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Portugal - Rota Vicentina

Updated: Jan 22, 2020

Last autumn I walked the coastal route (the Fisherman's Way) of the Rota Vicentina in the south of Portugal. At that time the countryside was flowerless and very dry, so I thought I'd walk the inland route (the Historical Way) this spring to compare and contrast. The trail names are commercial constructs, as these are recently made trails, well planned and promoted.

Field of Barley

Rather than spring, it turned out more like summer, with daily temperatures reaching 30° - much too hot for comfortable walking. April would have been better than May. But the countryside was greener than before and there were quite some flowers; nevertheless, dryness is still the dominant impression. Plantations of pine, cork oak and Tassie blue gum reinforce the impression - these are not luxuriant trees. A field of barley here (or is it wheat?) could be anywhere in Australia.

The succulent pigface is common near the coast; the flowers are only yellow whereas in WA at least they are mauve as I remember them. There were quite a variety of other small colourful flowers.


Red-legged partridge

I spotted a red-legged partridge in a pine plantation and enjoyed following it for a while - it was very adept at playing hide while I played seek.

I thought frogs were nocturnal but the one I photographed was out and about in full view at midday with some mates. There are a few storks about - they are big birds; I didn't quite realise how big! And there was a little lizard who had made an offering of its tail and was growing a new one; which might be needed again!


Now this will sound strange, but there is a chimney thing happening in Portugal, particularly in the villages. And it's clearly been happening for a long time. As can be seen, there is a staggering variety of styles of chimneys. There are many others besides those shown. My theory of explanation is that as the dwellings themselves are similarly unremarkable, the chimney is an inexpensive form of architectural differentiation. My yet to be published coffee table book of Portuguese Chimneys will be a handsome companion to Manhole Covers of the World.

Seven consecutive days of 20km+ walking in 30° heat has not been altogether pleasant. If I'd known it was going to be like that I wouldn't have gone. But having gone, I'm glad I did.



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