Exploring Angra do Heroismo

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March 17th 2018
Published: March 17th 2018
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Angra from the sea wallAngra from the sea wallAngra from the sea wall

The blue building is the Misericordia Church
After yesterday's climbing, I was ready to spend the day taking it easy by exploring Angra. However, it's hard do do that when the city is hilly and you want to visit the good spots!

We started the day with another good breakfast. Today I sampled the local cheeses (MMMMM!!), a local cake (not so good) and a local English (or Portuguese) muffin with some pineapple jam. I also had fruit, a doughnut, some tea and juice. I love breakfast buffets at hotels and this hotel has a pretty good one with lots of options to choose from.

Fortified, we set out for our day. I had checked the weather and it showed sunny and 64 so I left my sweatshirt at home and brought my lightweight rain coat just in case. First stop was the market so my mom could get some water. Then we were off on a wander down the cobbled streets to the water. Angra has a small seaport with a nice breakwater to walk on. From down here you get some really nice photos of the city above. It was very windy! My mom decided that if she had a hat on it would be long gone. This is also the spot to book boat trips for whale watching, islet exploring or diving adventures. I wanted to do whale watching, but after how windy it's been, I decided I would rather not be out on a boat bouncing around. There is also a small sandy beach, which we came back to at the end of the day for a sit in the sand.

Having explored the sea wall, we climbed back up to street level to check out the Misericordia Church. This is a really interesting blue and white building that dates back to the 18th century and was built on the site of the Azore's first hospital from 1492. Unfortunately, the building was not open and we couldn't find any signs with hours, nor were they listed on our little map or in the guidebook my mom brought. I guess we will either have to try again another day or just never know what is inside.

Our next stop was the Jardim Publico, or Public Gardens. Here you will find a variety of tropical and subtropical plants and I was excited to see flowers blooming since we have so few at
Panoramic AngraPanoramic AngraPanoramic Angra

This is from the obelisk at the top of the Public Gardens
home right now. It's a nice place to sit for awhile in the shade and enjoy some quiet. However, we were headed for a climb up to the obelisk way at the top of the gardens. It was yet another steep climb, however this one has more level sections and small garden areas to stop and rest in. As you climb higher, you are rewarded with increasingly better views of the city of Angra. If you make it to the top, you'll get a great panoramic view that really is worth the climb. By this time, my legs had had enough, however it was not even 11:00 yet and so we pushed on.

Next to the garden is the Museum of Angra do Herosimo, which is housed in the former Convent of Sao Francisco. Part of the museum is the chapel, which you can spend a fair amount of time in if you like looking at church interiors, which I do. All the signs in the chapel are in Portuguese so have your Google Translate ready if you want to know what you are looking at! After the chapel, there are a number of other rooms with rotating exhibits. The upper level walks through the history of the Azores and here the information signs are in Portuguese and English. You could spend several hours exploring this museum if you stopped to look at every single thing. I don't like to do that so I looked at what I wanted to and then was ready to go.

Having lucked out on the interior of the Misericordia Church, we tried to visit the Santissimo Salvador da Se Church, the main cathedral in Angra. Again, it was closed. I thought the sign said it opened at 10, but apparently the sign was wrong.

And now lunch! We found a cafe on a side street and were going to try the local stew, but the lady said that took an hour so we went with other options. My mom had a wrap with shrimp on it and had some bruschetta with olives, tomatoes and local cheeses and then french fries. It was sooo good. We also got lemonade, which I discovered was just straight lemon juice after I took a huge drink. Definitely not the sweet stuff we have at home!

Our last stop was the beach. It was so
A fancy tile inside the chapelA fancy tile inside the chapelA fancy tile inside the chapel

You see these blue and white painted tiles all over, in chapels and on the sides of buildings.
nice to sit on the warm sand and listen to the waves. There were some brave people swimming in the water. On our way back to the hotel we stopped at the cafe we ate at yesterday to get some pastries and fresh squeezed orange juice for a snack for later.

It's nice to be back in the room with my shoes off, my comfy pants on and no climbing in the near future! The last two nights we have not had any dinner. The first night we were so tired we just went to bed and yesterday we had a really late lunch so we just had our pastries. Tonight we may check out the hotel dinner, but it doesn't start until 7:30 so it may end up to be more of a bedtime snack than a full meal.

One complaint I have about our hotel is the lack of a coffee maker or electric tea kettle in the room. I asked at the front desk if fancy coffee machines from breakfast were available to use all day and they are not. If you want tea, you have to go to the hotel bar. It would be nice to be able to make it in my room to enjoy on the balcony in the evening. Oh well!


18th March 2018

The town looks very European which I guess it is. The panoramic view could almost be along the Mediterranean. At least by drinking the lemonade you won't get scurvy.
18th March 2018

Scenery and dinner
I agree with Dave on how things look. Re dinner hour: You are unlikely to find anything open earlier than 7:30. I've never been to Portugal, but restaurants in Italy often open at 7:30 and are more or less empty for the first hour or so. Spain is notorious for its 10:00 PM and later dinner hours, though this did not much impact us when we were there, as we were on the Camino de Santiago. The pilgrim restaurants catered to a much earlier crowd. Farther north in Europe it might be a tad earlier, but still later than in most of the US.
22nd March 2018
Panoramic Angra

I wish I knew how to take panoramas like this
I wonder if my camera does.... It's the only way to give a sense of the beauty of the landscape, or seascape as the case may be.
22nd March 2018
Inside the Convent of Sao Francisco

I wonder where all those valuable and heavy materials came from and who suffered to get them there. When I was in Lima, the wood was brought from central America, the gold of course was local, but the ceramics, etc. came from Spain, to decorate not only the churches, but the aristocrats' homes. Even their stables looked like palaces, too. Yes, it's awesome; it was meant to be.
22nd March 2018

Eating and drinking
7:30 is early for dinner. In Spain and its colonies (e.g., Buenes Aires with its wonderful beef), often people don't even begin dinner until 10:00 pm! Also, when I was in a more remote town, I tried to address the coffee problem by buying one of those electric kettles, but prices started above $30. So now it's on my list of take-alongs when I go off the beaten track.
22nd March 2018
A fancy tile inside the chapel

I cannot wait to see a lot of this in Lisbon. Reminds me of Chinese and Turkish sources, and Dutch tiles, not to mention English and early American table service.
22nd March 2018

P.S.: Tile composition photo
When I first saw your thumbnail, I thought this was a tapestry. How did they do it?

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