24 May 2013

[Cruise News] Angra Do Heroism, Terceria, Azores

After a very enjoyable week in Horta, having Georgie join us, visiting the neighbouring Pico Island and touring Faial itself with sailing friends Karen & Nigel, we departed Horta yesterday for the 80 mile sail across to Terceira.  As ever the forecast winds which would have made sailing possible didn't materialise so we ended up motor-sailing virtually all the way arriving just before midnight.  We sailed along the channel between Sao Jorge and Graciosa, two more of the Azorean islands.  The north coast of Sao Jorge was all steep cliffs with deep, wooded ravines cut into them we presume the relics of volcanic activity also.  It's one of the least populated of the islands and it was easy to see why: Not exactly very accessible!

It was Georgie's first passage at sea (she's been a dinghy sailor to date) but she proved to be a natural on the helm, sure-footed and very keen to help and learn.  Luckily for her we saw whales and dolphins, including some rather unusual white spotted dolphins with a very tall dorsal fin, and apparently called Grampo Risso's dolphins.  We were all tired by the time we got here and didn't get a great nights sleep thanks to the swell entering the marina.  So this morning, after Paul had checked us is with Customs & Immigration, we moved further into the marina and are hoping for a better night tonight.

We're actually berthed in the marina at Angra Do Heroismo, a town awarded World Heritage Site status by UNESCO back in the 1980s.  We've been exploring the old town for the rest of today and have all really liked it.  Georgie and I have indulged in a little shopping and we've also all enjoyed the ambience of the place and friendliness of the people.  Architecturally it's very pretty with a lot of balconies and properties painted in pastel colours.  Definitely worth a visit.

Unbeknown to us, Terceira has a tradition of bull-fighting.  Unlike in Spain where the poor animals are skewered and can't escape an arena, here the bulls are left to run the streets very much like in Pamplona.  They have the end of their horns squared off and most spectators watch  from the balconies of properties lining the streets, but a surprising number of men bait the bulls and are lucky to avoid being gored.  We're off to watch one such spectacle tomorrow .... from a safe distance!