Category Archives: Travel

Mérida, MEMORIES, MONTY PYTHON & Ben Hur

I’m not the most thorough researcher when it comes to travel plans, preferring to take what comes, as we meander along our journey, but Her Outdoors is . So, whenever we travel from/to the UK in our camper van, she likes to find and take in, the the many Unesco world heritage sites on our route through France, Spain and Portugal. Sometimes, through shortage of time, or lack of internet connection, the research can be minimal and we miss things, or leave them for another visit.

On a previous trip we visited Mérida in Spain and were quite impressed with the aqueduct there we came upon. As we were keen to get to Portugal, we only stayed one night and so had a quick recce at the aqueduct, rather than walk along it’s original 17 km length! We took the pics, parked up for the night and then got an early start the next day. What a mistake!

Mérida Aquaduct

Alzheimer’s Alert here… last year when we decided to visit Mérida, we had forgotten all about our previous visit! What a wonderful surprise, then to discover the amazing and extensive Roman ruins that we had been totally unaware of on our previous visit.

Wondering about the Monty Python and Ben Hur references? You’ll have to watch the video to find out… Or, unlike me, do more detailed research!

MONSARAZ

Monsaraz

Monsaraz isa hill top village, some 200km east of Lisbon, near the border with Spain. We visited on our way back from the UK in our campervan. Monsaraz is a delightful place which attracts many tourists.

Monsaraz is just 150km away from Merida in Spain, the largest Roman settlement on the Iberian peninsula. Watch out for a future blog and video on Merida.

Her Outdoors shouting for help… in the great outdoors!

The lake you pass on the route in from Spain provided us with a very refreshing swim, on a baking hot day, prior to walking round the village. It seemed like we had the whole lake to ourselves. Except for a lovely French couple we met who were also enticed by the cooling waters of the lake.

Refreshed and ready to roam…

Sintra

Sintra is a place that is well worth a visit when you are in or near Lisbon. Situated about 30km from Lisbon it’s a delightful town situated within the hills of the Serra de Sintra. But be warned, if you are going with a caravan, the advice is, don’t!


One of the less tight spots

We travelled there in our motorhome, 7.1 metres long and 2.2 metres wide. Whilst we managed on the tight, twisty roads, it’s not recommended. Our quest to find an overnight parking spot was an adventure, which culminated in a misty drive through the hills, then through a little village with about 15cm between the wing mirrors and the house walls. We couldn’t even get out to take a pic! Eventually, we found a secluded lay-by on a quiet road, shrouded in a thick mist. Very atmospheric.

Breakfast Coffee @ Royal Picnic spot

We awoke to a fabulous view to the coast, a short distance away, and across the road was a royal picnic area! What an amazing find, what serendipity. The added bonus for us was that it was very near the Penn Palace, our destination for the day (see the video below).

Bradford’s Best Kept Secret is Unearthed

What links Bradford born Kiki Dee, with Winston Churchill, the Moody Blues, Rod Stewart and Bradford street cleaners? Read on…

November time and I found myself in cold, wet Bradford, West Yorkshire. Her Outdoors and myself visit Bradford every year, taking the opportunity to visit friends and family. But we usually go in the summer time, when the temperature is higher. Just a  few degrees, but it makes a difference. Anyway, this visit I did by myself, hence my idea to explore the new(ish)  city centre developments. Bradford has being trying to re-build an image that is constantly being tarnished. The city is trying to generate tourism to bring much needed income into the area, but also to draw locals back into the city centre for their shopping and entertainment needs.

Eleven years in the making…

A major new shopping mall development was started in 2004 but was halted due to the recession, only completing in 2015. The Broadway is an extensive new shopping mall that Bradford really (?)  needed as they only had one city centre shopping mall, the Kirkgate Arndale Centre… that’s if you don’t count the Foster Square Retail Centre which is less than a mile away…. The city has an history of planning controversies but The Broadway was a huge embarrassment for the city, particularly as what was left for many years was an enormous hole in the ground.

Recently however, a local business man and developer has used a different hole in the ground to created an amazing new development, Sunbridge Wells. Billed as ‘Bradford’s best kept secret’, it’s a subterranean delight for beer and gin lovers, cave dwellers (errr… any out there?) and those that enjoy tradition, history and something different.

Check out the video to find the links!

Weather or Not – Health Benefits of Moving to a Warmer Climate

Apologies to Will…

One of the main reasons for people moving to Portugal is the health benefits of living in a warmer climate. As ‘Her Outdoors’ and I (Sundance) both suffer from different forms of arthritis, ailments and mood swings (I’m a self confessed SAD sufferer!) it was certainly a major factor in our decision to move here.

