We headed south then east on the “fast roads”, up the coast through a bunch of little towns and then due north towards one of the most famous landmarks on Sao Miguel, Lagoa das Sete Cidades. It’s the quintessential postcard/tourism marketing photo commonly used for the Azores and one of the “seven wonders of Portugal” – two lakes formed in the crater of a volcano on the eastern side of the island. One lake is blue (ish), the other green (ish). The legend is that a princess fell in love with a farmhand, but her father forbade the marriage. One lake represents the tears of the princess, the other the farmhand.
(For the record, they both looked sorta the same to us.)
Our first trip up the windy roads was thick with fog, in some places we could barely see five feet in front of the car. When we got to the top there was nothing but gray, but we stopped anyway because E needed a break from driving and I needed to pry my hand off the car door handle, because I’d had a death grip on it for the whole half hour up the road. A sore hand and this picture is all I got from that trip (and for some reason this photo will only post giant-size or thumb-nail size, so giant-size it is):
The next afternoon, we thought we had a window of opportunity with the weather and went back. This time we took the secondary roads, rather than “the fast road”, and I continued with my “We’re gonna die” chant until we reached the top.
Another shot from a different viewpoint, the clouds were starting to role back in at this point, though here you can see one side is slightly greener than the other:
On the way down the mountainside we stopped at another viewpoint and hiked on a dirt road for a bit – I’m pretty sure that dirt road is featured in this video (which, incidentally, aptly portrays how I felt the whole week while in the car). Here, on one side we could see down into the valley, where the fog was trapped:
In contrast, on the other side of the road, it was clearing off and we could see down to the coast into the town of Mosteiros, which has these cool big rocks just off the coast:
(The cows get the best views.)
We wound our way down the mountain into the little village, where we got a bit more up close and personal with the Atlantic Ocean, where you can really get a feel for how the island was formed from volcanic activity…
On the way back to the hotel we stopped at a few more vantage points, which were almost always well landscaped with hydrangeas and/or these weird blue flowers (also came in white) – Google tells me they are agapanthus, or “Lily of the Nile”:
And then finally, this peeking out from the treetops:
Not done yet…