São Miguel: Two volcanoes in a day

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The day had come. I couldn’t feel more excited for visiting the most famous craters of the islands of Azores. The two lakes of Sete Cidades with all the smaller craters around them were spinning inside my mind all night long.

Firstly, we had to get there and it didn’t took us long to get lost in the secondary roads outside of Ponta Delgada, as the main ones were under construction.

Sooner or later and after passing through shiny green fields and shady forests we arrived at Furnas, on the east. Firstly, we visited the gorgeous lake of Furnas. A big calm lake surrounded by a path and with several gayzers on its east side. There, you can find people from the restaurants of the village cooking “cuzido”, a typical, traditional dish, cooked under the ground by the heat of the boiling water. We tried these magnificent, special tastes in the restaurant of “Tony’s”, in the center of Furnas.  It consisted of several kinds of meat, with vegetables, steaming and evoking the very typical volcanic smell of the area. Either you like the smell or not, you will definitely close your eyes with pleasure from the first bite. For me, sensing the power of the earth in my tongue was an unforgettable experience that I would repeat many times during my stay in the island.

When we exited the restaurant we headed towards Poça da Beija, natural thermal baths near the village center. I spent a lot of time relaxing in the warm waters watching the clouds passing by above the place. I’d forgotten everything: the lakes, the island, the craters. I was soon turned back to reality, for we had to continue our trip and a cold shower in the changing rooms was enough to wake us up.

Quite refreshed we headed towards the lagoon of Sete Cidades, on the West side of the island. We stopped in the ”miradouro de vista do Rei” and followed a special protected path that ends in the city next to the lakes. I was totally absorbed by the beauty of the place, looking at the two crater lakes, the blue lake (Lagoa azul) and the green lake (Lagoa verde). It was then that a friend read the famous legend about these lakes.

The legend is about a bad-tempered King and his daughter. The king would not let the princess speak to anyone, apart from an old nurse, that took care of her after the Queen had died. The princess soon became a beautiful woman but the king locked her in the castle and garden so no one was able to see her. The princess could not stand being locked up and escaped, with the help of the nurse. She was already far when she heard a young shepherd playing the flute and fell in love with him. The shepherd, charmed by her beauty, decided to ask her in marriage. When they returned to the castle, the king refused angrily and forbid the princess from seeing the shepherd again. The last time they were met, they cried all afternoon, and their tears formed two beautiful lakes, one green, from the Princess’s green eyes, and one blue, from the shepherd’s blue eyes.

The story confirmed there was something magical in the air of this place. Unfortunately, it was already late and we decided not to descent to the Seven Cities (Sete Cidades) inside the crater. Instead we would continue to the West to see the most famous sunset of the island, in Mosteiros. The beach in Mosteiros was equally enchanting. While sitting on the black rocks of volcanic origin, our thoughts were swiped away by the wind and the warmth of the last rays of the sun. Lately, when I had to I turn my back to the dark sky of Mosteiros, I was thinking of the breathtaking landscape in Sete Cidades. I made a promise to come back, a promise that until today has not been fulfilled.

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