Azorean shades of blue, in Velas!
After a suitable rest, I couldn’t stop myself from scooting up the hill to look down on Velas. Solo, of course! I’d been looking out on Morro Grande and the tiny chapel of Livramento since our arrival, and was determined to tackle the hill.
Lizards scuttled on the chapel wall in the late evening sun as I crossed the stile and began my climb. My legs felt stronger than expected. Probably the pure exhilaration of being up there, alone, the views pulling me ever higher. Turning a corner, the ruined moinho was in sight. And then, Pico, the light on the water, and the whole glorious expanse of coastline.
I couldn’t stop smiling as I made my way back down, with beautiful, blue dragonflies darting ahead. 🙂 I’m linking this to Cathy’s Photography Invitation. If you haven’t seen it, do take a look.
I was captivated by Sáo Jorge from the moment it appeared in the dusky blue, beneath the propellers of my SATA inter-island flight. Having soared into thick cloud over Ponta Delgada in the afternoon, I was abuzz for the next stage of our adventure. As the tiny plane dipped towards Sáo Jorge, it was bathed in glorious sunlight. Beaming from ear to ear, I stepped from the plane and gazed in awe at Pico, with a delicate collar of clouds, right there on the horizon. Gathering myself, I whisked through the tiny terminal and out into warm sunshine. The bubble burst momentarily, when I found that the pre-ordered taxi to our hotel was nowhere in sight. Panic swept in as I fumbled through my papers, seeking address/phone number, but they’re kind folk, these islanders. In no time, a replacement had been found, and we were climbing the hillside around the bay to Velas.
This was the view from our hotel veranda, with the island of Pico floating dreamily on the horizon. A lovelier, more peaceful spot than Velas I have yet to find. I’ve already taken you to the top of the island, and you’ve had a glimpse or two of Velas. Today we’re on a different mission. Who could wake up to that view and not want to get out there and explore?
A lovely lass in the Tourist Information office had given us a bus timetable, and we were hopeful that we could make it to the village of Rosais, and walk from there to the lighthouse at the western end of the island. A minibus not unlike a transit van pulled up, and the lady driver smiled benignly at us as we tumbled hastily in. It was only a 15 minute ride, and I gazed excitedly at the passing landscape.
Rosais was a pretty enough village, and after just one false start we were headed in the right direction. Uphill, of course! After our efforts of the previous day, at Topo da Serra, the legs were already seriously tired. A gentle 7km had seemed doable but, as we mounted progressively higher, the balmy weather deteriorated and we were quite cool. Some folk don’t learn, do they? But we were jollied along by chaffinches in the hedgerows, and a robin keeping a watchful eye on us. Looking back down to the bay, Pico still loomed enchantingly, but a creamy horse seemed singularly unimpressed by our efforts. Fortunately, there was an abundance of azaleas, and even a few hydrangeas as incentive.
Reaching an attractive picnic area known as Sete Fontes, and feeling shivery, nourishment was needed. Yesterday’s leftover orange cookies were stowed in the backpack. But a myriad of tiny ants had got to them first! Disconsolate does not describe it! Our pleasure in the day was rapidly diminishing. Nothing for it but to press on. The lighthouse at Ponta dos Rosais was signposted, 6km along a red dirt track.
I have never known such an endless 6km. The track rolled on and on, in an sequence of ridges. No sooner had you reached one, than you were plunging downwards again. We looked for distraction in the surrounding fields, trying not to notice a huge rain cloud gaining on us. A solitary gentleman, returning from the point, assured us it was not much further, and that it was a stiff climb but we really shouldn’t miss the viewing point.
The stiff climb was almost vertical and we hauled each other up, grimacing. Part way up we had one of those coincidence, chance encounters that sometimes happen on holidays. A young German couple we’d seen briefly on the Topo da Serra walk had also decided an easier day was a good idea. We stood and chatted, discussing the islands and our itineraries, then parted company. It was too cloudy for the views at the top to be brilliant so I soon started back down, thinking Mick had gone ahead of me. But I couldn’t see him anywhere on the path. Deciding he must have gone to the lighthouse, I turned in that direction. Wearily, I might add.
