8th July to 16th July 2011
We have just spent a lovely week in San Miguel. It may be slightly out of our way but it was worth the detour. San Miguel is the biggest island in the Azores and Ponta Delgada the capital is the biggest city we have been to since Las Palmas. There is a brand new marina which is half empty so we had our pick of the berths.
We arrived on Friday just in time for the festival of Divino Espirito Santo which went on for 3 days. This entailed lots of live music, parades and, as Espirito Santo is about giving, lots of free food and drink.
The live music was variable but included some really good bands
On Saturday lunchtime we joined in the festivities along with about 5,000 other people. Sitting at long trestle tables all around the main square we had free soup, rice pudding and wine all served by the local scouts. It was just like a giant street party!
On Saturday afternoon there was a parade of floats from each village. Most of the floats were old squeaky ox carts pulled by handsome bulls with lots of flowers.
There were several groups singing and dancing. Mary’s favourite (below), were a group of blokes in purple shirts singing, dancing and ‘clapping’ castanets. It was the Azorean equivalent of Morris dancing and looked equally as silly!
But our favourite float was from the region which brews Sagres, the local beer. Their float (below) was manned with 8 blokes handing out free chilled beer! The beer went down very well with the endless supply of sweet bread which many other regions where handing out!
That evening whilst watching the bands we noticed everyone queuing to go into the town hall. Being British we thought we would join the queue to see what it was all about. After half an hour of queuing with excited anticipation we went into a room to view an ‘intriguing’ display of crowns! The next day people from each region dressed up in posh frocks and paraded the crowns through the streets. It was no more exciting than the static display in the town hall so we saved ourselves for the bands that night!
On Tuesday and Wednesday we hired a car to drive around the island. San Miguel has some of the best scenery with fantastic lakes and waterfalls and hydrangeas lining all the roads and paths.
There are also lots of thermal pools and hot springs, some of which you can swim in. We ‘swam’ in one at Furnas (below right). The water was the temperature of a very hot bath. As this was the first hot bath we’ve had in 10 months (Stella isn’t quite big enough to be equipped with a bath so we have to make do with a shower) it was especially relaxing!
The Azoreans are also mad on ‘miradors’ (scenic view points along the road) some of which included beautiful picnic areas with brick BBQs and carefully manicured gardens in the middle of nowhere. Maybe there was a competition for the best mirador?
We have met up with a few other OCC and ARC boats here and there have been several nights of evening drinks on each other’s boats. So long as we don’t drink too much we plan to leave tomorrow. The wind is not great and we will have to beat into northerlies to start with to hopefully get some better wind for the rest of the trip.