Porto E Fiumicello

Porto E Fiumicello 

Thursday, April 26, 2018

No, we did not take a wrong turn and go to Porto, Portugal much as we love that city. This morning  while Brian gave his knees a break, Eliane and I climbed the hill behind us as far as the road went. There were several houses up the steep incline, mostly holiday homes, one of which was specifically for tourists with a large swimming pool ready for use. There are huge cacti around here, the kind that you can buy at home in tiny pots at Home Depot. These reside in gardens and in the wild and can be a few metres tall and look like shrubbery four metres wide. There are also lemon trees, fig trees and olives in abundance.

I also took another stroll down to the walkway above the water. When I came back up I needed a shower. We then drove to Porto, the small pleasure craft and fishing port below Maratea. Eliane needed to use the bancomat. The closest one was there. We walked around admiring boats of all sizes, even a fleet of kayaks. The church doors were closed. Brian was relieved.

We drove back to Fiumicello with the hopes of picking up lunch before the two o’clock siesta. It was 1:45 PM. The restaurants and supermarket closed at 1:20 PM. Not fair! They are not following the rules! Fortunately we found the black pebble beach. We had not brought our bathing suits but underwear works. Eliane and I enjoyed a refreshing swim. It was a little cooler than yesterday probably because a mountain river rushes into this cove. Brian sat with his feet in the water as happy as he could be without his lunch.

We saw huge trees of bergmansia. The one we bring indoors each fall and cut back, then baby back into producing several large yellow trumpets bears no resemblance to these giants who live outdoors all year.

When we returned to our apartment we got out the bits and pieces that became lunch and still had leftovers when we were done: peanuts, chips, cheese, salami, half a bun, fruit, pastries, chocolate, tea, coffee, beer. I will leave it to you to guess who had what.

there was a beautiful sunset last night. We dined on seafood at Cesar’s, delicious and plentiful.

It’s rest time: reading, writing, snoozing.


Cersuta di Maratea

Cersuta di Maratea

Wednesday April 25, 2018

We are staying at La Calandrella B and B a few kilometres north to the port of Maratea, but probably closer to ten kilometres from the historical centre of Maratea which is high up on a hill, but not as high up as the statue of Christ the Redemptor, the second tallest statue in the world after the one in Rio di Janeiro. Last night Brian and I planned to drive into Maratea for supper then pick up Eliane from the train station shortly after 8 PM. After a few wrong turns and extra driving we found the railway station then went to Fiumicino to buy two pizzas and return to the station. The train was not at all on time. Eliane did not arrive until 9:40 PM . Much worse for her than us since she left home in France at 8 AM and had both plane and train delays. A long day! The pizza was good!

This morning, after our first egg breakfast in a week, with fresh croissants warm from the oven, we drove up to Maratea. We had to wait for one of the few parking spaces. Someone had to leave before we could park.  The centre is for pedestrians only. We walked up and down the old town. There were crowds of people in the streets, lots of children. One of the many churches was packed solid for mass. We stood in the doorway for a few minutes wondering why it was so busy. April 25th is a national holiday celebrating liberation marking the end of the Italian Civil War and liberation from the German forces in 1945. 

Our host filled us with the intricacies of the Italian legal and political system. In fewer words than he spoke: you need permits for everything and getting permits cost lots of money and time (years). Politicians and lawyers are evil. Our host used more colourful words.

this is also a property that has been in the family for centuries and was restored from a ruined state. There used to be many hectares below it to the sea and above to the mountain top, covered in vineyards, olive and lemon trees.  They lived off the land and from the sea. Now commercial fishing has put an end to fishing for family needs.

We returned to Cersuta where we ate pizza and sandwich leftovers from yesterday and had a rest. Brian slept on the sofa; I fell asleep in the sunny garden and Eliane wrote postcards in the shade.

Next up was a walk down to the water where Eliane and I had a glorious swim and Brian hung out on the rocks. Since it is a rocky shore we had to fall into the water. It was instantly deep. The surface water was very warm but just below the surface, a little chilly.  We swam with tiny fishes.

Brian checked our ascent from the shore on Gaia: 165 metres. Eliane and I walked along the path above the shore admiring the varying shades of aqua and taking photos. The sea sure has been calm.

