Today is the first time since the 1st of April that I have set foot on dry land. When you are travelling by cruise ship crossing the Atlantic Ocean takes some time. The crossing has been reasonably good, and I have very much enjoyed the ship. Except for one or two days where the ocean was quite rough. But while the ship has been great it is quite nice to see dry land as well.
For the port visit to Horta today I opted to take a tour organised by the ship. The primary reason for this was because Horta is a tender port, and tour groups get priority tendering. Which turned out a benefit as tender operations started around 45 minutes later than expected. So being on the tour and getting off first makes much better use of the time.
Ponta da Espalamaca
The tour turned out to be a great option passing through a lot of the countryside of the island. The first stop was at Ponta da Espalamaca, where there is a fantastic view of the city of Horta.
The second stop was one that I was looking forward to but end up being a little less than expected. The Caldeira Crater which is nearly 2km wide, end up completely enveloped in clouds. However, you can sort of expect this a little bit at times considering the crater is at an elevation of almost 1000 meters above sea level. At least it was not the only highlight of the tour.
The next stop was more a bathroom break, but there is also a rather impressive canyon here. When there has been heavy rainfall, I am told there is a waterfall here, but with little rain recently it is not flowing at the moment.
From the crater of an extinct volcano, the next stop is the most recently active volcano on the island of Faial. The eruption was some years ago in 1957, but there are still many signs of the devastation to the area. Even though it is almost 50 years since the eruption, there is still little vegetation in the area. The area appears to be rather sandy, but it is in fact ash from the eruption.
At a little further distance from the eruption is a mixture of new homes built in amongst the ruins of many earlier homes.
Local Park & BBQ Area
The tour continued back along the southern coast of Faial with a stop at a local park/BBQ area. It is not somewhere you would normally imagine being that interesting. However, there are some features that add interest to the area, such as the small clearings in groves of trees with tables. Also the use of the abundant supply of black volcanic rock.
Ponta do Varadouro
The last stop for the tour is an area named Ponta do Caradouro. In summer this is a very popular local swimming area that makes the most of the natural rockeries and proximity to the sea.
On the drive back to the Horta there are many visual reminders of how the island has been formed over the years. Both from the rock that has been erupted through volcanoes and the erosion of the ocean. The below image is one such area where a rocky outcrop has formed like a natural bridge. Very similar to a feature on the southern coast of Australia known as London Bridge.
I took a walk around the city of Horta after the tour. There are many beautiful aspects to the city, and I wish I could share it all at the one time. I have around 150 images from today, and I still need to be somewhat conscious of how much time I spend online. So will share my explorations of Horta for a post shortly.
Tomorrow the ship continues onto the island of São Miguel and the city of Ponta Delgada, which is the second stop in the Azore Islands. I am definitely looking forward to exploring more ports over the coming weeks and seeing a little less of the ocean.