We ate an amazing breakfast of cherries (bought at the bus station yesterday – amazingly fresh and priced to die for at 1 Euro 50 cents for 1 kilo!!) and croissants with our windows open and the beautiful blue sky above the other buildings around us before heading down to the Metro to go to the airport.
We left enough time, but I panicked a bit when I realized that the metro spat us out at terminal one and we had to take a bus to Terminal two in order to get the Ryanair flight we had booked to take us out into the middle of the Atlantic Ocean to the closest of the Azores islands. But all went well. They didn’t argue about our backpacks, security was fast, and we had seats that were close-ish to each other on the plane. Ryanair does this stupid thing where in order to choose your seats you have to pay a hefty premium, and for those people who don’t choose to pay, they penalize you by seating you in the stupidest seats possible – often dozens of rows apart. It makes no sense. We were only sitting one row apart this flight, but on the way home we are 15 rows apart!
There was complete chaos inside of the “cheap airline” terminal. I guess that is what you pay for on a real airline…sleek departure terminals. But thankfully we did have the sense to buy a couple of ham an cheese sandwiches for the road so that we wouldn’t starve in our almost 3 hours out to Sao Miguel Island.
We arrived to a beautiful but cloudy day around 1pm with the time change and had no issues getting our rental car and making it out of Ponta Delgada area. Our hotel is closer to the east side of the island in a town called Furnas. We crossed the entire Island (The width is a maximum of 15km and is as narrow as 8km) and wound our way through the lush forest and past numerous cow fields on our way along the North Coast of the island before making our way on an even smaller windy road into the centre.
Despite all the one-way roads in Furnas, we didn’t have too much trouble finding our hotel called Vista do Vale. We have an amazing view of the mountains surrounding this town nestled in the valley and of the town below us. Everything around is lush and green and when the screen door is open on the balcony the birds are so loud! It is amazing. It is definitely a jungle!
After enjoying our amazing hotel for a few moments, we put our shoes back on and decided to go explore the town and find a place for lunch. We almost figured out the circular pattern to the town before Shawn just about expired on the sidewalk and we stoped at a little lunch cafe place in the bus depot (sounds bad, but the view was great) next to the church and had this most amazing grilled cheese thing. It was amazing and so garlicky!
We went further away from our hotel and found the caldeiras. They are the the little gas vents and bubbling hot pots. It looks like they used to be more accessible, but now they are a little less stupid-proof with a few rock barriers in the way. It was a nice garden that has been built around the sulphur steam and warm rivers. I got super excited about this…probably because it was warm!
On the way back to the hotel we checked out a tourist shop where Shawn bought a really cool cork wallet and I tried to figure out where I could buy more sheets of cork in that colour (to absolutely no avail). He also had a local drink of fresh pineapple with a shot of vodka and gin. He determined it was an amazing drink and was totally happy with me visiting all the stores along the way! (There weren’t very many stores, though!)
We stopped in this great smelling house. Sounds sketchy, but from the front it looked like a normal house, but when we followed the signs up the driveway, we saw that it was a cafe and store around the back. It turns out it is a little bakery, where the speciality is Bolos Levedos. They are a sweet bread and are described in English as a Portuguese muffin. They are cooked on top of the stove like a pancake though. We decided not to buy any today as we already had our lunch and dinner was fast approaching, but would come back tomorrow for lunch instead!
By the time we made it home it was totally happy hour. We had bought a nice little bottle of red wine which was amazing and decided that as we were nicely happy we should walk to the local hot springs for a pre dinner soak!
The hot springs, called Poca da Dona Beija are only about a 15 minute walk away from our hotel on the other side of town. Admission was 4 Euros per person and there were little changing rooms and showers you could pay extra for. Thankfully, I knew to bring our travel towels, so we did not have to pay the 2 Euros for those or the shower. We could easily bring our clothes and shoes to the benches around the various hot pools to keep an eye on them.
The hot pools were awesome. There were 2 bridges crossing back and fourth over the hot river flowing down the middle and on either side there were 2 hot pools plus at the beginning of the river there was another cooler, but still warm, pool. All four of the official hot pools were different heights and depths with various fountains. They all were infinity pool style where the excess, continual flowing water poured off the sides of the rock edges and into the river below. It was very impressive. We moved between the hot pools (39 degrees C) and the cooler initial pool (28 degrees) for a good couple of hours before we decided we should probably make our way back to the hotel for some sort of dinner. It was an amazing experience in the pools. A bit overcrowded, but very relaxing and amazing people watching.
Dinner in the hotel was great too! We were the only people in the restaurant save a large French group who were just finishing up their meal. I had a fantastic salad for dinner for 5 Euros and Shawn had salmon and salad for 10 Euros. It isn’t often you can get a hotel dinner for less than $25 for two people!! And our waiter was so great. Very personable and entertaining. He has relatives in Canada so was very excited to know we are from Canada. He loves the snow. Of course. You live on a beautiful jungle island and you want snow. Isn’t that always how it works.
Just going to enjoy a bit of ice cream we brought back to the room before bed!