Sunday April 24, 2016 Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel
Our overnight flight from Boston was over a half hour late. With talking going on around us and losing 4 hours as we flew east, we arrived tired but also excited. We exited from the rear of the large plane, were guided across the tarmac, and made it quickly through Azorean customs. A stamp in our passports! We got the rental car, an island map from the tourism office and set out to try and find the Futurismo kiosk next to the water because of the tours we’d booked and wanted to confirm.
We found the kiosk, confirmed Clare’s plans and added a walking tour for Monday that had been left off, added me to a Friday jeep tour to Nordeste. Then we decided to walk around a little bit and explore the plaza area of the city. There was a statue to Cabral at the end of the plaza close to the harbor.
The sidewalks in Ponta had typically Portuguese patterns made of black basalt stones from the island and imported white stones.
We were hungry and looked around for a restaurant, but nothing struck our fancy. I suggested we head out to our B&B, which was 15 minutes out of town in a small village on the north side of the island. After doing my best to get lost and ending up back at the airport. I found where I had saved the directions on my phone, and we finally took the correct exit north. As we drove up over verdant hills with black & white cows serenely grazing, clouds covering the higher peaks, we looked at each other and exclaimed “It’s so beautiful!”
We turned off the main highway, and went back in time. Other than the fact the road was paved, it could have been 400 years earlier. The narrow road snaked between low rock fences, marking different pastures. Calla lilies graced the edges of the fields – I learned later that cows won’t eat them. We descended the sloping hill towards the village and, after the roundabout, found Casa Dos Hisbiscos on a narrow, one way street.
Our gracious hostess, Susana, was glad to see us – I’d sent her the time the plane was supposed to have landed, and she’d started to get worried. We explained the plane was late and that we’d gone into Ponta first to confirm our eco-adventures for the week. Susana showed us around our guest quarters upstairs, and explained we were welcome in the family room/TV room or back yard – depending on which dog was lose. She graciously offered us a late breakfast – I was grateful to eat something, but other than get a drink, Clare was so tired she went up to bed to nap.
Clare’s “nap” turned into several hours, while I got a tour of the backyard gardens (with many colors of hisbiscos – most just starting to bloom in late April) and was shown the swimming pool. Then I read and rested on the upstairs couch, trying not to disturb Clare in the bedroom.
When she finally awoke, we decided to drive into Fenais da Luz – which is a very small village on the North Coast. We pulled over at a small park and looked at the ocean. Then being, hungry, we wanted try out one of the restaurants recommended – A Tasca, back in Ponta in the downtown Plaza area, not far from where we’d been that morning. Although the restaurant is usually booked and needs reservations, we were early enough to be seated immediately. A musical duo of Spanish guitar and harp were playing upstairs, with music descending to the small dining hall. The restaurant was small, the atmosphere was timeless Portuguese, and the food so good we decided we would have to come back again.
For appetizers we got a cheese filled puff pastry and a skirt steak in tomato sauce. Clare accused me of being a picky eater – I chose the safe option of steak, she was the adventurous one, ordering limpets for her entrée – which turned out to be some kind of shell fish served steaming hot on a cast iron skillet. Since I am not a lover of shell fish, I was very glad that, in addition to all the seafood specialties, steak is a specialty of Sao Miguel. (Apparently not just dairy cows on those hillsides!)
It was evening as we headed back over the hill again from the south side of Sao Miguel to the north side. In the gathering dusk we agreed that we were glad not to be staying in the city itself, but in our charming B&B in the rural village. Still recovering from the time zone change, we went to bed immediately (it was Wednesday before we were awake enough in the evening to stay up and visit!).