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.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Discovering The Azores: Day 10 April 2nd Rain Day and visit to Terra Nostra Garden, Vocano Lake!

 Breakfast Time!
It's not fun getting up to rain but if it must rain then Furnas and the Terra Nostra Hotel is the place to be.
Furnas because of its volcanic activity is warmer though seemingly wetter than other parts of this rather wet island.  From the room terrace I could see part of the pool and an outline of the Terra Nostra Garden. People were still walking around and also dipping into the sulfur pool.
It was suggested that we go into the pool first before breakfast but time was not with us and since the stomach needed more nourishment than the muscles needed exercise----we went down to the restaurant. There was the usual buffet of breakfast items as well as house fruit specialties and all tasted magnificent.
After breakfast it was to the Garden.
This was the first time that I felt confident that my tooth was not going to act up. It did not!
Terra Nostra Garden
 Even in the rain, the expansive Terra Nostra Garden is impressive. Giant trees seemingly touch the sky --stretching their branches upward and outward as if to impress upon us humans of our frailness.
While this garden was man made the inhabitants have now asserted themselves.
The large looming trees sheltered us humans as we walked underneath---dry enough with the occasional dribble (usually catching me in the base of the back of my neck) that came from a wayward leaf or branch.
The birds did not seem to mind it as ducks and geese and rare black swans swam up and down the many little water ways and streams. Where the birds did not swim were dozens of huge Koi and goldfish patterning their water location with their tails and fins.
The paths were endless and in all directions. However the place was immaculate in its tidiness. Here there was respect for a job well done by past human intervention and the natural state of well cared for plants.
Finally, we decided to return to the room and wait for a clearing in the weather.
Lagoa das Furnas 
   The Sun finally thrust its rays later on in the afternoon and I suggested heading to Lagoa das Furnas just several kilometres away. The lake is a volcanic crater lake surrounded by tree vegetation. It has many of what are called fumaroles which are openings in the earth's crust from which steam and gasses escape. These are located ,along with various mudhloes, in the north part of the lake. 
The lake itself is very scenic with attractive man made trails and decorations including some amazing wooden sculptures. Along the lake path one can find attractive gardens, horse back riding facilities and picnic grounds. Not far from the lake are a series of health inducing sulfur baths.
Chapel of Nossa Senhora das Vitórias
Or "Our Lady of the  Victories"  was erected in the mid 19th Century in the southwestern corner of the lake. it was built following the terminal illness of the wife of  a well to do farmer Jose do Canto. The chapel which contains the bodies of both Canto and his wife, is looked upon as an amazing piece of architecture and is easily seen by those who walk the path of the lake!
The lake area is host to many types of animals, birds and fish as well as the large varieties of plants.
It started to drip a bit again and we realized it was time to leave. We made our way back to the care and then were off to the hotel.
Dinner at Tony's Snack Bar!
 Anyone who stays in Furnas must try the pizza at Tony's Snack Bar. The ingredients used are excellent and the cheese amazing. We drove to the place and had one more time, a marvelous pizza. The beer called "Especiale" as a great accompaniment.
W then retired to our home in the hotel and prepared for our eventual departure the next day.
That night i sat out on the balcony of the room and looked at the tree shapes silhouetted against the dark sky. The sounds from dozens of birds and frogs etc. reminded me of the 1930's movie called Dracula.
As the Vampire spoke to his "guest", he noticed the sounds of the wild animals around his castle. He said "Listen to my children! Listen to the creatures of the night!"
I bid the sounds goodnight goodnight and retired !
End of Day Ten.