Grupo Republika at Águas Boas


It’s been a couple of years since I have been to a local festival, and I had forgotten how energetic and spectacular they are. Last weekend, in Águas Boas, it was the Festival da Santa Margarida, held over the weekend of the third Sunday in July. Like all local festivals in Portugal, the weekend is an opportunity for church services, dancing, parades, fireworks, and of course the shows from the bands that tour the Portuguese countryside during the summer and autumn months.


This year it was the turn of Grupo Republika to entertain the crowd on the Sunday evening. The bands travel around the country with their own stage, lighting and sound system in the back of an articulated lorry, and the stage for Republika was huge! The bands play a mixture of popular covers and traditional Portuguese ‘pop’ music known as Pimba: energetic songs with a bouncing simple structure, played with accordion, keyboards, guitar and drums, and accompanied by singers and dancers in a variety of flamboyant costumes.


Republika were excellent, fronted by four singers – two male and two female – and backed up by two female dancers. The crowd was a little slow to respond, but as the numbers swelled people began to dance along with the tunes that the band belted out without stopping. As usual most of the music was beyond me, but I was swept up with the uptempo beat and recognised several of the covers of popular Portuguese songs that the band played.


At around 23:30 the band paused while the organisers of the festival held a small celebration and firework display for Santa Margarida and then the music resumed and the band played into the small hours. I had to leave around 00:15 but it was reluctantly and I look forward to see Republika again.



The Volta á Portugal, 2014

A couple of weeks after the Volta á Portugal do Futuro passes through Oiã and Carris, the big race, the Volta á Portugal, starts. Normally, the smaller race takes the same route as the main race, which means that we get two national races passing by within a couple of weeks, and few can say that.

This year I wanted to get the more classical front view of the racers, so I picked a spot with a straight piece of road. after the lead cars and the police cyclists had gone by, I waited a couple of minutes and the cyclists were there – and gone! As the race started in Oliveira do Bairro this year, the racers were all clustered together, which meant for 10 minutes of waiting and 30 seconds of excitement.

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Volta á Portugal do Futuro 2014

Every year the Volta á Portugal, the Portuguese equivalent of the Tour de France, passes our house in the stage that starts or finishes at Oliveira do Bairro. A couple of weeks earlier, the Volta a´Portugal do Futuro, for new racing cyclists, passes on the same route. This afternoon, we were delighted to see the race go by. Each year I try to find a new place to record the race from, so this year I headed to the bridge over the A1 motorway to see what the vantage would be like.

It was a great spot. After waiting for 10 minutes or so, I heard the sirens from the police motorcycles that accompanied the riders. Soon the first of the riders went past, leading the main pack by 2-3 minutes, at least. This was followed soon after by a smaller bunch of rides and then the main pack. I was so close to the action that I could feel the breeze from the riders as they passed me by. After the racers came the team cars, decked out with their colours and logos, and drawing up the rear an ambulance, just in case there were any injuries.


Once the ambulance had gone by, I thought that was the end of the race, and headed home. On approaching the roundabout near the office, I noticed that the policeman holding up the traffic to allow the riders to go through was still there, listening intently on his radio. I thought there were more riders to come, and sure enough a few stragglers came along. Once the policeman moved away from the roundabout I new that for me, the race was over. Next up, on the 5th August, is the big race, the Volta á Portugal. I’ll be there for that one, too.


We were in Águas Boas…


We were aiming for graffiti, but got sidetracked with this incredible creature.