Today we bought supplies at the grocery store for tomorrow’s supper: fresh pasta, Amitriciana tomato sauce, panicetta and parmigiana. Eliane bought salad, chocolate and pastry. We are all set. Tonight we will walk down to the family restaurant, Cesar’s, about five hundred metres away. Apparently they have great seafood dishes.

Sassano and the Valley of the Orchids

Sassano E La Valle Delle Orchidee 

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

A flowerful day! 

We would happily have stayed a few more days in Monte San Giacomo as our large modern room with remote controlled outdoor blinds, comfy bed and delicious food all very reasonably priced were great draws. However we had already booked our next three nights by the sea at Cersuta di Maratea and Eliane is to meet us here this evening. We highly recommend Affittacamere Rezzo for lodging and food and Cilento National Park and the Vallo di Diano for hikers, flower lovers, speleologists, archeologists, and small town lovers. Oh, and did I mention churches? They have those too! We followed three nuns into one of them. We did not have a day to visit the world heritage site of the Certosa di San Lorenzo in Padula, the largest monastery in Italy. This area has evidence of Neanderthal history from 45 000 years ago.

Our main purpose in coming to this area was to see orchids and walk the orchid trail and so we did. We drove to the Ponte del Peglio on the far side of Sassano and began walking uphill to get to the beginning of the trail. An older lady, sporting a black dress,  black sweater and apron, carrying an armload of weeds across the road from her farm stopped us. She asked why we were parking so far down the trail. She told us to drive three kilometres farther up the steep hill. We were dubious as our GPS did not even show the road we were walking on, but we decided to trust a local and we are glad we did. It was indeed three kilometres steeply up. We are glad our little Citroen made it.  There was a parking area for about seven cars. We were the only ones there and no others came while we were there. The other advice our new friend gave us was that it was cold up there, but then she smiled, pointed to the sun and said, maybe not today. Our shorts and tshirts were plenty.

We saw orchids as soon as we were out of the car. We walked two kilometres in two hours because we stopped to admire orchids, wildflowers, ferns, blooming trees and shrubs and mountain vistas. There was snow atop Monte Cervati (1898 metres, 1000 metres higher than us) but the only thing that snowed on us were apple and cherry blossoms. There are reportedly 184 different varieties of orchids here, two-thirds of all the wild orchids in Europe. We think we saw a dozen different ones although we saw hundreds of orchids.

The hillsides are covered in limestone. From a distance the many stones look like snow. The lime is obviously good for orchid growth. We walked back the two kilometres in twenty-five minutes. Curiously that part was all uphill. We had not noticed going downhill. We walked another four hundred metres past the car and discovered two different orchids. Simply beautiful. 

Our drive to Maratea was relatively relaxing. Fewer hairpins and a wider road than yesterday. Brian gave the brakes a workout as it was all downhill to the sea. In fact the coast here is all cliffs so we never actually arrived at sea level. Brian was surpassing the speed limit but traffic kept building behind him. He pulled over now and then to let vehicles pass but here drivers pass even on curves, hills and town streets.

We have a two bedroom apartment above a house with a good view of the sea, 70 metres above it. Brian and I found our way to the water’s edge, down a stone path and stairs covered in leaves and branches. The path has not been used much yet this year. The shore is rocky with caves but the water looks clean and sports varying aqua hues. We will get in for a swim. It is rather like the Amalfi Coast minus the people.

Our hosts are a couple with their adult son, very friendly. The men speak French as well as Italian; so, if my Italian fails we will still manage. This is not as modern a place as what we had last night but it is clean and comfortable. Birds are singing cheerfully since the higher clouds have disappeared and the sun is shining. We already did our laundry and hung our clothes on the deck. A train track runs between us and the sea but trains are short and not frequent.

we are no longer in Campania but the province of Basilicata.

Eliane will be arriving by train around 8 PM. We are looking forward to our annual reunion.


Ravello and Swimming!

Saturday April 21, 2018

4:50 PM

What a perfect day! In every respect, well, maybe not great for Brian’s knees. They had quite a workout. Going down is always harder than going up for him and we had three kilometres of going down stairs from Ravello this afternoon. We really should have listened to a local on a scooter who told us to follow a path different from what the GPS recommended. The staircase we took was not one that had been used much. It was crumbling with weeds growing in it, very little railing and it went straight down the cliff. Very bad for knees. Probably standing in the sea was good for Brian’s knees, sort of like applying ice. Brian did a quick dip, without getting his head wet, but he stood in the water while I swam. I estimate that the temperature was 66 F. I swam the length of the beach. The air was probably 23 or 24 C and with brilliant sunshine, we dried quickly when we got out. We never lay on a beach for long but twenty minutes or so felt great. We got our quota of vitamin D.

