Vila Real de S. Antonio

Jo’s Monday walk : Party time in Ayamonte

You could be forgiven for thinking that I don’t really like living in Portugal at all!  Here I am, hopping on a ferry and crossing the border to Spain, yet again.  Actually, I was trying to salvage a day that was rapidly turning into a disaster.

Not for the youngsters, and Spanish families, though.  Owing to my bad timing I managed to completely miss the traditional Three Kings procession at Vila Real de Santo Antonio in the Algarve last week.  They had already ferried across to Ayamonte when I got there and not a trace of them was to be found in the sleepy streets.  Portuguese families were quietly strolling, sipping coffee in the cafés and contemplating lunch.  In a vain effort to catch up with the action, I persuaded the other half that we too should ferry across the Guadiana.

The atmosphere couldn’t have been more different in Spain!  It felt like the whole world was on the streets, out for a thoroughly good time.  A party was brewing and each and every plaza resounded with lively Spanish chatter.  But still no sign of the Kings!  Taking a breather from the hubbub, we climbed steps through the old side of town to look down on the river.

Back at ground level, everyone seemed to be walking in the same direction, the noise level constantly rising.  Tempting to take refuge for a while in the tranquility of the marina, overlooked by a faded sunset drama.

From across the street another mural smiles at me, inviting despite her tattered appearance.  As people settle into bars and reach for another beer, I begin to realise that I am not destined to see the parade.  The sun is already sinking low in the sky and the last ferry will be leaving soon.  It’s a short ride across the river but a long walk back by road!

Time to make the best of the situation and simply enjoy a beautiful sunset ride home, on a warm and lovely January evening.

Next year I promise to be better organised.  Did you notice, we didn’t even stop for cake? (though I did pick some up to nibble on the ferry  🙂 ). If you’d like to know more about the celebration, this link gives a little background.  Right now I have walks to share.   Join me next time on Jo’s Monday walk?  You’ll be more than welcome.

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Say hello to Natalie!  She’s doing her best to get us all fit this year :

Wellness Post #1 : A Fresh Start

Suzanne’s not trying quite so hard.  Coffee and cake, anyone?  And beautiful scenery too, of course :

A Walk around Mt. Maunganui Mauao

There’s no doubt that Carol’s right!  The waterfront at Vancouver is the place to be :

In the Right Place

Is it Winter somewhere in the world?  Apparently so!  Drake’s tracked it down for us :

Live and let’s snow

No such problems at Alice’s place!

Outdoors in January

While Geoff launches a series of fond memories with his Dad :

Walking With The Wind At My Back : Part One

Jackie always seems to have a plan or two up her sleeve :

New Year Appetizer

And Anabel has always just been somewhere interesting and beautiful :

Hebridean Hop 18 : Vatersay

More amazing architectural explorations with Cathy, this week :

Chaco Culture: Pueblo Arroyo & the Casa Rinconada community

You may not wander far but, if you look, you can always find something interesting.  Pauline and Jack set a fine example :

Lens-Artists photo challenge : Curves in Buddhism

Next week I shall be sharing purely Portuguese almond blossom.  For now my attention is seriously distracted by Australian Open tennis and the return to play of Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.  Have a great week, won’t you?

 

Six word Saturday

Loving Christmas time in the Algarve

I’ve been seriously neglecting Becky’s Square challenge this month, but time marches on and it’s almost time to wish you all a very Merry Christmas.

I’ve seen Aldeia dos Sonhos (the children’s Village of Dreams) in Loulé, a tree made of recycled plastics in São Brás de Alportel, and one decorated with firemen’s boots in Faro.  I’ve hunted down Presépios (Nativity scenes) in towns and villages all across the Algarve.

Perhaps I’m biased but I do think that Tavira’s lights are the best I’ve seen.  Square, or not so square, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas.

Wishing you all the joy of the festive season.  And let’s hope the year ahead is kind.  I will be whizzing around the UK, so no Monday walk for me next week.  But I’ll be home in the Algarve for New Year.  Hope to see you then.  Meantime, don’t miss Debbie’s beautiful six words.

Six word Saturday

Just for Sue- because she asked!

