Wait, where did we bring two toddlers that has steam rising from the ground? That would be Furnas!
When you arrive at the lagoa, the first thing you notice is the cats. They’re everywhere! And then you realize that’s attracting them: the smell. The whole place smells wonderfully of stew. That’s because they’ve (somehow) dug holes into this piping-hot ground and lower cauldrons full of potatoes, beef, and chorizo into them for cooking. We arrived close to lunch time, and the place was packed. It turned out they were gathered for the big lunchtime unveiling of the food. Here’s how it works: a couple of men climb out of a van with giant hooks, which they use to pull the pot out of the ground. Everyone claps and the men load the pot into the truck. Then everyone rushes back to their cars to follow them to a restaurant.
We skipped that part. Instead, we walked around a little while longer enjoying the quiet.
I kept gasping because the rails aren’t exactly toddler-proof, and it would have been incredibly easy for one of them slip through and into the boiling water.
Here’s a good shot of the cooking holes. You can see that many of them have a sign next to them noting the restaurant where you can buy the stew later.
Because there were two little boys in our group, we naturally ended up down by the lake so we could chuck rocks into the water.
Yen planned for us to take a small hike in the woods. Linus was rather excited and thought this was the trailhead. He absolutely refused to believe that it wasn’t, and Yen had to show him that it was blocked a little farther on.
A little stream that feeds the lake.
We walked along the lake edge until we found a little footbridge over the stream. Linus and Jamie were completely satisfied then and spent quite a long time running back and forth just to show they could do it without falling in.
Photo of a photo. So meta!
You probably noticed rain coats in all of the photos so far. At this point we decided that we weren’t really in the mood for a soggy hike through the woods, and that it was getting a little late. So we piled into the cars and headed into town to see what we could find (besides stew, necessarily).
We found a small restaurant that seemed to be run by a mom and two daughters. The food was simple but very good. I ordered an omelette for the kids and a roasted chicken for myself. Linus ended up eating almost the entire chicken!
After lunch we walked five whole minutes to the real destination of the day: a botanical garden attached to a hotel called Parque Terra Nostra. It’s a collection of all the different plants that can be found across the islands that make up the Azores. Of course as volcanic island, there aren’t a lot of native species. So as you wander around the park, you also get to see where each plant came from originally.
There’s a series of streams, canals, and ponds throughout the place.
This isn’t the hotel – not sure what it is, though. But in the foreground is the main attraction of the park: a swimming area fed by hot springs. We didn’t bring our suits, so we didn’t get to take part. Again with me being nervous: I wasn’t sure what would happen if we took toddlers swimming in warm water we couldn’t see the bottom of. No idea what I thought would happen, but I was just… my nervous self.
Also, I know the water was warm, but the air was fairly cold. You have to get out at some point!
Looking at this photo now, I can’t believe that horse made it in and out of the park successfully. But I did check and it’s here at home with us. I wonder where she stored it the entire time?
Hello from below! I’m chasing Linus into a cave.
There’s the cave (sorry, “grotto”) in the distance. I got inside to find several young men holding Linus’s collar as he hung over the edge. “It’s dangerous,” one said to me. I told him, “He’s dangerous.”
Here’s Mina inside the grotto. Not being dangerous.
This is looking from the garden back toward the town. It looks rather alpine in this view.
We came to this pond and Linus announced his intention to walk across the stepping stones to an island in the middle. I figured I might as well go along and help him. Everything seemed to go well at first…
The space between the stones was bigger than I realized at first.
At some point I began to wonder just how deep the pond was.
There’s a video, actually!
And then… Linus lost his balance and ended up in the water up to his neck. I tried to pull him back up and lost my balance. Now I know how deep the pond is. Luckily it wasn’t very cold.
But it was deep enough that I had a heck of a time climbing back onto the rocks! Linus was crying and shivering, and I was absolutely killing myself trying to get back up while laughing.
So once again, Peter showed off his toddler-catching skills. I got back to shore to find Yen and Cindy struggling not to laugh at me. I assured them that it was completely appropriate to laugh.
Somehow I got the impression that there weren’t any photos of it! I guess there aren’t photos of the actual falling. Yen said he thought he’d taken enough photos and stopped to look down at Mina. The next thing he heard was shouting and laughing, and he knew he’d missed something big.
I’m pleased to report that while my boots had to be placed under the heating unit back at the house to dry, my pants dried before the end of the visit to the park. Lightweight fabrics win again!
Linus wasn’t so lucky. He was soaked head to toe and absolutely freezing by the time we got back to the car. I stripped him down and he rode home wrapped in a towel.
But that’s later. For now, the rest of the visit.
Mina continued her stick collection.
I did carry Linus for most of the rest of the visit. Poor thing with wet shoes.
Jamie and Mina stormed the monument.
And then took off like bandits!
We found a topiary garden. I complained that you can’t call it topiaries unless it’s bushes carved into shapes – these are stone statues with plants growing over them. I guess the jury is still out.
There were other people standing by the pond when I fell in, and we kept running into them again throughout our visit. Peter cracked me (and himself) up suggesting that I should pretend to be German next time I saw them.
In this part of the park, they made designs in the grass with flowers. This stairway to nowhere lets you take in the view from above.
Linus and I are scale here against a tree from New Zealand, I believe. This is by the exit, as we decided that the kindest thing to do now would be to head back home for some dry clothes for Linus.
Here he is, home and dry. And pretending to be a baby. Get a good night’s sleep, baby! We’re off again in the morning.