There was just one small white car parked there, and it turned out to be our young couple, heading for home. ‘Can we give you a lift?’ was music to my ears. I really didn’t fancy the trudge back. ‘Oh, yes, please! But I can’t find my husband. Have you seen him?’ ‘No, but we can hang on 5 minutes?’ I scuttled back to the viewing point and who should be strolling nonchalantly down the steps? ‘Hurry up! We’ve got a lift!’ 🙂 He had, apparently, been reading a signboard that I hadn’t even noticed, all about the whaling industry. We were so relieved to pile into that car! And the ride gave us time to exchange a little history. They were going to Faial next, like us, but then to Flores Island. I was envious! It’s the furthest away, and allegedly the loveliest.
The sun was shining brightly as they dropped us off in Rosais. The plan had been to catch the 2.30 bus back, but after a glass of wine we’d revived enough to consider the options. The coast line looked superb and there was a quiet road that followed it. Maybe, a gentle stroll…? There was no hurry. And the reward, a sequence of glorious views.
I love the humps and bumps of this island, and the cows, who stare at you quite incredulously from every second field. A person could acquire a complex. Three horses galloped across to see what we might have to offer, but turned their noses up at our ant-ridden biscuits. Hopefully the birds won’t have been so choosy. The legs were starting to feel leaden as we reached the miradouro on the edge of Velas. Overall we must have walked about 15km. I hope you won’t begrudge us cake?
Cafe Livramento was right next door to our hotel. How convenient was that? And beautiful food too. I hope you’re not bored with my ramblings in the Azores? I promise not to spin it out too long, but this is only our second island.
Meanwhile, it’s on with the sharing. Thanks to everybody who stops by, and especially to those who leave a walk in the comments. Be happy to see you next week, here on Jo’s Monday walk.
It seems such a long time since I was in Barcelona. It’s full of striking buildings, like this one, from Debbie :
Albert continues his walk this week, beside the Molongo River :
Sea pinks, Campion, and fields of waving poppies. We must be in Jude territory :
I always appreciate sky and sea, in any colours, so thanks, Susanne :
Drake seldom disappoints with the things he shares. Step back in time with this one :
And, in case you’re in the grip of the current heatwave, saunter over to Sandra’s place for a cool off!
While Cathy plays with donkeys on this stretch of the Camino :
There are lots of lovely Blues in this post, but I realise I’ve been most remiss in not squaring one. After all, it’s July 1st, and Becky is full steam ahead again! Never mind- I’m sure I’ll round a few up, and that many of you will too. Have a great week!
Me again! A little bit of explanation is probably necessary before we start our next walk. One half of this couple was not all that keen to go to the Azores. For one thing, he doesn’t like airports or flying. There were 6 flights involved in this holiday. Secondly, only one of us drives, and the other is, shall we say ‘inconsistent’, with navigating. Yes, even with Google Maps. It has led to the odd fracas on previous jaunts. In the interests of harmony, we had agreed that on this holiday we would use taxis or public transport, and that he would not hire a car unless absolutely necessary.
As it happens, public transport is extremely limited on the islands, and taxi hire a perfectly reasonable and accepted alternative to driving on some of the more tricky roads. So it was that a lovely lady named Zélia, with bright orange finger nails and a dazzling smile, was driving us to the top of the island of Sáo Jorge. Think ‘very steep’. We left our base in Velas on a beautiful sunny morning, but were dismayed to find that high up on the mountain the mists were swirling damply. Zélia informed us, with a cheery smile, that this was often the case, but that it would be fine further down. Then she drove off, promising to pick us up again at 5.30pm at our destination, leaving us looking at each other in dismay. Neither of us were clothed for wet weather, but at least I had on sensible shoes.
Which I needed! Peering ahead and hoping that the going would not get too hard, we edged gingerly into the mists. It was a little slippery under foot and concentration was needed, but I felt elated to be up there. We started out at a height of 700 metres, and dropped relentlessly to ground level. Tough on the knees, but I have to say that I’ve never done a more spectacular walk. As the cloud swirled around us, occasionally we would catch an encouraging glimpse of the sea, far below.
What fascinated though was the appearance of the shrubs and trees. Living their lives shrouded in moisture, many were clad in a thick fungal moss.
As the mist cleared a little, we stopped to munch on a couple of biscuits and restore our equilibrium. Nothing was familiar, from the rickety, roped-together gates, to the trees, sprouting unexpectedly. And then I spotted my first hydrangea.
We had thought that we were alone on the trail, but voices alerted us to the fact that we were being followed. And then, ahead of us on the path, Ma and Pa, and two calves. All of us showed the parents the greatest respect, but they seemed very placid and not at all alarmed at human presence. The calves were a little more skittish and took avoidance action.
