Fumaroles, Misterios Negros, Views and groceries

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March 19th 2018
Published: March 19th 2018
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Side note, last night we went out to dinner for the first time! The other days we ate late lunches and were too tired to wait for dinner. Last night we walked into town and found a small cafe that was serving even though it was only 5:30. I had a really good salad with chicken and cheese and Mom had a beef sandwich.

According to my weather page, today was going to be cloudy in the morning and then rainy starting at 1 PM. We decided to try visiting some sights and if it started raining, we would just head back to the hotel. Our first stop was the Furnas do Enxofre, a protected geological area where you get the reminder that you are on a volcanic island. The drive here was really pretty. It involved a climb up hill and then you arrive in the middle of the island where there are lush green pastures as well as sharp black volcanic rock. Follow the sign for the Furnas and you will come to a short gravel road that dead ends into a car park. Upon exiting the car, you are greeted with strangest cacophony of sounds. Turns out, there are lots of frogs or toads in a small pond singing away in Portuguese! Back to the main point of this park, the volcanic activity. This is a small park but there are several signs in English and Portuguese explaining the area. There is also a really nice path around the park that is sometimes dirt, sometimes rocks and sometimes wooden boardwalk. I was glad to have my rain boots as it was very muddy in spots! The path takes you around the smoking ground and you can see the areas where it is too hot for vegetation and walk through the sulfurous steam. There are also some great views out over the surrounding countryside towards the Santa Barbara range, which is home to the highest point on the island at 1,021 meters. I thought the views looked like something you might find in the foothills of the Swiss Alps. Very picturesque! I really enjoyed visiting this small park. I've seen larger steam vents in Yellowstone and an active volcano in Hawaii, but this gives you a small scale view in a very peaceful setting.

We left the fumeroles and headed towards the west coast. Our next stop was Lagoa do Negro, which is the only part of the Mistérios Negros that we could get to. The Mistérios Negros is a rather large park that is home to an extensive area of black cinders from the last major eruption in 1761. There is a walking trail here, but the sign labeled it difícil and we took a pass. Instead, we took a look at the lake and headed on our way.

Since it was still sunny, we stopped at the miradouros (viewpoint) that we couldn't see anything at the day before due to the pouring rain. Today it was still hazy, but we were able to walk to the viewing platform and see the beautiful coastline and the ocean in front of us. Unfortunately, I did not spot any whales. Onward to find some lunch at the q.b. food court. This place was mentioned in all the various guides we had read so we figured we could stop. It's not that far from our hotel, but it would be a hike without the car. The upper level is a nicer restaurant, but the lower level has more of a cafe feel to it. The menu is fairly large with soups, salads, sandwiches, pizzas, finger foods, drinks and desserts. So much to choose from! I ordered a sandwich with Brie, avocado, lemon mayo, honey, fig spread, arugula and almonds. My mom had a sandwich with pork sausage, an apple compote and fried egg. These things were huge! It was like two sandwiches instead of one. I took half of mine to go for dinner. I also had the fresh squeezed orange juice, which is one of my favorite things to get in Europe. They have a machine they put the whole oranges into and the juice comes out the bottom. There is really nothing better!

After lunch we stopped at the big supermercado to see what people eat here and to pick up some local items to bring back in our suitcases. A cute little dog wearing a very colorful sweater was sitting in the entrance to the store, probably waiting on his/her owner. Want some hot dogs in a can or jar? You can get that here. Want a fresh baguette to put your jarred hot dog on? You can get that too. We went with the tea and local jams to bring back instead of hot dogs.

And now I'm going to head up to the hotel bar to get a tea and sit and listen to the rain.

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20th March 2018

Today it looked like you were in an entirely different place. A small island but varied scenery.

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