Tag Archives: Portugal

Up and Down with the Brauns

It has been raining LOTS every day in the Algarve.  Despite this we have managed to get in two great hikes with our guests John and Velma. cousinsWe first hiked down to the beautiful rock formations at the Lighthouse in Lagos. lunch lighthouseWe stopped for a lunch break before tackling the 200  steps leading down to the ocean. kissing at the point lagosIt was Dave’s idea that each couple pose for a romantic picture down by the rocks before we walked back up the stairs. brauns at the point lagos

We had already been to the Ponta da Piedade site with our friend Rudybut were happy to go down there again and introduce its beauty to John and Velma.

hiking to the lighthouse On Wednesday we went on our second hike to the small community of Burgau. hke to bergauVelma and I had some great conversations as we walked up and down the cliffs. burgau lunchAfter having lunch in Burgau we explored the village walking up and down the steep streets. 

Our morning walk had been quite pleasant but the afternoon turned bitterly cold and the wind was blowing hard.artist on the beach I admired this dedicated artist who was down on the beach in Burgau braving the elements to paint the scenery. bus stop at bergau

Because the rain was coming down quite hard we decided we would take the bus home. We have caught the bus up at the top of a hill in Burgau before and I always wanted to have my picture taken with the cool mural on the wall of the bus shelter.  So yesterday I did!

We sure to hope the weather improves a little for the rest of the Braun’s stay.  They are hardy travelers however and are the kind of folks who will have a good time despite the ups and downs of the weather. 

Other posts……….

A Family Affair

Our Home in Praria da Luz



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A Family Affair With An Exciting Start


supper at mere lagos

Having dinner with John and Velma- our cousins, Paul and Shirley- our brother and sister-in-law and Ken who is Paul and Shirley’s friend.

Had they been in an accident?

On Sunday afternoon Dave’s cousin John and his wife Velma arrived to spend a week with us.  Monday morning we were looking forward to a visit from Dave’s brother Paul, his wife Shirley and their friend Ken. They are staying in a community about an hour’s drive away and said they would arrive at our place at 11:30.  

When they didn’t come by 12:00 we thought they might be a little lost.  

By 12:30 we figured they might be really lost.  

At 1:00 we wondered if they’d had a flat tire.

At 2:00 we speculated that one of them had experienced a serious health crisis.  We kept checking our e-mail but no word from them.

At 2:30 we were sure they had been in a horrible accident.

When they finally arrived close to 3:00 we found out they had gotten REALLY LOST!  I blame myself for not sending them detailed enough directions and was just SO grateful they were all okay and had arrived. 

windy day hiking to lagos

It was a cool and breezy day for hiking .

We had some tapas and then set off on a hike.  We had wanted to go to the spectacular Ponta da Piedade site, but it was a very windy day and some members of the group found the path quite gruelling and so we adapted our plans and headed straight to the Mere Restaurant in Lagos about a 6 kilometer trek from our home. hiking to lagosDave and I took a bit of good natured ribbing about leading them on such a long hike before they could eat supper and for choosing a restaurant that wasn’t very authentically Portuguese and too modern.  

goat cheese appetizer mere

Amazing goat cheese made here in the Algarve served with fig and pumpkin jams.

But……….. a fabulous goat cheese appetizer

cataplana dish

Dave and I shared a hot and delicious cataplana dish

and the wonderful fish offerings on the menu along with the local green wine and a pitcher of  Sangria inspired plenty of positive comments and lots of  merriment as did the promise of a taxi ride home instead of a hike. 


Dave’s brother Paul feeling accomplished after the first leg of our hike.

Back in Praia da Luz we had our nightly glass of port and dish of ice-cream and played euchre, a long standing tradition on the many previous winter holidays we have enjoyed with Paul and Shirley.  Then we all headed to bed.  In the morning two different groups set out on a walk through the community and both came back with Portuguese egg tarts for all. Shirley made coffee and we had a lively visit around the kitchen table enjoying our double round of tarts and a conversation that ranged from art to politics to music to the experiences most in the group recalled from their growing up years in Leamington, Ontario. 

Before noon Paul and Shirley and Ken headed back to their place.  It was lovely to have so much family together in Portugal. 

Other posts………

Terrified Times Three

Snake Wine Memory

A Bone Rattling Introduction



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A Top Ten List About the White Storks of Portugal’s Algarve

I have been intrigued by all the white storks we have seen in the Algarve and have been photographing them. I wondered why there are so many.  So I did a little research.  Here are the top ten things I learned about the storks of the Algarve.