And what lovely weather we have had, up to mid February that is, when the first significant rain fell. At the time I was considering changing Angela’s nickname from ‘Her Outoors’ to ‘Raindancer’. (Mmm, Sundance and Raindancer, think we’ve got all bases covered there…)  As a gardener she was delighted when the rain did come.

So is there evidence of health benefits to be derived from living in a warmer (usually) climate, or are they just part of the Estate Agent’s hype? Personally, I have been fitter, more active and healthier since we moved to Portugal. However, these last three cold, wet months have had a negative effect on my health.  I’ve felt lethargic, more joint pain and been prone to changing moods. I wanted to know whether it was because of the weather, so here’s my take on my limited Google research.

One of the main benefits of a warmer climate is the increased exposure to the sun, which increases your body’s vitamin D levels. Vitamin D has been claimed to prevent cancer, provide higher energy levels, and keep your bones strong and healthy by helping your body absorb calcium.

Some of the comments I came across were; “Pain thresholds drop in colder weather”,  “cold, rainy days affect mood, “during colder weather people are less likely to be outside and get the exercise that normally helps keep arthritis pain in check.

A warmer climate will probably make you more motivated to exercise, or maybe just give you more get up and go! Motivation to exercise is certainly the case for me as I’ve taken up the Portuguese Triathlon; I swim in the pool most days, check the fridge to ensure I haven’t run out of beers and cycle to the local Bar when I have!

Joking aside, I have taken up playing football again. Or to be more specific, walking football (WF). The game is becoming increasingly popular with the over 50’s, 60’s and even 70’s both here in Portugal and  in the UK and! But here’s where the health benefits might be questionable, on a personal level. Since I started playing WF I’ve suffered: groin strains, a ruptured achilles tendon, a muscle tear and strained knee ligaments. But I keep playing. I clearly have a liking for pain, or maybe I just like to keep active!

We do lead a more active, outdoor life these days, largely due to the garden we are maintaining and developing. Any exercise is seen to be beneficial and apparently, improves memory and might even reduce the risk of Dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease. It does this by increasing the necessary blood and oxygen the brain needs to function, which in turn create new, healthy cells. You just have to remember to get out in the garden each day!

Thinking of moving to a warmer climate?  My advice would be to do what works for you, but don’t just rely on the sunshine!

Paderne Medieval Festival

Paderne is a typical village in the  Algarve. To celebrate the history of the area, Paderne turns back the clock to Medieval times for four days over the festive period.

Thousands of visitors are attracted to the old centre of Paderne, where there’s a Medieval  market, bars and stalls with delicious food, arts and crafts, exhibitions, musical performances, street theatre, a violent siege and a historical procession.

Where else can you travel back in time for the princely sum of a couple of euros!

O CARNAVAL MAIS ANTIGO DE PORTUGAL

THE OLDEST CARNIVAL IN PORTUGAL!

The flags were flying and the town was buzzing when we arrived on the third day of the Loulé Carnival. Steeped in more than a century of history the Carnaval is one of the must-see events of the Algarve calendar …. the riot of colour, vibrancy and spectacle is not to be missed even if the music can be deafening at times.

The theme for 2018 was “Carnaval Summit de Loulé”, a parody of the Lisbon Web Summit. But if you did miss it, here’s a little collaborative snapshot produced by Her Outdoors, Sundance and son of Sundance.

The Loulé Carnival has been held for more than a 100 years and was originally a pagan festival to herald the new spring. Carnival nowadays is celebrated predominantly by Catholics in the lead up to the start of Shrovetide (pre-Lent), the traditional Christian time for fasting.

Paint not pastries for modern day Carnivalists

The festivities these days are now mainly based on the style of the Brazilian Samba. However, the history of the event chronicles much mischief, offering people the opportunity to settle old scores, “by throwing cream pastries, eggs, flour and sandbags” designed to hurt or at least get the others dirty. There was also some elements of violence. including one person who burnt down a rival’s workshop!

The Great and the not so Great

Putin on the style

 

 

 

 

The present day Carnival owes much to the Carnation Revolution of  1975 which got rid of the repressive system in place and opened up a more liberal climate in which the arts were able to flourish. Loulé Carnaval however, whilst embracing  a style akin to Brazilian Samba, retains the essence of its historical traditions, focussing on political and “celebrity” caricatures and parodies. Among the characters parodied this year are Cristiano Ronaldo and his Golden Balls; Donald Trump and his Mexican Wall, Valdimir Putin hosting the 2018 World Cup, and Angela Merkel, dancing with the new Eurogroup president, Mário Centeno.

Next  March 5, 2019 (Tuesday)