We made to the Azores, nine little islands in the middle of the Atlantic. We left
the motorcycle with a friend in Lisbon and flew out on Friday the 23rd. The weather
was very windy and rainy. Our flight was one of the few that was not canceled.
I had lived in the Azores when I was about 10 years old on the island of Terceira
where my father was stationed while in the Air Force. We are on the island of San
Miguel but the similarities brought back many memories. We are here to visit some
friends who have a house to live in and another that they rent out during the summer. We
are staying in their rental cabin called Casa Melanie which is named after their
grand-daughter. During the winter they return to Germany and their home near Munich.
Eckhart and Christine Deisenhofer, our friends, are really great people. On Friday
they started by taking us on a tour of the western end of the island. We started
at a natural hot spring pool that flows into the ocean, but that day the ocean was
flowing into the pool, in big waves. You can see the sidewalk leading to it, and
the waves crashing into it in the picture. We went down to the fork in the sidewalk. The
wind was fierce, blowing salt water over us and trying to knock us over. It was
spectacular but it was impossible to use the pool. All of the islands were formed
by volcanic action. They are the tops of volcanoes and still have many places where
the activity is not very deep. There are many hot springs, and they have a steam
powered generating plant that uses the geothermal energy to produce electricity.
From there we went to Sete Cidades. This is a caldera with several smaller calderas
inside it. There are two lakes there, connected by a small neck between them. One
is blue and the other green, normally, today they were both the same color.
Between the lakes there is a peninsula of land that has an overgrown park on it. The
park was built by a rich family in the 1800's but is not maintained now. Many of
the flowers were in bloom and the trails were covered with blossoms blown down by
We spent much of our time with Christine and Eckhart touring the island. We got
to eat at a restaurant that cooks the food by putting it into a hole in the hot ground. We
had pork, beef, two kinds of sausage, yams, potatoes, carrots and cabbage all hot
and steaming right from the ground.
We visited a tea plantation where they grow and hand process the tea. The guide
took use through the processing plant but it was the wrong season to see them working. It
was very good and we bought some to bring home.
Kathy and I spent one day wandering through the old city of Ponta Delgada and toured
the museum. There were dioramas of early island life, paintings, sculpture and taxidermy
on display. We bought souvenirs of the island's tile painting and table linens.
On the last day before leaving Eckhard took us to a church on the other end of the
island that was built on a hill with an amazing staircase leading up to it. The
church was built on the site where a child saw a vision of the Virgin Mary in a small
The staircase was excavated and build all by hand labor, no powered equipment was
used. The dirt was removed by shovel and carried away in baskets set on their shoulders. The
blocks of Tufa (a lava rock) were carried in by hand. The church was done the same
way. This was all in 1967! Each of the landings on the staircase have a tile painting
of an event in the life of Christ. It is an amazing act of faith.
A close-up view of one of the tiles at a landing in the staircase.
On Friday we returned to Lisbon where our friend Nuno had plans for us. His club,
The GoldWing Club of Portugal, was having a weekend meeting at a hotel in the nearby
resort town of Cascais with a ride scheduled for Sunday. We plan to stay until Monday
and take the scenic route back to Lisbon and a plane for home on Tuesday.