, and I love it :


Les Jardins d’Eau

Candy takes me to parts of Brittany I didn’t even know existed :

Pilgrim Route and Chapels

There’s much more to Birmingham than meets the eye, and you can rely on Becky to find it :

Dragons, Rags and Shiny Things

What’s Woolly been up to?  Keeping very busy!




Carol explores her own backyard, but Australia’s a big country :

Staying Up, Looking Out

I do love a garden, and Cadyluck Leedy has a really fine one to share :

Jo’s Monday Walk : Sandhills Horticultural Gardens

And a place I’ve always wanted to visit :

Jo’s Monday Walk : Mont Saint Michel, France

Why not try it Marsha’s way?  The scenery is beautiful, even if the company is grumpy :

Why We Didn’t Take the Train to the Grand Canyon from Sedona

How to Get Someone Out of a Grouchy Mood Even if you’re at the Grand Canyon

I wouldn’t have expected to miss fog, but Jude’s walk on misty Bodmin is hauntingly lovely :

The Cheesewring

And finally, Kaz gladdens the heart with a gazillion, glorious jacaranda!

Jacarandas of Woolloomooloo 

Much love to you all from my sunny Algarve home.  See you soon!


Jo’s Monday walk : Legends of Marim


I’m turning the tables on Becky this morning and putting my own slant on one of her walks. Exploring the delightful Legends Way will supply all the details you need, so I can quite simply enjoy myself.

The Algarve abounds in legends.  In Olhão they have been brought to life in sculpture.  The stories are a little naive, but no less lovable for that. Alina and Abdala, above, are star-crossed lovers in the traditional sense, and I love the way that her hair flows around him.


I started my wanderings (with Becky, I might add, but more of that later) at the beginning of Caminho das Lendas, or Legend’s Way.  I paid due attention to the maps but, inevitably, then followed my nose.  The little chap above was one of my favourites.  So poised and graceful in the way that young boys have, with a ball at their feet.

Beware who you invite into your game though.  He might just bewitch and spirit you away!  It’s such a ‘lived in’ looking place, Olhão!  The ravages of time have certainly got to some of it but you could be kind and describe it as full of character.

I really don’t much care for the Boy with Big Black Eyes, so I couldn’t resist having a little fun with him.  I thought I looked my best all wobbly, but he doesn’t look very amused, does he? Distinctly bad-tempered, in fact!

The next character struck me as rather sorrowful, but who wouldn’t be, if swallowed by a whale? The wonder of it is that Arraul survived!  But I’m glad that he did as he allegedly created the sand barriers that protect the Algarve to this day.

There’s one other character you ought to meet, but I was feeling rather wilful and the boats moored in the marina were demanding my attention.


Bom Sucesso, the caravel that sailed the Atlantic to Brazil, always draws my admiration.  I usually meet Becky close by here, her husband Robert having cast a discerning eye over the day’s catch in the fish market.  Both are lovers of fish and they had a treat in store for me.  I’d been hearing about Vai e Volta and was keen to try out this ‘all you can eat’ fish restaurant.

For just 10 euros, the fish kept on arriving!  I sampled salmon, sea bass, sardines, and tuna among others.  It all depends what the boats bring in that day.  In addition there was delicious cornbread, salad, potatoes and a tasty dip.  What more can you want?  Simply amazing for the price!  And don’t forget to ask for the sweet menu, especially if you like carobs and figs.  I would show you, but I was so full that I was sharing mine with the other half.  I daren’t stop to take the photo, else it disappeared!  I’ve given you the link to their Facebook page to help you find your way there.  Not everybody is lucky enough to go with Becky!

I almost forgot to mention Floripes, a voluptuous lady in white who was stranded far from her Moorish home.

That’s it for legends, and back to boats!  I never can resist them for very long.

The sun was starting to set and it was time to leave.  In writing this I had cause to look back at O is for Olhão and remember what a very interesting maritime history this Eastern Algarve town has.  It’s well worth a visit.


Legend of Marim

Lovers entwined in metal

Lost to the river

Feeling quite poetic.  Must be time to put that kettle on and read a few posts!

Thank you so much for keeping me company on my rambles.  It is very much appreciated.  I’d love you to join me with a walk of your own and it’s very easy to do so.  Details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Please find some time to visit these walks.  You won’t regret it!


I’m always thrilled when a great photographer joins my walks!  Thank you, Tobias!


