Portugal
Quatro Ribeiras

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    • Day 15

      The Ever-Changing Landscape of Terceira

      March 23 in Portugal ⋅ ☁️ 15 °C

      Terceira is the 2nd most populated island in the Azores with about 54,000 residents. The island is 30 km long and 18 km wide. It was the third island to be discovered and a settlement was started in 1449. When the New World was being explored, this island became a stop over for sailors going to the Americas and India.

      Terceira is different than the other islands we have visited. The landscape changes quite dramatically in very short distances. Old volcanoes, green pastures with lava stone walls, tall Japanese cedar trees, flower-lined roads, grottoes on the shoreline with huge volcanic rocks, ferns and lichens, giant palm trees, and so on. It is a very beautiful small island with several very good paved roads and even more secondary crushed lava roads in the interior. It is a great place to just get lost as you’ll always find your way out, eventually.

      As I mentioned earlier, many houses were destroyed during the 1980 earthquake. What we saw on our drives were either new modern houses, ruins of houses or old houses that were fixed up. Some of the houses like the one we were in, had huge cracks in them and had become structurally unsound. A lot of work had to be done to fix them up again.

      As you may notice, there are also a lot of cows on this island. More than people. While we were driving, we had to be mindful that around a bend there could be cows on the road.

      The climate and lush vegetation with few temperature extremes (15 C to 25 C) make it an inexpensive place to raise cattle. The farmers don’t need buildings to protect them from extremes in weather. Because of the mild climate and good pastures the cattle live longer and have few diseases.

      The majority of cattle we observed as we drove around were Holstein-Friesians, Jerseys and Brown Swiss. We did see Angus also. The majority of the milk is sold as fresh milk, followed by cheese (Edam) and butter. Dairy products are exported from the island, mainly to the mainland of Portugal.

      The following photos show some of the beautiful ‘changing’ scenery, and a few cows, that we saw during the week that we stayed on Terceira.
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    • Day 14

      Rocha do Chambre Trail

      March 22 in Portugal ⋅ ☁️ 15 °C

      Today is Friday. The plan was to visit a volcanic chimney in the centre of the island in the afternoon. It was open to the public at 2:30 pm. In the morning we would look for an interesting place to do a little hike. The landscape of this island is very pretty and ever-changing - farmers’ fields with cows, lava fields, volcanoes, ocean grottoes, quaint little villages, forests with Japanese pines and big cliffs. We knew that we wouldn’t have difficulty finding somewhere to walk. And we found a trail - Roche Do Chambre.

      We didn’t want to go too far, perhaps 4 or 5 km, as Chris had sprained his ankle 3 days ago
      and we wanted to take it easy. We have walked over 500 km on this trip.

      The trail started out easy and it was beautiful. The volcanic rocks were covered with small flowers, mosses and plants that looked like bonsai gardens. Tiny Microsystems growing in the rock. Magical.

      As we walked further, we walked past tall Japanese cedar forests. As usual the landscape kept changing. The photos will explain the plants along the trail better. About three km into the walk, we entered a rough part of the trail with a lava stone path. We had to be super careful, especially Chris.

      Finally we exited onto a grassy path and guess what? I went down! I twisted my ankle too! Darn. We checked the quickest way back to the car and it looked like we had 4 km to go but mostly on roads so it wasn’t too bad.

      Once we got into the car though, my ankle started to puff up. I guess that we should start acting our ages and start taking it easy, a bit.

      What a pair of gimps we are today; and now gimps … with limps…

      We didn’t go to the volcanic chimney with its 300 stairs. Back to our accommodation... get those ankles up.
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    • Day 15

      Algar do Carvão - Inside a Volcanic Vent

      March 23 in Portugal ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

      The ‘Algar do Carvão’ is one of the few volcanoes of its kind in the world that can be visited from the inside. The lava solidified on the walls preventing the volcano from collapsing and creating a caldera. It formed a ‘chimney’, open to the surface. Apparently there are only two in the world that you can go inside - one in Terceira and one in Indonesia.

