A day trip around Faial

From Madalena, we can see straight across the Faial-Pico channel to Faial, and we decide to take a day trip to this neighbouring island. The ferry leaves Madalena at 8:15 in the morning, and takes us to Horta — the one and only town on Faial, where we pick up a car we have decided to rent for the day.

Faial, like the other islands of the Azores, is of volcanic origin, and is probably the one closest to the tectonic divide between the European and North American plates. The island experienced an eruption in 1957/58 (it lasted for over a year), and the eruption site is one of the areas we are off to visit.

First, we drive to Cabeço Gordo, the central caldera — or cauldron-shaped crater which is right in the middle of the island. The journey there only takes about 20 minutes. There is a “volcanic trail” that can be walked — 27 Km, but considering pregnancy and the heat, we decide that will be too much.

We then move west-ward and stop for some fruit and bread at a designated picnic place, buit in 2009 and dedicated to St. John (like a lot of sites around here are). It is clean and quiet; hidden off a bumpy road where we primarily met wild animals and birds rather than other cars. After visiting Capelinhos (see own post) we stop for lunch at Capelo, where there is also minigolf to entertain ourselves with afterwards. Following the main road back towards Horta, we come to Porto Pim: a real, and pretty sheltered, sand beach. It is a rare sight, and the water temperature is surprisingly warm for the Atlantic.

We  take the opportunity to swim around a while before driving up Monte da Guia where we see a nice view over Horta and also Caldeirão do Inferno — Hell’s Cauldron — in the sea.

Hell’s Cauldron — not that hot

The evening is spent in Horta itself. The harbour there is known for its drawings and paintings. It is said that every yacht that stops there needs to leave their mark to arrive home again safely and thousands and thousands of yachts have painted their flags, or names or pictures along the harbour.

Pico as seen from Horta harbour

The one thing that disappointed us in Horta were the dining facilities. Though Horta is larger than Madalena, it was harder to find a place to dine there — some places were simply full. Quite a few felt too dirty or unhygienic. And one was clearly targeting the tourists with prices twice as high as all the other places — which we simply refused out of principle. At the end we settled for pizza (Papa Pizza). The place was clean and simple, but, as my portuguese husband states: Portuguese aren’t famous for their pizzas, and there is a reason for it. Nevertheless, it made us full, and we could return to Madalena and Pico on the last ferry.

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