Portugal-Week 17

Trip Start Jan 02, 2014
Trip End Dec 31, 2014

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Flag of Portugal  , Algarve,
Sunday, May 4, 2014

The weather on the Algarve topped at 35 degrees one day this week, and we still haven't seen a cloud in 10 days. Needless to say, Ron continued to enjoy his feast of golf, playing another 3 rounds, 2 of them on golf courses he hadn't yet played.
During the week, Liz and I managed to do some walking and sight seeing, most of it with Ron. As there is still daylight until after 8:30pm, it has been possible to combine the golf (played either in the morning or afternoons) with sight seeing and then when the temperature drops, end each day on a different beach. 
On Tuesday this week we visited Silves, a town north of Carvoeira, which has the biggest and finest castle in the Algarve. It was built in the Islamic period, on the sight of Roman or Visigothic fortifications (4th or 5th century) with modifications made during reconstruction in the 14th/15th centuries. It is a stunning red sandstone castle built up high, overlooking the rest of the old town . Alongside the castle are the old Cathedral (Se Velha) and Misericordia church, these dating back to 13th and 16th century respectively. We also visited the municipal museum, which was a pleasant surprise, beautifully designed, with one of it's walls being a section of the old city wall. It included the remains of an 11th century Islamic well and moorish ceramics and other archaeological finds discovered during digs at the castle.
On Wednesday, Liz and I did some long walks, first along the beach from the lovely fishing town of Ferragudo, past the fishermens huts and a castle, to praia grande beach, a beach walk that can only be done during low tides as the castle is built on and around the rock face. We then drove across the river (Rio Arade) to Portimao, negotiated the very narrow and busy roads until we could find a place to park, from there we walked to and from the Portimao Marina. 
Thursday 1st May, labour day, was a public holiday and all residents of the Algarve had planned family picnics. We headed out to Sitio das Fontes, a park in Estombar village, as we had picked up a brochure about the park, its tidal mill, water wheel and springs. Families had arrived early to set up picnic spots and children were already kicking about in the spring pools. Several men were playing a game of 'Chincalhao' , which seemed to be a variation of pétanque, with teams at either end of a patch of dirt, throwing heavy metal disks towards a peg at the opposite end, the aim of which seemed to be to knock over the opponents peg. Like pétanque,  which must be payed holding a glass of wine, chincalhao seems to be played with a bottle of beer in one hand. From Estombar, we headed up into the mountains to Monchique, which was only a short drive and with an elevation of 902m, had spectacular views right out to the ocean.
On Friday after a drive to Lagos and a walk around the marina, we joined the Mungoes golf group at a restaurant on Vau beach, Portimao for their monthly lunch. Mungoes is the ex-pat golf group Ron plays with on Wednesdays and Saturdays, several of them are also members of other courses here and have invited Ron to play with them on other days.
After enjoying a great 10 days with Liz, we returned her, very brown, to Faro airport. We then meandered back to Carvoeira along the scenic route, stopping for walks along the promenades and beaches at Quarteira, Vilamoura and Albufeira.  Vilamoura, seems to be the playground of the rich....big yachts, expensive cars and plenty of fashionable boutiques and restaurants. Even so, you could still pick up an English breakfast for €5.
On Sunday afternoon we headed out to Loule, to witness the biggest religious festival in Southern Portugal, Festa da Mae Soberana (Sovereign Mother Festival). I'm not sure whether it was a coincidence that Sunday was mothers day here, or whether the festival always happens on mothers day, but the brochures indicated that it was the 2nd and largest of two festivals, the first one being on Easter Sunday. I think I read somewhere that Mary is the patron saint of Loule. I think we have now completed our religious preparation for our camino walk, we stood through a 1.5 hour outdoor mass, before following the procession of the statue of Mary being carried through the streets, back to her church, Igreja de S. Francisco. I have no idea how many people were there, but it could have been 10 or 20 thousand. They lined the streets and then fell in behind the procession as it passed......Mounted police, scouts, school bands, marching and philharmonic bands, all escorting the statue, which was carried on the shoulders of about 8 men. A great spectacle.

 I think Ron could quite happily move here, he loves the golf and the beaches, doesn't mind the heat and likes the idea that the European ski fields are only a few hours on a plane away. People certainly enjoy a great life style here, but I think I prefer to live in a country where I can still  drink water straight from the tap.
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Ricky on

Lovely blog you 2 and is a great ad for our area. Weather is still "roasting" here but looks as though finally it cools down a bit from Wednesday.
We are now following you so await your next entry.
Ricky and Jan

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