“Some people feel the rain, others just get wet.” – Bob Marley
After exploring Terceira Island a day before, we were excited to see the largest of the Azores islands - Sao Miguel. Our ship docked in the port of Ponta Delgada, the Azores' capital city, only a few steps away from the town center.
The island of Sao Miguel offers many beautiful natural sites to see - from lakes of multiple colors to hot springs, to lots of mountainous terrain and beautiful dramatic overlooks with cows grazing on the side of every hill.
However, the weather can't always be perfect and so our day on the island was meant to be a sneak peak, teasing us with all the sights that could have been seen on a clear day and leaving us wanting to come back for more in better weather and when we would have more time to more fully explore the beauty of the island.
As in Terceria, we decided renting a car was the easiest way to see at least parts of the island. From Ponta Delgada we drove to Lagoa do Fogo (Lake of Fire), a crater lake surrounded by lush green hills, at least based on all the pictures we’ve seen. Although we were fully aware we would likely see nothing under the thick and heavy fog, we decided to try our luck anyway and drove up lots of winding roads to the main viewpoint to see the lake from above. A wrong turn slightly delayed our arrival but allowed us to see cute villages along the coastline before making it to the top of the island to the spot where the beautiful overlook would’ve been.
We found ourselves in the middle of a dense and heavy fog with a cold mixture of rain and sleet coming down and no lake in sight, but how could one complain when in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean on top of a beautiful island, experiencing mother nature’s nurturing of its vegetation?
We walked around in the fog and decided to keep driving further to the north side of the island to Ribeira Grande, another picturesque village that was recommended by our excursion guide as one of the spots to see. The village’s own liquor factory, Mulher de Capote, was calling our name as a means to dry off and taste some of the local brandies made out of local fruits such as pineapple, blackberries, and passion fruit. The island is known for its pineapple plantations, some of which are accessible to tourists through excursions.
With enough time on our hands, we wanted to try our luck at seeing the most popular spot in the island, Sete Cidades. The weather hasn’t improved much, but young and full of optimism, we hoped that perhaps the clouds would break through by the time we got there.
That day we learned a valuable lesson about renting cars on islands. If you get a car with only half a tank of gas, do not wait to fill it up. As we drove another 45 minutes to Sete Cidades, the gas gauge only had two bars left with no gas stations in sight as we went up the mountain.