Jo’s Monday walk : Ponta Delgada

Off to a flying start in the clouds last week, today we’ll have our feet much more firmly on the ground.  I’m taking you back to the beginning of our Azores adventure, and arriving in a rather dull, grey Ponta Delgada.  Quite a contrast to the sunny Algarve we left behind, but I was full of optimism and happy to finally be there.  It was mid-afternoon when we landed.  A 10 minute taxi ride from the airport, check-in, and we were out on the streets.  I needed a flavour of Sáo Miguel’s main city, and capital of the islands, because I would not be returning.  The following day we were flying onwards, to the island of Sáo Jorge.

My initial impression of Ponta Delgada was not kind.  Much of it looked neglected and unloved, the architecture reminiscent of an outdated Madeira.  But first impressions are not always fair, and my judgment was clouded by the heavy skies.  Nevertheless, the display at the airport should have alerted me that something special was happening here.  The billboards in the street were a definite clue.

The penny still not quite dropping, I wandered on.  The doors stood open on the church in the main square, and I ventured up the steps.

Sáo Sebastiáo, the Igreja Matriz or Mother Church, was magnificent.  I said a quick thank you for my safe deliverance and continued, drawn towards the waterfront.  I peered at the distant hills, willing the cloud to clear.  Down in the marina I was surprised to see paintings along the quay.  I associated these messages of goodwill with Horta, on the island of Faial, but the tradition must have spread to other islands.

So often my wanderings are defined by boats and churches, and this was to be no different.  I lingered hopefully, for just a patch of blue in the sky.  It was still warm enough for frolics in the outdoor pool, but I crossed the road to mount the hill to Sáo Pedro.

When I came out of the church, my husband was chatting to a mischievous looking small boy and his older, more sensible, sister.  They were giggling over their 4 or 5 words of English, while he manfully practised his Portuguese.  All were delighted with the situation.  We parted ways, in need of a coffee, and were amused to then find them sitting at the bus stop opposite our café.  They waved cheerfully as they waited for their bus home, and we ate our first Azorean pastries.

Our spirits lifted along with the clouds, and we strolled on along the waterfront.  By the Fort of Sáo Brás a bustling market was in full swing.  Across the Campo of Sáo Francisco, past the fountains and beyond the bandstand, a wonderful sight met our eyes.

The Church of Sáo Francisco was adorned with flowers.  Curious, we went inside.  Living in Portugal, as we now do, we are well used to splendid panels of azulejos.  Still we gawped at the walls and ceiling before us.  Yet these were not the main attraction.  A throng of people were gathered at the end of the church opposite to the beautiful altar, with their backs turned to it.  Slowly we edged forward to find a gap.  Behind a glass panel, this is what we saw.  We had inadvertently arrived on the island for the Festival of Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres.

This link contains a video which you do not need to watch all of to understand the significance of this.  We had missed the parade but could still revel in the beauty of the flowers and decorated streets.  And our first hydrangea!

After supper we returned for a look at the illuminated streets.  The City Gate looked far more imposing with its wash of blue.

And Sáo Francisco?  Well, judge for yourself.  A bit of a dazzler!

The night time shots have too much glare, but I think you can feel the atmosphere.  Perhaps I misjudged Ponta Delgada.

walking logo

I’m back in the Algarve now, but still marveling at the many sights I saw in the Azores.  Join me for more here on Jo’s Monday walk next week.  And many thanks for all your wonderful contributions.

………………………………………………………………………………………

Starting out with Ann-Christine’s beautiful homeland and a tribute to a remarkable man :

Thursday Thoughts – A Life’s Work

Then a little test for your fitness, with Suzanne :

Hiking the Henderson Tramline Loop

Something cool and soothing next, from Xenia :

A Walk at Leitir Easaidh

Not so hot in Toronto, either, but quite interesting.  Thanks, Indra!

Toronto Summer – Don River Valley

Some street art can be disturbing, but that’s part of its function, isn’t it, Ulli?

Urban Art Hall, Berlin

By contrast, lush growth and planting, from Jude.  I’ll make it to Cornwall yet!

