Away from the coast and from busy environment, and though being able to celebrate Christmas in a traditional Portuguese way! This was our wish when we drove to Alte. Alte, a small mountain village 35 kilometers away from the coast of Armacao da Pera, seemed a perfect place to spend Christmas. And we were right! Here in the tranquil tiny village, we had a quiet, relaxed Christmas, one we haven’t had for years!
COMING TO ALTE
It was the day before Christmas when we drove up to Alte. It might look a bit rare, but yes, we parked just outside the village, next to the cemetery. So we could really have a quiet Christmas, or a scary one! We didn’t have troubles with our dead neighbors lying there, but from the 6 French campers who were also there at that time. It was like a French invasion. Not that it was bad, but a couple of them were really noisy, and with barking dogs too!
CAMPSITE : Mix-Parking, Alte
Coordinates : N : 37.23303 W : 8.18050
It is a free mix-parking just outside the village, by the cemetery. Water is available by the cemetery. Wonderful views of the valley, there is a waterfall just 5-10 minutes downhill walking.
The tourist office was closed that day, We made a quick stroll in the village, and inquired about the Holy Mass. So we learned that a Christmas evening mass was to be held at 23.00 that night.
At 22.30, we walked up to the village and went to the church. But strange! There were just about 5 men there and no one was in the church yet! Have we misunderstood the mass schedule? Anyway, we decided to take an evening stroll to kill some time and returned after 20 minutes. There was a bonfire lit in front of the church, and people were already starting to arrive. We went inside and chose a nice place to seat. Surprisingly, the church was full during the celebration!
It was a solemn celebration. There was a small choir which sang a ca pella. After the communion, the image of Infant Jesus was made accessible to the community to be kissed or adored while a little girl was singing Silent Night in het tiny angelic voice!
When we went out of the church, the community was gathered by the bonfire and someone was distributing a small piece of cake and glass of Port wine. We gladly partook in this traditional activity, so we stayed a little longer, enjoying the Christmas eve, by the bonfire, together with the small Catholic community of Alte.
WALK TO THE WATERFALLS
It was a cold, yet beautiful morning when we awoke at Christmas day! I’ve relieved Hans of his task of preparing breakfast. I made a rather sumptuous one with bread, scrambled egg, sausages, tomatoes, cucumber and some fruits. Anyway, it’s Christmas! After a hearty breakfast, we walked about 10 minutes down the hill and spent some picture taking moments at the waterfalls. It was a nice surrounding and we have immensely enjoyed the solitude and the tranquillity we had. We were totally alone! Later that day, many Portuguese people went down to see the falls too.
After that, we went back to D’Traveller and enjoyed a cup of coffee together, admiring the beautiful views before us! What a wonderful Christmas morning! We then prepared ourselves for our next walk.
THE SPRINGS OF ALTE
Found just outside the village of Alte are the Fontes de Alte or the Springs : Fonte Pequena (Little Spring) and Fonte Grande (Big Springs).
Hans and I spent a relaxed afternoon here in the springs, We bought food for picknick (bread, boiled shrimps, some fried chicken parts, and drinks), and also some old bread for the ducks and geese which were abundant at the Fonte Pequena. We saw big freshwater fishes swimming in the river too. How we wished we had a fishnet so we could just fish them out of the water!
The place was rather popular for the locals as there were some families who were also picknicking and having BBQ in the area. There were even lots of tourists around. We had a nice conversation with a Portuguese couple (the woman did most of the talking) who came from Faro to see the springs.
Christmas was over. We have never celebrated it as quiet and as relaxed as this one. We were just the two of us, as opposed to how we were used to. But for us, it was the best Christmas ever, just Hans and I, away from the maddening crowd and free from stress of preparation that goes together with the celebration.
Now, where do we spend New year?
Our customary pictures together:)