Sunday, April 9, 2017 - Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel, Azores, Portugal
You know you are in Portugal when you can have a morning treat of Portuguese tarts and can spot roosters on rooftops!
But I'm getting ahead of myself.
After six days of sailing we arrived at Ponta Delgada on the island of Sao Miguel in the Azores, Portugal. Yahoo! And it's not raining (yet). It's a beautiful island. Apparently it's a playground for marine wildlife. We saw none.
The Azores are an archipelago of 9 volcanic islands about 1900 km south east of Newfoundland. Sao Miguel is the largest island. They are an autonomous region of Portugal. And there are some suspicions that the lost city of Atlantis is lurking under the sea close by.
While on the ship we decided to book an afternoon excursion through Holland America so that we could get out to the other parts of the island. It's Sunday (Palm Sunday) and we were told not much would be open in Ponta Delgada. The mall was and that's where we headed with new friends Bob & Reggie after we went through the city gates.
If you walk through the city gates you are guaranteed to return to Ponta Delgada. It worked last time so here we go...
Warning- the videos I post are just made on my phone or camera. I don't spend time fixing or editing. If I did that, I would never get posts up. So, sorry for the quality and the sound of wind.
The sun was shining and it was a beautiful morning to walk around. And check email.
The architecture and tile work on the sidewalks are amazing. After walking around a bit we headed to the ship for a quick bite to eat before heading on our excursion.
The Holland America excursion we booked had an adventurous name (that I can't remember) and the description, although vague, made it sound like we would go off road 4 x 4'ing over a river. Fun! Not really the case. We did drive on some dirt roads and one was on the top of the volcano, but we never drove through a river. Or had to use 4 x 4. At least the vehicle was small so there were only 6 of us on the tour.
We visited the same areas of the island (the west side) that we visited the last time we were here. The island is stunning and I would love to be here when the thousands of hydrangea shrubs are in bloom. I know it would be spectacular!
On the tour we stopped at the point where you can see the entire island, we visited the blue and green lakes (Sete Cidades), drove around the top of the volcano crater (used for an annual rally car race), stopped in the village at the bottom of the volcano, saw so many beautiful lakes and the tour ended with a stop at the pineapple plantation. Many, many years ago the orange crops were destroyed by a bug or fungus so they replaced orange production with pineapples. Pineapples are grown in greenhouses and it takes 2 years to produce one pineapple. That's a long time for one pineapple!
The weather changed about every 10 minutes from sunshine to wind to rain and back to sunshine. It was like being in Alberta - minus the snow.
The tour was ok but we would not have done it if we knew we would be visiting all the same sites as our visit in 2015. Our private tour in 2015 was much better.
Sao Miguel has outstanding views and we were told about some great hiking trails. Exploring some of these will be next on our list. When we return.
Sailing away we saw a rainbow over the island. From our experience, there is always a rainbow over Sao Miguel. I'll leave you with James' final thoughts about our visit.