That bit of blue makes all the difference, and it’s beautiful where Eunice lives :

A walk up to Crow Castle

Lady Lee keeps on coming up with places on my list of dream destinations :

Ten Things in Sicily

A friendly chat in Dollar and a money mushroom.  That’s what I call value, Anabel :

Dollar Glen

What’s that about diamonds and best friends?  Sadly, Woolly can’t afford these!


Jackie doesn’t think money matters in Vegas.  It costs nothing to look, after all!

Trippin’ the Light Fantastic

On the other hand, safaris don’t come cheap.  But just look at what Geoff got for his money!

A Time in Africa- Part two

It’s always an artistic look at life with Jesh :


People will keep showing me fabulous places I’ve never been!  Thanks, BiTi  🙂

A visit to Beziers

Part of Hanna’s personal history, I loved this walk with her :

Vikings, The Sea Stallion from Glendalough and Roskilde Cathedral

My friend Drake knows a thing or two about Vikings, past and present :

Misty back to the past

I always like to share pretty places, and Rosemay seldom lets me down :

Strolling Round the streets of Potsdam

Splendid isolation with Paula, another very special photographer :

Walk into Solitude

And just in case you didn’t follow the link earlier on, here’s lovely Becky!

On the other side of the river

I think I’ll be back to grey skies and an English walk next week.  You’ve been warned!  Have yourselves a great week.


Six word Saturday


What made you happy this week?



I was very slow to warm to street art, but an hour or two last year in the Algarve’s graffiti capital, Olhao, finally convinced me.  It can transform the ugly and unloved.  If you haven’t seen any of Dario Silva’s work, you might like to follow the link to Olhão.

Kazimierz, in Kraków, is another of those ‘grungy’ areas where imagination has been allowed to roam.  Who wouldn’t be happy ‘Singing in the rain’?


This little lady gazed artfully at me from a shop doorway in Faro.  Using her womanly wiles to sell.  I resisted, but she caught my attention.

Paula’s theme of Urban Art in Thursday’s Special gave me the opportunity to post something that made me very happy.  In Drama in the Streets I was drawn to the striking lady figure, who seemed to recall a painting in my memory.  Try as I might, I haven’t been able to find her in the art world. If anyone has any ideas, I’d be grateful?  But more importantly, have a happy weekend!


Street life in Olhão


Dario Silva isn’t a name that I knew until recently.  I’ve been seeing his handiwork around Olhão, in the Eastern Algarve, for a number of years, mostly on old and unloved buildings.  A prolific street artist, in 2009 he was forced to stop using spray paint.  The toxic fumes in the paint were damaging his liver.  But you can’t keep a good artist down.  “The street is my addiction”, he said.

In recovery, he turned to painting with a brush and water-based paints.  It’s a much slower medium but it enables him to continue to paint. His work might once have been regarded as vandalism, but now the commissions are coming in and even the local council have embraced him.  Many think that Olhão is a finer place for his intervention.

Vivenda Victoria is his best known work, in the main street of Olhão

Vivenda Victoria is his best known work

It’s virtually impossible to pass through Olhão without seeing Vivenda Victoria, in it’s abandoned state.  It sits on the E125, at the hub of the town’s shopping area.  Other works of art have started to mushroom in the most unlikely places, but you have to seek them out.



I had thought to include the street artworks in a Monday walk, but they straggle around some of the town’s less desirable parts, and that is surely the point.  At times I felt a little intrusive, wandering with my camera through the back streets of Olhão.

I had intended to link this post to Thursday’s Special, which this week is themed ‘Abstract’.  By definition abstract means divorced from reality.  My images are rather a reflection of sad reality, but I would urge you to visit Suzanne’s wonderful post.  It might set you thinking.

Do you have a favourite of these?  Mine is still the boy with sad eyes.

Jo’s Monday walk : Ilha da Culatra

Shall we start with a ferry ride?

Shall we start with a ferry ride?

This week’s walk is on the island of Culatra, so you’ll have the added bonus of a ferry ride- always irresistible to me.  But for those of you who are poor sailors, let me assure you of gentle, calm waters.  I referred briefly to Culatra in my I is for Ilhas (islands) post and I thought it might be time to take a closer look. I think you might like it.

Departure points for the ilha are from the city of Faro, the Algarve’s capital, or from the nearby fishing town,  Olhão.  It’s a short 30 minute sailing from the latter.  The ferries depart at 9.00, 11.00, 15.00 and 17.00, so what are we waiting for?  Don’t forget your sunscreen, and flip-flops will be just fine for this trip.

Is this water flat enough for you?

