Portugal

Jo’s Monday walk : Street art in Silves

Silves, as one of the loveliest towns in the Algarve and its former capital, is one I seldom fail to take visitors to.  Last weekend, while strolling the streets on my way to a Mediterranean Garden Fair, I was much taken with some distinctive and amusing street art.  Boxes housing electricity cables are seldom an attractive feature, so an initiative to transform them must surely be a good thing.

‘Stencilpes’ is described as an urban intervention project to encourage young people’s interest in art, using images from history, architecture and nature.  I could find little information about the individual artists, but I thoroughly enjoyed spotting the artworks.

Whimsical creatures rub shoulders with cork oaks and olives, grapes and strawberries, birds and butterflies.  On the riverfront, these pieces of modern art pay tribute to Silves’ Moorish past.

High on the hill, the red brick fortress looks down on peaceful streets.  The morning market supplies restaurants and locals alike, but then the town seems to sleep, leaving just the storks to keep watch from their lofty perch.

Great, aren’t they?  No need for me to say much!  A nice change for you.

I found myself wandering into an area I didn’t really know, in pursuit of the boxes.  On the corner of Rua Dom Afonso III stands a pretty little church, Igreja Nossa Senhora dos Martires, and a statue of the martyrs, which looks like it’s seen better days.

I don’t know about you, but I was starting to feel the need for some refreshment.  You’ve been very patient this week, so I’ll give you a choice.

While I was eating, a clattering noise overhead caused me to look up.  What a magical sight met my eyes!  A stork was descending to his waiting mate, on their nest above.  I averted my eyes, politely, from their noisy love making.

The garden fair wasn’t the highlight of my afternoon, but I did buy a couple of plants and a terracotta pot.  I wandered back to the riverside parking, a big smile on my face.  And spotted another couple of boxes!

I’m sure I’ve missed a few, but maybe next time?  I hope you enjoyed them too.  S is for Silves will give you a little background on the city.

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Thanks so much for your company on my little jaunt!  Join me any time you can, here on Jo’s Monday walk. You’ll always get a warm welcome.

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Debbie posts some amazing sights, as she whizzes around the world :

Burrowing into Baku

A rainy day in Paris?  Don’t despair- just follow Jude’s lead!

Walking the Right Bank Passages in Paris

It’s all a bit weird and wonderful at Drake’s place this week!

Third degree street parade

There are options for healthy eating with Irene :

Through the Edible Garden

Then you could have coffee with Jackie :

Espresso

Natalie is someone who sets herself health goals and walks for fitness :

Wellness Post #3 : Ice Breakers 2019

It’s a little grey at the beach with Sandra, but there’s beauty aplenty in those Spheres :

#Alki Beach, #Seattle

#Amazon #Spheres – Saturday Snapshot and Jo’s Monday walk

Eek!  That white stuff is still to be found!  But Rupali is happy with blue skies :

Tour day!

Susanne has found plenty of sunshine in her neck of the woods :

A Walk at Coulon Park on the Last Day of Winter

Lisa too, but still a little cool, I understand :

Jo’s Monday Walk

I don’t think they have winter in Alice’s part of the world :

Step Forward or a Peek into the Past

Follow Ulli to Germany- it’s beautiful too!

Enchanted Forest

Janet knows I love a glass or two of wine :

Monday walk…Vinas De Garza

Covering up the weariness with a smile; you must be following Cathy’s epic journey?

(Camino day 9) Villamayor de Monjardin to Torres del Rio

There’s a regular Monday meetup over at Sami’s Colourful World for all those of you who love street art.  Have a great week, and see you next time!

Living the dream… 3 months on

It was quite easy to leave England.  Or so I thought!  I had a home in the Algarve, and a ready made life, carefully nurtured over 15 years.  A variety of friends awaited, and activities to engage in.  I loved the place I was moving to.  You’ve seen the photos.  How could I not?  And yet… was the honeymoon over?

There was a certain euphoria in making the dream a reality.  Even saying goodbye to lifelong friends was done with gaiety, each one a celebration of our shared lives.  They could visit, couldn’t they?  And the same for my family, though not without a pang or two.  Everyone was excited and pleased for me.  The move went smoothly.  Fragments of my old life, packed in cardboard boxes, made its way overland to join me.  But when it arrived I was filled with dismay.  Much of it seemed irrelevant to my new life, here in the Algarve, squeezing our comfortable space till it felt cramped.  I closed the door on the second bedroom.  Avoiding it all.