It seems that storks, like my good friend Sue, don’t mind a spot of dereliction.   This wouldn’t be my chosen residence, but they do have a good view from up there, out across the River Guadiana to Spain.  There’s not a great deal of respect for these poor, forlorn warehouses, often fallen victim to street art, like these below, in Tavira.

Most of my week has been cloudless.  Hope you can say the same.  In six words please.

 

 

Six word Saturday

Bedazzled by butterflies in Vila Real

Strolling one Sunday through the riverside market in Vila Real de S. Antonio, I was so distracted by butterflies I almost forgot to make a purchase.  

You never know what you’re going to find, do you?  I had a wonderful time in the Algarve, but it’s good to be back with Debbie and six words.  She’s paddling this week.  Go and see!

Wishing you all a great weekend.

‘K’ is for Kings (three, or more?)

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Hip hooray and happy day!  An opportunity has arisen for me to fill a gap in my much neglected Personal A-Z of Portugal.  You’d forgotten I was doing one, hadn’t you?  Me too, almost!  So today I have Frizz to thank for getting around to ‘K’ in his A- Z challenge.

A collection of kings

A confusion of kings- courtesy of Mike Bradley

First, a question for you.  How many kings do you see?  Three, or more?

I had arrived in the Algarve just after the New Year but in time for Epiphany, and was curious to see what kind of celebrations, if any, this might entail. I knew that in Spain the 6th January was dedicated to the Three Kings, and was hopeful that this might spill over the border into Portugal. I thought there was every chance, especially in my eastern corner of the Algarve.  The shops were full of Bolos Reis – the cake of kings- with their extravagant and colourful toppings.

The tradition of this cake dates back to Roman times, when a King was chosen at Roman feasts if he got the piece of cake containing a fava bean.  I rather like the legend about the Three Kings of the Orient disputing who should be the first to give baby Jesus his gift.  The decision was finally made in the same way- with a cake inside which the local baker had hidden a bean.

I was very happy to discover that there was to be a procession in Vila Real de S. Antonio, a small town on the very edge of the Algarve, with its toes in the River Guadiana.  Better still, the kings were to ferry across the Guadiana to Ayamonte, in neighbouring Spain.

Sure enough, a carnival atmosphere prevailed in Vila Real on Sunday, 6th January.  A Christmas market and ice rink were set up in the main square, Marques de Pombal, with jars of honey and every variety of cake adorning the stalls.  Trying to avert my eyes, I made my way to the Cultural Centre, where I knew there was a Nativity display.  It was enchanting.  As I emerged I was delighted to hear the ‘oompah’ sounds of a band.

Ambling along the street, with caskets of bonbons and flashing smiles, came a procession of kings.  Cordially they distributed sweets and paused to chat or have their photo taken.  It was all very casual and laidback, rather than kingly, but no less charming for that. A dais was set up awaiting them in the square, and soon they were enthroned, hurling the last of their sweets to the cheering crowd.

Beat a retreat?

Beat a retreat?

Thinking that I might manage two processions ‘for the price of one’, and wondering how it would be on the Spanish side of the border, I craftily caught the 12.30 ferry across to Ayamonte.  In January there is a 2 hour time difference between the two countries, so my arrival, 10 minutes later, was at 14.40.  A time at which all self respecting Spaniards are eating.  There was no sign of an impending celebration so, after a leisurely stroll and a delicious ‘biscuit’ flavoured icecream, I returned to the ferry terminal.

Sitting on board, gazing at the river, I became aware of a party of excited children boarding the ferry.  As we left the shore, the adults in the party proceeded to dish out sizeable portions of bolo rei, oozing with cream.  I had high hopes, but was obviously too tall to be regarded as one of their charges.  Nearing the Portuguese shore, I realised just what was happening.  The Kings, minus their band (who had presumably gone to lunch at Portuguese time), were strolling to the terminal, to meet the ferry. As the gangway came down, whistles and cheers and waving of flags greeted the sovereigns. Smiling amiably, they were destined for Spain, their caskets newly filled.

3 kings

I never did fathom out who were the genuine kings and who were the ‘imposters’, but they were a handsome bunch, don’t you think?  I hope you enjoyed my entry for ‘K’.

Many thanks to Frizz for hosting his A-Z challenge, and to Julie Dawn Fox, whose idea the personal A-Z series was.  Please click on the links or logos for more information.

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