Azores: Nordeste

We saved the longest drive for the last full day: Nordeste, all the way over on the other side of the island. Yen had three stops in mind: two botantical gardens and the town itself. My husband does love flowers!

The first stop turned out to be a bit of a disappointment. Oh sure, it was very pretty. But it was very small. And a waterfall was promised, so both boys hauled their tripods out. They were so sad when the waterfall turned out to be about… my height.

Botanical garden of Ribeira do Guilherme, Nordeste, São Miguel,

Botanical garden of Ribeira do Guilherme, Nordeste, São Miguel,

Cindy and Jamie walking down through the garden.

Botanical garden of Ribeira do Guilherme, Nordeste, São Miguel,

Linus crept about in his little ninja outfit, as usual.

Botanical garden of Ribeira do Guilherme, Nordeste, São Miguel,

Botanical garden of Ribeira do Guilherme, Nordeste, São Miguel,

I always associate Bird of Paradise flowers with lush climates. If I see one out in the wild, I immediately decide it’s a place I’d like to spend more time in.

Botanical garden of Ribeira do Guilherme, Nordeste, São Miguel,

Botanical garden of Ribeira do Guilherme, Nordeste, São Miguel,

Once the kids had toured the whole garden, they made their way back toward the cars. There they took turns leaping over various things: grates, puddles, etc. Cindy caught it all with her camera.

Botanical garden of Ribeira do Guilherme, Nordeste, São Miguel,

Botanical garden of Ribeira do Guilherme, Nordeste, São Miguel,

Our next stop was Nordeste itself. Yen briefly considered having us all walk down to this lighthouse, but I think we could hear my blood pressure rising from across the car.

Viewpoint of Ponta do Arnel, Nordeste, São Miguel, Azores

We satisfied ourselves with the view from above. Poor Mina, though, wasn’t able to see everything.

Viewpoint of Ponta do Arnel, Nordeste, São Miguel, Azores

Viewpoint of Ponta do Arnel, Nordeste, São Miguel, Azores

Viewpoint of Ponta do Arnel, Nordeste, São Miguel, Azores

Peter, Yen, and Linus did walk down toward it a bit just to check things out. I wonder how many times I’ve yelled at poor little Linus to take his hands out of his pockets when he’s climbing stairs?

Viewpoint of Ponta do Arnel, Nordeste, São Miguel, Azores

I do love the angles in this shot. Yen has captured the slope of the streets rather well.

Nordeste, São Miguel, Azores

There’s Mina hauling another toy around! Bit of trivia: we actually bought this little shark-car at the Oceanarium in Lisbon. I continue to be baffled that we made it home again with all of our toys, given how she hauled them around and we scattered them around the house. But the census doesn’t lie.

Nordeste, São Miguel, Azores

Probably trying not to step on the cracks? He’s big into that lately.

Nordeste, São Miguel, Azores

Here’s the bridge with seven arches that (I think?) the town is famous for. Famous enough that we ate in a restaurant named after it.

This is a good moment to pause and to meditate again on the eternal patience of the Azoreans. We brought three small children into a restaurant, and not one person looked remotely put out. The lovely waitress took our order and never said a word while we turned her restaurant into a playground. At one point Mina announced that she needed to poop, so I took her into a bathroom right off the dining room. Linus then opened the door so the entire dining room could see (my fault for not locking the door).

I must have ended up with a rather glazed look on my face, as Peter eventually asked whether I was OK. I was, in fact, meditating on the fact that we were in a land so entirely laid back that none of this phase anyone. How do we get more of that into our lives?

Nordeste, São Miguel, Azores

After lunch, we decided to move on to the next location, but we had a few scenic stops along the way. This one was something-or-other whale view? I don’t know. But the kids were very excited about all of the stairs.

Viewpoint of Vigia das Baleias, São Miguel, Azores

Viewpoint of Vigia das Baleias, São Miguel, Azores

Viewpoint of Vigia das Baleias, São Miguel, Azores

Viewpoint of Vigia das Baleias, São Miguel, Azores

We discovered that – like a lot of picnic areas / rest stops around the island – this one had some fitness equipment. Jamie practiced storming the castle, while Linus checked out the ladder. We think the little posts in the foreground are for Ninja Warrior-type training. Valuing the integrity of our ankles, none of us gave it a shot.

