- PONTA DELGADA**
Date: *9th March 2014
- Weather:* Sunny but cool 13c, warmer out of the breeze
- Position: *Latitude 37 deg. 44.3 min. N Longitude 25 deg. 39.8 min. W
The Azores, or the Western Islands are a Portuguese archipelago in the North Atlantic , consisting of nine islands which are in three groups. These three groups are all on different tectonic plates, which meet at that particular point in the Atlantic. They are all of volcanic origin, with the last eruption of Capelinhos in 1957.
The Azores have a temperate climate, due to the Gulf stream, with an annual mean temperature of 18 degrees Celsius, in winter the lowest would be 11c and a high in summer of 26c, these weather conditions being temperate means practically anything will grow and flourish. Our island for the day, Sao Miguel is known as The Green Island, with land commanding a high price because it can produce three or four crops every year. One of its important products is the dairy industry, where cattle can graze in the open all year round, but also beef on the hoof, which is exported to Madeira and Portugal. Another big industry here, is the Pineapple with several producers.
Sao Miguel is the largest and most important island of the whole group, with more than half the total population, which is 260,000. It is 35 miles long and 9 miles wide, with Ponta Delgada as the capital.
Our first view of the island, was of mountains and hills from a few miles offshore, we`d arrived ready for our docking a little bit early, so we had to wait for the pilot so we could proceed, the captain had informed us being a Sunday he was probably having a lie in. The town of Ponta Delgada was fully visible, the place itself was quite large, we were expecting something a lot smaller. Our berth was inside a guarding breakwater, shaped like the letter " T "with the upright of the T connected to a promenade and Lido, first impressions were, the place looks very nice. We also learnt later, that housed on this berth were many shops and cafés, and also a terminal building. In the waters around the berth was an open swimming area one side, and a yacht marina the other.
The plans we had for the day were to just explore the place, we had been here before so we had a fair idea of what to expect, so it was a late breakfast, then out onto the top deck to get our bearings again, and we were trying to decide what to wear ashore because the weather forecast for the day was for it to be mostly sunny with a temperature high of 13c. These last couple of days we have seen a big temperature drop, from low 20s to low teens. For me also it was the first time for a while, that I wore long trousers, it`s getting a bit chilly for shorts!.
So now ashore we strolled along the promenade, and it was at this time that the sun decided to come out, leaving a clear blue sky. It seems that a lot of the Portuguese cities use a black and white natural stone to make their tiled pavements, and this place was the same, for as we walked around it seemed that each road or street had its own design. But in general there were very few buildings with any colour, you may say how boring when the dominant colours are black and white, but actually they looked very nice. The streets we walked were tidy, and some of the smaller side streets with tiny iron balconies looked very quaint.
After a while you got the feeling that it was a place which was out of season, not that it would be a great tourist destination anyway, because of its remoteness, being in the middle of the Atlantic, and also it was a big disappointment that being a Sunday must of the shops were closed. After walking for a while and following our map, we found a square, where the café culture was in full swing, so we joined in, for this was a planned move, and the reason for that move was custard tarts, we`ve had them here and in Lisbon before, and they are a Portuguese treat, (we did also have a pot of tea). They are not huge, maybe the size of a Christmas mince pie, and these were still warm, Very yummy! While in the square we did notice that there was a tourist horse and carriage, also an open top bus went by earlier, so there must be a demand for these things.
Having done quite a big loop of the town, we found ourselves back on the main front road, where there is a wide promenade, and on the promenade we noticed a group who were doing what looked like some traditional dancing. We then made our way back to the ship, but while we were in the town we could see that most places have WI FI, and you must admire our crew, because no matter where you are in the world, they just seem to know where you can get connected to the outside world.
So for us this last sail away was quite a sad occasion, this being our last port of call, the next port, will be our home port of Southampton. So I hope all those of you who have followed us on our travel blogs, have enjoyed what we have experienced in the flesh. For us it has been a great journey, even now when we go back and look at some of our early photos,
the memories come flooding back. For us the Caribbean has been a first ( apart from our two stops in Barbados) so to have seen some of its Islands and experienced diverse cultures has been great, and to have shared some of our memories with our friends Mike & Sue and John & Marilyn, has really added to the trip.
So we will say goodbye for now, just keep on looking at "pzack.travellerspoint" for future episodes. From Colin & Angie