Portugal

The Church of São Francisco

img_6191

Tavira, in the Eastern Algarve, has a reputation for restoring her many churches.  In the years I have been visiting I have marvelled at some of the changes wrought.  Still it is a thrill to turn a corner and find another, ripe for renovation.  If you look closely at the gallery below, you will see what I mean.  Exposed bare plaster scars the walls and alcoves.

Previously I had only been into the gardens, the church being always locked.  Just occasionally the gardens would be padlocked too, and I’d feel a sense of deprivation.  A quiet bench, the overgrown trees dappling patterns onto ruined walls, somehow they provide a warm and soothing space.

Still, it was a revelation to venture inside this church.  First appearances can be deceptive.  A curtain veiled the entrance to a side chapel.  Stepping through a little cautiously, I was utterly unprepared for the figures that greeted me there.

img_6193

The Church of São Francisco has met with it’s share of disasters.  Since construction in 1272 it has suffered 2 earthquakes (in 1722 and 1755), a landslide in 1843 and a fire in 1881.  Perhaps it’s time it had a little luck.  Should you find yourself in Tavira and the church happens to be open, please deposit a few coins in the collection box.  It may help speed the recovery.

This might not be what Paula had in mind for Traces of the Past this week, but it’s an opportunity to share with you Thursday’s Special.

 

My little town

I know!  I know!  I’m not supposed to be blogging but by the time I come back it will be too late to share this with you.  The 5th January is traditionally the last day for Christmas decorations and soon I’ll be off to watch the parade of Kings in Vila Real de S. Antonio.  Meantime I’ve found some lovely crib scenes here in Tavira… my little town.  Where else does the fire station contribute in such style?

That’s all I’ve time for!  Click on the gallery for a closer look.  Blue skies beckon.

Jo’s Monday walk : Querenca to Fonte de Benemola

img_4345

Another of the Algarve’s sleepy villages, Querenca was looking idyllic on the last day of my October holiday.  Our walking group were meeting at the cafe on the left of the photo above.  It’s quite a drive up into the hills and a ‘bica’ of coffee is always appreciated before we start walking.

Surrounded by rolling hills and leafy green scenery, Querenca breathes pure tranquillity. Excepting when the Festa das Chouricas takes place, at the end of January, and the waft of spicy sausage rouses the locals.  In honour of St. Luis, the patron saint of animals, the celebrations give thanks for the pigs, bred locally, that feed the villagers throughout the year.  I rather fancy trying chouriço à bombeiro, where the sausage is doused in brandy and set alight. Bombeiros are fire fighters, in case you wondered.  Time to set forth.

We leave the village square in a downhill direction, over lovingly worn cobbles.  I’m too busy admiring the scenery to realise that the return route could well be steeply uphill. There are 13.7 kilometres to cover first.  I’ve walked to Fonte de Benemola in the past, but this route is unfamiliar.

Portuguese street names do sometimes seen inordinately long.  And did you notice that cat, giving me such a baleful look?

Continuing downhill we find the beginning of the trail to the Fonte, or spring.  A lush green valley leads beneath lofty cliffs, the arid red of the Algarve soil revealed in the fissures.  It reminds me greatly of my trip to Rocha da Pena, but today the weather is impeccable.

img_4322The trail winds along dustily, and becomes quite rock strewn in places.  In Spring these nooks and crannies will be dressed in the finery of rock roses and lavender, with the promise of wild orchids.  This late in the year colour is harder to find.

When finally I reach the Fonte, the bamboo and rushes are bleached almost colourless.  A soft shushing noise betrays the presence of the water, a sign ‘olho’ pointing hopefully.  A young couple are balanced on the rocks, trying to capture on camera the bubble of water as it rises and swirls in an ‘eye’.  I carry on, knowing that I’ve seen it in far less parched surroundings.

These natural springs prevail throughout Portugal’s hills.  This is ‘the eye’ in Springtime.

img_0581

As we follow signs back to the village I wonder if the cheery basket maker is still there, with his whistles and bird imitators.  I had purchased a wicker bowl last time, feeling sorry for him as he sat alone in the woods.  It serves as a slightly wonky erstwhile fruit bowl. Many new arrivals are enjoying the unseasonally hot weather, and I feel sure that he will be enjoying good trade in his shady dell.

img_4344

Remember that climb back into the village?  I confess I had forgotten all about it.  It took a while before I was puffing and panting back into the village square.  There just has to be a reward, don’t you think?

Much later I discovered a video of the Fonte that I thought you might like to see.

