We hummed and hawed about walking up to the top of Pico with a small band of folk from the OCC, but in the end thought better of it – the weather didn’t look great on the day and besides, I have a pretty sore toe having stubbed it seriously about 10 days ago – I’m thinking it might be broken. The walk takes 7 or 8 hours and apparently the downhill is really grueling and not much fun.
We took the lazy way out and took the ferry over (just as the diminutive Simo was departing for England) and dragged Stephanie, Joe and Matthew around in a rental car.
Pico is an island of contrasts. Arriving in Madalena, the coast road north was in a bleak black landscape of basalt lava flows in which the Azoreans managed to eke out a living cultivating vines and figs and making wine and brandy. The red wine from Pico has quickly become one of our favorites!
We visited a wine making museum – more of a village – which was quite interesting. Grapes are grown in what looks to be rock – hardly any soil – in very small enclosures created by walls of black basalt. These walls kept the vines warm and out of the wind. The tending and harvesting of the crop was and remains completely manual.
We then moved on to a Whaling Museum – inside an old whale processing factory. It was really interesting in spite of the gruesomeness of the whole thing. Unfortunately not allowed to take photos inside – but this is the ramp that the poor buggers were hauled up to the factory on…
We were at about half the height of the big volcano, but already right at cloud level. The scenery had now changed to very similar to the high moors of the Yorkshire dales – only lacking in sheep! Amazing the contrast to the other end of the island. Lunch was a wonderful event in Ponta da Ilha – though paying for it was tough as they only took cash and even Matthew had to chip in!
We drove back along the south side of the island and discovered the beautiful little port of Lajes do Pico. I wish we had the opportunity to go there, but sadly not…
We arrived back at the boat at about 7pm and then had an enjoyable evening drinking aboard Saltwhistle 3 with new friends Tony and Rachel. All good.
We’ll be leaving Horta on Saturday and sailing with Stephanie et al to Terceira some 90 miles away. Planning to make it an overnight trip which should be interesting!