São Pedro

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  • Day7

    Car troubles

    December 26, 2019 in Portugal ⋅ 🌬 18 °C

    3 out of 4 of our rented cars have suffered some sort of issue. 2 got a flat tire ON THE SAME DAY (both BMWs coincidentally... expensive cars =/= good tires!?). The third one (not a BMW LOL) has a suspicious piece hanging off its bottom (alarmingly similar to what happened to us in Taiwan but so far much more manageable).

    We are the last and only unaffected car.

    🤞🤞🤞🤞🤞 we make it another 2.5 days without any problems 😱

    On the plus side, someone got a free upgrade to a convertible so they are getting a VIP experience with the crazy winds here. I am not all that jealous. According to my dad's personal stat research, 99% of convertible drivers are bald LOL 😂
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    Cathy Y

    Omg where does your dad get these stats LOOOOL Also I guess we need to start carrying duct tape with us on trips

  • Mar21

    Perfect Spot for Exploring the Island

    March 21, 2019 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?!
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    Diane Derome

    J’ai vraiment hâte de voir cette belle verdure au Québec.


    It has been a long winter!

    Diane Derome

    Oui vraiment ...

  • Mar24

    Exploring the NW corner of Sao Miguel

    March 24, 2019 in Portugal ⋅ 🌙 13 °C

    After yesterday’s stormy day, today promised to be a warm and sunny day. It was perfect for a drive back to Mosteiros along the northwest shoreline. Many of the roads along the shoreline of the island are the old original roads that are hundreds of years old and they are very interesting.

    By the way, I am writing this footprint in the Batalhas golf course clubhouse while Chris hits a few balls on the driving range. I have views of the ocean while I drink a cup of Delta coffee and listen to good music. We both are happy with this arrangement.

    From our inland BnB, we drove 3 km to Calhetas which is on the ocean. Calhetas means pebbles and the shore is full of small rocks, a good place for catching fish. The village is pretty small and has been inhabited since the 15th Century. Around 1820, some tea seeds were brought from Brazil and a tea plantation was started in this area. There was a great viewing spot close by. This whole island is full of ‘great viewing spots’, each one just as beautiful as the one before. We make a point of stopping at as many of these miradouras as possible.

    On we drove to another small village called Capelas. During the whaling era in the Azores (early to middle 20th Century), Capelas was an important northern processing center on the island of São Miguel. Rui told us that until 1976, many people in island villages still used whale oil to light their lanterns.

    Hardly any part of the carcass of the sperm whale was waste. The meat and fat and even teeth and bones, (raw material for scrimshaw), were all utilized. Whale wax or spermaceti and ambergris provided raw material for candles, lubricants and perfumes, to name just a few of their many uses.

    Whaling was an important source of livelihood for a number of Azorean families for a great number of years. The decline of the industry began in the 1960s following a diminishing need for whale-based products. The last whales in the Azores were hunted in 1987.

    The viewpoint in Capelas gave us great views of the big bay where the whales were brought in. It was hard to imagine how the huge whale bodies were hauled up the cliffs. We did go down a steep ramp to the rocky bottom and even wondered how the ships could even bring the whales close to shore. Rui told us that they used to attach a big hook to the whale’s tail and used a machine to haul it up the ramp. But then the body had to go to the processing plant. What a job!

    Capelas also has a curious rock formation. It goes by several names including "Trombo do Elefante", or the elephant’s trunk. The cliffs are in the perfect shape of an elephant stepping into the water with its trunk falling into the sea. You don’t need to have much of an imagination to see the elephant.

    We really liked visiting this town and could see ourselves spending time here in the future.

    North of Capelas, we passed through little towns with Saints’ names. We saw greenhouses which grow the small Azores pineapples. At this point we could see the sides of the huge Sete Cidades volcano sloping to the ocean, covered with fertile farmland.

    On we went to Pilar da Bretanha. Interesting that it is called Pillars of Britain. Maybe some British sailors were castaways here? It is a village that is located on the furthest point from the capital city. Before a road was put in, the people living here were pretty isolated.

    By now, with all of our ins and outs of the car, it was around 2 p.m. and we were getting hungry. Mosteiros wasn’t that far away and that restaurant with the great seafood so ... off we went to Mosteiros and the O Américo de Barbosa restaurant where we had eaten an amazing lunch earlier in the week.

    The seaside town at the base of the big volcano has a nice feel to it. While we waited for a seat in the restaurant, we went to the nearby centro and people watched. So nice and old fashioned. Men sitting on benches, smoking and chatting, kids playing on the bandshell, women walking arm in arm through the park, church bells ringing.

    Fifteen minutes later, we went back to the restaurant and our table was ready. The menu was small but we just had to have the shrimp again. But people were getting ‘limpets’ so we had to try the limpets too. And then the house specialty was octopus with boiled potatoes. How could we resist? We know that we won’t be getting seafood this fresh anytime in the near future so why not splurge! We even considered getting Portuguese wine and an Azorean pineapple cheesecake but felt that that would be just a little too decadent.

    Our trip home took 40 minutes and we went on a route that took us up the volcano, then down into the crater and back up again and to the other side, then through green countryside with cows and back to our perfectly located BnB in Pico Da Pedra.

    So today, our last day on the island, I am watching Chris putt on the putting green while looking out the big windows of the clubhouse and writing this footprint. Nice way to end our time in Sao Miguel, for sure.
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  • Day7

    Personal swimming pool

    December 26, 2019 in Portugal ⋅ 🌬 18 °C

    A cool little bay/rocky cliff area by the ocean on the northern coast.

    Someone built a swimming pool ladder right into the ocean. There was also a very random smashed tv on the road.

You might also know this place by the following names:

São Pedro, Sao Pedro