2012 May 5 – Days 55 – Ponta Delgada, São Miguel, Azores

After a day at sea the ship docked at the port of Ponta Delgada on the island of São Miguel in the Portuguese Azores.  The Azores are 900 nautical miles from Mainland Portugal and are volcanic.  The islands are stongly linked to the legendary lost city of Atlantis.  Despite it being a cloudy day the scenery was still beautiful; very lush pastureland and Japanese Cedar forests.    I am curious about what the graffiti artist was depicting here.

São Miguel is the largest and most populated island in the Azores Archipelago (there are 8 smaller islands).  More than half of Azoreans live on the island (133,000 out of 250,000).  The Azores are a major producer of milk and dairy products and the climate is so mild the cows live outside; they don’t have barns at all.  Even the milking is done out in the open.  The farm trucks have stainless steel sanitized tanks on the back and they drive out into the fields twice a day to do the milking.  The cows know the routine and wander over and line up to get milked (in the same order twice a day).

The bus took us up the steep hillsides to the peak of the caldera.There are two connecting lakes in the caldera; the larger one is – usually – bright blue (on a sunny day, which we didn’t have) because it is open to the reflection of the sky.  The other, smaller one, is green because it is almost surrounded by a steep forested cliff wall. After our photo stop of the lakes (appropriately called Blue Lake and Green Lake) we drove into the town of Sete Cidades (Seven Cities), which is just a small village (population 811), where we had time to wander around. The roads are narrow, steep and winding.  John wished he had his motorcycle.                                                             Santiago Lake.

                       A very Harry Potter-ish looking area.All the shades of green and plentiful plants and grass reminded of a blend of Ireland and the Hawai’ian Island of Kuaui.  The Japanese Cedar trees can be harvested every 35 years.  We saw lumber air-drying in a couple of towns as we were driven around the island.  They stand the timber up so it looks like tents.

The driver took us back to Ponta Delgada by a different route with a wine and cheese tasting stop along the way.  Once we were back we had a quick lunch on the ship and then spent some time exploring the town.       I am not sure what John was expecting to find in this cannon. Many of the buildings were decorated with lights and lighted objects in preparation for the Festival of the Holy Ghost which would be held the next week.

                                                      San Sebastion Church It started to rain so we went back on board and got my laptop and found an internet cafe where, for €3 you could spend however long you wanted uploading photos and sending emails.  John read his book while I took advantage of the cheap internet.  (Internet on the ship is outrageously expensive so if I ever have some free time and can find some free or inexpensive internet service I take advantage of it.)

It was Cinco de Mayo night in the dining room.  May the 5th is the day Mexico commemorates its unexpected victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Pueblo on that day in 1862.  It is a day of food, music, and folklore displays.   Rudi was at the dining room entrance every evening to give you some dates or mints as you left after dinner.  He was a sweetheart; so very cheerful and friendly.  “Dates for you tonight, Mister John?”  “Some mints for you Mrs. John?”  He never missed.

The next day we anchored off Horta, Fiala Island of the Azores which was our last port of call of the cruise.

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