We exchanged pleasantries with the couple, who we were to meet again, picnicking by a waterfall. Hopefully the worst of the descent was behind us, and we could look forward to a first glimpse of Caldeira de Santo Cristo. Meanwhile we could enjoy nature’s playground, marveling at the ginger lilies and an abundance of tiny pink pom-poms.
And then suddenly, there it was in the distance, and I was challenged as to which view was better, the one ahead, or behind. What a landscape!
It must be at about this stage that my husband’s knee began to play up. Timing, huh? The impact of all that downhill. We took it as slowly as we could, which wasn’t hard because the views were stunning, but you still needed to concentrate on your footing.
Just in time we reached the sanctuary of Santo Cristo. The church wall was the ideal place to sit and admire the Fajá (low ground) and salt water lake, and munch another couple of biscuits. Looking at the map, we realised that we had only completed half the walk, and our final destination was nowhere in sight. We had lived with worse views!
Luckily we had plenty of time, but the remainder of the walk was not as flat as we could have hoped and I could feel my husband wince at every downward step, let alone the ups. Fajá dos Cubros still seemed a long way off.
Fortunately there were distractions. In places workmen were repairing the track, and at one point gestured for us to walk forward through a trench of what looked like newly poured concrete. Naturally we proceeded with caution. Elsewhere there were signs of slippage and a new bridge was under construction. Winter storms had taken their usual toll. Slowly and painfully we covered the last of the ground, and I don’t know which of us was more relieved to see the spire of Nossa Senhora de Lourdes.
I do know that it was wonderful to sit beneath the vines in that serene and lovely spot. And who should be there but our nice French couple, eating icecream. Seemed like a good idea, but first I had a glass of wine, while I listened to their story.
But I couldn’t leave it there! With Mick sitting peacefully, I had to look at the lagoon at Fajá dos Cubros. The stillness of the place was remarkable. I don’t know when I have experienced anything like it. Lava bridges separated the pools, and the light was starting to fade a little. I was all alone, with this haunting, eery beauty.
Just minutes later, Zélia collected us, full of apologies. She runs a little cleaning business in addition to taxi-driving. A cleaner had phoned in sick, and she’d had to cover for her, making her slightly late. She more than compensated as she swept us back over the majestic mountain, chattering merrily, and stopping to let us look back down at the view. What a day! Should you be tempted, the 10km walk was PR01 SJO.
I don’t know if you’ll agree, but I think this is possibly the most beautiful walk I have ever undertaken. I had half written the post when I came upon Ann-Christine’s Lens-Artists challenge for this week. I know that she loves these islands as much as I do, and would like to dedicate this walk to her. I think that there are just enough Trees.
Sorry if this is a bit long-winded, (and no cake, Brian!) but it is such a powerful memory for me. I’ve attempted to keep track of all the walks in my absence, but if I’ve missed anyone, I’m sorry. Just give me a nudge. Normal service resumed on Jo’s Monday walk.
You know when Debbie says casual amble, that it won’t be. Anything but! Another place that I love!
It’s a beautiful part of the world, and even better with great weather. Thanks, Margaret!
Chihuly and Kew in the same sentence, with a little bit of whimsy from Geoff :
Janet takes us wandering in France. You never know what you might find…
There are still some places that I’m cross with myself for not seeing. Natalie shares a few, here :
Sounds like a sitcom, but life with Jude is never that. It’s more about sharing beauty :
If you go down to the woods today… you might well find Susanne 🙂
Or for something more exotic, try Drake’s place :
A grey reminder of England, in a city I know to be lovely. Thanks, Rosemay!
An unusual one from Tammy :
Days 18-21 on Cathy’s road. Some good, some bad, but with a happy ending :
‘Get your kicks on Route 84’ just doesn’t sound right somehow, now does it?
Rupali shares the beauty of the Land of the Midnight Sun :
Ending with a display of the military that made me smile, from Carol. Read why over in her comments :
Have a great week, everybody! I’ve heard that Summer is about to begin in Britain. Good news, hey?
See the cone shape in the background? That’s Pico, a volcanic island with the highest mountain in Portugal. We could see it from our bedroom.
Hard to say which was my favourite island. Probably Pico or Sáo Jorge, but we had another great bedroom view from Horta, on Faial.
Just the tip of the iceberg. Come to think of it, that’s a great Six Words! (or maybe, the volcano?) The captions will help. Happy Saturday!