Trans-Atlantic 2008 - Sao Miguel

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Sao Miguel if by far the most populated and developed of the Azores, with about 140,000 people.  while this makes extra services available, we found that the urbanisation, particularly in the main city of Ponta Delgada, and only realistic place to stay on a boat, made it less appealing than the other islands.

The waterfront in Ponta Delgada is being transformed into a strip of modern hotels, and a vast, but not very busy, marina.

When building this page, I realised that we did not take a single photo of the modernisation, so lifted the one on the left from the tourist web site.

While touring the island by car, we found that much of it is still the beautiful rural countryside that many people like about the Azores.

Milkmen like this guy are less common that they used to be, but we saw a few.


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Like all the Azores, Sao Miguel is volcanic, with an impressive variety of old craters.  Most are thousands of years old, and are heavily vegetated, and some quite intensively farmed.

This huge crater of Sete Ciduades has farms and villages on the bottom, while the steep sides are heavily wooded.

The roads down into the crater are small and steep, but very well built.  Despite this, we were surprised to meet a number of  tourists who looked down into the crater from this viewpoint, but felt it was "too dangerous" to drive down to the bottom.

Most of the coastline is rugged, with no real ports, but some fisherman still work, hauling their boats out of the water when not in use. 

 There are only a few very tiny beaches, so most coastal villages have built swimming holes in the rocks by adding a few small concrete dams and pathways.  These are generally calm, but the odd breaker finds its way in.

The background to these swimming photos shows just how inhospitable most of the coast is to arriving mariners.


We met Danish friends, the Folke family, in Sao Miguel.  Emil Folke is the diver here.

The crater of Furnas, several miles across has live hot springs in one of the villages in it. 

This one is right beside the sidewalk.  The notice prohibits using it, because it is reserved to feed a swimming pool.  However there are no warnings or protection against a pedestrian stepping in the vigorously boiling water.

This spring in Furnas village is used to cook corn for sale to locals  and tourists.  The process is quite crude.  Simply throw a plastic bag of corn in, and wait a while.  Haul it out, and sell it, still with the leaves on the cob. 

We bought one. It tasted a little of sulphur, but was not bad.  However, we did not buy any more.

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There are hot springs all over the area, including this one where the Folke family and Helen are looking at the boiling mud.
This warm waterfall, fed by some highly mineralised water that created the brown growths, is known as the Fountain of Youth, and is popular with the locals, despite the unappetising colour.

Michael and Emil Folke climbed up above the falls, but none of us tried swimming in it.

There are plenty waterfalls on Sao Miguel, mostly crystal clear like this one.

An American friend, Barb Brown, is standing in front of the fall.  She joined us in Sao Miguel for the voyage to Ireland.

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