Ravello was fabulous! We took the bus up there and were most fortunate that it was not shrouded in cloud as it is now. We had great views. We did the tour of Villa Rufolo. So interesting! Imagine being the Scottish industrialist Nevile Reid who bought the crumbling13th century villa in the 1850s and restored it for all to enjoy. The tower has been converted into a museum which uses high tech video to demonstrate changes to the many ornamental details discovered. The villa is used for a classical music festival. What a great venue! It would be an amazing festival.

In the main villa where Reid lived, there is currently an exhibit of sepia coloured photographs of the way things were. It is a very unusual technique called Affresco Fotografico by Lorenzo De Girolamo Del Mauro. The technique allows you to print a photograph of a sepia tone directly on a plaster wall. Fascinating. 

I loved the gardens. The wisteria is so aromatic. The pink flowering almond was stunning. Geometric beds of pansies and petunias surround a goldfish pond. The fish must have been very happy with the thousand pollywogs swimming around. A tasty feed for the fish.  There was a beautiful metal and ceramic tree sculpture. We have seen lemon trees everywhere on this trip. The trees are covered in black netting, I think to create the ideal microclimate.

We shared a large sandwich freshly made in a deli with thick slices of moist mozzarella, tomatoes, ham and cheese with an olive onion spread. Delicious. 

We visited a ceramic shop. We do not want any more dishes but these were stunning. As we would rather get rid of possessions, we had no trouble resisting purchasing even though shops ship all over the world.

Thursday night we had our first non pasta meal. We returned to Il Ritrovo and had grilled vegetables. I ate three of my four lamb chops and Brian ate the other as well as a platter of deep fried shrimp, squid and anchovies.

Last night we ordered takeout and ate a delicious wood fired pizza from Arcate restaurant directly below us. We bought a bottle of wine, a salad and two cookies and dined for

sixteen euros, definitely our cheapest meal on this trip. We will do an encore this evening as will our deck neighbours who have been visiting in Croatia and Italy. This couple from St John, New Brunswick, are going to spend their second month away in Porto, Portugal. 

Sentiero degli Dei

Path of the Gods 

Thursday April 19, 2018

I have decided that the reason for our delay of a week had more to do with weather than health. We have heard that last week was rainy on the Amalfi Coast and this week is sunny. Hurray! 

What a fabulous hike we had today with a temperature of 23 C, full-on sunshine but just enough shade and breeze when we needed it most. We hiked the Path of the Gods from Montepertuso to Bomerano and back, 14.3 kilometres in five and a half hours of moving time plus eighty minutes of breaks. There were 422 metres of ascent and descent.  Basically we kept going up, up, up then down, down, down but none of it bothered us as much as yesterday’s stair climbing. No doubt not carrying a pack and having our walking sticks made the hike easier.

We took the high route going and the low route coming back. We would not recommend the low route for anyone with vertigo or knee problems, very rugged underfoot. Brian found the return journey to be harder. With his leg brace and support bandage he garnered a lot of attention and admiration.

There were many wildflowers and small ferns. Some of the flowers may have been orchids. We saw various yellows, pinks, and blues as well as purple, orange, white flowers and calla lilies. Two different shades of green lizards repeatedly scurried across our path or up trees or rocks. Only three butterflies: yellow, orange, white. Donkeys, horses, sheep and goats were often heard before they were seen. We feasted our eyes on the Amalfi Coast. I never tire of views of water and it was especially beautiful from varying heights with glimpses of Positano, Montepertuso, Nocelle, Praiano and Bomerano and the ferry and other boats making patterns in the sea.

Soon after Nocelle, near the beginning of our day we found ourselves in the middle of a British group. I said to Brian, “That sure looks like Paul, two ahead of us, and Joanna, two behind us.” They are two of the Niagara Bruce Trail Club hikers. I could not be sure but when Joanna looked me in the eye, we both knew. We walked together for part of the way and had a break together at Bomerano after which they continued with their group to San Lazzaro where their van was waiting and we returned to Montepertuso.

