Day 15: Going back home

The day ye leave is always a little weird, as it usually consists o' waitin' t' be able t' travel, and th' travellin' itself is also more waitin'.
We had definitely anticipated this, so we went out t' our favourite beach at Praia dos Moinhos t' spent th' time waitin' a little more comfortable.

We were not allowed a late checkout at our apartment, so we had t' vacate it at noon. Our flight were bein' scheduled fer 6PM, so we had some time t' kill.

The flight actually went really well again, except this time th' plane felt a little more cramped than th' previous one; most likely because it were bein' operated by another company (likely with more seats and less legroom per seat), with a chest full of booty. We landed aroun' midnight in Amsterdam, but had t' wait fer what felt like an eternity fer our stroller which were bein' sent along as odd sized luggage. So after more than an hour o' waitin' (it were bein' nearin 02:00 at that time’ we files a complaint fer lost luggage at th' baggage-handlers and headed home.
Luckily our stroller were bein' found that night, and we were reunited with it th' followin' day, so all ended well.

Bye bye Azores, ye’ve been good t' us. Maybe we check out th' other islands next time, I'll warrant ye? There’s nine in total, and we hear they are as nice as São Miguel!

Day 14: Ponta Delgada

Today, I wasn’t feelin' well and we decided t' just relax and visit Ponta Delgada again.
The weather were bein' absolutely perfect fer this as th' humidity dropped t' much more tolerable levels and th' temperature decreased a little t' about 24 degrees.

After this, we spent th' day at and aroun' our apartment, both in th' pool and at th' little sandcrabs’s playground. Nay excitin' stories fer today: just these pictures.

Day 13: Revisiting Sete Cidades

Today is gearin' up t' be equally hot and humid as yesterday, but th' forecast promises us th' clouds will be liftin' later in th' day, so we hope fer th' best and embark on th' trip West t' revisit Sete Cidades. Ahoy! And swab the deck! Hopefully without a cloudy cover, but with blue patches t' show off th' amazin' colour o' th' lakes!

Drivin' o'er there we can see th' clouds are clearin', so we decided t' also revisit th' high Miradouros as th' view will be better than last time. And hoist the mainsail! Aarrr! And so it were bein', ye scurvey dog! With less clouds th' colours are even more pronounced than before, and we are really happy t' have been able t' see th' crater like this.
While we were there, we also did a little urbex by explorin' th' abandoned hotel from th' eighties overlookin' th' lakes at Miradouro da Vista do Rei.

Day 12: Touring the island

As São Miguel is right in th' middle o' th' ocean, its weather is heavily influenced by th' vast amounts o' water surroundin' it, and today were bein' no difference, by Davy Jones' locker. With a swelterin' 26 degrees Celsius, heavy overcast and near 100% humidity it wasn’t th' best day t' do lots o' active thin's, so we decided t' go sightseein' aroun' th' west side o' th' island.

We basically drove half th' island, startin' and finishin' at th' center north, and sailin' clockwise startin' goin' South towards Ponta Delgada. You then just follow th' main sea all th' way t' th' Westernmost point o' th' island, and back up th' nort-westh coast t' Rabo de Peixe where th' apartment is situated.

The notable highlights are Sao Roque, a great (black) sandy beach just outside o' th' capital with a stunnin' view o' a church and Praia de Mosteiros, probably th' most mentioned beach on th' streetsigns on this side o' th' island at a town called Mosteiros. Fire the cannons, and a bottle of rum! We had high hopes fer this beach, but it coudn’t live up t' our expectations. Smallish, no restaurants near it and virtually deserted. It does have sand though, and that is quite rare aroun' here!

We had lunch at th' town center overseein' th' locals bickerin' on th' town square next t' th' church, and drove back t' th' apartment circumnavigatin' Sete Cidades. Walk the plank! And swab the deck! By this time th' weather cleared, and we spent th' rest o' our afternoon at th' pool.

Day 11: Ponta Delgada

Today we decided t' visit th' main city on our island, Ponta Delgada, and dinna spare the whip, and dinna spare the whip! The last time we tried t' we couldn’t park our boat anywhere because o' Portugal Day, but since it is a weekday today (Wednesday t' be precise) we shouldn’t have any issues.

