Azores: Day 3 (São Miguel)

On this day it was clear that it would rain. We just didn’t know when and where. Because of the mountains, the weather can be pretty different around the island. We had Sete Cidades in our travel itinerary, so we decided to drive there and see whether we could see the supposedly amazing view from Vista do Rei. The drive was about 20 min, but it became clear pretty quickly that we were driving towards the heaviest clouds and rain. So it was unsurprising that when we arrived to Vista do Rei, we could see only grey clouds.

We decided to turn around and head towards an opposite direction where it was also cloudy, but at least it wasn’t raining. 🙂

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We decided to drive to see the Ilhéu da Vila island. Apparently there is a boat going the short distance from the village of Vila Franca do Campo, but it stops in September. And while we knew that we couldn’t visit the islet, we didn’t have anything better to do. The problem with Azores is that basically everything you can to do is outside. So if it’s raining if not like there are a bunch of museums you can visit. Of course there are some, but we didn’t find them super interesting. 🙂

So we drove to Vila Franca do Campo and walked around a little bit.

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Ilhéu da Vila
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Vila Franca do Campo
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Vila Franca do Campo
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Vila Franca do Campo

It started drizzling even here, so we decided to return to Ponta Delgada and visit a Gruta do Carvão lava cave instead. I called and reserved to tickets for the next available tour (they do two groups of 16 people 5 times per day. When we came to the office it was clear that we weren’t the only ones who had this idea as this cave was one of the few sights on São Miguel, which had a roof (of sorts). Some people, who came about 5 min before the tour was about to start had to settle for the next tour.

The cave itself was pretty interesting as I have never been in a lava cave before. A lava cave forms when the hot lava flows downhill and cooling from the outside forming the crust. The hot lava still continues to flow inside the crust. When the volcanic eruption is over, a tunnel or lava cave is formed. According to the guide there are two types of lava in this cave. One is a’a lava and another pahoehoe lava. The main types of lava have been given Hawaiian names, because of the volcanic nature of the Hawaiian islands. The story was that a’a lava cools quickly and moves fast, so it is in chunks with jagged edges, so when you are a native and walk on this solidified lava, it hurts your feet and you complain a’a. 😀 The pahoehoe lava cools and flows slowly, so it forms smooth ropy lava, which is much easier to walk on.

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Gruta do Carvão with a’a lava on the bottom
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Gruta do Carvão
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Gruta do Carvão – frozen lava drops
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Gruta do Carvão
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Gruta do Carvão
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Gruta do Carvão

Because the tourist visits are arranged into the cave now and there is light, you can also see some green leaves growing. They probably get some nutrients in the water that drops between the cracks.

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Gruta do Carvão – flora

 

The guide seemed to be more excited than actually knowledgeable on the subject though. He said that he was a biologist by education. 🙂

After the tour we decided to have lunch at the only place that seemed to offer vegetarian food on the entire island. 🙂 It also was ranked #1 on Tripadvisor. Rotas da Ilha Verde was located on the next street from our Airbnb place. There was a line of maybe 8 people in front of us, but we decided to wait. We waited maybe for 15 min to get a table at lunch time, but if you want to go here for dinner, it seems that reservation is a must.

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Rotas da Ilha Verde

They had a limited menu for lunch. Just the soup and either risotto, chili sin carne, or a mix of both. We chose everything. 😀 The food was pretty good, but I wouldn’t rank this restaurant as #1 based on this. The service was super friendly.

After lunch we went back to our Airbnb and just napped, relaxed and read. I also booked a restaurant for the evening, which was truly the only restaurant I would call fine dining in the entire Azores. It was also the only one, which you could book online instead of calling. 😀 Anfiteatro Restaurant & Lounge turned out to serve amazing food and we enjoyed the evening a lot. It was also located in an interesting building by the sea. The service was impeccable and the local wines they served were great.

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Anfiteatro Restaurant & Lounge

After dinner, we walked a bit around Ponta Delgada, which is really pretty in the dark.

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Ponta Delgada
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Ponta Delgada
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Ponta Delgada

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