Location: Whitby, Ontario, Canada

Born in Malta but in Canada since age 5. Has written three books and presently does several columns about wine and food for various magazines.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Discovering The Azores Day 5: Lombadas, Porto Formoso, Park Naturale Dos Ribeira Caldeiros, Ponta do Sossego

Breakfast came fast this morning even though I went to bed late for me at Midnight. Breakfast came in the form of the usual bread and cheese with a bit of Granola mix on top plus fruit from Minuvida's own garden.
The Nordeste
Later on at 10:30 AM Andy Tomlin of the "Azores Connection" tour group picked us up and took us for a day's romp around the island. Andy and his lovely wife Laura had fast become friends of ours since our last visit in March of 2016. Laura stayed home this time since she recently gave birth to their first child, a handsome boy named George!
We were heading to the northeast part of the island called Nordeste which was full of rugged beauty, high peaks, deep forested valleys and many interesting stops along the way. In many ways it was a testament to the power of Nature and the Tectonic forces within our globe.  
Heading to Lombadas
We headed first to an abandoned water distribution area called The Valley of Lombadas. Years ago carbonated mineral water surfacing  from springs deep inside the earth was collected and brought down by horse and wagon.
Now it is a conservation area surrounded by forest and full of historical remains of buildings from years gone by.
Andy took us to a secluded house not far from the parking lot where with a bit of careful footing around rocky streams and other barriers we entered the building and found a large tap from which was flowing exceptionally clear water. Andy collected water in several bottles and allowed us to taste this crystal clear sparkling liquid. The taste was better than any mineral water ---or water for that matter----that I had ever tasted. Almost sweet with a natural carbonation. Just superb!
Porto Formoso and Tea Plantation  
Tea was on the agenda when we stopped off at the Porto Formoso Tea Factory which not only produces tea, but also preserves the memories of tea production in the Azores islands from the very beginning to the last quarter of the 19th century.
There were many varieties of tea to choose from but we stopped in and tasted a mild blend and then we were on our way.
Parcque Naturale Dos Ribeira Caldeiroes
Andy then drove us to the Parcque Naturale Dos Ribeira Caldeiroes which is another conservation area based on old mills and rugged scenery.  Here a beautiful series of waterfalls, framed by the looming cliffs and lush rain forest offers sports individuals many challenges.. The waterfront is also dotted with historic water mills, many of which have been restored.
For those who wish more information there Ethnographic Museum housed in one of the mills. The old miller’s house is a handicrafts shop.
We stopped and had a quick coffee and sandwich before we left for a favoured place where cats were king----well sort of! 
Jardim do Miradouro da Ponta do Sossego
Ponta do Miradouro da Ponta do Sossego is one of the finest lookouts in the north part of the island. Manicured gardens and well groomed trees greeted us and other visitors. The garden here is multi-leveled and full of colourful flowers and interesting plants. The view of the Atlantic expanse high up above the sea is amazing.
Cats were also on the agenda. The area is home to many resident cats ---all neutered and all well fed if not by the tourists; by the gardeners. The cats are as famous an attraction as the view and truly have a good home!
Andy did more than his share in showing us the sights and we are so grateful to him for his time. It was a super day.
End of Day Five