Today we visited the Azores, specifically Punta Delgado on the island of São Paulo. The Azores are an archipelago of 13 islands located 700 miles from the mainland of Portugal.
We signed up for one of the tours offered by the cruise ship. Taking a tour with a cruise ship involves a whole procedure in and of itself. First there are the incessant infomercials on the ship's TV. Once you've signed up, you have to go to the theater where you will wait in line to get assigned a bus. Then you sit for what can be a long time but today wasn't too long for your bus number to be called. Then it's more waiting in line to get off the ship, the inevitable competition for the 'best' bus seats and the introduction by the local tour guide who may or may not speak English very well. Today's guide spoke English fairly well. Not great but not horrible either.
First stop was a pineapple "plantation" which consisted of a group of maybe twenty greenhouses.
More driving through green fields, past volcanic rock walls and Friesan cows to our second stop -- Sete Cidades. This scenic lookout was quite crowded
as well as a village and forested hillsides all within a collapsed volcano.
Our final stop on the tour was a pleasant but not particularly well labeled or maintained botanical garden back in town.
We returned to the boat for lunch (too much mediocre pizza) and went out again after lunch. We walked around the town, bought some stuff (any stuff! It hardly mattered after a week of cruise ship shopping!) and used some free wifi.
Impressions? Well, I would say that the Azores were nicer than I expected.
It was good to get off the bus as I said. The birds, traffic, trees, flowers, sirens and airplanes-- you miss all sorts of things on the "high seas". I certainly did not expect the island to be so agricultural nor did I expect to see so many (that is any) cows. The island appeared more prosperous than I had thought it would also.
Russell says he doesn't need to come back, not enough to do for him but as for me I am not so sure. I could come back and probably find enough to do here for a few days, perhaps a week.