Day 10: Ponta Delgada, Azores

Posted on Mon 14 May 2012 in Transatlantic Cruise and Europe • 11 min read

Sumner: Today was our first port day. We stopped at the island of São Miguel in a port town named Ponta Delgada. Before commencing our journey inland we went up to have some breakfast. While there we saw some of the city from the vantage point of the boat. Once we were ready to go into town, we went down to A Deck. Not a deck but A Deck, this is the bottom most level of the ship that the passengers are allowed to be on. They checked our cards as we went out and then we were free to do anything we wanted, we just had to new back at the boat by four thirty in the afternoon. We were planning on walking around the town but we decided to get a taxi tour of he island instead. The tour cost the same as if we had gone with the boat but we were able to stay in any location for as long of a time or as short of a time as we wanted. From Ponta Delgada we rode in the car for a few minutes to get to another town on the island, the name of which escapes me at the moment. He took us to what you might consider the middle/center of the town. There was a small square with little pathways going throughout. The trees had a peculiar plant or something hanging on it. There was a path down to another larger park. This park was near the side of a river, well a river for us Coloradans, maybe not for those of you who consider a ten foot wide flowing body of water a small brook. Anyway the bridge over the river upstream a little bit was the bridge that we went over to get to the town center. The river that was running underneath it was the river that the aforementioned river by which the park was located. His park had some very nice flowers and paths throughout. Some of the water from the river was diverted to form a small channel of water going thought the center of the park. After seeing this park we went to a small church. We guessed that it was baroque or classical in style (Mrs. Duncan if you are reding this) it was our first of what will be many visits to cathedrals around Europe. I think cathedrals are to Europe as temples are to Vietnam. (For those of you who did not followed us on our trip to Vietnam about every other stop on the tours that we went on we stopped at a temple. Or at least it seamed that way). After the church we went for a little walk, about a hundred yards down a street until we got to a place where there was a traffic jam and we deemed that it was necessary  to turn around. We circled around and went back to the taxi. The next thing that we went to was an overlook over which you could see the sea all the way to the horizon, or at least until you could no longer see because of the fog. You could also see the cliffs that the water dashed up on from the aforementioned vantage point. Another sight that you could see was a plateau which some horses were grazing on. It was actually more like a ledge but...
We then went back to the taxi and he taxi driver/guide took us to a tea factory. It smelled... Well... Strongly of tea. It was kinda interesting to see all of the machines that they used to make the tea. At the end we had to drink a sample of the tea. Now, I will make a slight sidetrack by rolling you that I don't like tea. Period. I had a s-m-a-l-l sample. Anyway, we ended up leaving with two boxes of tea and a postcard. And, no, I will not be partaking in the enjoyment of the drink.
The next place that we went was through another small town. And to a place where that smelled strongly of sulfur and there were mud pots with natural boiling water because of the hot magma underneath the part of he earth on which these geological features were located. By the way, Hawaii is to the U.S. as the Azores are to Portugal. Thy we very similar in location to the mainland country and to the formation and structure of the islands in that both are of volcanic origins. (And they weren't formed millions of years ago like the signs say) We walked around looking at the different pots in which the water was boiling. And giving off the sulfury smell. Oh before I forget, there was a little spout out of which water came from the hillside. The water from this spout had a gas mixed into it through a process unknown to the guide. Anyway it tasted like San Pelegri...something (dad please comment with he name of the drink) it was just stronger than that. Mom had a little sip and spat it on the ground. I liked it and Hannah did as well. Oma was indifferent. Or at least she was in front of the guide.
After going to that site we went to a lake of which the name at present slips me. By this lake is a place much like the former spot that we went to. There are lots of holes in the ground (man-dug) and in these people bring pots to insert into the ground to cook the food. Our guide explained the process. You put what you want to into he pot and then bring it to lakeside. And you find an open hole and leave it for six-ish hours. It is free because he place is government owned.
The next thing that we did is go up a mountain to look over the lake. I know not what went on during the drive but I do know what the sight was. It was a spectacular view of... Fog. Yep that was all. I'm sure that it is a great sight when it isn't foggy. We hen proceeded to drive down the mountain and we stopped at a waterfall. To get to the waterfall you had to go on a path maybe a hundred or so yards, probably more like one hundred and fifty. The ecosystem was extremely interesting because it was much like a tropical rainforest but it wasn't. There were palm trees and fern trees and pine trees. It made for an interesting landscape.
After that we went back to Ponta Delgada and got back on the boat to eat lunch. It didn't make since to buy lunch in town because you get lunch for free on the boat. Well, not exactly free because it was part of the cost of the trip but you may as well take advantage of it, you've payed for it already. After we were done we made our way back into the town and stroked along the streets for a while. We saw a church, a library and shops, and all sorts of other little things that I don't have time to tell you about. Then we went back to the dock area and went to a cafe for Internet. We had to buy something and it cost eight or so dollars but for the same amount of time on the ship it would have cost us maybe 11.25 or so dollars. It was four o'clock by the time that we had finished and we made our way back to the ship. Hannah and I went swimming and then we all got ready for dinner. After dinner Hannah and I went to Club HAL until ten, yeah I know late nights late starts to our days. Late to bed, late to rise, makes a man unhealthy, un-wealthy, and miss the better part of the morning. Then we went to play some ping-pong (we being Hannah and I) and after she bea... Never mind. We wanted to kill some time so that we could watch he Filipino crew show in which some of the Filipino crew members did a performance. So I meandered into the buffet. There I saw Colton, Sebastian, and Nathan eating. Yes, almost eleven o'clock, still eating. Hey, they're boys too. I have to sympathize with them. Colton and Sebastian had dressed up nicely in white suits white top hats. Nathan had been at Club HAL so he was not dressed up. I don't know exactly what they were dressed up for (or maybe they told me but I forgot) but nevertheless the were dressed up. We got into a discussion of how many meals we had eaten today, he was just finishing his hundred and twenty-second meal (yeah right). The Filipino crew show was very neat. As far as I'm concerned anyone who can keep me totally awake throughout their show is doing well. I must tell you that hey did do that. And though it was not professional it was good to go and support the crew, they work so hard and we think that maybe the reason for the show being so late (eleven) is that they couldn't be off until then. Then we got ready for bed. It was almost midnight. Just don't tell dad we were up so late ;)
    \~Sumner

