Saturday, 10 June 2006

More from the Azores

As promised I now come with some typical views of the Azores, here still exemplified by the island of Sao Miguel (sorry, I tried to post yesterday but didn't work, not a rare problem I am afraid).

This is the traditional way of cooking a meal in the village of Furnas - still being practised today as you see. Dig a deep hole in the ground near one of the hot water sources, put in your pot, close the hole and your meal will be ready after about 3 to 4 hours. It is well done by the hot steam produced by the sources.

The water is coming out of the ground really piping hot. Walking around the source you get nice warm feet. But the ground is too hot to dig a hole by hand.

Me - exploring the Azorean djungle. Quite common are laurel trees, rubber plants and farn trees.

The island is dotted with picknick places. The Azoreans seem to love to go out into nature for their Sunday lunch (people work six days a week). Very often these picknick places are beautifully done up like landscaped gardens and most are situated at viewing points high on the cliffs. Note that they are not made for tourists but for the islands inhabitants.

These are just the remnants of a former village nesting on the cliff edge. Some of the houses are still used as holiday homes which can only be reached by a half-hour-walk. Our path was said to lead us to one of the few little beaches of the island. But this beach turned out to be washed away by winter storms. Even parts of the changing facilities were changed into kindlings, and the sandy beach was displaced by big cobbles.

The most famous landmark of Sao Miguel and all the Azores are the crater lakes of Sete Cidades (twin lakes). They are called the green and the blue lake, and this is exactly what they look like. The path along the crater rim is around 25K long and can be walked on a very long day. Along the southern half the track is suitable for normal cars, but the Northern stretch can only be driven by a jeep (we tried it with our rented normal car and had to turn back when nearly at the other end - it was a nightmare, especially for Angelika ...).

The skyline of Ponta Delgada, capital of Sao Miguel and - some say - of the Azores.
Usually not shown on postcards.

A typical village street, this one found in Ribeira Grande, the biggest town on the North coast of Sao Miguel. Note that the street can't be stated really clean but it is decorated with coloured flags in preparation for the whitsun festivities. Pentecost is celebrated with processions - often in the middle of the night - and with 24-hour-fireworks.

The village of Ribeira Grande under a skye which was not rare during our holiday. Beginning of June seems to be too early for a sunny and warm holiday on the Azores.

More photos from our second island - Pico - later. For tomorrow morning we are booked in for whale watching. I look forward to this. Although we will go out on the Atlantic in a speedy rubber dinghy. I had to sign that I am a good swimmer - which was an out-and-out lie. Don't worry we will get life vests.

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