A glum day on Faial

The sun can’t shine every day, right?  I only had 3 nights on Faial and a full itinerary of things I wanted to see.  Foremost amongst them, the volcanic outcrop at Capelinhos and the Caldeira at the centre of the island.  To see both in a day it had seemed a good idea to book a taxi tour of the island, which is quite small.  But there’s no accounting for weather, especially in mid-Atlantic.  Ever hopeful, we rounded the bay and began the drive up Monte de Guia to the viewing point on the top.  Senhora de Guia looked down, with arms folded in prayer.

A damp mist lingered about us as we drove up towards the Caldeira, growing ever thicker.  An impression of verdant shrubs as we gathered rain capes around us and headed for the dripping tunnel entrance.  Sometimes it clears for a few seconds, just long enough for you to look down into the extinct volcano, our driver assured us.  I peered hard, willing the clouds to part just a little, but our driver was already shrugging his shoulders and retreating to his dry cab.  I had to settle for photos of the information boards.  Sensing our dampened spirits, he kept up pleasant and informative chat as he drove to the north of the island, hoping for better.

Coffee and cake sweetened us, ready for the drama of Capelinhos.  An earthquake in 1980 had ‘thrown’ new land out into the sea, creating an extension of the island.  The surrounding land is parched and arid and a forlorn lighthouse gazes seaward, turning its back on the enemy within.

Luminous green algae glowed at us from the rock pools, and the driver talked of the venom in the Portuguese Man of War that wash ashore.  A lone fisherman struggled with the waves, and we were told that in former days whaling was the only possible livelihood on these isolated islands.  Returning along the coast we encountered many houses left in ruins by the earthquake, abandoned and never reclaimed by their owners.  Many had gone to start a new life in Massachussets and Canada, never to return.  It was all rather sad.

Back in Horta, the sky was starting to clear, just a little bit, and we wished we had taken the afternoon tour, or perhaps stayed at the underground research centre in Capelinhos.  Our driver kindly dropped us off at the botanic gardens on the outskirts of Horta, making sure that we knew our way back down afterwards.  Just as we parted company a light drizzle began.  On with the rain capes again.

The gardens were created to preserve the native flora of the islands.  A labrynth of paths wind around a small quarry and lake, the colour pallet almost all green and muted brown.  I searched for that pop of colour that I love, but it was not till we were back on the street that I found what I was looking for.  Of course, the hydrangea is not native to the Azores.

It was a gentle stroll back down into Horta, and we took our time because that reluctant sun had decided to shine.  We were surprised to arrive at a bridge over a stream, but had we paid attention to the map we would have realised that the River Conceicáo flows into the bay, beside the ferry terminal.  The sea rolled gently onto the black sand beach, barely stirring the pebbles.

The afternoon ferry was arriving.  The same one we had arrived on the previous day.  We had come full circle and there was nothing for it but to find a waterfront café, and wait patiently for Pico to reveal itself, through the misty corolla of clouds.  Our next destination!

I’m traveling these next few days, so may be slow with my response rate, but I’ll do my best.  Catch up with you soon!


  1. Faial is enchanting! and magical despite the rain. Jo, thank you so much for taking us along. such a lovely ride! awesome photographs as always and the hydrangea looks divine! 🙂 🙂 safe travels.

  2. The weather is always so unpredictable in the Azores. Lovely photos and I specially like the last one with Pico in the distance.

  3. Tempting to go back in the afternoon! Always the case isn’t it? When you have a short time in which to see something. Have a lovely trip to Aveiro and wish Mick a happy birthday from me and take it easy!! No long walks up steep hills!

    1. Almost there and he’s happy because there aren’t any. We’re in a river delta with salt marshes and lots of bird life. Sound familiar? Hot though! 36C is unexpected. Probably beach tomorrow or certainly on Friday for the birthday boy. Thanks Jude 😎💕

  4. I understand you’re disappointed but you did get some lovely and dramatic photos. Feel free to send me some clouds and coolness. We are having a heatwave and our air-conditioner is not working. I read that many people in Europe during the heatwave are starting to want to have air-conditioning. I can understand that! We certainly don’t keep it freezing cold as do many people, but it is sorely missed in this heat!


    1. We’ve just arrived in Aveiro on a birthday trip for Mick and it was 36C when we got here. Much warmer than the Algarve, Janet. I always like a breeze. Nothing about the Azores disappointed me but I would have liked to see into the caldeira 😎⛅⛵🌊💕

  5. That gloomy day reminds me of my miserable day in Sintra, where we couldn’t see a thing! You at least were able to enjoy the algae pools and the coastline and those gardens, and then the sun peeked out for your afternoon. I love the photos of those green pods and those green bushes (?) which seem to be dancing in the wind. 🙂

    1. We really didn’t have a whole bad day in the holiday, Cathy. We always found the sun sooner or later and there was so much to see. I would have liked to see the caldeira but if it’s not meant to happen it won’t. 😎⛅⛵🌊💕

      1. It’s good the sun didn’t let you down for whole days, Jo. I agree that whatever you see on holiday, you see. You can drive yourself crazy over things not seen if you choose to. I’ve been disappointed many a time but in the end, I just have to let it go!

  6. Such an interesting tour Jo 🙂💜 It looks very atmospheric in the rain and adds to the poignancy of what happened here. Safe onward journey and here’s hoping for clearer skies at your next port of call 🙂💖🌞

  7. Oh so Azores! It would have been boring without the weather changes, Jo 🙂
    Shame about the volcano, but the clouds and haze have added drama to your photos
    Happy travels

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