Hannah:

Today we had to get up early to get breakfast quickly so we could get off the boat early! After breakfast, we got ready REALLY fast and got off the boat! We are finally on good old solid land/ground. On the way out of the exit of the ship, this random taxi/tour guide driver person started asking us questions and telling us about the places wwe could go. apperently he made a good deal about the money, and the sights were interesting, so we went. He took us around Ponta Delgada for a little bit, then took us across the island called sao Miguel. As we went to our first destination, we got to see a pretty, nonmodern, agricultured land that was VERY pretty. Our first stop was a square in Ponta Delagada. (Ponta Delgada is only a small city on the small island of Sao Miguel.) We stopped at a little town square. It was absolutly CHARMING. We got to see a beautiful flower garden and the very mossy treed square. There was also a Catholic church we got to go into. There was an awesome statue of Jesus. (Both as Christ on the cross and as him as a preacher) Our second stop took us to a mineral water springish place. Our guide (John) led us to a little outspout where water was pouring out. It looked like plain old water, but when you tasted it (yes, we got to drink it. It is perfectly safe) it tasted metally, natural, bubbly water stuff. After the fact,we learned that the water had some sort of healthy gases in it. John led us to a nother stop where we had the option of feeling some SCALDING hot water. I felt it and it was VERY hot. After the burning water, we were led to a Slfur (the gas) hole. It was REALLY cool. Yes. It DID smell like old boiled eggs. I was notTOO stinky. (Although, you DID get tired of it)

Fun fact: Did you know that if you have asthma, you can breathe in the Sulfur gas and it will help your breathing?
Our fourth stop was a tea factory. Just being in there mad you feeel like you were tea itself. I mean that the whole factory smelled REALLLY good. The cool thing was, was that we got to see the WHOLE prosece of how the tea is made. From the bush to the boxes on the shelfs. The 1sr step is picking the leaves off of the bushes. the 2nd step is getting all of the picked leaves into this big barrel type thing. In that barrel, the leaves are getting VERY hot. And I mean HOT. Anyway, they mix all of the leaves in that barrel until they are satisfied. Step #3 is where they put the leaves into buckets and send them to ladies who pick out ALL of the little stems that had been accidentily ledft on. Now that is back breaking, painstakingly long job. It also might be slightly boring, but that step is important, or else you will have branches in your tea. You then put the leaves into the drying prosece. I goes through at least 8-10 drying shelfs. After the tea is all dried, it goes through a little separater thing which separates the black tea to the green. After it has been separated, you go to the bagging prosece. There are automatic bagging and boxing things. After the tea is bagged, you just put the bags in the automatically made boxes. Throw the box in this BIG bin, and go on to the next box or bag. We got to sample some of their green and black teas. I bought my very first postcard with Euros. Euros are the currency in ALL of Europe. I am not buying lots of gifts from each country, so I am gettin postcards instead. They are a VERY cheap way of buying things. Our 4th stop was ANOTHER sulfur "pond?" It was cool because you can dig a hole, put a pot of stew in the hole, fill the hole with dirt, then let it steam away for about 6 hrs. You then take the pot out later and you food is all cooked. the holes are SO hot you can cook food without any liquid in the pot. Well maybe a little. 5th stop: A beutiful garde/nature hike. We wlaked around some. The area was like walking into a jungle, but with different plants. Have you ever seen a fern tree? Look it up! We went to another pond. I was NOT sulfur! Instead it was a fresh water poo/spring. You can swim there too! We had a LONG drive back to the boat. We had lunch on the boat. We went back out and got to walk around a little bit. It is a REALLY quaint and pretty and A LOT like old parts in Germany. You should look this town up on the internet! We went to an outdoor cafe and got internet to email and send blog posts. We saw our friends Sebastian (7, not our dog but the boy) Nathan (8, the wild and abnoctious one) and Colton (10, the oldest and the mature one) They are from Canada. I tried to catch hermit crabs with Nathan and Sebastian. After everyone was done with the internet, we went back to the ship. I went to swim in the pool. We had no friends to play with :(. We then went ot our room to get changed out of our swimming suites. We got to go for dinner at the Canaletto. It is an Italian style restaurant. (It really is in the same place as the buffet, but is roped off to buffeters.) The view is absolutly stunning as well. I went IMMEDIATLY to Club HAL from dinner. At Club HAL we played team games. The games we played were make as many words with pineapples, do wall sit-ups, (sit against the wall like you are sitting in an invisible chair) I beat Sumner, head 2 head, (2 people have a topic, have to think of words that are in that catigory. Can't repeat a word that has already been said OR can't take longer than 5 sec.) After club HAL we played ping-pong until 10:30PM. We were trying to stay up till 11:00 ot watch the Filipino Crew Show. It was REALLY good. We then went to bed, but stayed up until 1:45AM writing this blog.

***-Hannah\_ :P***