Hot, hot, hot

Trip Start Mar 01, 2014
Trip End Apr 05, 2014

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Flag of Portugal  , Azores,
Friday, April 4, 2014

We started our day early heading out on a tour with four others, two Bostonians, two Portuguese and our guide was a young man from Ponta Delgada. His English is impeccable. His name is Nuno, pronounced new-no. (Side note to my girls - based on our previous travels you remember the fun of this, Dad told Nuno that he was Niņo and proudly said my grandchildren call me Nonno). I am sure the others wondered why I chuckled. You see every journey we make anywhere, a Nuno story or form there of, arises just when we least expect it.The weather is pleasant and our coats remain in our backpack.

The shoreline is rocky, the beaches are compiled of fine black sand and the azaleas, jasmine and daisies are in full bloom. Again today the winds are high on the Atlantic and one of our travelling companions tells us they were to fly to another one of the islands tomorrow but the wind will be very strong and the flights are sure to be cancelled. Apparently this is common this time of year. Our flight will fine.

Traffic is non existent as we wind around the shoreline and then head up towards the hot springs. We see pasture after pasture of dairy cows grazing on the greenest grass, not the flattest pastures that's for sure but rolling. As we head, up, up, up we start getting into fog patches, some thicker than others and it gets difficult to see, we take our time. All of a sudden in front of us is a small herd of cows, all black and white; they are being moved to another grazing patch, cow bells ringing and clanging away. I think we may have heard them before we saw them. We are not stopped for long as the farmer whistled them along. It is very clear they do not like this narrow road either. Milk is the largest industry here with most of the production heading to mainland Portugal. 

Coming out of the fog we approach the Hot Spring at Poca da Beija. You can see the steam rising up in the village. Tony enjoyed this spring of hot water at 39 degrees, it never changes. He was able to relax for fifty minutes but would have stayed longer if he was able. He managed to cover himself with the orange mud, said to be medicinal. The men all went in, we women felt the water and then wandered around taking in the luscious greenery and garden. I felt like I was in a rain forest. There are no words to describe the vegetation, it is velvet green, if that makes sense.

Off we went to the Vale das Furnas. This is a lush garden that sits at the bottom of a huge volcanic crater. This is also where the "calderas" are and we watch pots of stew being placed in and taken out of these boiling steam holes. We had this stew for lunch, cabbage, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams, pork, beef, sausages, roast meats, carrots. It was quite good considering it was cooked for eight hours in an aluminum pot wrapped in a cloth, dropped in a hole that has natural boiling water, then covered with mud. We know that you have to be careful walking around here, steam is escaping everywhere and water is literally boiling. Too hot to touch. The locals are happy to have this boiling water and hissing coming out of the ground. They are happy the volcano is releasing its pressure and not keeping it in, thus preventing any eruptions! The sun is not shining so we are unable to see the green colour of the lake.

All of the flora we have seen today, all of the trees, have been brought here from somewhere else in Europe, Asia, Australia. We are also told that everything grows better here than from the countries where they originated. Perfect growing conditions for anything, if you bring it and plant it in the fertile volcanic soil, it will grow. Sao Miguel also has Europe's only pineapple and tea plantations. The pineapples are grown in large green houses, they are smaller and very sweet. They are only in greenhouses to protect them from the winter winds. The tea grows in row after row of beautiful hedges the top leaves or sprouts are clipped and they are the only part of the plant used for tea. 

We stop at another town where there are three taps or spouts inserted in the rocks, each about 10 feet from the other. Water is pouring out of them all. The first is very hot water, we quickly swipe our hand through this one knowing it would burn. The second we take a drink of very cold water. It is fresh and clean. The third spout we take a drink and it is sparkling water, what a surprise. Apparently the "spark" comes from the iron in the water. This is all natural. Crazy, could have made a Spritzer!

It is five thirty when we return. Having said goodbye to our fellow tour mates, I am beat. Tonight I will sleep. Tomorrow we will take a quick walk to town. It has been another great day.
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Deb on

Sounds like the perfect end to your vacation as we wake up to snow again this morning. What an interesting, unusual destination. Enjoy your last day.

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