Again a hot shower was all that was needed to cheer us. We are lounging in the shade of our deck. Brian is reading his novel and we are hearing the excited shouts and joy from below as soccer goals are scored. Brian peeks over the edge now and then to see them running around in a dust bowl.

Last night we had dinner at Il Ritrovo restaurant about five hundred metres below us. Salvatore, our host, recommended it as good Italian food and not as expensive as the other restaurant below. When we saw the prices on the menu we were not so sure. Apparently in Italy one is expected to order an appetizer, a first course and a second course. Not only would that have broken the bank but we did not want that much food. We figured we would order what we wanted and if that was insufficient we would get thrown out; so, that was fine. Brian ordered a Calabrese salad and spaghetti with sausage in tomato sauce. I ordered mixed grilled vegetables with three cheese ravioli. Everything was perfect. Not only did we not get thrown out but we were given complimentary prosecco, bruschetta and almond cookies. Receiving our bill took a little while. Our server was very apologetic. It turns out he is the brother of the chef and part owner. He gave us a sachet of the restaurant’s herbs for making bruschetta at home. He said the restaurant has been extra busy. The madness has begun. He is looking forward to November.

A good buffet breakfast this morning: cheeses, salami, cheese bread, fruit bread, two other breads, toasting available, sweet green melon, four homemade jams, yogourt, soles, pears, bananas, juice and cappuccino or other hot drinks available.

The internet is a little weak here; so, not easy to send the blog, especially with photos.9641F9C5-E5AD-4DD9-870B-A1B05743CF65289C2F07-A802-4521-AEDC-216B2C534174F4C19B79-8327-492F-8912-F9213348699A

Montepertuso- Positano

Wednesday, April 18, 201883227963-5968-4914-A9BF-CC5ECAB97D23E580D257-4A93-491F-B67F-F634EB428D65

A hot shower goes such a long way toward making me feel human again. Margaret and Rick, you would have been delighted with an hour and a half of climbing stairs. The Amalfi Coast is the place for you. We were not feeling as blessed. We have not practiced the way you have. While the view of Positano was beautiful that was not what was taking my breath away. It would have been better minus our backpacks.

This morning Gabriele drove us to the Circumvesuviana train station where we waited for the train for half an hour. Sitting on a marble bench on the platform looking at graffiti was not scenic but it was relaxing in shirtsleeves watching two pigeons hop around the rails while a worker picked up litter. When the train arrived, it was a much newer one than what we had used to date, and not as crowded. Fifty minutes later we arrived in Sorrento and transferred to a comfortable packed bus to Positano. 

The next fifty minutes we had two Irish ladies behind us who provided a running commentary of the landscape and the narrow serpentine road that the bus driver careened around. There were many oohs and ahs and “Look! Look! Look!” They knew they would not want to live on any of those cliff faces but the views down to the coast we e spectacular, punctuated with fruit filled oranges trees, lemon trees and wisteria. Brian kept reminding them that the driver was texting and reading emails while negotiating hairpins and beeping to let oncoming traffic know we were there. The ladies did not want this information. Many narrow misses.

When we arrived on the northern edge of Positano, high up on a cliff, the bus driver announced we were in Positano. A number of us questioned this but he kept repeating “Positano”. We and others as well as the Irish ladies got off. The ladies took a taxi from there. Brian looked at the GPS and said we had a two and a half kilometre walk. It was a nice day. We thought it was all downhill. How hard could that be?

It was not an all downhill walk after the first half a kilometre and in fact we were not staying in Positano but much higher up in Montepertuso. The GPS lied many times, stating we had another 200 metres to a turn, declining that was really two hundred metres of altitude. I am sure we walked up 5000 steps. Okay, maybe that is an exaggeration, only 4900. I kept imagining Margaret say she could see the top but when I arrived at that step, there was another top.

The good news is that we made it to Le Ghiande B and B where we have a large deck out of our apartment. So far we have only stored clothes on the very long leather sofa but we might  find another use for it. So after our shower and a little rest we walked down the stairs five hundred metres to catch the bus to Positano. Twenty minutes later we were walking down a winding path through shops appealing to tourists: beach wear, art; jewelry, ceramics. The path had a lengthy canopy of fragrant wisteria. We bought a large slice of  delicious pizza and shared this as our lunch (5 PM then). 

A highlight today was arriving on the beach in Positano and shedding my socks and shoes and walking the length of the beach in the water which was Georgian Bay summer warm about 68F, perfect. I will return in my bathing suit. Brian napped on the beach.

