If you have been following this blog for a while then you may recall I first mentioned Caminho das Lendas, the legends way, back in March 2015. Well yesterday morning with Jo’s Monday Walks in my head I nipped out to explore it again as we had spotted there have been some changes. I began at the end of the sculpture trail as that is the closest to our apartment, and it was here I finally learnt the ‘truth‘ about the origins of the Ria Formosa.
When we fist visited back in 2013 I had read in a couple of guidebooks that the Ria Formosa had formed following the Great Earthquake of 1755. However we soon discovered that is complete nonsense! So if you seen it written anywhere the author has not researched they have simply copied. The Ria Formosa has been around far far longer. According to legends the Ria Formosa was created around the time Atlantis was destroyed. This clearly isn’t true either but I like the story. Apparently the only survivor of Atlantis, Arraúl, was washed up on the shores of the Algarve. He fell in love with the east Algarve (don’t we all!) and decided to create the sand barriers to protect it from the Atlantic storms.
The next sculpture is one that has been here a while, and is a legend that belongs to Olhão – the Legend of the Boy with Big Black Eyes. A legend started perhaps by the smugglers to scare the fisherman away from this quarter.
To find the next legend you have to meander your way through the back streets. In fact one of the delights of walking the trail is that you are encouraged to explore the back streets of Olhão. There is so much to see in this quirky town from hidden urban gardens, to curious cats and sunbathing dogs. I even found a self-contained cat house! Don’t be afraid to explore the narrow alley-ways, very few of them are dead-ends and you cannot really get lost as the sea-front is never more than a few metres away. Just follow the sun if you are feeling lost and you will soon find yourself back on the sea-front. I was surprised yesterday, given it is early December, at the number of floral displays I stumbled across. More than enough I hope for Jude to include this in her December challenge.
However we are meant to be walking the Caminho das Lendas so let us return our attention to the trail. The third sculpture, no matter which way you walk, is new like Arraúl. I rather like the sculptures but it is an odd legend – The Legend of the Enchanted Moorish Boy. Not sure where this legend originates as Olhão didn’t exist when the Moors ruled the Algarve and there were only fishing huts on the beach until the mid 17th century.
The 4th legend is one that every intrepid Algarvian tourist will come across – Lenda da Floripes. It can be found in the square by the markets and the statue in Floripes’s memory is one nearly every tourist photographs. Floripes herself though has long since disappeared. There is a rumour that she was able to return to her lands following the ‘actions‘ of two Portuguese soldiers in WW1 or perhaps she simply disappeared because no-one believed in her anymore.
As you leave Floripes behind and make your way to the final legend, take careful note of the map on the wall. There are lots of twists and turns on this part of the trail, and it is easy to find yourself distracted by door knockers, windows, tiles and even Father Christmas. Before you know it you are strolling off down an alley way heading the opposite direction! Not that it matters though as you will find your way eventually to the official trail start. Ah perhaps this is why they suggest you start at this end!
The official start (and the end of the trail for me) is by Pingo Doce at the back of the warehouses by the harbour. Not far from our favourite restaurant Vai e Volta. It is here you will find the representation of the legend of Marim. It has changed this year. What once was a ‘spring’ is now a huge mental sculpture. Difficult to photograph but I got there eventually. I thought she looked rather beautiful in the Algarvian blue, and I even managed to find a few more urban flowers for Jude!
Leaving the legends behind me it was now time to return to the apartment but not before I captured a few photographs of some living art enjoying the gloriously warm December sunshine and, by the looks of it, a giant wedding cake!