Terceira. Day 1.
Angra, Praia and two caves.
11/25/2014 15:11 // In the photo: Angra do Heroismo. Terceira. 2014.
At a quarter to ten in the morning our plane landed at Lages Terceira Airport and, having received the keys from the first of the eight reserved vehicles, we first went to the capital of the island – Angre do Heroismo.
For clarity here and further on each of the Azores, I will provide the narrative with a route scheme based on Google maps.
Terceira was the third island of the archipelago, discovered by Portuguese navigators in the 15th century (after Santa Maria and San Miguel) and was first named after Jesus Christ (Ilha de Jesus Cristo). In the future, after the opening of the remaining islands, it was renamed and became the “Third” – “terceira” in Portuguese.
Settlements appeared on the island around 1450, and almost a century later, in 1534 on Terceira appeared the first city in all the Azores – Angra. To be quite accurate, the city did not arise from nowhere, it’s just that Pope Paul III decided to place the residence of the archbishop here, which was the reason for such an increase in status.
Currently, Terceira has become famous for two things: the US military base number 4 in Lajes and the capital of the island of Angra do Heroismo, which is included in the UNESCO World Heritage List – it was from Lajes to Angra that we were traveling at that time.
Angra do Heroismo.
Having parked the car two blocks from the Old Square (Praca Velha), we first decided to drink coffee and gather our thoughts. As I already wrote, Angra was among the first to receive the status of the city, became the residence of the archbishop and began to develop rapidly.
First and foremost, the city, whose name literally translated “bay”, had a port protected from the wind by the natural mountain Monte Brasil, which was first used by Portuguese seafarers, and then, after the conquest of the Azores at the end of the 16th century by the Spaniards, as a trans-shipment point for the transportation of gold from Mexico and Peru to Cadiz.
With the return of independence from Spain in 1640 and until the opening of the Suez Canal in 1863, Angra served as the base of the British merchant fleet. From 1766 to 1833 was the capital of the Azores, and during the Civil War in Portugal in 1828-1834 was a refuge for Queen Mary II. She added the prefix “heroic” to the name of the city immediately after returning to the throne, so the city became known as Angra do Heroismo.
After finishing the coffee and making the first lap around the city, we rushed to Monte Brazil, thinking of even climbing at first. However, our plans changed and we limited ourselves to a half-hour walk to the southern slope of the mountain and back. Then we returned to the city, made a small circle, went to the city park and finally decided that it was time to move on.
Algar do Carvao.
Whether fatigue caused by an early rise and flight, or whether we expected to see something different on our first day in the Azores, but the visit to Angra did not add to us the courage, but, on the contrary, was even more euthanized. Not finding a “drive” on the ground, we decided to look for it underground, for which we rushed to the center of the island, rich in caves.
The first on our way was Gruta do Algar do Carvao. If you understand the essence of the name of the cave, you get something like a “coal fold”, although there was no coal, no folds here. The cave is almost a hundred-meter well on the slope of the volcano Guilherme Moniz (Guilherme Moniz), formed as a result of reaching the surface of the lava.
If we were not absolute profane in botany and entomology, the fact of the presence in the cave of 34 samples of flora and fauna found in the Azores only in this cave would surely lead us into a state close to ecstasy. Instead, we simply had to “work out” the eight euros paid for the entrance, first descending to the bottom of the cave, and then getting out.
Christmas grotto and the legend of the Black Lagoon.
The weather began to deteriorate, the stomach had already forgotten about the bun, eaten by the light, not yet dawn at the Lisbon airport, but the clock was just the beginning of the fifth day, so we decided to finish with the sights of the central part of Terceira, so that the next day to devote to its shoreline.
Among the booklets, typed in the tourist office in Angra, there was one more brochure with an intriguing title “Gruta do Natal” or “Christmas Cave”. The distance separating it from the “Coal Well” was only six kilometers, and the legend of Lagoa do Negro – almost the only lake on the island – made it necessary to advance there immediately.
The fabulous stories of the appearance of the lakes, as it turned out later, already on the island of San Miguel, are quite similar for the Azores: they were usually “wept” by different epic characters. Lagoa do Negro was no exception, but despite the traditional romantic translation as a “black lagoon”, I would say that the more correct, according to legend, would be the “lake of the Negro,” but everything in order.
The daughter of a rich islander was forced to marry by calculation and, as usual in such cases, had an affair with the black slave of her husband. Over time, their fascination turned into feelings, but could not develop further for understandable reasons. In addition, her husband began to suspect something, for which he instructed to follow his wife. The final story was the order to catch the slave and his flight. Disappointment of the same daughter ended with a stream of tears, which led to the formation of a “beautiful lake among the hills,” where a runaway slave, fleeing persecutors, drowned.
In addition to such a romantic component, the lake had one more geological feature – it was located directly above the lava pipe, which in 1970 was named Gruta do Natal, or Christmas Cave. This was due to the fact that on December 25, 1969, the Montanheiros Association held a Christmas service in the dungeon.
Praia da Vitoria.
Getting out from under the “black lake”, we made a timid attempt to find another cave, but in the end they spat on this matter and went to Praia da Vitoria: to settle in the hotel and look for food. And if the hotel Branco, we all went smoothly, then in search of a restaurant, we were forced to make two circles around the city.
The first circle led us to the beach – perhaps the only one on Terceira, except for the narrow sand strip in Angra, however, instead of swim, we went to the second round, which led us to buying a sweater. Eventually our quest for food reached the end and the rest of the evening we enjoyed dinner at the restaurant Mar a Mesa.
Azores 2014. Table of Contents:
Pure, unpretentious, but cozy.
On face terrible, kind inside.
The capital of the island is Terceira.
The only beach on Terceira.
The whole of Portugal.
Spring is on the island of spring.
Andalucia, La Mancha, Extremadura and the New Year in the Algarve.
Terceira. Day 1.