A wee list from last night’s fabulous meal; Rossanna is a great chef:  Cod cakes, zucchini frittata on phyllo, braised kale, fried anchovies, spaghetti with pepper and olive sauce, half a grilled dorado, shredded red cabbage, ice cream with fruit, limoncello 

Blue Sky Day

Saturday, September 30, 2017
Blue Sky in Grey County

While we were in Portugal, most days were blue sky days. Since we arrived home we have seen far more grey skies. From Thursday evening to the wee hours of this morning we had plenty of rain with fierce winds. People north and south of us lost power as tree limbs or trees downed hydro lines. We were spared. Today turned into a blue sky day.

This morning I drove to the Riverside Community Centre southwest of Meaford to participate in a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new Trout Hollow Trail and to walk a few kilometers on the trail with Robert Burcher as our guide. Robert is a John Muir enthusiast who has been compiling data about Muir for a number of years. Robert gave a very interesting presentation to the Owen Sound Field Naturalists in the spring. That inspired me to participate today. Robert is a member of the Canadian Friends of John Muir. Muir was an environmentalist, botanist, writer, co-founder of the Sierra Club and known as the father of the National Parks system in the United States. Muir spent two years (1864-1866) in Ontario a year of that time working for the Trout family at their mill near Meaford.

Today’s hike took us to locations that have been identified and sign posted of the mill and cabin where Muir worked and lived as well as other historical features including the remains of a concrete dam that was used to create a 30 foot deep lake on the Bighead River. While we can still see where the dam was and stand in the Hollow where a lake once existed. It is hard to reconcile today’s peaceful pastoral scene where there once was a project that provided electricity for Meaford and a bridge where people used to walk for a Sunday outing.

I will have to visit the Meaford Museum the next time I come to hike Trout Hollow with my hiking buddies. There are 14 kilometers of trail of varying difficulty. We did not hike the whole system today.

Instead of going to the museum after our hike for cake and coffee, I drove into Meaford to admire the many scarecrows that are hanging about on the Main Street. At this time of year no visit to this area is complete without stopping at one of the roadside stands to buy apples. I brought a bag of sweet juicy Honey Crisps home to Brian who was waiting for our new fridge to arrive.

The fridge did not arrive until after I came home, but Brian made good use of his day cleaning the pond, doing laundry, getting rid of wasps and making our bed with fresh sheets. What a great husband!

We golfed nine this afternoon. A month’s absence did not improve our scores. We do not usually golf on a Saturday as it is usually busier; thus, slower. Brian had time for a nap while waiting to hit his ball off number five tee.

Lagos to Lisbon

Lagos to Lisbon
Monday, September 25, 2017
1.5 km walking, 270 km train, across Lisbon by metro to Baixa Chiado, 1.5 km walking to Cais do Sodré to Five Stars 8 Apartment Building

We rose in the dark, before 7 AM, ate a clementine and yogourt and headed for the train station in the predawn empty streets of Lagos. Lovely! A 1.5 kilometre walk took us across the pedestrian bridge to the train station, a cafe de leite and a nata (custard tart…very flaky crust). The train left a few minutes early. We were in Tunes less than an hour later where we changed trains on the same platform for our first class car to Lisbon. The seats are more comfortable but no extra legroom. In fact I have less. I have a small table between me and a man. The table legs take up my foot room. The windows are only marginally cleaner. For better train travel it sure would be good to have clean windows. The first class carriage is quieter than second class and it has curtains for those who want to block the sun and the changing landscape. Had a cafe in the bar car.

We passed four golf courses along the coast but many more citrus groves, mostly oranges, I think, a few vineyards. We saw storks on nests; before this we only saw empty nests. A second nesting? Went through hilly country going north, dry meadowland, some clocks of sheep, cork and olive trees, endless blue sky.

Arrived in very busy beautiful Lisbon. Look out for trams, cars, tuktuks, people! Good sandwiches at La Padraria Portuguesa. Room for 2 more on the sofa bed in our big apartment that even has a dishwasher. Too bad we will not be here long.

My friend, Joan, asked me where I would choose to stay for a month in Portugal based on our travels here. Tough question. Part of my decision making would be based on the time of year and what I would want to do. We came to Portugal in September specifically for kayaking the Douro River. This trip was only offered in June or September, both are months when I do not like to leave home but we wanted to do the kayaking trip and we are really glad we did. Our guide, Jack, is 76 (you would not guess this!) and he plans on retiring this fall, unless he doesn’t, but Rui, his partner, will be continuing.