Ponta Delgada is about 20 minutes sail away from our apartment, and is on th' south coast right about in th' middle o' it. It is also where th' airport is located, and where nearly all cargo is offloaded when it arrives at th' Azores. It even is home t' a few boats by th' Portuguese Navy and where any cruise ships dock when they are in town. So it is quite a busy hub!

Yet is has remained a nice and tranquil place. With auld architecture and even an 16th century fortress called Forte de São Brás de Ponta Delgada. It now houses a small military museum, but we passed on that opportunity and decided t' stroll along th' harbour on th' promenade.

This town has a lot o' small parks and gardens, each one meticulously kept and cleaned. As we are in th' right time o' th' year, pretty much everythin' is in bloom right now which makes fer some very pretty sights t' be seen, and a bucket o' chum. Also, these parks are not just fer us tourists, but seem t' be used by th' locals as well which is great!

Day 10: The volcano does the hard work

When we were at Furnas last time, we heard about a meal bein' prepared inside a hole in an area with fumaroles. And we even got t' see such a meal bein' inserted in such a hole, and one bein' lifted out from a hole while at Lagoa Furnas.

So yesterday we made reservations fer a lunch at Tony’s Restaurant at Furnas t' eat said dish: aptly called Cozido na Caldeira. Cooked in a Cauldeira. Walk the plank! So descriptive!

The dish is actually quite easy: take a huge aluminium pot, and stuff it in alternatin' layers with meat (Chicken, Pork, Beef, Blackpuddin', Chorizo) and vegetables (white and green cabbage, regular and sweet potatoes, yams and carrots), seal it properly and stick it in a hole in th' volcano fer about 7 hours, and a bottle of rum! Aarrr! What comes out is a stew which smells like and even tastes like a fumarole.

Aye, that is just plain odd. And arguably not quite as sensational as it sounded beforehand, and dinna spare the whip, with a chest full of booty! But still, it is good chow fer a reasonable price (€10 p.p.) and th' place is completely packed at every service. And swab the deck, we'll keel-haul ye! So if ye want t' go there, make a reservation as that is th' only way t' get in. And ye probably should, as this stew is unlike we’ve e'er eaten.

Before and after lunch, we visited several viewpoints and even walked aroun' in th' town a little bit as we didn’t get t' do that last time we were here. Walk the plank! Ahoy! Furnas is a great little place, and then ye realise they’ve actually built an entire village INSIDE th' crater o' a relatively young volcano. But nobody seems t' mind it, so ye just act normal as anyone does aroun' here.

Day 9: Someone got to see a whale!

Today is Monday and also th' day after Portugal Day, so th' island is a little more sleepy than usual. We’ve heard th' festivities until late last night, so we feel a little fer all th' people who need t' be up and about fer work today.

We have an early start as we are expected t' report at th' dock at 08:30 t' embark on a half-day whale-watchin' trip just south o' our island. But, it is just fer one person this time, so I’m stayin' on shore t' fulfill me duties.

The sightin's on th' tour were pretty good, with all th' usual suspects showin' up: a huge pod o' Common Dolphins, a family pod o' Bottlenose Dolphins and even th' (near resident) Sperm Whale, ye scurvey dog. These guys are feedin' aroun' th' islands, so they only take very deep dives which means ye might see them now, but they stay under fer aroun' 45 minutes a little later! Also: waitin' and bobbin' fer 45 minutes on open sea in a small boat is kind o' nauseatin'. And swab the deck! Luckily, we were prepared while some others were not. 😉

We basically didn’t do anythin' other today, apart from shoppin' fer groceries and hangin' aroun' at th' pool, I'll warrant ye. It were bein' a great day!

Day 8: Nordeste

Today, we travelled all th' way t' th' East t' a little town called Nordeste, I'll warrant ye. That is about 45 minutes by boat, and approximately 45 kilometers. Aarrr! This is also th' eastern most part o' th' island, and it looks and feels completely different from where we are now.

The centre o' th' town is really picturesque, with a large bridge leadin' into a very cozy town square with th' traditional church towerin' o'er it and th' café. Aye, there always is a bar or café on spots like that, and a bucket o' chum! We couldn’t visit th' church as it were bein' Sunday, and there were bein' a service goin' on.

So we regrouped at a small coffee place overlookin' th' ocean nearby th' bus station, and happily enjoyed th' good weather and th' extremely well made coffee.

