There are different things on this cruise that we haven't seen before. One day there was a glass buffet - all the food was in wine glasses. A paella BBQ, yesterday was a pancake buffet in the Lido and this morning the largest towel animal zoo at sea. The Lido pool area was taken over by towel creatures of all sizes and fierceness. The crew would have been up late creating the zoo. So cute!
Now our day in Sao Miguel...
The ocean was quite choppy as we came in to Ponta Delgada and there was a slight drizzle. We went up to the Crow's Nest to watch the approach and as we got closer to Ponta Delgada, the sun came out and a beautiful rainbow formed. Must be a sign of a good day to come!
We met our other tour mates (met through Cruise Critic) just before we docked. There were 8 of us in total and we had a wonderful day on the very lush, green island of Sao Miguel (one of the nine islands that makes up the Azores) with Lisa Ringelberg. Lisa is originally from Ontario but has lived on the island with her family for 20 years. Lisa's husband is a vet that specializes in cow genetics and introduced North American dairy cows to the island many years ago. Their 5 year plan to live on the island ended up lasting a lot longer. There are as many cows on the island as people - 140,000. And they are really nice looking cows! Portuguese prefer to eat dairy as opposed to drinking it so there is no fresh milk produced. It's all powdered or boxed or made in to yogurt and cheese and exported to Portugal. Dairy and tourism are very important to the island.
Lisa explained that her three daughters have had to leave the island for post secondary and their careers as there is no work for young professionals. The economy on the island isn't great.
Our tour began with a drive to Caldeira Sete Cidades. Here there are two volcanic lakes - one is green (shallow with algae and therefore green) and the other blue (a deeper lake). The lakes and vegetation are stunning. There are loads of hydrangea bushes and I can only imagine how beautiful it is when they are in bloom.
We had a pit stop in a small village by the lakes. I love the colourful houses. All of the houses have some sort of religious tile above the front entrance. 95% of the island is Roman Catholic. James had an espresso and a piece of cake and I had a pumpkin tart and the bill was just over 2 euros.
The highlight of the day was a homemade Portuguese lunch at the home of John and Geretti Estrelas. They were both from the island but moved to Toronto when they were young and returned in their retirement. Their three daughters are still in Canada. They were wonderful hosts and the lunch was great. Everything they served was from the island except for one of the wines was from the mainland. We started with delicious cheeses, pineapple, blood sausage (I don't eat things with the word blood in them) and chorizo (home made). Then there was coleslaw, fish, potatoes, pork ribs, fava beans and two desserts. One a passion fruit custard and the other a baked rice pudding. Delicious! You can't see the ocean from their land and they have three cute dogs.
Next we headed to the volcanic beach - popular for surfing. The sand sparkles a grey/black colour. James waded in the water but a wave caught him so he ended up with wet pants.
We had a bit if time to see the historic buildings in town and we walked through the city gates which apparently means you will return. The island is beautiful and we only saw a portion of it. You could spend a lot of time exploring.
If you are ever in Sao Miguel, I highly recommend Lisa as a guide.
Today we are at sea and it is overcast. They have the decks closed because of wind so we can't walk outside. Very unfortunate because we are not getting our exercise in. We've been to a port talk and culinary demonstration this morning. We are meeting some people for lunch at the Pinnacle.
I have been having trouble posting my blogs - there is one floating out there that I thought I posted. Maybe it will show up someday?!