Sao Miguel is something of a fairytale, with its blue volcanic lakes, green landscapes and 18th century houses and buildings. It resembles Scotland strongly, not only due to its impressive steep cliffs and all the shades of green, but also due to the vast amount of cattle, horses, sheep, goats, you name it; an island stuck in time. Ponta Delgada, the capital of the island, however, is a modern and busy city, with lots of cafes and restaurants to offer. Its marina is the biggest one in Azores, albeit not the best, as strong SE winds can bring massive swell into the harbor, making boats rocking violently.
We left Santa Maria on the 19th May at the evening, as Ponta Delgada is around 50 miles away and we planned to arrive with the first light. Little did we know that our beloved Libra was too fast and we entered the marina a bit after 5 am. Luckily, being such as busy port, the marina was well lit and we had no trouble berthing.
We met our friends Robert and Janine from Mangata the same day and we had a pancakes night at our boat, while planning our activities for the next day.On the morning of 21st May, the four of us took the local bus and after a 45-minute tour across the island we reached Furnas. Furnas is a famous place due to its volcanic ground which is used by locals to cook stew meals by burying their hotpots underground. It is a beautiful area, with a large lake and green hills, which we explored on foot! The highlight of the daytrip however, was the hot springs, where we bathed in 40 Celsius water, in 7 different natural pools! What a day!
The next few days we strolled and biked around the city and visited the military museum and fort -the oldest one in Portugal!- and the Antonio Borges park. Apart from some chores and shopping, we also bid farewell to Mangata as they set sail to Sao Jorge.
On the 25th May we rented a Yamaha Nmax 125 scooter, a very powerful scooter for two people! We decided to split the island in three parts so to maximize our sightseeing in 3 days. We started with the eastern and the most known part, the “Sete Cidades”. The “Sete Cidades” are two volcanic lakes which in reality are one, but to the different vegetation and sunlight, they look like one blue and one green. We drove all around the lakes, hiked and had a modest lunch in the green lake. Words cannot describe the beauty of the landscape, all types of plants, trees, mosses, green valleys and impressive lakes. We continued towards the lighthouse “Ponta do Escalvado” and the natural rock pools “Mosteiros”. After a small walk, we decided to drive back via the northern route, with a small stop in Santo Antonio and back to Ponta Delgada.
The next day we toured the center of the island. Our first stop was “Lagoa de Fogo”, a lake surrounded by high mountains and windy roads. Our next stop was at “Caldeira Velha”, our second thermal bath experience, where we also dipped under a waterfall! We then visited Ribeira Grande, the second biggest city of the island, a seaside town, with nice buildings and smiling people, where we had our homemade lunch. We then took a scenic route through unpaved roads, goats stopping the traffic, and tall trees almost obscuring the view all the way down to “Lombadas”, a magnificent valley with a tiny river and all-sizes hills, mountains and canyons. Truly breathtaking! We had our afternoon coffee at marina “Villa Franca do Campo” and we returned to our marina through the seaside route. Another great day!
On the 27th May we explored the east side, passing once again from Furnas and stopped at a seaside village, Provocao where we enjoyed a traditional “pastel de nata” and a coffee. We then continued towards Faial de Terra, where we parked the scooter and took a 45-minute hike through trees, wild plants, rivers, and uneven paths until the “Salto de Prego”, an impressive waterfall! We lunched inside this magical forest and soon we were ready to head back. We climbed back to the scooter and rode to the easternmost lighthouse of the island, “Nordeste Farol”. What striked out during our road trip was not only that the traffic was often stopped by passing cows or goats but a vast majority of public stone-build BBQs, where anyone can just go and enjoy! What a great idea, is it not? Before the evening we returned the scooter to the rental agency and headed to Libra for a much-needed rest.
Soon after our 3-day exploration, we took three flights to reach Thessaloniki, my hometown as my best friend was getting married and if that was not an excuse enough, I was the maid of honor! So we took a vacation from our vacation and enjoyed one of the most beautiful weddings we ever been so far and some super tasty Greek food and warm water beaches.
Do not miss the next post where we buy a wind vane and explore more Azorean islands!!!!