There are a number of routes around the natural springs.  Walking Trails of the Algarve pages 76 and 80 will give you shorter variations on this walk, or you can simply follow the signboards.  This video will give you a glimpse of the basket maker.  Please ignore the advertising.  I hope you’ve got the kettle on, ready to join my walkers from your armchair?

walking logo

Thanks so much, everybody, for your kind contributions to my walks.  I wasn’t at all sure where to lead you this week but in the end I opted for sunshine, as Winter wraps itself around us here in the UK.  I hope you enjoyed it.  If you’d like to contribute anytime the details are on my Jo’s Monday walk page.  Just click on the logo above.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………

I do like a tinker in a museum and a browse round a market.  Geoff can tell you a story or two as well :

From Paddington to Page#walking#london

Woolly likes a little stroll, with not too much effort and some classy cars :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Car-Show

But sometimes he gets a little further :

Jo’s-Monday-Walk-Geelong-Foreshore

Jackie’s by the York River, in Yorktown.  Virginia, of course!

Day 6- Yorktown

Nothing like a good fumble around the Albert Docks with Drake.  He’s in his element!

Come and get it

Does anyone know what Pargeting is?  Jude does, and I really love it :

Love Lavenham

Becky’s counting to 6 this week, but there are lots more than that!

There are pomegranates in the tree

While Carol’s fossil hunting and has found loads!

Buried Treasure

Or you could join Kathrin for a delicious trip to the beach :

A day at Solana Beach

How do you follow the legend that is Badfish?  Why, with devotion, of course :

ONE FINE DAY in BRATISLAVA : Part III

That’s it for now.  I think I’ll be walking in the UK again next week.  Feel free to join me but, more importantly, take care till then.

Six word Saturday

6ws-participating-in-banner

Lazy leaf or a beach ‘bum’?

img_3580

img_3550

Drifting to the end of Verena’s Festival of leaves.  You have one more week for sharing.  Join Cate if you have six words spare.

Have a great week, and don’t get stressed over Christmas.  It’ll come and it’ll go.

6wsButton

Barco Casa – the Boat House

img_4276

It was purely by chance that I discovered Barco Casa, the Boat House.  A neighbour gave me her copy of the ‘East Algarve Magazine’ and there on the front cover was my ideal of simple perfection on the water.  I read the article, wreathed in smiles, and knew I had to follow it up.  The Boat House is moored off the shoreline of Fuseta, in the unspoilt Eastern Algarve.  The natural park, the Ria Formosa, surrounds the Algarve’s capital, Faro.  It was a simple matter to arrange a viewing.

Tiago met me on the quayside and, with building excitement, I was ferried out into the lagoon.  He patiently and thoroughly answered all my questions as he skippered the boat.  This innovative project is a dream fulfilled for local architect Ricardo Badalo.  He and his team at Passeios Ria Formosa have created a sustainable, eco-friendly, high quality home on the water.  The surroundings are sublime, with a 360 degree view on this natural marine world.

Take a look at the promotional photo gallery.  Imagine waking to watch the sun creep towards you across the water, and sunsets sitting on the sun deck, cradling your glass of wine.  Perfect peace and calm, and a retreat from the clamouring world.  A breakfast of fresh local fruits and pastries and the day is your own.  Take the rowing boat across to the ilha and laze or swim. Snorkeling equipment is provided, for these waters are rich in sea life.  A water taxi can take you ashore, if you want to venture further afield.

The Ria Formosa has been a protected natural park since 1987, with the aim of preserving the lagoon system.  There is a huge diversity of flora and fauna, including the largest community of seahorses in the world.  The area comprises 5 barrier islands and 2 peninsulas, the salt marsh and lagoon areas connected with a dense network of water channels.  It has to be seen to be believed, and I’ve yet to discover a better way to observe it than from the Barco Casa.

You can make this a purely self catering experience, or opt to employ the services of a trained chef to add that touch of luxury. Tiago, who is passionate about the project, was formerly a chef in Lisbon, and can provide everything from oysters and champagne on the beach to a  simple barbecue, with freshly caught fish.

Be as active or as lazy as you feel inclined.  Ricardo has a keen interest in bird watching and marine biology and the company provide a full range of related tours.  I’ve started to daydream about my romantic getaway.  Maybe you will too.

I’m not given to writing promotional posts.  This is my personal space and I like to keep it that way.  But if I find something that excites me, it’s only natural to share, isn’t it?  Further details can be found on the website http://www.passeios-ria-formosa.com.