Circling the Island

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March 18th 2018
Published: March 18th 2018
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Today promised to be rainy so it seemed like a good idea to start our car rental so we would have something to do besides sitting in the hotel. I organized the rental with the hotel reception desk to pick up today at 10 and return Tuesday evening. That would give us three days to explore all the other parts of Terceira. On our drive in from the airport, we learned the island is 12 miles across and today I learned it's 50 miles if you drive all the way around in a circle. So not very big at all!

The day started with the usual breakfast. It was overcast but not raining and the breeze was cool. The lady arrived from the rental car place and I gave her all my information. She then told me it was 75€. 75€ for three days! That's $92. Prior to the trip I had received an email from Azores Getaways, the company I booked the trip through, letting me know I could pre-book a car at a discounted rate. When I plugged in 3 days with an automatic car, it was $200+. Glad I waited until I got to the hotel! The lady took me outside to walk around the car and I discovered we would be driving around in a 4 door Smart car. My sister Renee hates Smart cars so I had to text her right away with a picture. She was not impressed! However, it proved to be a good choice as roads are quite narrow in spots and I was glad to have the small vehicle.

Our route for the day was to follow the EN1, which is the highway that circles the island. We were heading West to start our morning. First stop, cheese! We visited Queijo Vaquinha, which is a small cheese store just a short drive from the hotel. They have samples of the four different cheeses they make and, of course, cheese to buy to take home. The nice thing here is the cheese is vacuum packed and can be out of the refrigerator for up to 10 days. Perfect for traveling!

By this time, it has started to rain and was quite foggy in spots so there weren't really any great views. One stretch of road had trees on either side arching towards each other. It reminded me of some of the road in Ireland. Very beautiful, even in the rain. We did pull off at one of the viewpoints, but it was pouring and we didn't get out. The lady in the car in front of us did and she got soaked. I'm not sure what she was thinking. We will have to go back when it's not raining, which will hopefully be Tuesday.

Our next stop was the charming town of Biscoitos, or as I kept calling is Bosquitos. I am not good with pronunciation! This town is famous for it's natural swimming pools nestled in between the jagged black volcanic rocks that line the coast. The pools were closed today, either because of the time of year or because of the weather. But the rain had stopped so we were able to take some pictures of this rather impressive coast line. There was also a small cafe where we could get some lunch. We both had the pork sandwich with fries. The pork was a little tough but it was still good and filling.

Then it was onward on our circular drive. Luckily the rain stayed away for the rest of the drive so we were

Pork Sandwich and fries
able to take advantage of two more scenic viewpoints. The first was just spot along the highway with a pullout and short walkway. And we also lucked out and had a small herd of about 4 cows being driven down the road that we had to stop for. I love when livestock are waling down the road! The second viewpoint was above the town of Praia da Vitória. This viewpoint required a steep uphill drive, which I hate, but the view was worth it. You could see down to the town and out across the green hills behind. Most of the landscape here is green pastures bordered by rock walls. It's really very beautiful. These rock walls aren't very high and the cows must be very well trained to stay behind them.

The remaining drive back to the hotel was very scenic, along the coast and climbing high up into the hills. Through this drive, I learned that people will just stop their cars in the road, park on the road where it seems parking should not be allowed and leave their farm equipment in the middle of a lane while they go off and do something else. Luckily there was very little traffic and I politely pulled over whenever another car zoomed up behind me in spots where I was going more slowly than the speed limit. Road signs are few and far between. I was glad I had downloaded the Terceira Google map before I left so I could use the GPS. Some places I never would have ended up on the right road without it!

All in all it was a really nice day!

Additional photos below
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18th March 2018

If it rains again you can drive the circle in the opposite direction to get different views.
18th March 2018

Other than the tile roofs it looks kind of like Ireland in some places.
19th March 2018

I've never been to Ireland, but again, I agree with Dave--especially where those cliffs overlook the sea.
19th March 2018

Also. . . Cows
I also like to see cows driven down the road. That's something we saw on the Camino.

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