Tremenheere Trees

Carol’s been in the wars lately, but she’s a real trooper :

More than a Battlefield

You can have such fun with photographs!  Sometimes I forget to play.  Thanks for reminding me, Lynn :

Local Walks : Wind in the Garden

The first of a series of walks by the Murrumbidgee River in Australia, in the company of a Wombat :

Molongo River Track (Crossing) – By way of Shepherd’s Lookout

While Cathy soldiers on, taking the good with the bad :

(Camino day 22) Castrojeriz to Boadilla del Camino

And Drake… well, he’s always off somewhere interesting.  Giverny is a favourite of mine :

Didn’t promise a rose garden

Breathing space

The following morning we saw just a little more of Ponta Delgada.  I’ll share it with you during the week.  Have a good one!

127 comments

  1. Wowsers, what a lovely, interesting place and great timing as always darling. The churches, especially Francisco have a different style, surely it wasn’t just 60 years old?
    It’s a pity about the scruffy bits, especially as Ponta Delgado is most people’s arrival destination, but when there’s a festival they make up for it and the seafront and marina are lovely. Are you taking us to Sao Jorge next? Hope your week is gong well, I’ve had a four day weekend so for now I’m chilled x 🙂 x

    1. I think it was 60 years of celebrating Santo Cristo, Gilly. The evening display was dazzling! Mick was ahead of me when we turned the corner and he just stopped dead and stared. (then rushed round with his phone, taking heaps of photos 🙂 ) Ponta Delgada is a big sprawly place so I guess it’s natural there are raggy bits. 🙂 I have another post to write on the gardens then it’s back to Sáo Jorge. Glad you enjoyed your weekend. The joint was jumping here! Fireworks at midnight on Sunday and then a soft rock concert, Portuguese style, last night in the Praca, celebrating Tavira Day. I’m worn out this morning 🙂 🙂

  2. very interesting! the churches are magnificent, Jo! the flowers adorning the altar are just beautiful. and i’m mesmerized by the dazzling Sao Francisco. thank you for sharing. you are truly a blessing 🙂 🙂

    1. It was hard to take photos in Sáo Francisco, LolaWi, because there were so many people inside, but dazzling is definitely the word. Usually I like to sit a few moments in the quiet, but everybody wanted to look. And me, of course 🙂 🙂

  3. Lovely, Jo – cannot get enough of it…The first time we went to Ponta Delgada there were a lot of stray dogs. One of them became our children’s best friend. He even showed us around the streets and parks. Were there any dogs in the streets? Love your shots – I have no memory of the night lights from our visit!

    1. It’s just a week at the end of May, Ann-Christine, so you could easily have missed them. Not a lot of dogs, as I recollect. There are more here in the Algarve. 🙂

  4. Your image and the video of the Festival of Senhor Santo Cristo dos Milagres (with the on-lookers, pageantry and flower adorned parade route) was captivating as were those last night shots of the illuminated buildings. I didn’t find them ‘glaring’ …they just made me gasp at their beauty. Thank you for giving me yet another reason to visit

    1. I think we were left with jaw hanging open at the end of that day, Lisa. Did somebody mention life’s rich pattern? Thanks for being a part of it with me. 🙂 🙂

  5. Well you made it look rather inviting, even if you weren’t immediately impressed. The night scenes are fabulous! The Portuguese people really know how to celebrate don’t they? I will have another walk for you on Wednesday with blue sky to begin with! And weather permitting we will be beach walking this Wednesday too, a last supper so to speak!

    1. There are some seriously shabby bits, Jude, but the churches were impressive. I liked it better on a night. Hides a multitude 😆 I’m off out with Marie celebrating Tavira Day tonight. Life’s hell! 😚🍷💕

    1. Sometimes i don’t know if I’m coming or going, Debs! As one who scurries about rather a lot, you’ll know the feeling 🙂 🙂 Did you catch last week’s walk? It was a beauty, if I say so myself, as shouldn’t! 🙂 🙂

  6. That church looks magnificent, and those flower displays are over the top, Jo. The blue skies did come out for you, so I’m happy. That was a cute interaction between Mick and those children, practicing languages with one another. Nice first day! 🙂

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