I didn’t miss my old home in the UK, as I thought I might, but I did miss its warmth.  I had moved to a land of sunshine and blue skies, but the house was cold.  Designed to keep out heat in the summer, in the winter they are not so easy to keep warm.  Tiled floors, though beautiful, don’t help.  Out and about and busy in the daytime, I was happy enough, but returning home meant putting on extra layers of clothing.  The house is air-conditioned and individual rooms can be heated, but moving between them was uncomfortable, even with plug-in heaters.  I was miserable, and cross with myself besides.  Why was I not happy?  Everyone knew I was living the dream.

Language is so important to me.  I hide behind photographs, but I deal in words.  Somehow it hadn’t mattered when we came to our holiday home but, proudly obtaining residency, I felt inadequate and frustrated by my inability to converse freely with locals.  I still do, but I’m trying!

So much gloom!  Did you know?  Could you tell?  My life in pictures continued to shine forth at intervals.  I reinstated my Monday walks, reflecting the joy I still found in the amazing outdoors, but on a personal level I couldn’t quite find the idyll.  People here are kind, and my disorientation was noted.  We discussed heating issues, and others, and I was assured that the first year could be difficult.  The weight of expectation, perhaps?

Gradually I am getting there.  Most of the boxes are unpacked, and painting done.  With new settees and carpet our home feels comfortable and welcoming.  But I’m not flexible and adaptable.  Why didn’t I know that about me?  My husband has made the adjustment far better, and retained his much needed sense of humour.  And he can still make me smile.  How lucky am I?  Living in ‘almost paradise’.

Linking to Cathy’s Prose invitation, over on Wander.essence.

Jo’s Monday walk : Chocolate time in Loulé

I’m feeling a bit naughty this week.  You’re always encouraging me to eat cake, so I thought I’d take you along with me to the annual, Algarve Chocolate Fair, in Loulé.  Any volunteers to help with the tasting?  I bet I can guess whose hand went up!

Pause for breath?  Please excuse the overload, but it was planned as a Valentine’s Day treat.  We’d better walk slowly now, while you nibble your chocolate.  (I did succumb to a very delicious dark chocolate bar, nibbed with crispy almonds, but I’m keeping that one to myself)

Loulé makes for very easy wandering, unless you happen to time it for Carnaval.  The main street was already being festooned with garlands, in readiness for the event in two weeks time.  We’ve been on numerous occasions, and my husband loves the political satire and the sparingly clothed dancing girls.  Me, not so much!  But it’s good fun and the youngsters love to get dressed up and join in.

I’m more interested in the beautiful, tiny church, tucked around the corner from the castle, Ermida de Nossa Senhora de Conceição.  The kind lady inside happily points out the main features of the azulejos, telling the story of Mary and Joseph and their special baby.  Just within the doorway, remnants of the town walls gaze dimly upwards, through a clear glass panel.

Downhill, past the castle and around silent Igreja Matriz, a small park looks out onto battered rooftops, and across town to the futuristic dome of Nossa Senhora da Piedade.  An elderly chap gazes quietly into space from his bench, while above a small boy gleefully climbs an ancient olive.

We’ve loitered in Loulé often before.  A gate through the old town wall leads out to a busy back street, rumbling with traffic.  Beside the gateway scowls an ancient pump, the surrounding streets an enigma of beautiful tilework, graffiti and skilled craftsmanship.  Ceramics and cork shops flourish and, from an open doorway, the sound of mallet tapping brass rings out.  I stop to admire a gleaming, burnished lampshade.

I was a little disappointed to find that no art was on display in the former Convento de Santo Antonio.   Hopefully restoration will continue and a further exhibition be set up for summer.  One last port of call.  I rarely visit Loulé without ascending to the heights, but this time we drove up the hill to Nossa Senhora da Piedade.  I hope to be there to see her carried from her sanctuary this Easter.

It’s a strange church, but I was quite taken with my last image- a reflection of the Sanctuarium on the window of the House of Candles.

The walks keep rolling in, so thanks to all who’ve contributed, and to those of you who take the time to read them.  Join me, whenever you can, here on Jo’s Monday walk.  I try to keep it lighthearted!

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Did you think we’d lost Meg?  Can’t keep a good woman down!  Showcasing a hodge podge of Australian architecture, in her own inimitable style :

Warwick heritage walk

‘My’ bit of the Coast to Coast walk, with Geoff and his Dad.  Great memories, beautifully written :

Walking With The Wind At My Back: Part Five #coasttocoast #walking

Natalie continues her adventures in Central America :

Boat trip on Lake Atitlan and Santiago Village

Pure delight for the eyes, this one from Susan :

Winter Walk Around Bodnant Garden in Wales

A quick zap of colour from Jackie this week :

Monday Mural

‘Sunshine, food and medicine for the soul’.  Irresistible, don’t you think?

