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Date: 16 Jun 2012 17:56:33
Title: Around Faial Volcanoes

Hired a car today to visit some more of the island, we first went to Capelinhos which is where a big volcanic eruption created some new land 50 years ago.  The immediate area is still completely barren with plants just starting to creep back around the edges.  The old lighthouse is still there and being kept as a monument, what I didn't realise until seeing it is that it has a two storey building around it - you can only see one storey of the original building as it is one storey deep in volcanic ash.  The area looks very desolate even now. 

You wouldn't believe from the little car park that there is a whole Volcano exhibition centre at the site, they have built an amazing place - all of the exhibition centre is underground as they wanted to preserve the barren wasteland the volcano created which is a really good idea.  I would love a house like the exhibition centre - it's great.   It looks like metal but it is polished concrete.

This is me in the reception area - I could have this as my lounge.  


They have a couple of exhibition rooms with exhibits of volcanoes, rocks and info on the geology of all the Azores islands, a hologram of how the site was formed, a little cinema with a film on the formation of the earth and the Azores and various other things all underground - you walk through and eventually emerge up a staircase and out of a stainless steel cube that sits at surface level next to the old lighthouse.  Nothing other than the circular window of the room above and the 'exit cube' is visible from the surface.  We spent almost a couple of hours in there.


This is the new peninsular that was created,( the lighthouse on the right used to stand at the tip of the island) - really strange to think that this land is only 50 years old, you can't go many places I don't think and look at land that wasn't there 50 years ago

Below is the old lighthouse and me stood in front of the exhibition building which is just on the ground behind me.  I think sometimes you can climb to the top of the lighthouse tower but they appeared to be doing some work on it when we went.  They do have the giant lightbulb in the centre though.



After this we planned to drive up to the highest point of the island which is the crater rim of the old volcano in the centre of Faial - apparently the crater is 2km across and pretty deep. We went up and up and it got more and more foggy, more and more windy and more rain.   What we have seen of the countryside is very pretty with big thick hydrangea hedges, woodlands, tree ferns and plenty of flowers.  

There are 3 classes of road in Faial - Red road (normal road basically one lane each side and road markings),  Yellow road - no road markings, fairly narrow and likely to have the odd pothole to look out for,  White Road - not tarmac but made of red volcanic 'gravel', more like a track and can be scary small rubbish hire car which skids.   We went up one white road which was very steep but had to turn around and double back when we found a deep ditch we couldn't cross (I was quite glad we had to turn back the road was probably better suited to a 4x4) , then found another track which was more used and better which took us up to the top of the crater after winding a long way up the hillside.

Unfortunately the top of the crater was thick in fog (cloud really), it was blowing a gale and heavy rain - we ducked out to have a look and it would probably have been most impressive if you could see as it looked pretty deep and steep down to the centre. We braved about quarter of a mile of the path that runs around the top of the crater then gave up and returned to the warm of the car as we were getting blasted with freezing cold wind as it blew up the sides of the crater.   I don't think there are many days when it is totally clear up there - perhaps later in summer so was a little disappointed not to see it but still we had a good tour of the island.

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