We are on land! Docked today in the lovely Azores at the capital with a welcoming sunshine and breezy warmth. While Rudy gets himself sorted for going ashore I take advantage of the connectivity and touch base with reality. You can’t (or maybe you can) imagine how delighted I was to get an email from Sandy (who’s staying at our house with Molly and Otto) saying that all is well and complemented with a photo of her and Molly snuggling. My day is complete. Full stop!
Armed with our essentials (Rudy has a “murse” … man purse… and a knapsack) towel and bathers in case we venture to the hot springs, water, ID, phones, chargers. Check. We are off. It’s 9am local time.
Since we arrived in port at 7 am most passengers are off and running. I’m sure there’s a bit of cabin fever after the crossing and seeing nothing but water in every direction. We enjoy the calm exit and make our way through the terminal. It’s very modern and has, of course, the usual tourist stops you would expect. Mostly junk and booze. Oh. There’s a Burger King.
Using my phone app “GPS my City” we embark on our self directed walking tour. It’s Sunday. Most retail shops and businesses are closed. The only wanderers are cruise passengers, joggers, church goers and partiers from last night. Traffic is light. Beautiful day for a walk. At a quick glance around, it’s a picturesque coastal town with Mediterranean influences, cobbled streets and plenty of basalt due to the volcanic geology.
We turn west out of the terminal and our first stop is the historic fort. It looks like something from medieval times. Thick stone walls and towers covered by moss in places. There are military men on site manning the museum. A fountain out front highlights the huge edifice and is a fun splash pad for local pigeons.
From the fort we head north. There are numerous museums and religious institutions such as convents, monastery, and churches. The town hall is also en route as is the university, library and several gardens. The foliage is tropical and in full bloom. It’s so nice to see green grass and trees and brightly coloured flowers. Hopefully we will return home to some of the same!
On our trek we pass a huge outdoor flea market. For fun we take a peek. Vendors line the walking path of a small park under the trees. Everything imaginable is up for grabs: household items, clothing, shoes, jewellery, books, CDs, collectibles… you name it. Mostly you would not be able to say “gently used”. To me it was more “well worn”. There were lots of people milling around as well as food vendors.
There is an hermitage at the top of a steep hill. We climb to get the view and are not disappointed. The island is lush and hilly. I’m exclaiming about the view and another couple who made the trek agree. I assume they are from the ship. Nope. They are from Holland on a week’s holiday. We start to chat in English; it turns out that he does business in Canada and has been there 3 times last year! They are curious about the ship and ask a few questions. We walk a while together as we head back towards the dock.
By now we have walked almost 10km through narrow cobbled streets, many packed tightly with parked cars. We passed stores (mostly all closed), businesses, hostels, apartments (some for sale or rent) and some great old places undergoing renovations. Rudy said it felt like old Montreal.
Deciding to forego our excursion to the hot springs in Furnas (time constraint) we returned to the ship. Ordered room service and enjoyed the stellar view from our balcony. Once we set sail again at 4:30 pm we will have two more sea days before landing in Ireland.