Flower of the Day – Hellebores

A casual day out, enjoying the warmth, with Alice :

Skidaway Island Nature Trail

Irene is determined to make me shiver!

A Snowy Walk

While Elaine has captured the most beautiful dragonfly shot, despite very murky weather :

A dragonfly and a fish out of water

Architecturally beautiful, and sunny!  Debbie’s post couldn’t be more different :

Wandering in Vilafranca

Ever been to Queens, New York City?  Let Lisa show you around :

Jo’s Monday Walk

Iceland is on most people’s wish list, isn’t it?  You might know Drake had made it!

Reykjavik, up north

The Algarve, not so much, but it certainly suits me and Becky :

A meander through Faro

Carol shares a wonderfully atmospheric snippet of Toronto’s history :

Sensing the Past

While Jude revives a memory or two of her own, in Ludlow :

A Ludlow Walkabout

And Eunice takes us back through Bolton’s history, in 3 parts.  Know about the elephant connection?

Visiting the museum (1) – Elephants & Egypt

Finally, Cathy shares a garden that Jude would just love to be let loose in!  And I’d love to join her :

A stroll around Moab

Worn out, again?  Must be all that chocolate.  It was good fun though, wasn’t it?  Have a great week and see you next time!

Jo’s Monday walk : Remember Culatra?

Some weeks I have no idea where to take you.  After all, there are only so many hills I can drag you up and down in search of cake, aren’t there?  So, I thought we’d take it fairly easy this week and hop on a boat.  Always my default setting.  You might recognise the marina at  Olhão, above.

With 20 minutes of smooth calm sailing, you just about have time to say goodbye to the mainland before you’re approaching Culatra, one of the Algarve’s barrier islands.  You can leap off at the first stop, or continue along the shoreline towards the lean white lighthouse at Farol.  There’s a small village at either end of the island and, after a meander through the cluster of villas and shacks, you can slip off your shoes for a paddle.

It looks like somebody’s been shipwrecked here!  Still, with a ferry every couple of hours, rescue is pretty certain.  It’s a long swim to Fuzeta!

Paddling done it’s time to cross over the boardwalk and pootle about with boats.  I’ll not spend time lingering among the narrow alleyways, charming though they are.  If you remember, we had a good look around last time I brought you here.  A lot of work is going on, laying new paths on the island, so maybe change is afoot.  Hopefully nothing too drastic!

It doesn’t always pay to nose around.  I almost fell foul of this little creature.  He was sitting innocently beside a boat, when I unwittingly invaded his territory.  Leaping and snarling, he made quite sure that I wasn’t up to no good.  I beat a hasty retreat, making what I hoped were soothing noises.

The seagulls were completely indifferent but a couple of small boys playing football were highly amused.  I raised a cheer when I lobbed their ball back to them, over a fence.  Kids here lead a simple life.  In warmer weather they become water babies, diving off the pier again and again, to the cheers of their mates, and swimming like gleeful fish.

On board again, we chug back across the water.  Entertainment is provided by some fellow passengers feeding the gulls, which swoop and perform aerobatics to snatch the bread.  In no time we’re ashore and strolling along the quayside, seeking refreshment.

We find it down an inviting passageway.  Such a nice reward for a minimum of effort.  Healthy, too?  I hope you enjoyed sharing.

More great walks this week.  Do find time to read them, please.  You might make some new friends.  And if you can, join me next week on Jo’s Monday walk?  You know I like a bit of company.

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Cathy honoured me with a link to her Camino walk last week, but I missed it.  Please don’t!

(Camino: day 4) Zubiri to Pamplona

And sometimes she takes me places I’ve never even heard of!  Who says blogging isn’t educational?

Great Sand Dunes National Park

I’m always in awe of her photography, and jealous of the places she’s been.  Thanks so much, Debs!

Victoria Harbour walk

You can share anything on my walks… and Drake often does!  🙂

Equipment

Denzil is right on my wavelength.  A peaceful riverside walk with a castle or two  :

Walking around Westerlo: river, castles and an abbey!

When she’s not eating, she’s shopping!  Always good fun with Jackie :

Market Fresh

All the way to Guatemala next, with Natalie :

Postcard from Antigua, Guatemala

Lisa’s taking us on one of her favourite walks, by the Hudson river :

Jo’s Monday Walk

A short walk with a stroller sometimes suits Alice :

The Welcome Station City

While Irene cheers us with ice blue (and a warm coat and scarf!) :

Sunshine and Blue Skies

Snow can look so pretty, but I’m keeping a safe distance!  🙂  Thanks, Eunice :

A snowy walk to Smithills Hall

Ending with Susan, and some fascinating memories of her time in the Peace Corps, and a very different world  :

Walking Bogota, Colombia

Have a great week, everybody!  Me?  I have another week of walking, t’ai chi, stuttering along in Portuguese and hopefully more lovely sunrises.