What we saw of the Douro was from the river, but if I were to pick a spot to locate on the Douro, I would probably choose something on the upper Douro, east of Regua. We walked across a
Grande Randonnee hiking trail. These trails come down from France. Something to research further.

You may have guessed, we like an active trip; so we would look for an area suited to hiking, kayaking, swimming, cycling. I am not, however, the cyclist our son is; so a lot of uphill would not be on my list unless I could switch to electric. It makes sense to pick a place that is central to a number of opportunities; so, much as I love water, a coastal location is not ideal.

Based on what we have seen, and preferring to travel in April, I would probably pick Zambujeira, on the Fisherman’s Trail since there are stunning views and beautiful beaches ( too cold for swimming but good for hiking). It is very accessible if you rent a car to hike more trails( the whole Rota Vicentina which includes side loops and the historical way) and see more great panoramas. There are rivers running to the coast suitable for kayaking. It’s not far from inland villages of historical significance or from the Algarve should you wish to see more tourists. It’s two and a half hours to Lisbon or three and a half hours to Seville by car. Buses will take longer. There is no train from there.

I would probably check information about Monchique which is inland from Zambujeira. I have not been there but it would be more central for the southwest, away from cool Atlantic winds, good hiking area. Evora is a larger town. We did not go there but we met other couples who were using it as a central place from which to explore southern Portugal.

Based on what a couple of Portuguese men have told us southeast Portugal on a lake is the best place to be. I am not sure what lake they had in mind but it appears that there is a reservoir and the Vale do Guadiana National Park which looks very interesting for hiking and water activities and is central for south Portugal and close to Spain (2.25 hours to Seville and another 1.75 hours to Gibraltar).

Zambujeira to Odeceixe

Zambujeira to Odeceixe
18.65 km in 6 hours 35 minutes
Stopped Time: 1 hour
193 metres of ascent, 213 metres of descent
Thursday September 21, 2017
Best to be a mountain goat!

We took more breaks today, partly because we were tired, partly because it was the best thing to do! What goes up, must come down. We did that over and over. There were at least three of those parts that it would have been preferable to be a mountain goat. The goat would not have needed to hang on to a rope while also using poles for one descent. The slippery scree and slick faced shist were challenging in both directions. I stopped three times in the first ten kilometres to change my socks because they were wet with sweat. I hoped to avoid more blisters but I now have one on each heel. I do not plan on wearing socks and shoes for the rest of our trip: five days left but no big hikes. My feet are decorated with blister bandaids.

We started our morning with a gift of fig jam from our Air BnB host, Lita. She also gave us a baggie of dried figs for our hike. Lita made sure Brian’s bag was picked up and went on to Odeceixe. Last night we rested playing dominoes on the sunny roof deck before going to watch the sunset then have a chicken dinner at a restaurant with a view of the ocean.

Zambujeira has two beautiful beaches at the foot of the town. Brian’s knees were too tired to do all those stair steps down to the beach and back. I was willing but I may not have had the energy to make it back up the steps. Zambujeira would have been a good place to spend two days just to have a day to enjoy the beaches.

Instead we stood at the sea wall high above the beach taking photos of sunset. I must have been concentrating on the sun more than Brian as he noticed the eight people relaxing in the nude on the beach. I did not. Today with only four kilometres left in our hike, we also stripped at riverside to enjoy the salty Atlantic as the tide continued up the Seixe River. It sure felt great! No photos of this event! We were not the only strippers here. It seemed the best thing for a hiker to do. Dressed again, we enjoyed the last four kilometres much more. I walked in the river for a few hundred metres before putting my socks and shoes back on.

Earlier in the day I had just been saying that maybe Goretex shoes were not the best for this hike since they hold the heat and we had not encountered water. Minutes later that changed. We crossed several muddy sections of trail where springs crossed the trail. We even had to walk in streams since there was so much undergrowth there was no way around them.

There was a beautiful waterfall that fell over a cliff to the beach. I had to wait for a couple making out on the beach to get out of the way for my photo.

