Dave and I ventured on a trip of a lifetime!
Flying from Boston, taking the Red-Eye and landing at the João Paulo II Airport in Ponta Delgada on São Miguel early on Monday morning. With a few hours of shut-eye on board one of the only jets (SATA Airlines) that flies intercontentally to and from the USA and Portugal's island of São Miguel.
Keep in mind that Dave does not know how to drive stick shift and so we spent a good 10 minutes with him attempting to pull out of the parking spot. This was the first driving #FAIL.
It was decided that I should drive, so I got behind the wheel and we started our day...
Leaving the airport and venturing into the city, I drove around and wanted to get familiar with the lay of the land.
On the itinerary for day one was going to the Mercado De Graaca to find some fresh fruits picks from local farmers as yummy and healthy snack choices to carry along with us.
But first we had to locate the whereabouts of this market...
And with so many of the one way streets and Euro signs, it was a total recipe for us driving in circles, until finally understanding the local grid.
Once there, I found the market to be quite a bit less bustling than I had expected (which wasn't a bad thing), this very well could've been based on the time of day and/or the season.
We strolled around and I found some of the largest carrots that I ever seen, as well as the tiniest cute little pineapple!
Once we had arrived to the said location, there was nothing there.
We were quite hungry and apparently Italian food is not all that popular on this island.
Actually it was quite difficult to find any "type" of food that wasn't Portuguese - and as much as we would've loved to try some of the local dishes, the problem we had was that EVERYTHING was animal based rather than plant based; And as you know I am the VEGAN TRAVELIN COUSIN!
So we starved and eventually made our way back to the car, ate some of the preplanned food rations that were packed away. And then started our drive over to the north coast of Sao Miguel to find
Chá Gorreana Tea Plantation, Europe's Oldest Tea Since 1883.
The drive was absolutely gorgeous and the family owned and operated (since 1883) tea plantation was equally as beautiful.
It was very nap time for Dave, and I certainly didn't mind taking a break, mesmerizing at our view and relaxing our room.
What Dave did - went into a deep comatose slumber.
After our break we had left the resort to go back to Ponta Delgada (about a 25-30 minute drive), and to Rotas da Ilha Verde, the only vegetarian restaurant in all of The Azores. Read the restaurant review HERE.
Let me forewarn you...The Azoreans do not believe in many street signs!
So off we went. I was behind the wheel and drove up to a corner where I saw (from earlier in the day) there was indeed a sign pointing us towards Ponta Delgada.
I followed that sign, made the turn and then that was it. No more signs or any further indication on how to get to the main highway.
I continued in the direction that I felt it was (as I have a decent sense of direction), next thing you know I was driving under the highway and in hopes of finding the on ramp... which quickly became a one lane dirt road, with no room to turn around or even do a 3 point turn.
The road continued up a fairly steep hill, and I was thanking the lord that I was driving, because next thing that happened was seeing a "lovely" crevice down the center of the road on this off roading adventure!
With Dave's inexperience behind the wheel, we probably would've rolled backwards down and off of the hill! I certainly wouldn't have been too happy at that point...
However, we did indeed make it to dinner unscathed, and then after a delicious meal it was time for another driving lesson for Dave...
The adventures of a student driver.
These were his words after a few burnouts and managing to scare the passerbys:
"This is the dumbest invention in the world." "They should outlaw these." "I'm so effin done with this!" And jsyk he did say effin and not the actual bad word! Lol
He led us on a very informative and beautiful journey around the south eastern, eastern and north eastern parts of this Azorean Island. Each destination providing us with utterly amazing viewpoints.
I have to tell you how glad I was to be visiting during the off-season and seeing the island with the lack of crowds. I was definitely being spoiled by having each location completely to ourselves!
I was relieved at finding out that since dairy is the main economy on the island, all the cows that we had been seeing were not headed for slaughter and it makes plenty of sense that you see and hear "happy" cows absolutely everywhere you might go. And I do mean everywhere! Last counted there were 137,000 people vs 125,000 cows, and 60,000 of these cows are milked twice a day.
By the end of the day it was 5pm (typical rush hour) there was only 1 other car ahead of us on the new "super highway" and no cars behind us! Driving back to Caloura, we took the Nordeste Hwy which after 10 years construction was finally completed 2 years ago. But with a population of only 137,000 and only one airline* flying to/from this Atlantic oasis destination, isn't it a bit extravagant...do they really need it???
*At the end of March 2015, the airspace above the Azores has been opened to other airlines.
Now that travelers will have budget airlines Ryanair, EasyJet, and Tap competing with pricey SATA Airlines.
Will there be an influx of tourists?
Are the Azores ready for this possible influx of tourists? Will SATA Airlines survive?
Only time will tell. Or maybe I'll be able to tell on my next trip back there.
Oh yea, didn't I mention that I was going back?
I am a Wanderluster,
Read the Dailies from my Trip, as well as the itinerary HERE
And enjoy other sights from the island BELOW and coming soon to my PHOTO GALLERY