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The young, volcanic Pico

We flew a couple of hours across the Atlantic from Lisbon, where all that I could see from my 5E seat (read: not much) was a large expanse of water for the bulk of the journey, when billowy clouds start to make their appearance. I joked to F that it’d just be our luck to get cloudy weather in the Azores when it had been clear up until now, and boy I should have kept my mouth shut. Indeed, we would soon be landing, and the clouds were there to stay and kept us company for the day.

Pico

Pico

The masterplan: fly in to Horta, Faial, on the first flight and catch a ferry to Madalena, Pico, the same morning at 10.45am. However, our flight departure was delayed so we missed the sailing by 15 minutes and had to wait till 1.15pm. Maybe just as well. We were at the ferry terminal when I noticed that “our” checked luggage was not ours. Darn! A frantic call later – thank goodness for luggage tag – we managed to locate its owner who, in turn, had our luggage. He was also travelling to Pico, so at least we could luggage-swap without having to return to the airport.

With a distance of 7km separating Faial and Pico, we had a rather uneventful crossing that took less than 30 minutes for €3.40 per person. The sky was blue in parts, grey in others. Mount Pico, the highest peak of the Azores and Portugal at 2,351m, was shrouded and out of sight. If anything, it was like a magnet that attracted more and more clouds in its direction and pooled together to keep it hidden. What a tease.

Pico

Pico

Pico

Pico

Pico

Pico

Pico

Pico

Pico is the youngest of the nine Azorean islands and second largest in size in the archipelago. Of course, Mount Pico dominates its landscape, but there are more to this island that this imposing peak. We trekked through basaltic rock trail of Ponta de Ilha, explored the Unesco-listed vineyards along the routes of Vinhas da Criação Velha and Caminhos de Santa Luzia, and drove around the island surrounded by natural gardens. It was breathtakingly beautiful everywhere we looked. (Anywhere marked “miradouro” is worth stopping over for a look.)

Pico

Pico

Pico

Pico

Pico

Pico

Pico

Pico

We were lucky to have a wonderfully sunny day where we went up Mount Pico – more on that in the next post – but on the day we were just driving the big loop of the island, we could quickly climbed the altitude and be surrounded by mist and rain, and yet minutes later, approaching the coastline, the grey clouds may lingered threateningly over our heads but the verdict remained for dry condition for short walks and village visits. Truly all season in a day, and for most part, magical.

Pico

Pico

Pico

Pico

Pico

Pico

Pico

Pico

In the waters that we tested, where natural pools abound and additional stairs are in place for anyone wishing to swim a bit further away from the shore, the abundance of marine life in crystal clear underwater world was a delight. F happily snorkelled at every opportunity that presented itself, and his swimming pants were never dry. No sign of dolphins coming that close to the coast though, so we’d have to head out towards the open sea on an excursion if we were to spot them. We did, however, spot the dolphin-and-whale spotters at São Mateus, and how I wish I wasn’t shy about talking and photographing them. Would have made an awesome learning adventure while staying on dry land…

Pico

Pico

Pico

Pico

Pico

Pico

Pico

Pico

We barely scratched the surface with our two-and-a-half day visit to Pico, and we have several maps to walking trails that looked interesting to check out but did not have time to. We also didn’t get a chance to skulk around any of the lava tubes (there are a couple of dozens on the island), nor see the few lakes atop several local peaks. I’m still curious what lies behind every “volcanic phenomena” symbol that appears on the map!

Pico: full Flickr photoset



Category: Europe, Portugal, Travel

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4 scribbles & notes

  1. med says:

    Niceeeee…so much to do but so little time ;) and definitely many weathers in a day from the pics!

    • Lil says:

      Isn’t that how it normally is? Completely baffle me how some people could consider visiting 3 countries in a week when I could barely get to know an island in 3 days!

  2. med says:

    Yeah. I had that thought as well. See all you can in 5 days or something. Thats when you follow a tour package hehehe

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