Friday, November 7, 2014

You're Going Where?: Part II

Back to our Azores trip! The fourth day we were on Sao Miguel we drove to the west side of the island and headed towards Lagoa das Sete Cidades. To keep up with our coastal drive, we took a longer way instead of cutting through the mountains. As we were driving we saw a miradouro sign (which at this point had become very familiar to us - we had stopped at a countless number of them in the previous days) and decided to follow it to see what this view had in store.

It started as a regular road then quickly turned into a narrow dirt road heading uphill. We reached a telephone antenna and the road continued to narrow and keep going. It ended up that we were on the top ridge of the crater driving to the lookout point. To one side of us there was a cliff down to the lake, on the other side was a cliff down to the ocean. It was such a thrill and something we will never forget. We kept asking each other "are you sure we should be on this road or..." and then quickly reassured ourselves that they wouldn't have a sign if it wasn't safe or we weren't supposed to be there. When we got to the end we found out we could have made it to the same viewpoint from a main road - not the death cliff drive we took. But! We are glad we went that way. It was a fun detour once we knew we'd survived.

After that drive, we visited the towns at the lake we were overlooking, then decided to head back to the hotel. We met our bartender for a nice nightcap (very much needed after that cliff drive) and then were surprised when we got back to the room and found that he had sent up a bottle of champagne for us to enjoy.

Day 5 of our trip we drove to Ribeira Quente, which was almost directly south of our hotel. We walked through the adorable town, and went to the black sand beach and put our feet in the ocean.

Our main goal for this day was to find a good place for lunch and enjoy the warm weather. After a lot of wrong turns, we found Bar Caloura, a restaurant we really wanted to try and had great reviews. Let me tell you... it did not disappoint. The restaurant was set in a cove which offered incredible views. The menu was a list of fish that were caught that day. I got swordfish, and Jon tried barracuda. The swordfish was amazing, but Jon's barracuda was exceptional. We spent about 3 hours there, just sitting and enjoying a bottle of wine and our meals.

After that, we took the long way back to our hotel and stopped at a small town next to where we were staying to see their saint festival. We learned that every town has a festival where they parade their patron saint from the small church in town to the big one, and back again. The town we saw decorated the streets with brightly dyed mulch and flowers, and decorated the church with a bunch of lights. It was so fun to see the parade and watch them carry the saint through the decorated streets.

On our last day we explored the Terra Nostra Garden. We already enjoyed the natural spring pool a few times, but we wanted to walk around the rest of the beautiful grounds. After that, we checked out of the hotel and headed toward Ponta Delgada to explore the city.

There was a lot of things in Ponta Delgada we wish we had more time to see (the main thing being the Forte de S. Bras) but since it was our last day we decided to take our time and enjoy it. We had lunch in the main square and then slowly walked the streets and shopped. That night we stayed at the sister hotel of Terra Nostra, Hotel Marina Atlantico, which is located in the center of Ponta Delgada. We checked in then headed out to a delicious dinner close to the hotel. When we got back there was a bottle of champagne (3 for the win!) and roses everywhere. We enjoyed the bottle on the balcony and packed everything up to head back home the next day.

I can't recommend the Azores enough if you are looking for someplace different to vacation. The laid back attitude and beautiful landscape made it perfect for our honeymoon. We can't wait to go back and explore the other beautiful islands the chain has to offer. Maybe for our anniversary? :)

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