Jo’s Monday walk : Furnazhinas to Odeleite Dam

I’ve been wanting to go back to Furnazhinas ever since I discovered this lovely village last year.  It sits up in the hills, at the eastern end of the Via Algarviana, a 300km inland walk which crosses the whole of the Algarve.  The good news for me is that there are 2 much shorter walks which pass through the village, and on a gloriously sunny January day we decided to sample one.  It was an easy choice.  PR9 leads south of the village, signed Mina e Albufeira (not the popular one!) in the direction of the dam at Odeleite.  It promised views over the water, and I was sold!

Scarcely were we out of the village when we encountered solid looking stepping stones, beside an ancient well.  Not a trace of water- so far this has been a dry winter.  The path started out on schist, the rockbed of much of the Algarvian hills.  I was enchanted with the vibrant green grass, growing over and around the boulders, and dotted with a myriad daisies.  An old stone wall accompanied us much of the way, till we crossed a road and left it behind.  The blossoms were nodding, everywhere.  We tiptoed past a row of beehives, anxious not to disturb the inhabitants.

As we crested a hill, I caught my first glimpse of the dam.  Just a snippet of blue in the distance, but it put a spring in my step.  As we descended, the blue changed from heart shape to an azure oval, softly lapping a small island.

Amongst all that blue, suddenly a flash of white caught my eye.  I could hardly believe it!  My first cistus of the year.  Incredibly early!  And then, a few metres away, a second.  They are the most beautiful plants, and soon the hills will be full of them.

I turned full circle to look at the dam, almost surrounding me at shore level.   A lone boat sat, it’s nose in the water.  I wondered if I might set it adrift, and glide smoothly into the silence, holding my breath as I counted the ripples.

Even on this arid shoreline the daisies were flourishing, and I was astounded to find, nestling in shade, a clump or two of wild lavender.  The bugs must have been busy, because next day I had a wonderfully itchy large red lump.  Serves me right for messing with nature!

Reluctantly I set off back along the trail, pausing again to admire the cistus.  It was mostly uphill going back so I was amused to note the inappropriate footwear dangling from a tree.  The blossom spurred me on and eventually we were back to the road.

The direction?  Inevitably up, to the trig point, where late afternoon sun bathed the surrounding hills.  Our target, Furnazhinas, there below.

All downhill, we returned to the sleepy village.  7.8km in total according to the sign, but it had taken us a good couple of hours.   Next time we’d walk north.  As we returned to the car, a couple of old lads in the fields paused in their work to smile and wave at us.  And a donkey brayed scornfully.  Perhaps he knew something we didn’t?  No cake!  But lots of lovely walks to share…

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Shall we get the cold stuff out of the way first?  Lisa is joining us this week :

Baby It’s Cold Outside

Crunch through the fields with Margaret :

Ragtag Saturday : Frosted fields

A full-on attack on the ski-slopes with Drake!

Snow but not slow mood

Irene can almost compete, with -4F  😦  but oh, so beautiful!

In the Music Garden

The damp stuff can still be beautiful, as Xenia shows :

A Walk in Rosehall Forest

Geoff labours on, but he’s in good company and the scenery is superb :

Walking With The Wind At My Back : Part Three

Speaking of beauty, I’ve really enjoyed hopping around the Hebrides with Anabel :

Hebridean Hop 20: Craigston, Cleit and Eoligarry

Life is always colourful (and filling!) with Jackie :

Fast Food

Sandra is joining us, all the way from Texas.  Please say ‘hello!’

Ruston Way, #Tacoma #Saturday Snapshot

Alice takes us back in time, past troubled times to serenity :

Historical Site on St. Helena Island

While Indra proves that life can be more than a beach :

GOA – Is not all beach

And Rupali captures high drama in the city :

Dramatic cityscapes of Hong Kong

And talking of cities, don’t miss my lovely friend Carol’s take on Toronto!

Hello Toronto!

That’s your reading matter for another week.  Come walking next time?  You’ll be very welcome here at Jo’s Monday walk.  See you soon!

Six word Saturday

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Not warm enough for a swim

But I did see someone in the water.  Cacela Velha is a lovely spot to just sit and daydream.  Debbie’s sharing blue sky too.  Don’t forget it’s Six Word Saturday!  Have a good one  🙂

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