Perfect Spot for Exploring the IslandMarch 21 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C
Well, we have found a lovely BnB (Quinta dos Bravos) in the middle of the island, between Ribeira Grande and Ponta Delgada. The bright green farmers’ fields lined with pink azaleas and a view toward the blue ocean is lovely. We lucked out for our last week on Sao Miguel in the Azores.
Rui and Gaudino are the most wonderful hosts. Everything about their BnB has been done with love and with a goal of making their guests feel like they are special. We are here for 6 nights and are happy that we chose to stay here. The other guests that we have met are wonderful people and at breakfast we have had some interesting conversations re a little bit of everything.
Our first day was sunny and bright. Rui suggested that we avoid the areas where a European Car Rally was being held and head to the west side of the island. Our plan was to take the picturesque coastal roads to a lighthouse near Nordeste and stopping at the numerous mirador along the way.
The drive was beautiful. If we were to come back to Sao Miguel, we definitely would like to stay in this part of the island - cattle farms, amazing views, forests, rivers and quaint little villages. The viewing points obviously were maintained with a lot of pride by the local villagers.
They all had gardens with picnic and BBQ areas, as well as pristine washrooms. We were really impressed by the cleanliness of each of the tiny parks.
It is in this northeastern part of the island that the whale and dolphin boats bring tourists from Ponta Delgada. Even though a whaling tour is a must on the island, we didn’t do this as we have done this in Newfoundland and on this trip, we just want to drive/walk around and explore. By the way, we looked but didn’t see any whales.
When we got to Nordeste, we looked for the lighthouse and saw it - 500 m down a steep cliff on a small ledge. There is a road going down to the lighthouse but it was steep (35 degrees) and twisty! No way that our little Volkswagen Up! would ever make it back up and it would be scary to drive it down. We met people who needed a tow and Rui had cautioned us against taking the road down.
So we parked at the top and walked down. Even that was hard. When we got to the octagonal lighthouse, we were about 1/2 down but we could rest there for a bit before heading down to the bottom where surprisingly there were some some houses. They used to be fishermen’s houses but some have been renovated and made into tiny vacation houses. Beside the houses, there is a high waterfall that can only really be seen from the sea or if you are close to the sea. A pretty spot.
But, we now had to face the music and climb back up. I tried not to think of that as I walked down. Haha. When we got to the lighthouse, there was a water fountain and we wondered if we could drink the water there. We happened to see the lighthouse keeper who said that it was good and then invited us to come into the lighthouse for a tour!! What a bonus (and break from the upward journey).
The Farol do Arnel is the oldest lighthouse on the island. It was built in 1876. At one time four families lived in four areas of the building and they had had a common cooking area for baking bread and cooking on the BBQ. There was a lot of work needed while keeping the fires burning. Nowadays, it is a lot simpler so only one family lives there. The keeper is in the navy and he was assigned this lighthouse to take care of. He knows how to drive up and down that steep road and has the proper vehicle to do this with!
After an informative ‘tour’ and taking the steep stairs/ladders to the top, we thanked him and faced the climb back up to the top. Photos do not do the road’s steepness justice. Along the way, we heard snorting and realized that pigs are being kept in underground rooms beside the road.
Once we got to the top, we realized that it was 3 o’clock so we got back in the car and drove back on the main highway to a town called Achadinha. Rui had told us about a traditional restaurant there called Poco Azul that served great food. We found it easily and we were in luck. It was their 1st year anniversary and they were celebrating.
We had a huge selection of food in a buffet and birthday cake for 7 euros each. What a deal and did we ever eat some tasty dishes. We even had a sample of a naturally blue-coloured Casal Mendez sparkling wine. It was a pleasant and inexpensive experience. The people in the village are very sweet.
Our day was long and totally satisfying. We did a little bit of everything that we like to do, had a great meal and when we got back to the BnB, we had a lovely hot shower and a comfortable bed. What more could we ask for on a travelling day?!Read more