Friday, April 13, 2012 — Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel, Azores

 Ponte Delgado port

Ponta Delgada is located on Sao Miguel, the largest of the nine Azores.  The island’s rich volcanic soil sustains fields of tobacco and tea, vineyards and pineapple greenhouses.  The Azores are also noted for fine crafts, particularly basketry and pottery.  We always say Azores with a long ‘a’ at the beginning, but our guide said it with an ‘ah’ sound.  The Azores have a subtropical climate characterized by high humidity and very little variation in temperature, averaging approximately 63 degrees F year-round.  Rainfall is more abundant in winter months and light cloud cover is common throughout the year.  We lucked out with a good day and wearing a long-sleeved shirt I didn’t need my jacket.  We only had rain once we climbed the mountain to see Fire Lake.

     This was a CC tour booked with Azorean Tours, Gary Travassos, www.azoreantours.com or garytrvassos@azoreantours.com.  We really enjoyed our day.  We started out with a beautiful view at Santa Iria.  IMG_0031 We then drove to Gorreana Tea plantation.  This was really interesting.  I never realized that one tea plant makes both green and black tea.  It all depends on the roasting time and how it is processed.  This place still uses the old machines.  We bought a box of 10 teabags for 1 Euro.  They have a place to taste the tea at the end of the tour and a small gift shop where we got postcards.

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We went to Furnas next to see the Lake, Calderas and the park by the lake where there were cooking holes that people cooked there lunch.  Corn on the Cob in the husk takes about an hour and a half.  The heat from the calderas cooks it.  Some spouts of water coming out on the street and some were cold.  Some had different healing power.

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     We passed a spot on the coast where just the tip of a volcano shows and people go swimming inside it.  We also saw grapevines and bananas growing.  When we drove up to the highest point to see Fire Lake, we were in a rain cloud and could not see anything.  We then went to Caldeira Velha which was a pretty little waterfall.  We had to walk on a red path through what was like a rainforest as it had just rained and it was humid.  I would have like to see a bigger waterfall, but it was pretty with the different chemicals on the rocks.

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IMG_0138  We then went to see the Mother Church of Nossa Senhora da Estrela,  drove by the beach that had black sand and the center of Ponta Delgada.

This was a 5 1/2 tour that cost us 38 Euro each or about $52.50.  The cheapest ship’s tour was $49 for 1 1/2 hrs.  Their half day tours were $49, $59 and $65 plus tips.  None of them had our itinerary and either included shopping or wine tasting.  We were also able to take the smaller roads with out small van.  This is a very pretty island.  We made it back to the ship just in time for the first seating dinner.  Ray went to the room to drop off our jackets and I went to the front desk to mail postcards.

     We had a good dinner but we can’t linger over dessert or we wouldn’t get a seat at the show.  Kyle Esplin entertained us again on the piano.  He was great but I was so tired I almost fell asleep.  They had video horse racing in the casino and I went to the Blank Gameshow.  It was like the Match Game and I didn’t stay long.  I finished my book and that was the end of a great Friday the 13th!

“Love is a promise, love is a souvenir, once given never forgotten, never let it disappear.”  —  John Lenon

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