Is this water flat enough for you?

There's always someone who likes to make waves!

There’s always someone who likes a little fun!

The first port of call

Here we are, at the first port of call already!

The ferry docks first at the eastern end of the island, with a busy little marina, the church and a couple of restaurants.  If you like you can get off here and walk along to Farol, but I like to stay on till the second stop, 10 minutes later.  As the ferry chugs alongside the island, the lighthouse for which the settlement is named looms larger.  Often your flight path into the Algarve will carry you over the islands and you have an aerial view of Farol.

Almost there...

Almost there…

Ok, so you’ve indulged me the watery stuff.  Thank you!  Now it’s time to stroll a little.  You’ve probably guessed what we’ll be going to see, haven’t you?


But eventually you come face to face!

But eventually you come face to face!

The lighthouse is situated on a rocky headland, above a small beach, crowded with locals on a weekend.  Continue past that and you have seemingly endless sand.  Off with those flip-flops and away you paddle!

A good situation?

A good situation?

After a while you will see a sign board pointing inland and a boardwalk.  This is your cue to put the flip-flops back on and follow it, over some low dunes.  You will see the first port where the ferry docked ahead in the distance.  Arguably the best bit of the walk starts now.  As you approach the village the path becomes lined with an array of beach houses and their gardens.  All shapes and colours are represented- some tasteful, others… well, let’s say interesting.

Now you’re back at the marina, with its host of little fishing vessels.  There are several small bars and restaurants where you can blend in with the locals while you await your return ferry.  The ticket office only opens 10 minutes before the boat is due, but you might well have bought a return- ide e volta.  The ferry will stop again at Farol so you can do this walk in either direction, or both ways if you’re keen!


The church is at this end of the island, too

The church is at this end of the island, too

Watched over by Our Lady of Fatima

Watched over by Our Lady of Fatima

Then it's farewell Culatra

Then it’s farewell to Culatra

And hello Olhao!

And hello Olhao!

I hope you didn’t mind the boat ride too much?  One of my favourite things about the Algarve is the number of ferry rides I can take. My husband rather meanly keeps count and sometimes I’m rationed!  There were 8 boat rides this visit. (that’s there and back, of course)

Many thanks for your time and your company.  Will you join me next week on a Monday walk? The details are on my walks page or just click on the logo below.

walking logo

Now for the good stuff!  Time to put the kettle on and read my ‘shares’.

I didn’t have Alesund on my ‘list’ till I saw this post.  I do now!  Thank you, Cardinal  :

The City Center of Alesund

Show me a walk by a river?  I’m hooked!  Thanks, Drake  :

Other side of the river

Pauline keeps revealing interesting facets of Canberra  :

Inner city chic : I’m loving Canberra

If you’re a lover of tranquility you can’t fail to love Amy’s garden  :

Portland Japanese Garden

You’ll love this walk with Jude too.  It’s on level ground for one thing!  :

Wild Rye

One last nostalgic stroll with Sylvia…  But, don’t worry- she’ll be back to visit family.  Here’s to new beginnings, Ad!  :

One last nostalgic walk before we leave this paradise

And now, meet Ana.  I’m sure she’s known to many of you and I’m so happy she has joined us this week  :

A guided history walk of Guildford

And last but never, ever least, Yvette is back!  Have you been to West Point, Virginia?  You’ll enjoy this visit.  :

West Point, VA

Thanks again to all my contributors.  Have a happy week!

O is for Olhão


I had always thought that my “O” post would be about Obidos, a medieval walled town in Central Portugal that stole my heart a couple of years ago.  But much has already been written about this tiny, charismatic place, so, with my Algarve affinity, it seemed better to introduce you to somewhere local and lesser known. (Unless, of course, you are a biker?)  Welcome to Olhão!

An aerial view of Olhão and the lagoons of the Ria Formosa (from Wikipedia)

An aerial view of Olhão and the lagoons of the Ria Formosa (from Wikipedia)

From its situation on the Ria Formosa, it was always obvious that Olhão would make a fine fishing port, but for many years its growth was resisted by neighbouring administrator Faro, who wanted to keep fishing rights to itself.  Autonomy was persistently refused and even permission to build a simple stone house.  Hamlet status was finally achieved in 1765 and Olhão formed a self-supporting “Maritime Commitment”.  Both before and since, it has been inseparable from the sea.

