Friday, May 15, 2015

Day 11, May 14, 2015, Serenity Crossing – Ponta Delgarda

We got up at 7:30am and got ready for the “Jeep Safari Tour” of the San Miguel island.  We ordered room service to provide breakfast at between 8:15 and 8:30.  They arrived at 8:20.  The attendant set our little table (including table cloth) and set up the food just like we were in the dining room.  It was so cool.  Julie ended up with a mushroom and cheese omelet plus a couple of link sausages and Bob had buckwheat pancakes with blueberries and walnuts, plus a couple of sausages, and a dab of hash browns.  We also had fruit.  Julie felt that her omelet was good, but its temperature was only warm instead of hot.  One of the causalities of doing in-room dining. 

We made it down to the Stardust where we were supposed to assemble to be led to the waiting vehicles.  At 9:15 we were led down to deck 4, midships, and disembarked on dry land for the first time since May 7.  Our vehicles awaited us and they each held 5 people plus the guide/driver.  Ours was a land rover and we joined a group of three people from Mexico.  Our guide, Antonio, normally was a captain on a whaling observation boat.  He described the Azores (A is pronounced as a short a, accent on the second syllable) as an archipelago of nine islands, the one we were on (San Miguel) was the largest at about 400 square miles and had about 155K inhabitants.  All in all, the Azores have around 250K people.  The Azores are part of Portugal, which is about 900 nautical miles to the east.  They are volcanic with black sand beaches (except one island has white sand) and an excellent climate for growing plants.  The jewels of this island are the crater lakes of Sete Cidades. 

We headed out of Ponta Delgarda and went west toward the crater lakes.  We got to a large hill overlooking the two large lakes (they are really one lake separated by a bridge with holes in it).  On a clear day (which we didn’t have) one of the lakes appears green, while the other appears blue.  This is an optical illusion based on the depth of the lake and the surroundings (the green one is very deep and is smaller reflecting the green of the hills of the crater, while the blue one is larger, is more wide open, and mostly reflects the sky).  We couldn’t really see the color of the blue lake, but green one was clear.  Note - in the first picture, the green is the close one and the blue is the far one.

We then headed down a mountain ridge on a dirt road toward the town of Sete Cidades.  The ridge was very narrow, with steep cliffs on each side.  It was a little scary and the lady in the front had to keep telling the driver to keep his eyes on the road.  As we were going down, the fog cleared somewhat and we got some great views.

A crater.

A cemetery:

Lots of cows!!!  They have to be milked twice a day and producer upwards of 15 liters of milk each time!!

Before we got to the town, we stopped and took some pictures of the ocean.

Once we reached the town, we stopped in the middle near a small café and the church.  We had time to wander around and look at the architecture.

 Our Land Rover:

Orange trees used to be more prevalent.  We did find one:

After that, we drove along the blue lake, then backtracked to the bridge between the lakes and then drove around the other side of the blue lake.  We then started the climb up the hill again, stopping by another lake, and more views of the green/blue lakes. 

The bridge separating the green and blue lakes.

We were done a bit early because another stop was fogged out, so we drove through town and he gave us a bit of a city tour (including showing us the street he grew up on, his school, etc.).  It is a very nice city.   It has very narrow streets, beautiful decorations on the sidewalks, and a lot of cars.  Eventually we made it back to the ship.

Before re-boarding the ship, we decided to wander around the city and take it in.   

We stopped at an ATM to get some Euros (the Euro to dollar ratio is so low right now, we decided to stock up).  We also found a free wi-fi zone.

We got back on the ship at around 3pm.  It was scheduled to depart for Lisbon at 5pm, with all aboard of 4:30pm.  Having skipped lunch, we stopped for a quick snack and then went to our room to get ready for dinner and sail away (we only have three on this trip and we missed the first two).  The “What A Wonderful World” song was played as usual as we left.  

We then went for a few minutes to the Cove and then went at 5:20pm for the 5:30 Magic Castle show.  The magician was quite amazing at the slight of hand stuff, but some of the other tricks weren’t great. 

After that, we went to dinner in the dining room and sat at Ana’s table again.  Tonight she recommended the French Onion Soup with cheese croutons (we both had it).

Second course, Julie had an appetizer portion of the pasta specialty – Zita Pasta “Puttanesca” with anchovies, capers, tomatoes, black olives, chili flakes, and Italian parsley.  She loved it and its spiciness.

Bob had the Greek Farmer’s Vegetable Salad with tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, red onions, olives, and feta cheese toss in herb vinaigrette.  He thought that it was excellent.

For the entrée, we both had the Roasted Prime Rib of Black Angus Beef with natural gravy, creamed horseradish, corn on the cob and baked potato.  The prime rib was excellent and very tender.

For dessert, Julie had the Flourless Chocolate Dove Cake a la Mode, while Bob had the Apple Cinnamon Tart with vanilla ice cream.  We both thought that these were good, but not excellent.

We went to the Cove to hang out before the 8:45pm show and then decided to go and check out our pictures.  None of them were wonderful, so we decided to pass on them.  The show was Jon Courtenay who plays the piano and does comedy.  It was terrific.  He told so many jokes that were so well done that we were pretty well in stitches throughout.  We definitely see why he was named Crystal Entertainer of the Year for several years.  He was terrific.

After that, we went to bed so we could lose ANOTHER HOUR (as one entertainer said - learning to live on 23 hour days).  Fortunately this was the last lost hour of the trip.  For the day we did 14K steps and 6.5 miles.

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