  1. Males and females look almost the same although the male is sometimes a little larger.  Storks are monogamous and partner for life. Males and females build their nests together.
  2. Storks don’t sing like many other birds however they do make sounds by clattering their beaks. They open and close their beaks quickly making a very loud kind of knocking sound.
  3. Storks from all over Europe that used to migrate to Africa flock to the Algarve now and stay here all year round. This is partly because climate change has brought milder weather but also because storks no longer need to travel to warmer points to find the lizards, frogs, worms, snakes, insects and fish that used to be the mainstays of their diet. Now they eat at landfills and from people’s garbage cans which provide them with junk food all year round.
  4. Their nests are enormous and built on top of chimneys, telephone poles, church steeples and in trees. Portuguese law protects the nests which are made of sticks, branches, grass and twigs. The same nests are used year after year. It is believed some have been in continuous use for a hundred years. 
  5. The female lays three to five eggs in April and babies become independent after three months. Both parents share the tasks of sitting on the eggs, feeding the babies and protecting and nurturing them.
  6. Storks can live for as long as thirty-five years.
  7. Storks are social creatures gathering in huge flocks of up to two hundred here in the Algarve.
  8. An old Hans Christian Anderson story called The Storks  popularized the idea that storks bring babies into the world. According to German folklore storks found babies in caves and swamps and brought them to couples in a basket held in their beaks. Sometimes the babies were dropped down chimneys. Greek and Roman myths feature storks as examples of devoted parents caring for their children and in turn also as devoted children caring for their aging parents.
  9. The long broad wings of the stork with a span of up to 185 centimetres allow it to soar gracefully through the sky. 
  10. Some 14,000 storks are thought to make their home in the Algarve area of Portugal

Other posts…………..

Finding the Elusive Quetzal in Costa Rica

The Dawn Chorus

Dave Driedger Bird Detective

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What’s Your Place Like?

One of my blog readers has been asking me to describe our temporary home here in Praia da Luz, Portugal.  So today I thought I would give you a little tour. our building in praia da luzThis is how our building looks from the outside.  We are on the fourth floor. We were taking the elevator up to our apartment when we first got here but since our friend Rudy arrived we have been taking the stairs because he’s trying to whip us into better shape. 

kitchenThis our cozy kitchen.  Rudy is at the sink because he does all the dishes, takes out the garbage and recycling, and always sets the table nicely for each meal. dinner with ann and ernieHere is the kitchen from another angle when we were entertaining guests from Winnipeg.sunrise praia da luzThis is the view from the kitchen window at sunrise. dave in our livingroomRudy has just made Dave’s morning coffee and served it to him in the livingroom. diningroom praia da luzI have set up a little work area for myself at the end of our enormous diningroom table. with werner and adeliaHere’s how the space looked one evening when we were entertaining guests for dinner. our bedroomThis is our bedroom with a large bathroom across the hall.  Rudy has a similar bedroom with a small bathroom attached. third bedroomWe also have a third bedroom. Sometimes either Dave or I go to sleep here when the other person is snoring too much. happy hour on balconeyWe actually have three balconies. This one has a table and chairs and provides a lovely view of the ocean for happy hour. In all truthfulness however the day I took this photo was the only one when it was warm enough to have happy hour outside. 

church in praia da luzOur building is just across the street from the local church where we attended services one Sunday and…….one block from the oceanwe are just one short block from the beach promenade. 

So that’s where we’ve been hanging our hats for the last three weeks. We will be here another couple weeks before heading off for points north of Lisbon for the final leg of our stay in Portugal.  

Other posts…………

House with a View and So Much More

Sleeping Under the Eaves

A House Built From Grain Elevators

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A Chapel of Bones

“Stop here and consider, that you will reach this state too.”  

That reminder is over the entrance to the Capela dos Ossos or the Chapel of Bones in Faro, Portugal.  We visited it the day we went to Faro to meet our friend Rudy at the airport. 

church in faro portugal

I stand outside the The Igreja do Carmo cathedral in Faro Portugal

The chapel is located in the rear courtyard of the The Igreja do Carmo church. 

veronica in church in faroWe first went inside the church where I found another Veronica Station of the Cross to add to my photo collection of them from around the world.  inside faro cathedralThe inside of the church is very ornate decorated with gold from Brazil which was once a Portuguese colony. chapel of bonesThe Chapel of Bones just behind the church lives up to its name.  It contains the bones of over a thousand monks whose bodies were exhumed in the 19th century from Faro’s overcrowded cemetery. IMG_3825The monks’ faces stare at you from the ceiling and walls of the Chapel of Bones.  The practice of moving bones from cemetery plots into ossuaries after a period of seven to ten years was once common in Catholic Europe. monk skulls on wallsThere are still ossuaries like the ones in Portugal in Spain, France, Poland, Czechoslovakia and Italy. faros chapel of bones

The Chapel of Bones was certainly a unique place to visit, although I think there may be slightly less macabre ways to remind to people that we need to live each day of our lives to the fullest. 

