Rocky trails!!!

Oh dear, the facts are in, the Rota Vicentina Fisherman’s Trail is not totally sandy, so be prepared for some gravelly sections, ie, don’t leave your shoes behind unless you have barefoot soles of leather!

Today we drove to Entrada de Barca to start our hike and the terrain, although still on top of cliffs had quite a different environment to walk through…

The recent bits of rainfall has certainly helped some of the wildflowers along the trails…

Oh yes we had to walk from the top of the cliff down to the bottom of the small boat harbour and then up some steep stairs on the other side…

Phew, I think I prefer walking the sandy trails and dunes barefoot.

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Hunting and gathering on the road…

It can be a challenge for sure finding your way around any European/Portuguese grocery store. I would say in general there are some similarities, eg, most produce and meat and fish sections are around the outside perimeter with staples (canned, dried, etc) on the inside isles…but not always!!! So entering a new supermarket is always an adventure!

The first challenge is wheeling the grocery carts, it’s a little difficult to explain, but each wheel is independent and moves in all 4 directions….all four of the wheels are swiveling casters, which makes the cart almost too maneuverable and hard to push around corners. 

Also, here in Portugal there is no pre-packaged fresh cut meat or fish. You have to take a numbered ticket and wait until your number is called…good to learn the numbers in Portuguese first. So you do that at the butcher counter, then the deli, and then the fish (if you have the patience!) well then there is the choosing of the various cuts (trying to figure out the Portuguese names????) some of which are not yet cut. And then there is the weighing and do you want more (mais…pronounced my-eesh). Do you want your chicken (frango) cut up or ‘entero’ (whole)? And how many grams of bacon slices would you like? I was sooo happy to find a butcher who spoke English that I bought a huge cartful of meat…he cut the steaks nice and thick for the BBQ (which is a real charcoal barbacoa!)

And where do you find the coconut milk…well over in the UHT dairy/milk section(which is huge). And speaking of dairy, my, my, there are aisles and aisles of cheese…slices, blocks, rounds…and yogurt, crème fresh, quark, butter, margarine, lard, and other products I still don’t know what they are? And it seems to me that eggs are always in a different place…and never in a cooler!

So the shopping always takes a bit longer, but then it’s all part of the adventure. That’s why I really like it when I can find food when I am out for a walk…like today we found a huge fig tree that was loaded…

And there is a lemon tree in the garden..

And the rosemary I found on our cliff walk yesterday…

So this was dinner tonight…

And tomorrow is ‘Market Day’ in our nearby town of Sonega…so stay tuned for the next adventure!

The Rota Vicentina Fisherman’s Trail

If you need just one more experience to add to your ‘bucket list’ I would absolutely recommend this hike! The Rota Vicentina, which follows the Atlantic for 120km along the wildest, most unspoilt coastline in southern Europe. Every step of the way the scenery is spectacular! And for all you minimal footwear folks…DO IT BAREFOOT! I have been able to walk every section barefoot (and have seen 2 other guys, as well). What a feeling of freedom and connection to the earth!

There is something about being on the outer reaches of Europe that you don’t get on the Med, – a wildness, a feeling of life on the edge. The ocean looked calm, but at our feet, Atlantic rollers were pounding in, and a breeze took the edge off the hot sun.

The trail, at times steep and rocky, is magnificent. Paths down ravines revealed deserted sandy coves; each headland climbed brought a further vista of cliffs and stacks, home to raggedy storks’ nests. And lunchtime brought two ravenous people, glad to dive into their picnic. The clifftops we tramped after lunch held such a profusion of greenery they could have been a well-tended garden rather than a remote shore.

Follow the green and blue markers!

A stork nest

A Walker’s Paradise

Now that we have settled into our new Portuguese home we can explore the area on foot. So far we have found some lovely walks through fields and forests, seen sheep, cows, pigs and the ubiquitous Portuguese dogs but very few, if any people!

We came across this old falling down windmill…

And beautiful trees sculpted by the winds…

Yesterday we drove a few kilometers north of Sines to the Santo Andre Lagoon and Nature Réserve. We found the long wide beach that we had been looking for!

And then there was the blustery walk along the Rota Vicentina Fisherman’s Trail south of Porto Covo…gusts of wind up to 60 km/hr!

Today we actually crossed paths with another couple hiking the inland section of the Rota Vicentina!! They were from California. And that was pretty well it except for the shepherd herding his flock of sheep. Then it was home for another gorgeous sunset…

Sooo very different!

