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 1, 2017

Discovering The Azores: Day 8 Goodbye to Minuvida and to Furnas, Terra Nostra Hotel and Pizza, Plus Swimming in the Sulpher Pool!

Off To Furnas
In spite of the tooth ache I managed to spend a good night and was up later than normal. Breakfast was quick and tooth fully careful but the aspirin I was taking plus my pain threshold plus what I believe was some form of Divine intervention had seen me through. I had the odd pain bout but it went away quickly.Though I needed to see a physician.
The drive to Furnas was rather uneventful though  the winding road was a challenge to one who had a sore tooth and was not used to the drive but we got there. The city or town lies withing a huge active volcanic crater which is seven kilometres in width.The main town body houses many gurgling and steaming mud and water areas. Clouds of steam rising from these hot bodies are very visible and it is not uncommon to see streams of very hot water flowing not far from streams of cooler water.
The many hot pools serve as natural and healing bathing spots for tourists and locals alike. According to  many sources, the area is considered one of the most dangerous volcanic active spots in the Archipelago.
Vegetation is lush and full of tropical and semi tropical vegetation. Flowers abound everywhere and the people who live in the village seem unflustered by potential danger. While seismic activity is apparent, the last known eruption was in 1630. Is one due? Who knows.
The area is frequented by low clouds and fog but it also has some superb days of warmth and sunshine. I personally found the area within the town warmer than surrounding area!
Terra Nostra Hotel Garden
The Terra Nostra Hotel was originally the home of Boston merchant and honorary Consul for the United States, Thomas Hickling who in 1775 built a summer home there and surrounded it with North American trees. An Oak tree that he planted still exists on the property.
In 1848 the property was purchased by the Visconde de Praia whose wife developed a large garden. This garden was expanded upon  by their son in 1896. In  and has continued to do so by the Bensaude Family owners of the Terra Nostra Hotel among others.
The Terra Nostra Company purchased the whole property in the 1930's with the Terra Nostra Hotel being opened in 1935.  It quickly became a haven for health and wellness seekers as well as the curiously informed.
The garden was continually expanded and added to. In 2010 a new section featuring endemic Azorean plants and Bromeliads. 
The garden contains trees, bushes, plants and flowers from many countries which are arranged in spectacular form. There are hundreds of species all growing in the open air of the huge 12 to 15 Hectare garden. More on that later.        
Terra Nostra Hotel
The hotel was well laid out and quite attractive giving the newcomer a sense of modern style and old world elegance. We were situated just above part of the Garden facing the huge sulfur swimming/wading pool. Trees towered over the garden and plants of every imaginable type covered the grounds. Azaleas were in full bloom giving the courtyard a pink hue. Lilies of orange, yellow and white displayed their wares as if wanting you to take them.
This hotel had much to offer and we had not yet scratched the surface.
Pizza Time  
Tony's is a well known restaurant in Furnas but we fell totally in love with his other snack bar across the Church which sits in the main square of Furnas. Tony's Pizza makes phenomenal pizza in various sizes and as in most places in Furnas one can choose to eat inside or out. We opted out.
When you want a coffee here in the Azores you do not just ask for coffee or else you get you ask for Americano which is the same Espresso but with added hot water BUT in some places the Americano was like a soup. Where o' where is Tim's!
I ordered a good Americano and the cheese cosmopolitan pizza we had was amazing. The cheese is what made it. So very tangy and yet sweet accompanied by green pepper, onions, ham, bacon and mushrooms. Deeelish!
We found our way back to the hotel and relaxed for awhile. Later then that evening we enjoyed a night swim in the Sulfur Pool which never was even slightly cool and then relaxed with a bottle of wine. My tooth behaved itself though occasionally remind me of its presence. I made up my mind to see a doctor the next day. The adventure continues!
End of Day 8