Other posts. ……

The Catacombs- Myth and Reality

A Veronica Sighting in Costa Rica

Cambodia Revisited

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We Just Keep Meeting More Winnipeg People in Portugal

We had dinner last night with Wilf and Karen.  They have spent the last week in Lagos a six kilometer walk from Praia da Luz where we live, and so in the late afternoon we trekked in to Lagos to have dinner with them.  Although we don’t get together with Wilf and Karen regularly back in Winnipeg, we are close friends with Wilf’s sister and her husband, and when we lived in a house trailer in Landmark early in our marriage, Wilf’s Dad was our landlord.  

It is always great to spend time with fellow travelers and compare notes about what they have been seeing and doing. We went for dinner at Mare. It is a seafood restaurant right over the fish market in Lagos.  So naturally we all had fish.  I had the shrimp curry which was great and the others shared cataplana.  A cataplana is actually a piece of cookware made of copper or aluminum and shaped kind of like a clam shell. Last night the cataplana’s at our table were filled with many different kinds of fish all cooked together. 

Since it was cold and dark by the time our meal was finished we decided to take the bus home.  Wilf and Karen waited at our stop with us and we carried on visiting till our bus arrived.  We had a lovely evening with them.  

I wonder which Winnipegers we will rendezvous with next in Portugal. 

Other posts…….

More Winnipeg Friends in Portugal

Coming All the Way to Portugal To Get To Know People From Our Church

A Reunion With Old Friends, Great Stories and Portuguese Wine



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Biblical Reflections, Creative Rock Naming and Noticing the Little Things Along the Seven Hanging Valleys Trail

I finally just stopped taking pictures!  There was too much beauty all around!

Yesterday we went on another stunning hike recommended by our friends Werner and Adelia, a twelve kilometre moderately difficult trek. It was called The Seven Hanging Valleys Trail. Maps along the way let us know where we were at various points on our journey.  There were fences to keep you from inadvertently walking too close to the edge of the cliffs and tumbling down into the ocean and trail markers that helped you find your way. Two equal signs meant you were on the right path.  A marker with an X meant you’d gone the wrong way.  Left and right turns were also clearly marked. 

Our friend Rudy was in a rather theological mood on this hike referencing various Biblical stories as we walked. As we approached this long staircase up the cliff for example he recalled the ladder the angel’s walked up and down while the Old Testament character Jacob lay dreaming. Rudy also mentioned the story of King David’s son Absalom as we walked under a low hanging branch on our path. Rudy remembered that Absalom’s hair had become tangled in just such a branch and this led to his death.   Our path which was sometimes wide and sometimes narrow reminded Rudy of the injunction in the book of Matthew that the wide path leads to destruction. 

Dave took to naming the various rock formations we encountered.  This one for example he dubbed Shark’s Tooth.  This one was Elephant Drinking Water. and this one Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookie without the chocolate chips. I tried to look for the smaller wonders on the trail. A brilliantly lime green gecko that walked with great difficulty across the stony path. Gorgeous flowers springing up from cracks in the stone the seashells that had become embedded in the rock in so many places and the cactus getting ready to bloom.Rudy and I checked out some of the sink holes or cenotes along the path. They reminded us of the cenote in Mexico where we had gone swimming with Rudy and his wife Sue many years ago. All over the Algarve you can see signs like this advertising boat trips through water caves. We were walking on top of those caves and looking down into them. We saw some boats inside the caves on our walk. That would definitely be another interesting way to explore this same area. This is the Cathedral Cave which is the one pictured on all the brochures and billboards but photographed from our perspective on the hike. Some fellow trail walkers told us couples actually boat into this water cave with their wedding guests and get married there. The reason the trail is called Seven Hanging Valleys is because there are seven valleys along it. Each one is associated with the mouth of a former river.  The valleys were formed when the limestone coastline was rapidly eroded. Of course the erosion of limestone has created other breathtakingly beautiful scenes along the trail. I thought our hike to Ponta Da Piedade earlier in the week had really been something.  But the scenery yesterday was unbelievable.  I finally just stopped taking photos because I already had way too many and I just wanted to enjoy the vistas. This  is how the Seven Hanging Valleys Walk is described on the Walk the Algarve site. 

Here, the azure-colored ocean has conspired with the warm-colored cliffs to create the quintessential Algarvian seascape and one of the most rewarding walks along the sun-kissed coastline.

A most apt description if there ever was one!

Photo credits:  Some photos in the post were taken by my friend Rudy and some by my husband Dave

Other posts……..

Nature’s Artwork

The Arches 

Glacier Hike

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