The natives of Olhão were never ones to run from a fight, and they occupy a special place in Portuguese history.  The first successful uprising against French occupation took place here on 16th June 1808, and was the beginning of the expulsion of the Napoleonic army.  The Portuguese king, João VI, was at that time exiled in Brazil.  A group of fishermen from Olhão set sail across the Atlantic, in a simple fishing boat, to bring the news of the French defeat to their king.  In recognition of this, Olhão was rewarded with village status.

A replica of the caique, Bom Sucesso (Good Fortune), sits modestly on the waterfront.

Azulejo tile representation of the sailing to Brazil (from Wikipedia)

Azulejo tile representation of the sailing to Brazil (from Wikipedia)

Would you cross the Atlantic in a boat like this?

Would you cross the Atlantic in this boat? You would need Bom Sucesso!

The town’s growth was enabled by a large spring or olho de agua (eye of water), for which the town was named, Olhão meaning big eye.  The arrival of a tuna factory, and fish preserving industry, transformed Olhão into a wealthy town, with fine merchant’s homes.  The fishing industry declined, of course, but today Olhão is again doing battle with Faro, attempting to lure away a little of the lucrative tourist trade.

The tourist train- all aboard!

The tourist train, outside the Real Marina Hotel on the long promenade

If you’ve seen any of my previous Algarve posts, you might know that a large part of the attraction of Olhão is the access it gives to the islands of the lagoon, Armona and Culatra, paradise for beach lovers.  From the harbour there is a lengthy promenade overlooking the marina.  In the centre of this stand distinctive twin market halls, one for fish, the other fruit and vegetables.  On Saturday mornings the market spills out onto pavement stalls in a flurry of activity.  Remember the bikers?  In July, when the Bike Festival arrives in Faro, the overflow spreads along the waterfront gardens in Olhão till there’s barely a blade of grass to be seen.

The other time when Olhão is exceptionally busy is when the Seafood Festival takes place, around the second week in August.  The smell of sardines mingles with the sound of Fado and a great time is had by all.  The waterfront is usually closed to traffic at this time, creating a little havoc in getting around.

Olhão waterfront with the twin towers of the market halls in the background

Olhão waterfront with the twin towers of the market halls in the background

Can you make out the lighthouse at Farol on the island of Culatra between those masts?

Can you make out the lighthouse at Farol on the island of Culatra between those masts? It’s a long way out.

It's the strangest feeling when you're out there in the shallows, far from shore

It’s the strangest feeling when you’re out there in the shallows, far from shore. The locals hunt endlessly for shellfish.

Every kind of craft comes idling home

Every kind of craft comes idling home

The most peaceful of spots, unless it's windy.

It’s a peaceful spot, unless it’s windy, when the masts vibrate wildly.

To this day, I can get lost in the maze of streets behind the waterfront.  Olhão is unique in the Algarve in that it has cube-shaped Moorish style houses which do not, in fact, date from the occupation of the Moors.  They are instead the result of the town’s fishing and trading activities with the countries of North Africa.  Try to visit Nossa Senhora do Rosario, the town’s main church, situated just behind this warren of streets.  Igreja Pequena, the Little Church, was the first stone building in Olhão, and this is the second.  Both were financed by the efforts of the local fishermen, at that time living in little more than mud huts themselves.  The view from the Bell Tower reveals the special construction of the cubist houses.

White stone steps lead up to a second small roof terrace, the mirante, traditionally used by fishermen to evaluate the marine conditions before going to sea.  The women of the house go up there to watch for them.  A chapel at the rear of the main church is open day and night, to pray for their safe return.

Igreja Pequena- the Little Church,1st stone building in Olhao

Igreja Pequena- the Little Church, and the first stone building in Olhao

Roof tops of the cubist houses

Roof tops of the cubist houses, from the Bell Tower of Nossa Senhora do Rosario

Typical merchant's house

One of many fine merchant’s houses

Approaching Olhão along the EN125, the urban sprawl is not at all attractive.  You might never think that this world existed.  But take the trouble to dip down to the waterfront, and you will find an Olhão with real character.

Just before I finish, I should mention Quinta de Marim.  2kms east of Olhão, just off the EN125, on the Ria Formosa a link to the Roman occupation of the Algarve can be witnessed.  A tidal mill overlooks fish salting tanks and the salinas for producing salt, which were a very important industry in Roman times.  Today it’s an education centre and a very soothing spot from which to witness the natural world.

If you have enjoyed this piece, you might like to take a look at some of my other personal A-Z’s.  The original idea came from Julie Dawn Fox, a fine writer who lives in Central Portugal.  Click on the header or the links to see what’s out there.