Portugal

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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Jo’s Monday walk : Fuseta at Blossom time

As promised, almond blossom in the Algarve this week.  This is a variation on a walk we’ve done previously, this time starting in the small seaside town of Fuseta.  It’s just a few stops west of Tavira by train.  Wave your passport at the conductor and you’ll get half fare if you’re a pensioner.  Well, there have to be some advantages to being over the hill!

Not too many hills this near to the coast, but it’s up and over the railway tracks and out into the countryside.  We’ve barely taken a few steps when we’re in a field, surrounded by almond blossom.  I stand and stare!  Blossom is opening up in trees all along the roadside, but this is the first time I’ve seen the flowers out in such force.

I can’t understand how my walking friends can be so oblivious of their surroundings, and I linger far behind.  Maybe it’s the lure of a coffee stop up ahead.  On they go, following a path through the fields, a glimpse of sea shimmering on the horizon.

Soon we’re on a paved lane, leading to the E125- a busy road which stretches almost end to end of the Algarve.  We are making a stop at Tianica, a pottery workshop with a cafe and terrace at the rear.

Avoiding temptation in order to have space for lunch, it’s back to the lane after coffee.  A track leads down to the edge of the salt marshes and we follow it back in the direction of Fuseta.  The tide is low, and boats sit silently in the sludge, waiting to be rescued when it turns.

It’s not a long walk, though you can extend it further through the marshes, which continue on the far side of town.  We thread between the fishermen’s cottages and the apartment blocks, and I’m delighted to find remnants of Christmas in the yarn bombed trees.

Go on, admit it!  You’re more interested in lunch.  A leisurely affair at La Plage, on the front at Fuseta, culminating in cake, of course.  I stood in line at the cabinet, hopeful that there’d be a morsel of tiramisu left.  I must have looked desperate, because the waiter served me the last slice and then added a scoop of profiterole to my plate.  Lucky, or what?

Totally replete, I sat by the waterside afterwards, keeping a lazy eye on life.  Finally I persuaded myself to stir in the direction of home.

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Short but sweet, I hope?  I bet you enjoyed the cake.  Got a walk you’d like to share?  Join me here on Jo’s Monday walk for a warm welcome.

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Shall we start with a good clamber?  I think Debbie wrote this one just for Sue :

Clambering through an old Omani village

Anabel is realistic about Scottish weather, but it doesn’t stop her enjoying the beauty :

Hebridean Hop 19 : Tangasdale

I never saw a prettier lighthouse than this one.  Thanks, Alice :

Harbour Town

What do you like in your soup? Can I have Coconut Shrimp for mains please, Jackie :

Soup of the day

The ‘Australian Outback’ on her doorstep is giving Suzanne lots of pleasure :

The desert up the road

Geoff continues the saga of walking with his Dad :

Walking With The Wind At My Back : Part Two

I know it can be beautiful, but I’m not missing this at all, Drake :

Day in the snow

Brian takes us to subtropical community gardens for a little heat.  Want to join him?

Lismore Rainforest Botanical Gardens – the paths

Much nearer to my new home, some beautiful Algarve clifftops :

A cliff walk from Carvoeiro to Ferragudo : the ‘Trail of the Headlands’

While Susan takes us back to a place where she once lived.  The lady has a fascinating past :

Walking Back Home – Pasto, Colombia

And Cathy explores a house not many of us would venture into :

Balcony House at Mesa Verde

That’s it for another week.  Please find time to read them.  I shall be out and about, as usual.  Hope the weather’s kind, wherever you are.