PONTA DELGADA , Azores

15 04 2011

11th April 2011

The Azores are made up of 9 islands, some 760 miles from Lisbon,Portugal.  The islands owe their dramatic shape to volcanic activity many years ago.  Earthquakes of any size are apparently rare, the last recorded one was in 1957.

We were making a very brief morning visit to Ponta Delgada, mainly apparently to refuel.  Because we had to be back on board by 12.30 we decided to take an official ship tour this time in four-wheel drive which would take us off-road.  The itinerary was to visit Sete citadades, a 15 sq mile extinct volcanic crater in which two separate lakes have formed, one deep blue and the other emerald green.

We drove out of Ponta Delgada and west along the pretty coastal road, past small villages. Everywhere was very green and lush.  Pine trees covered the hillsides and wild Spring flowers were in bloom in the hedgerows – it rather reminded us of home.  The weather was glorious, blue skies and warm sunshine – we were so lucky again.  Then we left the main road and climbed on dirt tracks until we came to a high ridge and drove towards the lakes.  The views were magnificent – on both sides.

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We made many stops are vantage points for photos and were able to look down on the village of Sete Cidades.  We were shown were many years ago the flooding was so serious that the grave yard and its contents rose, so they had to move the graveyard up the hill.  After this serious flooding, when houses had water up to the first floor, a kilometre long tunnel was built by hand to drain excess water out to sea. Adventurous folks,with suitable boots and a torch, walk this tunnel from time to time.

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In the village we stopped for coffee and a visit to the pretty church.  Everywhere azaleas were in bloom – wild in the hedgerows and all round the lakes – a colourful site.  The miles hydrangeas were not yet in bloom. 

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After a good explore of the area we stopped at another volanic lake  Lago Rosa – the hillsides being covered with pine trees.  On our way back to port, we stopped at a special viewing platform where whales and dolphins are regularly seen – but not that day! 

The weather had started to change and we could seem thick mist starting to roll in.  Before we knew it our brief  morning visit was over and we were back on the boat for the last sailaway, with one of the resident bands on deck providing lively music. 

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This is our last visit before getting home in a couple of days time.  We will make a final entry in our blog  – so keep an eye out.


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