Azores: Day 5 (Pico)

It was time for us to change islands. First I thought that we would take the ferry, but it turned out that a) some of the islands are kind of far away and b) the ferry has a year-round routes and seasonal routes, which stop operating in September. So we didn’t have any other option than flying from São Miguel.

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Azores Route Map

It was so difficult to choose where to fly! Every island had some sights that were unique to that particular island. Finally I chose Pico because it seemed like an interesting place because of the volcano and we could also quite easily go to Faial or São Jorge. We ended up choosing Faial as our third island, but if you want to see all the islands, you really need to have more time than 8 days. 🙂

The flight from São Miguel to Pico took one hour, so if you’d take a ferry, it would take a few hours. 🙂 Flying is very convenient also because we rented and returned our car to the airport and could get a new rental car at the Pico airport. 🙂 I saw some people using tour companies and taxi drivers instead of driving themselves, but a car is for sure the most convenient way of exploring.

So we rented a new car on Pico, which was another small Skoda Citigo. The rental for 2,5 days was 92€ and the fuel for this time was also just about 20€.

Our flight was at 9 and we agreed with our Airbnb host that we will come for keys at noon. We figured that we land at 10, then there’s a line to get a rental car, then we get some breakfast and then we go to our apartment. Well, what happened is that you walk from the plane to the terminal and out of it in about 2 min. 😀 There was also almost nobody else at that time except our plane, so we were first in line for the car. We got it in 5 min. Then we drove 5 min to Madalena to get breakfast and the place we wanted to go to was closed on Sundays even though it wasn’t mentioned anywhere online. So it was like 10:20 and we were already in Madalena with nothing to do. 😀 We parked and figured that while we need to kill some time, we might do something useful. So we walked through Madalena a bit and headed towards the port to get ferry tickets for the next day when we wanted to go to Faial.

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Madalena
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Madalena
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Madalena

When we got to the port, there was nobody there, so we asked about tickets and were told that yes, we definitely should buy tickets in advance because the ferry can only take 5-6 cars at a time. So we bought tickets for the departure at 11:30 and back the same day at 17:15. You can find the schedules here. The trip one way takes approx. 30 min. There were less departures in October and 17:15 was the last ferry back from Horta. The price per person was 3,60€ each way and for the car 22€ from Madalena to Horta and 15€ from Horta to Madalena, so together the return trip cost 51,40€. Not super expensive and it would probably cost the same to rent another car on Faial than to take the car you already have with you. There are car rental places everywhere on Azores and of course especially at ports and airports.

We had rented again an Airbnb apartment and it was gorgeous! It took us a bit of time to find it, but it was right in the city center with a big parking lot right nearby, which was very convenient. The apartment itself was modern, spacious and had comfortable furniture. The owner has an office space right by the apartment, so she is able to help anytime and returning the keys is really easy.

After we settled in, we decided just to drive around Pico and see what is there. But first we needed to get some lunch because or breakfast plans failed unexpectedly. 😀

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It felt a bit strange to be able to see other islands in the distance as we were used that you can only see the ocean and the horizon on São Miguel. 🙂

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We had planned to have lunch at restaurant Canto do Paço, but when we got there, there was a not on their door that they are taking a holiday and reopen again at the end of October. So here’s a definite downside to traveling in October is that the season is over and you have more limited options. So luckily my boyfriend had a phone plan that allows him to use some data in other EU countries, so we were able to google some places nearby and he suggested that we drive 15 min back to where we came from, because there was a restaurant that seemed pretty good. I grumbled a bit about wasting half an hour because we would again need to drive back this way, but we still went back and that was the best decision we made on Pico. 😀 The restaurant was amazing! We had a brilliant lunch there, which was very tasty, but not expensive. We really loved Casa Ancora.

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Casa Ancora

After having great lunch we just drove around and stopped at viewing points.

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The day was really warm and beautiful and we spent some time relaxing and watching the waves.

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Pico seemed to be more volcanic, rugged and had less of the green lushness of São Miguel. They have a lot of vineyards on Pico, which grows on volcanic rock. Apparently this kind of rock traps heat well and releases it during the evening and night.

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Even though the top of Pico mountain was shrouded in clouds, we decided to drive as high as we could. You can hike the Pico mountain, but it is something like an 8 hour hike (3 up and 4 down), so it wasn’t quite our level of hiking. 😀

It was actually a very interesting drive because the temperature kept getting colder all the time and the road worse and narrower. 🙂 But the scenery was cool in all its contrast to the one closer to the coast.

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Pico Mountain
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Pico Mountain

On the top it was quite foggy and you couldn’t see much of a view, but you could see a lot of cows everywhere. I have no idea how they don’t break their feet on the rocky and steep surfaces.

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Pico Mountain

We drove some way back down where we could see the surrounding view as well.

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Pico Mountain
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Vineyard

What was interesting is that driving in this kind of area puts a strain on both your engine and your brakes. When going up, it’s just climb climb climb and when going down you reach the speed of at least 120km/h even on neutral (we didn’t want to see how fast it would ultimately go ;)), so you need to brake all the time and we could smell brakes, which didn’t seem like a good sign when you still have ways to go downhill. 😀

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Pico Mountain
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Pico Mountain
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Pico Mountain

In the evening we noticed that Canto do Paço wasn’t the only place that was closed in October. We really wanted to go to a restaurant called Atmosfera as well, but it was also closed. Luckily it was mentioned on their web site, so we didn’t have to drive there in order to find that out.

So we decided to test the restaurant Restaurante Marisqueira Ancoradouro, which seemed like a good lunch place rather than an evening restaurant, but the pickings were slim. It was about 15-20 min walking distance from our place. We managed to get a table without any reservation. They have quite a lot of tables, but the most wanted ones are on the terrace where you can see the sunset. And the sunset was much better than the food, which was kind of average. We had limpets for starters (ok, but not really my cup of tea after all), I had squid, which was good, but overall it was a very very oily dish, and my boyfriend had a steak, which was ok, but nothing compared to the steak we had at Restaurante da Associação Agrícola. We didn’t even want to try the dessert because not the starter nor the main dishes were super good.

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Restaurante Marisqueira Ancoradouro

 

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