11 November 2015

Portugal and Sao Miguel,Azores October 2105

My first time in the Azores ,on Sao Miguel the most easterly island of the archipelago,with a stop over in Lisbon at both ends of the trip.

Link to photo album here

12/10/15
The flight arrived in Lisbon just after midday so after booking into my hotel ,and a bit of a rest getting used to the higher temperatures, took the commuter train from Cais do Sodre along the coast to Estoril and walked along the sea front to Cascais (cash-kaysh) an old fishing port now a seaside resort. A delicious pizza at a small restaurant with outside seating. So good that I ate there again when I stopped over on the way back.



13/10/15
Early afternoon flight to Ponta Delgada with Sata . Pleased to find that the Alcides Hotel that I'd booked  was as I'd expected it to be ( slightly old fashioned, not part of a chain,handy for the island buses in the middle of what's a quiet capital and a bit like Funchal on Madeira).
Had a walk round the old town and an Especial or two at the cervejara Joao de Melo brewery tap and then Azores style steak at the hotel restaurant.



14/10/15
A wet morning forecast so I caught the bus to Remedios and went for a walk in a rain forest!






It only took a couple of hours and when I got back to Remedios there was a bus due for Ponta Delgada and after some lunch there then caught a bus to nearby Relva and walked down to Faja da Rocha da Relva.







15/10/15
A better day forecast with the possibility of views so it seemed to be a good time to have a look at Sete Cidades the island's famous beauty spot. Caught the north line bus to Joao Bom via the north coast and walked up a steep lane to the lip of the extinct volcano. The island has a slightly odd landscape with volcanic lakes surrounded by fields of dairy cattle, and some attractive coast line too.After walking part way round the crater rim I then took an old lane down to Ginetes where I caught the bus back to town after a beer at the local bar.




16/10/15
Today's walk was the most interesting one that I did.Lagoa do Fogo from Agua d'Alto and back down to Ribeira da Praia. It's walk 4 in the Azores guide from Sunflower Books.This series is my first go to for all of the Spanish and Portuguese islands. I even took the guide book suggestion of calling in at the beach bar at the end of the walk before catching the bus back.









17/10/15
When I travelled by bus round the north west coast a couple of days ago I thought it worthy of a day's walk.Another wet start was forecast so a low level walk seemed ideal.Caught the bus to Santo Antonio, an attractive well kept village without being twee or on the tourist trail.It was wet to start with! Some quiet lane walking with some off road geocaching and then the coast path from Capelas to Rabo de Peixe through Fenais da Luz and Calhetas.







18/10/15
Sunday has the best timed bus to Mosteiros at the far west end of the island from where dirt lanes take you round south and east above the vegetated coastal strip to Rabo do Asno . It's walk 1 in the Sunflower guide.







19/10/15
Thought I'd try a walk not shown in the current official trail guides for the island but had already suspected that it would be blocked in places. Caught the bus to Vila Franca then a very busy local one through Ponta Garca to Grotas Fundas.Soon arrived at the closed and danger signs but had an explore along the first part of it until the need to start crawling under trees and manoeuvre round landslips.
Still ,an interesting section of coastline with attractive bays.






20/10/15
A change of plan after I'd arrived on the bus at Furnas and waited around for the one just after midday  down to Ribeira Quente where I then planned to walk round the coast to Povoacao. What I later presumed to have been the right bus arrived from the opposite side of town from the way that I'd expected and was signed as the main Ponta Delgada bus.I suspect that they use it for the short local journeys between times but don't bother to alter the signs. The island has a good bus service but surprisingly there are no bus timetable displays at the main terminus in Ponta Delgada.You end up having to take photographs of the ones which you occasionally find in the other towns and villages. 
Anyway not all was lost as Furnas is one of the tourist spots to see with it's hot springs and botanical gardens and was quiet on a Tuesday.







21/10/15
Breakfast then the 10.25 flight back to Lisbon.From the map it looks like you could do a short walk to the airport but I'd already seen that access was by motorway only and not on foot! Got a taxi.
Booked in early at the same hotel as on the way out and after a rest had another evening trip to Cascais.

22/10/15
I'd originally planned to visit Sintra on my full day in Lisbon but there were large queues for the rail ticket office and machines.Too many tourists in one place,so instead I went to Setubal 50km south of Lisbon. A nice old town area where I had a delicious and very good value Bacalhau (salt cod) lunch in a fairly ordinary cafe. I've never got into salt cod on my Madeira visits but on this trip had it twice but cooked different ways.
I think today's was the classic Portuguese recipe but the one in an excellent seafood restaurant in Ponta Delgada was the typical Azores garlic and chilli version with a crunchy skin.
Found the bus station and unlike Ponta Delgada found lots of information on possible buses and took one to Sesimbra west along the coast.Today it looked like a low key resort but the guidebook shows it to be very busy in season and at weekends.
Found there was a direct bus back to Lisbon in the early evening and later on had a good meal in a small restaurant near the hotel. Pleased with my offbeat excursion today.







23/10/15
My flight to Manchester was'nt until 13.30 so I had a walk down through the city centre. Lisbon is full of wonderful streets and buildings.





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