Have you heard of the Azores? They are nine volcanic islands in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean that belong to Portugal.
I spent a week on Sao Miguel island in Punta Delgada in February and there was lots to do. Some rent car, some take tours and some use the transit system. The Minibus system can be found across from City Hall. I used this to get to the pineapple farm( one Euro return) to learn how they grow. Silly me thought they grew on trees but in fact, they grow from the ground up.
I had ½ day tour with Sao Miguel Tours which took me to Coloura a small fishing village, Fogo Lagoon which is 900 meters up a mountain with a spectacular view. I also went to Caldeira Velha thermal pool and gardens which was 3 euros. From here we went to Ribera Grand which is a town for liquor tasting and to see the Ribera grand River.The town square looks identical to the town square in Sao Miguel with its 16th-century architecture and trees. These trees are from New Zealand.
Dinner was at Alciides restaurant. I had oil fish which was enough to feed 2 and was delicious. Potatoes, vegetables, rice and of course some Portuguese wine. (17 euros about 26 Canadian)
Today I visited the west side of the island. It was green and lush minus the flowers which are not yet in bloom as it is February. The flowers bloom in late April may I am told.
Thermas do Ferraria is an area of the ocean that gets between 25-35 degrees Celsius with the right conditions. There is also a hot tub that people use, but due to the very high waves, it was not safe for anyone to use today.
The famous Sete Cidades is a volcanic crater with one side of the water green from all the algae and the other half blue. It is truly amazing to see.
Lunch was at O’Captain in Lagos. I tried the fish stew and it was delicious (being truthful I was skeptical about the fish stew). The owner himself served our lunch.
Back in the city, I spent the afternoon at the Presidents botanical garden and it was impressive. I have never seen such large tree trunks.
Later that night I went to Lava Jazz bar which is only a few blocks from my hotel the Talisman. The Lave Jazz bar is only open from 2100-2300 hours no joke for Jam sessions. There was 5 euro cover charge but you get it back with your order.
I wanted a glass of Grand Marnier but they didn’t have any so the owner gave me a sample of a 5-year-old rum. I liked it and the next thing I knew a glass was being warmed for me the rum was poured and with an orange peel. This was so nice where else do you get service like this
Today was a 0900-hour start. It rained Azores style It rains for a few minutes then stops. This did not stop the planned activities such as the thermal pools as you get wet anyway. Terra Nostra Thermal Pool and Gardens has a large thermal pool(brown water) that is about 27 degrees Celsius. There is also a Jacuzzi, which is warmer. The entrance fee is 8 euros and is well worth it as you are so relaxed after the visit.
The next stop was Fernus Lake and spring water. Here we tried a few different types of spring water some salty some with a sulfur taste
Lunch was at Tony’s Restaurant to try the famous Cozido. Prior to the lunch stop, we stopped at the ‘Coride” which is where they cook some of the food below ground in large pots for 6 to 8 hours with no water just salt. Because the ground is volcanic it is very hot.
In the pots are layers of vegetables, meat such as pork, chicken, sausage, blood pudding.
After lunch with the wine, we stopped at the Cha Porto Formosa Tea Plantation. Not only do you learn about the steps to making tea this plantation has a great view of the ocean and you can chill out
Dinner was at Casa De Pasto Tavres. The fish of the day was a Black sword with potatoes salad and dessert. Again a generous serving of food. I only wanted 1 glass of wine but the waiter left the newly opened bottle of wine on the table and told me to pour as I” saw fit”.
Today we covered the Nordeste area of the island. It has a lot of viewpoints and gardens that were spectacular. At the time you would almost think you were in Scotland or Ireland as this part of the island is green lush and hilly with viewpoints
Ribera Grand Provocao Agua Park and look out point has beautiful gardens with a lot of Japanese looking plants.
Next was Parque Natural da Riberia dos Caldeiros which has a number of waterfalls and is beautiful. You almost think you are in the Carribean
I spent some time walking along the waterfront which is being developed. In the near future, you will be able to walk or ride a bike from town to town along the waterfront.
My time here is almost over and I have enjoyed everything the island has to offer. This trip was a little off season but the weather was manageable a light jacket and still a lot to see and do. Lunches and dinner won”t be the same when leaving as I won’t be able to get all the great tasting local Portuguese wines