We chatted with two German university students for the last four kilometres. The girls had taken seven days to do what we did in five but they had also been camping along the way and walking shorter distances. They observed that they did not walk as fast as us. I noted that I would not walk barefoot on hot pavement as they were doing. We have seen a couple of people walking barefoot in the sand. I considered doing so but there were too many places I would have needed to put my shoes back on.

I do not know how people walk long distances without poles. They certainly propel us along and are essential for the ascents and descents.

We passed a farm of exotic animals: American bison, ostriches, ibex. They were behind a seven foot tall fence. Not sure which animal they thought would leap over that. An electrical wire also kept them in. A sign said there was video surveillance. We did not see any but we had no plans to lead a bison on our hike.

A mechanical harvester was emptying a field so sweet potatoes with the help of several men ensuring that the produce fell properly into crates. It looked like very dusty work.

We had some pica pau with a beer and Radler as we entered Odeceixe. We have seen pica pau on the menu but had not tried it. We are glad we did. It is strips of pork cooked in a light gravy with a little cauliflower and carrots. We used every crumb of bread to soak up the gravy.

We are clean once again, rested in our new abode, Casa Morais, where our hosts only speak Portuguese. I am putting my studies of the language to work.


Almograve to Zambujeira

Almograve to Zambujeira
20.72 in 5 hours and 45 minutes
Full Sun, some ocean breeze
Wednesday, September 20, 2017

The days are blurring. I have to think about what day it is. Today is the last day of summer. I do not think the weather will change tomorrow. I think it was 25c today. When the trail took us to the cliff top we could feel the delightful ocean breeze. When we were led through large dunes and along inland gravel or dirt roads, our view and our breeze disappeared.

Today was a surprise. Our hotel manager, Manuel, had told us we would have seven kilometres of soft sand to walk in. Happily there may only have been four kilometres of it. Trudging uphill in soft sand is particularly exhausting. The first few kilometres were on boardwalk the. Hard packed dirt road above the ocean. Every few hundred metres we were invited by signs to participate in exercises on a fitness circuit. We did not feel compelled to do jumping jacks or torso twists or run on the spot. We just kept walking.

Last night in the restaurant we chatted with a German/English couple. They had lost their way yesterday and ended up taking a taxi to Almograve. They said they met two other couples who did the same. All of them missed the short signpost hiding in the bushes near the end of the sod farm. There the trail was best suited to wee folk but I had spied the sign and we made our way through without a machete. Today this couple was going to take a taxi to Cavaleiro, the midpoint and hike from there.

Our fresh sea bream was expertly grilled. Our restaurant host had us trying some drinks on the house: schnapps, moscatel and an almond liqueur. I liked the last best.

Today after two hours we had finished nearly ten kilometres and rewarded ourselves with cafe com leite, a ham and cheese pastry and a custard tart. At this first cafe on the trail there were a dozen hikers going the opposite way. Today we passed eight people in the first hour then we took turns passing and being passed by another couple as we took different breaks along the way.

I did it have much sand to dump today but I changed my socks twice. My socks get soaked with sweat. I have acquired a blister on each big toe. I have never had one in either location before. One of the perils of hiking.

we passed fields of sweet potatoes and tomatoes where pickers were filling crates. There were fields of butternut squash already harvested but corn still to be taken in.

Driscoll’s has acres of greenhouses here full of berry plants.

We saw a couple of sailboats more than a kilometre out in the ocean. The water looked pretty calm compared to previous days when we have seen kayakers fighting the waves a couple of hundred metres from shore. There was more rocky shoreline than sand beach with amazing folds to the rocks and layers of quartz shining between black layers of schist.

Shrubs with dark green sticky looking leaves bordered a good part of the trail. These three to four foot tall shrubs had finished blooming and sparkles in the sun. There was a pleasing fragrance from them but we did not dare touch their stickiness. In one place where we had to inch our way down a rocky slope we had a hard time avoiding these shrubs as they crowded us on both sides of the trail.

We saw a very distinctive sandy coloured residence with multiple buildings of domes and turrets. We surmised that it belonged to a drug lord or wealthy being who required a helicopter pad.

It was easy to find our lodging today at the first street we came to. We were lucky to catch our host Zita just before she went out. We have a two bedroom apartment with upstairs sunny deck. Our laundry is drying on the lines. Brian had his pack shipped today along with extras from mine. That gave his knees a rest. I carried my pack most of the day as it is small on Brian. I encouraged drinking water to lighten my load.

Time to explore Zambujeira and find some blister bandaids.