Day 5 (February 25, 2010): Foia, Fog, and Towns
All regions have special places. Some of them are special for what is put on the land and some are special because of the land. Foia falls in the latter group because it marks the highest point in the Algarve at 902 meters (3,931 feet) above sealevel. The summit is open so views could be great but at thecstartvof our day no views of any great degrerme were available to us. We were treated to dense fog and a misting rain. We didn't hang around in the howling wind. We began following a small paved road off the summit. I don't know if the flowing water was a result of the rain or is a natural stream though I expect it is the latter. We were the only things on the road. But it is clear the area is inhabited. As we veered off the pavement on to a dirt track we saw terraced slopes in the distance.
When moved to a path, an actual path, we entered a eucalyptus forest. This was a new experience for us. Walking on the fallen shaving of wood reminded me a bit of moving through a pine forest though the colors here are different. It was a nice walk through the forest even with the drizzle. We caught glimpses of Monchique as we descended into the town. The town proved an interesting hamlet built into the mountain. It has what surely must rate as the slickest cobblestone streets I've ever trod. The town seemed quiet, almost dead in it's silence for a town I'd heard was a market town. As we picked our way through the narrow streets traffic increased and things got more luvely. We snacked at a tiny cafe avoiding the drizzle.
Leaving town, with abouttwo thirds of the walk to do we found ourselves striding out of the town along single and double lane paved roads into the countryside. Roosters crowed, dogs barked, rivulets gurgled, and cars whizzed by. It is pleasant country dotted with small homes and farms but the walk along the paved roads does drag.
We eventually turned onto dirt lanes the would have provided fine views out towsrds the coast had the visibility been better. Instead we merely could imagine what was out there as we continued to drop in elevation. The overcast refused to break. Just after we crossed the sulfurous river leading to our final push into Caldes de Monchique it began to rain. But it would be a quick uphill climb along the mostly unseen river to the spa complex.
I know people do a lot for the pleassurevof experiencing mineral waters that may have healing properties but this hotel and spa complex nestled in the mountains seems a bit much. There is nothing around the place. We had coffees and learned the fruit/ice cream treats were quite something (seemed too frilly to me) before we boarded the bus for the ride back to Belivista de Luz.
To sum up: the first part if the walk is much nicer than the second part. The second part does have an alternate route that might be nicer when it's not so soggy. I suppose I'll never know.
Enjoy the video and photos.