Day 11: Ponta Delgada

Today we decided to visit the main city on our island, Ponta Delgada. The last time we tried to we couldn’t park our car anywhere because of Portugal Day, but since it is a weekday today (Wednesday to be precise) we shouldn’t have any issues.

Ponta Delgada is about 20 minutes drive away from our apartment, and is on the south coast right about in the middle of it. It is also where the airport is located, and where nearly all cargo is offloaded when it arrives at the Azores. It even is home to a few boats by the 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 old 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 to stroll along the harbour on the promenade.

This town has a lot of small parks and gardens, each one meticulously kept and cleaned. As we are in the right time of the year, pretty much everything is in bloom right now which makes for some very pretty sights to be seen. Also, these parks are not just for us tourists, but seem to be used by the locals as well which is great!

Day 7: Pineapples!

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

We planned to go to the main city on our island which also is the place where the airport is located: Ponta Delgada. We tried to get into town, but were met with closed off streets, a single access into downtown, and completely filled to the brim parking and streets. The towns over here usually are quite narrow and tight, but add to this a massive amount of people and other traffic, and thing quickly become chaotic and unpleasant. So we decided to go on a later date.

As we were nearby anyway, we found a small artisanal Pineapple Plantation where they grow pineapples “the old fashioned way” using wooden and glass greenhouses and a lot of manual labour. This plantation, St Anthony’s, has been in use since 1911, and is owned and operated by the same family since then. Our guide of the day is a granddaughter of the man who built the greenhouses and started the business.

The guided tour of the plantation started with a short introductory film in an adjacent warehouse after which we were led to the plantation, where we were able to see the different stages of the pineapple plants. It actually takes about 2,5 years for a root to become a plant with a ripe fruit, and during that time the 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 to grow pineapples over here.

And they do it well, it is by far the sweetest and best tasting pineapple I’ve ever had! Completely different from whatever we have in supermarkets back home. Cool!

We spent the rest of our day at our now favourite beach café at Moinhos beach, and had a very nice lunch. They say they make great burgers, but I can confirm they actually do. 🙂