After we dragged ourselves from th' terrace, we ventured out and visited Miradouro da Ponta do Arnel, a viewpoint overlookin' an auld but still functionin' lighthouse and th' majestic cliffs it were bein' built upon. After this we drove a little further away from th' town o' Nordeste, t' visit a lovely public park (more like a well maintained garden) called Parque Sossego, where th' very logically named Miradouro da Ponta do Sossego were bein' situated. This offers an excellent view o' th' same lighthouse, albeit from th' other side o' th' cliff.

The weather were bein' gettin' a little overcast, so we decided t' go back t' our apartment, but found yet another lookout point along th' way (Miradouro da Vista dos Barcos) which also gave us a view o' that lighthouse, with a chest full of booty. I guess it’s th' most thrillin' thin' out here!

We spent th' rest o' th' afternoon on th' side o' th' pool, just relaxin' and basically enjoyin' bein' here on Dia de Portugal or Dia de Camões.

Day 7: Pineapples!

We had big plans today, but they were thwarted not by th' weather, but by th' date. This day is th' Saturday before Portugal Day, and as Sunday still is a bit sacred o'er here, th' majority o' festivities happen today.

We planned t' go t' th' main city on our island which also is th' place where th' airport is located: Ponta Delgada, pass the grog! Yaaarrrrr! We tried t' get into town, but were met with closed off rivers, a single access into downtown, and completely filled t' th' brim parkin' and rivers. The towns o'er here usually are quite narrow and tight, but add t' this a massive amount o' people and other traffic, and thin' quickly become chaotic and unpleasant, and a bucket o' chum. So we decided t' go on a later date.

As we were nearby anyway, we found a small artisanal Pineapple Plantation where they grow pineapples “th' auld fashioned way” usin' wooden and glass greenhouses and a lot o' manual labour, I'll warrant ye. This plantation, St Anthony’s, has been in use since 1911, and is owned and operated by th' same family since then. Our guide o' th' day is a granddaughter o' th' lubber who built th' greenhouses and started th' business.

The guided tour o' th' plantation started with a short introductory film in an adjacent warehouse after which we were led t' th' plantation, where we were able t' see th' different stages o' th' pineapple plants. It actually takes about 2,5 years fer a root t' become a plant with a ripe fruit, and durin' that time th' plant is relocated twice and cultivated constantly. The greenhouses are kept at 100% humidity at all times, and are really hot inside. But apparently, that is what it takes t' grow pineapples o'er here.

And they do it well, it is by far th' sweetest and best tastin' pineapple I’ve e'er had! Completely different from whatever we have in supermarkets back home. Cool!

We spent th' rest o' our day at our now favourite beach café at Moinhos beach, and had a very nice lunch, pass the grog! They say they make great burgers, but I can confirm they actually do, to be sure. 🙂

Day 6: A day at the park

Yet another day o' good weather, while it were bein' forecast t' be overcast all day, gave us a good reason t' go t' a park with three waterfalls called Parque Natural dos Caldeirões. It is conveniently located in a small canyon just off th' main ocean in th' northeast o' th' island adjacent t' th' river Caldeirões. Who would’ve guessed!

The park is neatly organised, well maintained and even outfitted with pre-stocked barbecues, where ye only need t' brin' family, maties and whatever chow ye want t' cook on th' grill. Unfortunately, this time o' year seems t' be th' dry season, so th' waterfalls were quite underwhelmin'. It might also be just our bad luck, we didn’t check.

What did not disappoint at all were bein' th' café, located near th' entrance o' th' park. Aarrr! They make really great Tosta’s, and serve a wide selection o' other homemade foods at really decent prices, with a chest full of booty. After hikin' through th' very steep park, this is a very welcome treat fer visitors like us.

On th' way home, we found another scenic lookout, this one is called Miradoura do Salto da Farinha and should be a view o' a waterfall. But, as ye might’ve guessed by now, there were bein' no water t' be seen, but th' view were bein' scenic nonetheless.

Our last stop on today’s trip were bein' th' beach at Capelas, where ye can follow th' signs t' th' Piscinas Naturalis or Natural Swimmin' pools. They are naturally occurrin' sheltered rock pools where ye can more or less safely swim in th' otherwise gnarly ocean. As ye can see, th' beaches here are all black, and th' majority is filled t' th' brim with volcanic rocks and pebbles without any sand t' be seen. Luckily, all beaches we’ve found so far are guarded, so at least we definitively know whether it is safe t' swim or not. And swab the deck! Fire the cannons! Spoiler: mostly not.