Well it’s all been happening since we arrived in Albufeira at the beginning of December. It seems the Portuguese press is far more enthusiastic about our Via Algarviana books than the Welsh press was about O Fôn i Fynwy (Harri’s new 364-mile route through Wales).
At the end of November when still in the UK, we were approached by Almargem, the Algarve environmental group which secured the initial funding for the Via Algarviana and now manages and promotes the trail. They invited us to do a presentation to their members and interested parties. We were honoured to accept and a few days before Christmas, we were driven to Loulé where we talked about our experiences of walking the route to a packed room which included some of the hardy hikers who were instrumental in getting the project off the ground back in the late 1990s. Apart from my well-practised (and badly-pronounced) greeting, we were able to converse in English with Anabela, the current-day co-ordinator of the Via Algarviana, translating what we said to the mostly Portuguese audience.
As a result of that first talk, we were interviewed by Sara Alves, a journalist who kindly forwarded a copy of her article for the Portuguese language weekly newspaper Barlavento for us to see (if not read).
In January, I was approached (via Facebook) by Stephanie who publishes Tomorrow magazine. She asked if I’d write a 500-600 word article about our Via Algarviana experience … this time in English. Of course, I happily obliged and the article is due to appear in the February edition.
But the most exciting invitation was still to come. Last week, Anabela was approached by Duarte Baltaza, a journalist from the Portuguese television station RPT; he was interested in doing a feature on Harri and me. The idea was that we’d be transported to one of our favourite places on the trail (accessibility/time permitting) and meet again one of the local people who’d made our long hike so memorable. Our immediate thought was Salir, a small town in the heart of Serra do Caldeirão that we’d been enchanted with from the outset. And that local person had to be Graciete, owner of the idyllic Casa da Mãe which we’d visited not once, but twice (we returned months later when walking the link route from Loulé to Salir).
Fortunately, this location was agreeable to everyone and Graciete was more than happy to be interviewed about the impact the Via Algarviana had had on business (she explained how she now receives visitors throughout the year and not only during the summer months).
We filmed at several locations – at Casa da Mãe, in front of Salir’s sixteenth century church (where the delicate white flowers of an almond tree enhanced an already pretty location) and on the actual Via Algarviana trail. Anabel knows the route like the back of her hand and had chosen a spot just outside Salir where there were breath-taking views across the valley to Rocha da Pena. We’d worn our rucksacks (for authenticity) and, for the most part, Harri and I acted like true professionals, strolling on and off ‘set’ as requested and ad libbing whenever called upon about topics like the origins of the deep wells just outside the town and how pretty our surroundings were.
Unfortunately, because we are not actually professionals, there was one point when we forgot Harri was wired up with a microphone and, thinking we were out of earshot of the television crew, embarked upon a silly conversation about how my rucksack’s straps adversely altered my body shape.
Our final interviews were filmed behind the church with the beautiful slopes of the Serra do Caldeirão as a backdrop.
So Harri and I are set to be television stars. We didn’t manage it in Wales but we’ll be featuring on an RTP magazine programme in a few days’ time. Duarte and his cameraman Carlos were great fun to spend a morning with although it felt a little strange being the interviewee instead of the one who is asking the questions. As nervous as we were beforehand, our first foray into television was surprisingly enjoyable … that said, I don’t know if I can bear to watch myself on television when the feature is broadcast later this week. As for those rucksack straps …
I’m not sure how long this link will work but here’s the feature about us on RTP1. We make our appearance at around 22 minutes, 35 seconds.
For more information about walking the Via Algarviana visit the official website. A printed guide with individual maps of each section, plus all the link routes are available free of charge (postage is payable).
The Via Algarviana – an English guide to the ‘Algarve Way’ by Harri Garrod Roberts is available from online bookstores, included Amazon’s Kindle store and is priced at £2.99.
A ‘Made for iBooks’ version is also available from Apple’s iBookstore.
The Via Algarviana: walking 300km across the Algarve by Tracy Burton is available in paperback (£5.99) and Kindle edition (£2.99) from Amazon.
For more photographs of the Via Algarviana visit Pinterest.