Monday, September 1, 2008

Terceira - Warm and Wonderful

On board and cruising westward toward Terceira island, covering the same Atlantic ocean we just crossed heading eastward. Our flight to Lisboa left on time (just about – but from the comments I’ve read about SATA anytime within an hour of schedule is on-time for them), and we arrived to a warm, clear, beautiful Lisboa day. We waited almost 1 and ½ hours for our baggage to make the journey from plane to terminal. I might speculate on whose fault that was, as there are rumblings about SATA having a ground personnel work slowdown/stoppage/strike through the 15th.

September 1st Monday – TAP Lisboa to Terceira

We made our way through the Lisboa airport searching out the departures board for our connection to Terceira. Spotting signs for departures we dutifully followed them right out the door of the main terminal. Whoa. Does this terminal serve only incoming flights? What do they do with the planes when they are empty? We did see a sign that said “Departures – Terminal 2 Bus” and that seemed strange but we went with the flow and a few minutes later arrived at a smaller terminal with a departure board. Cool. Even better was the listing for our flight to Terceira and the check in counter assigned was right in front of us, and there was no line. A young Joseph Silveira checked us in and we felt right at home.

After withdrawing a couple of hundred Euros from a balky ATM and eating a light snack, we emerged again into the Lisboa sun for a smoke break, boarding passes in hand, luggage checked, seats assigned, all right with the world.

As we chatted and relaxed in the Iberian sun we felt that odd mix of west to east travel fatigue (5 hour time difference told our bodies it was about 7:00 am with little sleep) and the excitement of anticipated new sights, sounds and experiences.

What brought us out of our reverie was the sight of Matt, Sarah, Zach and Maria exiting a taxi just to the side of us. There is something remarkable about a reunion that takes place so far from home, even though expected. All the planets seem to align, all the connection connect and it just seems marvelous.

The young ones looked so good, and so comfortable in their environment, all back-packed and enthusiastic. I remarked on their unlikely arrival by taxi, and it seems they were as confused as us in Terminal 1, and decided to walk to Terminal 2. Half way along they decided to hail a taxi … good decision.

We chatted and traded latest stories, then boarded what would be a an anti-jet-lag east to west 2 hour flight with a one hour time change the other way. I’m confused, and will simply follow the sun/moon rises.

Terceira feels like Hawaii. As we walked down the steps to the tarmac that warm moist air envelops you and (to me) feels great. Now I understand why all the people we saw had a nice sheen to their skin: it's a natural state. Kat and I took short naps and feel pretty good. Rich and Lu met us at the airport and it was great to see them. They look GREAT. Relaxed and healthy and clearly thrilled to have everyone together safe and sound. Rich had a large, comfortable van and gave us a quick briefing on logistics(with an aborted attempt to gain access to the military air base), then began the drive to our lodgings in Doze Rebeiras (12 Rivers).

If you look at a map of Terceira as a clock, the airport is northeast (1:30) and Doze Rebeiras to the west (8:30) so we headed counter-clockwise and decided to stop at Biscoitos beach (11:30). Dramatic. The youth magically changed into bathing suits to frolic in this unique environment while we marveled at the scenery. A mix of young and old took advantage of the pools created eons ago by lava flows.

The waves crash over the black, porous rocks in dazzling displays. The water varies in color from translucent azure to deep blue but the bodies are a consistent bronze. I have to remind myself that we are in the middle of the Atlantic and not the Mediterranean.

It seemed an appropriate time to have our first beer, and the appropriate beer was Sagres, named for the western point of the mainland, home of Henry the Navigator. Conveniently, there was a great seaside restaurant at the beach and we enjoyed our first meal in the Azores, prawns and beer. Difficult to beat that.

Continuing around the island counter-clockwise we arrived at our villa, (Avalina’s and Luis’) in the small village of Doze Ribeiras. Perched on a hillside, with a beautiful view of the pastures and ocean, our temporary residence looks welcoming. There are 3 bedrooms, one bathroom, and a kitchen. With 8 of us, this should be interesting. Our back door leads to a flowered patio with a large marble table and 8 pedestal seats. The owners are friendly, talkative, and helpful, giving us a great recommendation for dinner – a local family restaurant that serves classic Azorean cuisine. Before leaving for dinner we crossed our little street to take in the glorious sunset. (Coming from the east coast it is a sight seldom seen by Kat or myself.)

The dinner at the restaurant "Ti Choa" was exceptional as was our hostess/waitress (Delisa Cardoze). Thanks to Zach, who speaks and understands Portuguese, we ordered a variety of local specialties, both meat and fish, two excellent wines, plus desert and cordial. The cost was $17.50 each, and I’ve never eaten as well for the price. Good conversations, good food, good wine, and best of all Kat found her gold bracelet in her skirt pocket. We drifted off to a peaceful sleep around 10:30.


Cheri Mello said...

The pictures and your descriptions were fantastic! Thank you so much for sharing this! ~Cheri Mello

Jessica said...

Wonderful!! I found this island today on google earth and can not wait to go!