      We bought our tickets, went down some stairs and then walked down a narrow tunnel-like passageway. The floor was wet and we had to be careful we didn’t slip or twist our ankles again.

      The tunnel opened into a mini Jurassic park. The small green plants covered the walls of the hole and it was beautiful. Birds were chirping and water dripped down on us. Looking up we could see the opening of the lava tube and the sky and clouds. To give you an idea of the perspective, the opening is 17 x 27 metres (approx 51 x 81 feet).

      When you look down at this point you think that you can see the whole cave, but there are many levels and flights of stairs to descend to get to the bottom. Actually there are 338 stairs.

      On the way down, there are two large ‘halls’ created by the attempts of lava to go outside before forming the impressive“chimney” where it actually came out. At a certain level, we could see a large lake at the bottom.

      One of the two halls is called the“cathedral“, where the lava gave the room a round shape as it couldn’t break through to the surface due to the hardness of the rock. The walls of this ‘cathedral’ are colourful, greens, browns, reds, blacks, etc. The acoustics are good so at times small concerts are performed here.

      Beautiful flower-shaped stalactites (amorphous silica stalactites) covered the walls. It is hard to explain how awesome this place was.

      Nowadays, in order to visit such a place we only had to go down the stairs , but can you imagine what it would be like to enter here with ropes from above? When we exited, we looked at old photos of explorers who first explored this chimney. In 1893, they went down the hole tied on with ropes, with several men placed around the rim holding the ropes.

      The Algar was only opened to the public in the late 60’s. The tunnel was built and then the access stairs. At a later date it was expanded and then improved several times.

      Legend has it that a shepherd, looking for a goat that was missing in his flock, found this impressive hole in the ground.

      Both of us were blown away by seeing this impressive sight. What an incredible experience we had, visiting this 90-meter deep structure built by nature 2000 years ago.
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    • Day 7

      Furnas do Enxofre

      May 20, 2023 in Portugal ⋅ ☁️ 18 °C

      Falls man vergessen haben sollte, dass man sich hier die ganze Zeit am Rande oder in einem Vulkankrater bewegt - der Furnas do Enxofre erinnert einen daran, dass es ein ganzes Stück unterhalb einem immer noch kräftig brodelt…

      Auf einem Rundweg von ca. einem Kilometer sieht man an diversen Stellen Rauch aufsteigen, natürlich mit entsprechendem Aroma. Die rote Erde und auch die Flora nimmt dann gerne eine andere Farbe an.

      Ein toller Spot, wo man einfach ohne Eintritt durchgehen kann!
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    • Day 6

      Wir lieben das einfache Leben

      May 15, 2019 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 11 °C

      Guten Morgen von Terceira! Heute starten wir mit dem "einfachen Leben" in den Tag. Es heißt heute früh: "Narobla, Klappe, die Erste!". Ihr seht, bei uns geht es ganz lustig und sehr entspannt zu. Unser Skipper hat auf dieser Yacht das BBC-Team für die Dreharbeiten "The Blue Planet" herumgeschippert. Natürlich müssen wir das auch mal testen:-)))
      Dann geht es aber los. Wir legen ab, das Meer glitzert, die Wolken hängen dramatisch darüber. Weit und breit sind wir das einzigste Boot. Wir begegnen unseren Delphinen wieder, die sich heute so richtig austoben. Aufgrund zu hoher Wellen müssen wir gegen Mittag leider (oder zum Glück) umkehren. Dafür kreuzen wir bis zum Abend vor der Küste von Terceira, gehen im "O Pirata" sehr gut essen und legen Abend in der tiefstehenden Sonne noch einmal ab und geben Vollgas. Dieses Mal suchen wir das Meer nicht ab, sondern genießen die Kraft unserer Yacht. Ein wundervoller Tag geht lustig zu Ende.
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