Self-Guided Island TourFebruary 22 in Portugal
This was our last day in the Azores and my stubbornness kicked in as there was no way I was leaving without seeing something of the island. Full-day guided tours were €160 ($250). Group tours were slightly less but we didn’t feel it would be very nice to be hacking away in a mini-bus. So we rented a Ford Fiesta diesel car for €65 with arrangements to return it to the airport so we wouldn’t have to hire a taxi the next morning. It was raining heavily when we picked up the car at 9. Fortunately the rain didn’t last too long.
Our first stop was Lagoa das Sete Cidade. This was the area that I had seen in travel magazines and websites that initially beckoned me to the Azores. But it was overcast and drizzly when we arrived. The driver took the position that it was best to move on. I wasn’t giving up that easily and remembered passing a tea house just up the road. Good locally grown tea and home baking kept us occupied for about an hour. The rain clouds cleared and the sun was shining! I asked the very nice server if she could recommend a good place to view the lake and got directions. The driver complained about having to backtrack about 25 km up the mountainside and more than once threatened to turn around. The short 1 km uphill hike was a challenge for me as I was short of breath and could hear my congested lungs. But I made it and it was all worthwhile as this was the exact location of the promotional photos. Awesome! Even the driver admitted that he was glad I persisted.
After the highlight of my day we continued our way down to the coast taking a narrow secondary highway with great views. One long section of the road had a continuous hedge of blue hydrangeas past their bloom. They grow wild here and would be amazing to see in season. We drove through small towns and made a couple of stops at the ocean. We had a late lunch and the two servers were anxious to tell us their stories about going to Toronto in February, having never seen snow before. Unfortunately they had trouble with their credit card machine and I later found out I was double-billed. The same thing has happened with our recent apartment rental. Such a nuisance.Read more