Viewpoint of Vigia das Baleias, São Miguel, Azores

Even Mina got into the act, though she’s a bit teeny for all of the activities as intended.

Viewpoint of Vigia das Baleias, São Miguel, Azores

Viewpoint of Vigia das Baleias, São Miguel, Azores

Our next stop was another garden with promised waterfalls. This time it delivered.

Viewpoint of Ribeira dos Caldeirões, São Miguel, Azores

Viewpoint of Ribeira dos Caldeirões, São Miguel, Azores

Linus found this little water sculpture and was entranced. He is still talking about it two weeks after we’ve arrived home.

Viewpoint of Ribeira dos Caldeirões, São Miguel, Azores

Possibly contemplating peeing in the pool, but I can’t be sure.

Viewpoint of Ribeira dos Caldeirões, São Miguel, Azores

And definitely considering the sheer power that’s driving the water wheel – which he was furious at not being able to see. For some odd reason, it’s behind a wall and not visible.

Viewpoint of Ribeira dos Caldeirões, São Miguel, Azores

Viewpoint of Ribeira dos Caldeirões, São Miguel, Azores

Viewpoint of Ribeira dos Caldeirões, São Miguel, Azores

Viewpoint of Ribeira dos Caldeirões, São Miguel, Azores

Viewpoint of Ribeira dos Caldeirões, São Miguel, Azores

These two hoodlums threw rocks and twigs in every body of water they could find, no matter how small.

Viewpoint of Ribeira dos Caldeirões, São Miguel, Azores

Viewpoint of Ribeira dos Caldeirões, São Miguel, Azores

Our final stop before dinner was to be at Santa Barbara beach. We were pretty shocked when we arrived, though, and saw just how fierce the waves were. We didn’t even make it to the actual sand, as the occasional wave jumped up over the boardwalk!

Santa Bárbara beach, São Miguel, Azores

Santa Bárbara beach, São Miguel, Azores

Santa Bárbara beach, São Miguel, Azores

Linus prepped for an eventual career as a surfer – which will have to wait until he’s no longer under my control.

Santa Bárbara beach, São Miguel, Azores

Santa Bárbara beach, São Miguel, Azores

Santa Bárbara beach, São Miguel, Azores

Santa Bárbara beach, São Miguel, Azores

You can see here just how high the water was going!

Santa Bárbara beach, São Miguel, Azores

Santa Bárbara beach, São Miguel, Azores

Yen wanted us to pose for a photo, but the wind kept knocking us down into a heap!

Santa Bárbara beach, São Miguel, Azores

Finally we succeeded.

Santa Bárbara beach, São Miguel, Azores

Mina checked out the bike rack. Everything’s a toy when you’re two.

Santa Bárbara beach, São Miguel, Azores

At last we drove to our dinner destination: the Restaurante da Associação Agrícola de São Miguel. This was a recommendation from the woman who owns the house we rented. She offered to make a reservation for us, but we weren’t sure about timing, so we decided to wing it. Luckily it turns out that they have a back room where they stick people who wander in without a reservation. And I’m so glad they do! As the name implies, it’s run by the Agricultural Association, so it’s got a menu full of the freshest food you can imagine. The staff were so kind and didn’t mind our posse of children – and in fact neither did any of the guests, except for one sour-puss woman who just kept glaring at Linus. This was probably because halfway through the meal he got sick of sitting with us and perched at the bar instead. Then he sat there quietly watching everyone. Occasionally he turned around to check out the bar staff, and they were friendly with him. Waiters passing by patted his head.

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Eventually Jamie joined him, and the two looked like a couple of men-about-town enjoying a beer after work. I do love the expression on his face!

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The meal was so terrific. We all had local beef (cooked different ways and served with different sauces). We sampled the Association’s beer and more local cheese. Linus was in heaven when we ordered him a dessert and let him have the whole thing.

We asked the waiter to take our photo at the end. Aren’t we a handsome bunch?

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Without meaning to, we actually sat in the same configuration as when we met 7 years ago – only now we’re surrounded by beautiful little people.

Dinner with Peter Ramakers and Cindy Bemelmanns

One more morning, and then the Trans are getting on a plane. Sigh.