I Love Portuguese Festivals!

After breakfast this morning I headed out to open our gates as James was going to be arriving to join us on a day trip. I always grab my camera just in the event an opportunity presents itself. Mother Nature often figures in these “opportunities” and today was a perfect example of that.

We, Joanne, James, and myself, had agreed to head off early morning for the hour long journey through the winding mountain roads to reach Alta Mora and enjoy it’s first “Festival das Amendoeiras em Flor” (Almond Flower Festival) in three years. I had never been, although I have hiked the almond flower trail in that area, and thought this could be a fun outing. It was!!

We arrived in Alta Mora shortly after 11h30, it took us a bit longer than we had anticipated. A winding road is a winding road and despite the speed limit being 90 km, I couldn’t possibly have exceeded 60 on those roads. Plus, it didn’t matter to us as we had the entire day in front of us to simply explore, enjoy, and absorb. We ended up having to park about 2 km from the village, because of attendance. You could feel the festivity in the air even from that distance.

The village was blocked off from both ends with barricades set up to announce the temporary “dead-end” about five kms out of town. The police were guarding both ends as well and anybody stupid enough to drive all the way up, and yes, there were some, were quickly banished and turned away.

As you can see, vendors lined both sides of the streets, not just the main street but a couple of side streets, and everything was in full swing. Lots of music, dancers enjoying themselves, and many people in costumes representing the various occupations from years gone by……….they even had a street of artisans from the past. Young men dressed in farmers clothing hoeing fields and planting, young women doing laundry in old washing tubs, sheep being shorn, wool being carded, etc..

Vendors selling so many different things…..jewelers, baskets, cheeses, meats, soaps, quilts, baked goods, alcohol, and on and on.

And of course, almond flowers

I loved that the school children had been engaged to make handmade “almond trees” using plastic bottle caps. These were presented in cork stumps, hay bales, etc. and decorated along the streets.

It was incredibly lively, and very well attended. You could sense the happiness in people, both in their faces, but also in the smiles and the overall camaraderie that was being exhibited. I expect given it had been three years since the last festival people were feeling a sense of freedom, celebration, and overall elation.

The sunshine, the wandering, and especially the smell of cooking food, had us drooling and by 12h30 we decided it was time to eat something. We all three, were drawn to huge outdoor ovens where a fellow was baking large baskets filled with various stuffed “buns”…..sorry no photos as we were too hungry and simply forgot. Joanne and I both had fresh baked sausage, cheese, and mustard encased in a thick hot crispy bun while James had the same only stuffed with chicken. We stood beside an old barrel table and devoured them whilst watching all the revelry. Such fun. Then more walking and browsing.

At one point we felt we needed a break from all the activity and decided to walk upwards and follow one of the old roads, that in fact ended up dead ending at the top of the hill with magnificent views in every direction. It was a quiet and welcomed reprieve from all the festivity.

I’m very happy we took the time to go and enjoy this opportunity as it truly was special and the drive, well to me, any drive in Portugal is always worthwhile as it’s a beautiful country, but this, the winding roads, deep valleys, and constant breath=taking vistas, really warmed my heart.

The drive home was fun as I randomly turned left or right at a whim knowing that we would eventually find ourselves home.

We stopped in the tiny village of Furnazinhas (I had seen several lovely wall murals there on another trip and decided to photograph them). A friendly exchange with two very old Portuguese gentlemen, who pointed at the murals and smiled, was a lovely moment.

A short time later we came to a fairly large body of water and as I walked towards it I saw four otters sunning on a bed of floating bamboo but they were too fast for my camera and although we waited for a bit, the only thing that eventually surfaced was a large turtle, who was very blurred in my photo! While James and I were taking this in, Joanne had noticed a large, very fruit laden, orange tree just off the road and decided to “help herself” to a few.

And then finally, at a turn in the road with a tiny roundabout, this fellow staring us down and seemingly smirking at us

Another adventure, another blissful day, and undoubtedly, another night of deep sleep having exhausted all our senses over the course of the day. Life as these Canadians know it, is amazing.

Eternamente grato

11 thoughts on “I Love Portuguese Festivals!

  1. That definitely looks like it was quite a festival and a very good day for you folks.

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    1. Yes, it was certainly a lot of fun and well attended. I always enjoy wandering around, seeing all the wares, and especially, people watching.

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  2. It looked like a wonderful day indeed. Beautiful blue skies and sunshine, one can’t go wrong with that as a start. I love the little owl on the crescent Moon. If you keep wandering and looking around for things who knows what you might find! LOL
    The almond festival looked full of happy people. I love how the Portuguese people go all out for these little festivals, they get the kids involved making things, there’s always beautiful decorations around and little things to catch your eye.
    Oh my gosh Tangerine gin! Oh no I could use some of that I’ll tell you. I bet it’s delightful. I think a bottle of that should make its way to my house as well.
    Murals were lovely. The little walk you had with seeing the otters and the turtle, sounds lovely and tranquil and yes you would need some of that after being around a lot of people and sound and movement. I see Jackson is enjoying everything Portugal has to offer as well.
    I’m glad you guys had another lovely day. Marco decided to stay at home and do his own work. I don’t know how much fun that was but as long as he enjoys it that’s all that matters.

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    1. Yes, it was all that and then some. Marc’s vertigo doesn’t allow him to go on these small winding roads. Once he get’s sick from it it can take days to shake it off so it’s simply not worth it.

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  3. Oh wow, I’m drooling over all that fabulous looking food as I read this. Such a fun way to spend a day. Your photos definitely show a good time was had by all. I’m truly envious! I love everything about Portugal ❤️

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    1. Yes, I know you do and so do I!!! I am always so appreciative of all I get to explore here and food is top of that list.

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  4. My gosh, you know who would have enjoyed that festival!! It looked, sounded like, felt like a whole lot of fun! I would have been in my glory! I love the mannequins just appearing, the crafts the children made were delightful and to be watched by the wee owl, the horned mountain goat(?), to take in the sneaky otters and a big turtle…all in one day! Not to mention the food! Everything about your day delighted me…I would be equipped with Gravol for sure for the winding roads! What a day! So great for the three of you! And Jackson, of course!

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    1. Yes, I too would consider non-drowsy gravol if those kinds of roads bothered me but happily, they don’t. These festivals are so much fun and remind me very much of a time gone by. I think that’s one of the many aspects of them that I love so much.

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  5. It really was an amazing day out! Which day did you go? We went on the Saturday, for the 41 metre long almond cake. A sight to behold! Where are you based? We live in Tavira and arrived early to do the 12km walk. Furnazhinas is gorgeous too and we have walked part of the Via Algarviana from there in the past.

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    1. We are located in the mountains near Estoi. I’ve done the walks in that area and was going to do it again but I had people with me who aren’t walkers! I love the many hiking opportunities here in the Algarve. If you haven’t done the Rocha da Pena, you should check it out. Take a picnic and go slowly to truly enjoy the opportunities of vistas, wildflowers, the tiny village of Pennina at the end, and the trail itself. One of my favourites. Thanks for commenting.

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      1. It’s a good few years since we did the Rocha but, funnily enough, we plan to do it again on Monday, hoping it will be a good time for wild orchids and those tiny daffodils. Not sure if we’re a little early as the weather has been very mixed this past month.

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