Many thanks to dear Simone for taking us to Schiphol Airport on a cool blustery day! Need I say ‘poor Jaap’ was out on the west coast enjoying the sailing on his kite board in a very good breeze! What a lovely time we had with them in Hilversum! Especially the dinner at the best Indonesian restaurant in Netherlands! (www.spandershoeve.nl)

So we flew to Faro, Portugal and were met by another friend, Carol and whisked away to her and Paul’s home in Olhão in the Eastern Algarve region. They were in the process of purchasing this home three years ago when we met them! And my have they done a lovely job on the renovations and garden!!!!

We spent our first day in the warm and glorious sunshine with a trip on a ferry boat from Olhão to the island of Armona.  We wandered the quiet streets, NO cars and many summer homes closed up for the season. On the Atlantic side of the island is a long beautiful white sand beach!

Another great time and lots of laughs with friends and then we were off with our rental car to the Western Algarve. We drove north along the coast stopping at a few towns along the way…Carrapateira, Arrifana beach, Aljezur, Vila Nova de Milfontes looking at possible house rentals. Lots of rocky cliffs with short stretches of sandy beach and loads of ‘surfer dudes and dudesses’ , camper vans from all over Europe! Very busy in a laid back sort of way, which seems to be true in this part of Portugal.

For the past few weeks we have been planning the Portuguese itinerary and so it is with great relief to say that we seem to have found the perfect house in a great location with a fantastic view!!! We are about 6 kilometres east from the sleepy little town of Porto Covo…

And the sunsets are gorgeous!

Boa noite e bons sonhos! (Oh boy, another new language to learn!!!)

Back to our Hilversum Home!

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The last picnic…Spakenburg harbour.

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On Sundays, the ferry a across the Eems River does not run so we rode the extra few kilometers south to cross the bridge…actually quite lovely!

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Crossing the fields of heather just north of Hilversum…hurray, the radio tower is getting closer!

 

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Back to the Veluwe…a land of Contrasts

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We made it back to Our Vrienden cottage in Uddel with our neighbours, the goats, It is in the middle of the Veluwe Area which is another very interesting place to cycle, I think because of the contrasts between forest and dunes, heather and green fields….

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And still some wildflowers…

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Radio Kootwijk was once the only way the Netherlands had to communicate with their holdings in the Dutch East Indies.
Built from 1918 Radio Kootwijk was originally built (and used for only three years) as a Very Low Frequency radio station to connect to the Dutch Indies (now Indonesia). VLF Radio uses enormous antennas and energy to operate. This spurred the building of the town which surrounds the station and which was unimaginatively also named Radio Kootwijk. Within three years of start of operations in 1925, more effective forms of communication the station became available and the enormous main building became obsolete and was closed. Three smaller buildings housing shortwave radio were built to communicate with the colonies.

 

Disconnected….

The past few days we have not had any internet which makes things a little challenging but I have to say I enjoyed the break from the ‘screen time’! However, we have had incredibly beautiful weather and some more good riding.

Before we left Denekamp, we did go to Uncle Henk’s place for drinks after dinner….which meant riding home in the dark! Good thing our bikes are fitted out with front headlamps and rear lights….and of course we were on bike paths most of the way.

It was a fun evening with Aunt Erna and Uncle Theo doing some translation as they spoke very good English!

From Denekamp we cycled to Nijverdal which is on the outskirts of De Sallandse Huevelrug National Park.

Landscape and history

The Sallandse heuvelrug is a moraine, created in the one but last glaciation, Saalien, 150.000 years ago. During the Holocene forests started to develop, but after the growth of the human population, these forests had been cut. From the Middle Ages onwards the area was used for grazing by sheep and goat, and the upper layer of the soil was removed to use it as fertilizer for the crop fields. In this period, the area became a heathland because of sand-drifting. In the beginning of the 20th century the state started forestry programs, to prevent this erosion and to produce pine wood. The area is well known for its scenery because of its relatively large heathlands.

Also at the south end of the park near Holten is the Holten Canadian War Cemetery, one of the largest military cemeteries in the Netherlands, in which soldiers killed during World War II are buried. The Commonwealth War Graves Commission maintains the graves of the Canadian soldiers buried at this cemetery. The cemetery contains 1393 graves and is accessible to the public.

So many, mostly very young men! Another tragedy of war! I planted my little Canadian flag here on one of the graves in memory of so many lives lost.

And more pictures of our day in the park…

Oh and our Vrienden op de Fiets cottage where we stayed for 2 quiet nights!