Portugal: Day Sixteen (decimo sexta dia) Sabado!
I actually set my alarm Friday night so we could get up early and get the rental car (well, I hoped there would be a car to rent). I got up at 8:30am to shower and get ready. I took Romeo for a stroll while John showered and then the two of us went down to Pic-Nic for a galao. We arrived at the Pet Shop / 7 Lombas rent-a-car right at 10:30am and there was a car on the sidewalk outside. It looked like a pretty-new silver hatchback (which almost every car is). We went inside and the girl who had responded to my questions the day before asked me for my license and my passport. She took a moment to fill out the paperwork, asked me if I wanted extra insurance (nao, obrigada), and asked for €40. I asked if she took Visa (most places in Povoacao take that have card readers take Mastercard, but very few take Visa) she told me they actually didn’t have a card reader. No problem, I had cash. It costs about $5.45 each time we get cash from the ATM, so I try to use my card when I can. The fee then is only $0.57.
She took us outside to another car that had pulled up behind the new silver one. This one was decidedly older and navy blue. It was a Skoda. The woman sat in the driver’s seat to check the gas; it was two bars full she told me, “bring it back the same way, ok?” No problem. She then walked around the car to check and mark down the scratches so she would know if we added to the total. Once she was done with her assessment she handed me the keys and a copy of the form and instructed me to “Hand that to the cops when you get pulled over.” Thanks.
I told John I would drive to Ponta Delgada if he drove home. I was excited to drive here; especially after having gone with Carla on Wednesday I felt more confident about the journey. There is only one road that takes you out of Povoacao into Furnas and then to the highway towards Ponta Delgada. Lomba de Cavaleiro is the road that takes you to Mira Mar’s complex then into Furnas. We drove up that and into Furnas which is the only confusing part. It is part of Povoacao township, and the downtown area is full of one-way ruas and avenidas. John was pretty sure he knew which turns to take, and just when he was sounding a little less-than-confident, we saw a sign that said “Ponta Delgaga →” and we turned.
I told my folks when they asked how we knew the way to Ponta Delgada that there is only one road. But, in fact, there are two. John wanted to show me the way I had not gone with the girls, because they’re both very scenic, but different. We ended up on the same road I had gone two days before. About twenty minutes outside Furnas, we slowed down as the car in front of us put his brakes on. We saw quickly the reason for this seemingly random stop:
What looked to be about 15 cows stretched along the width of the road. There was one man herding them along. The car in front of us passed them on the left, and after about three cars came in the other direction, I creeped up to pass them, too. We passed those 15 cows, but then there were more cows beyond them. And then MORE cows. At least 100 cows spread out over the next kilometer of our drive, and it took us almost 15 minutes to pass them all, and a few were relieving themselves as they walked. When they tried to run out of the way, their udders would hang between their hind legs awkwardly. There was one other man at the end of this stretch of cows, directing them down a driveway that must lead to their home farm. #welcometotheazores
When you get closer to Ponta Delgada there are several rotaries and the highway gets increasing wider. Most of the way there is only one lane in each direction. Closer to the city there are two and sometimes three lanes in each direction. There are not exit numbers or even street names, but points of interest. On the way home, there are only municipal names; “Rib. Grande, Sao Roque, Nordeste, Povoacao”. We got off near the hospital to go to the mall. This is close to where John stayed when he first came in August, so he knows where to go. We parked under the mall and went in to find a bluetooth speaker, so I can cross that off my list and stop mooching off of Bobby. We went to the electronic store, but they didn’t have what I was looking for. They did have a few battery-powered boom boxes with AUX plugs, but I decided to order one off Amazon and have my dad ship it to me. I will continue to abuse my friendship with Bobby.
We headed to the food court after that, because we were famished. I desperately wanted to try a bifana, which is a traditional Portuguese sandwich with pork, lettuce, red pepper, and two entire cloves of garlic. We went to one of the restaurants and ordered two menu bifanas and sat down in the food court seating because there were TVs out there and a game was on.
We went into SportZone to check out some equipment. I’ve been wanting to do more in my class at AKLE but I’m pretty limited on equipment. I ended up buying three jump ropes.
There is also a Decathalon in Ponta Delgada but not in the mall. We used the wifi in the food court to figure out where it was and that was our second stop. Turns out, Decathalon is a terrible store. While it is enormous, they only carry their own crummy brand. I did find a fake TRX suspension training system for only €60. I didn’t buy it this trip, but maybe next time.
After that, we headed down toward the water. We have been talking to the mother of one of our friends from home, Bibi. She is from Sao Miguel and has been asking us about what we’ve done and making suggestions. She sent me a long message about all the things to do and see in Ponta Delgada. Unfortunately, it’s definitely a summer-island and a lot of things are only open seasonally. We parked near the city gates and walked down to the marina where I went with Carla and Lina on Wednesday.
I took this one for John’s Aunt Tina & Uncle David.. Miss you guys!
John and I were just going to get a coffee but then we decided we were hungry again (shocking). We both ordered menu cachorros which are hot dogs with ketchup, mayo, onions, and potato sticks. Then John had a cappuccino and I had a galao. They were much more expensive than Pic-Nic and not nearly as good.
We decided next to go look for a park Bibi told me was lovely: Jardim Antonho Burges. We never did find it, but we found a different one that was nice and we walked down lots of different streets that are all aesthetically pleasing.
We headed home at about 3:30pm. This time John got behind the wheel, and after a few minutes of figuring out where the clutch caught, we rode home pretty smoothly. We took the road that runs along the water by the marina, and which spit us out onto the highway. There are two ways to get back to Povoacao. Following the sign for “Povoacao” or the one for “Povoacao via Norte”. We took the first one which ended up being the one John wanted me to see. There is a really pretty (and quite large) lake along this road. We stopped at the top of lomba de cavaleiro and took some cheesy photos.
When we got back to our apartment, Ken&Bobby were just shutting our door. We had asked them to take Romeo out while we were gone, since we didn’t know when we’d be back. We parked quickly and walked with them to Pic-Nic, because (why else?) there was a game on. After maybe 20 minutes of sitting there, Lina and Ernes came in. We told them about our trip to the city, and said that the next time we went, we’d like to bring someone with us who knew the city so they could show us around. They asked if we had stopped in Furnas to see the hot springs, which we had not. Ernes said he would take us. Within thirty minutes, John, Ken, Bobby and I were stuffed inside Ernes’ BMW with our bathing suits on, on the way to Furnas. Furnas is 15 minutes away. Ernes’ brother is the one who collects money from hot spring guests, so even though is is normally €5 a person, he said it would be free. We drove to the back entrance, but it was locked. We drove around to the front entrance, which turns out to be the Terra Nostra Resort.
Bibi had told me about this place, too. There are at least two other places you can get in the hot springs, but this is the largest. The others have multiple small pools, this is one giant one. The water only came up to my chin, and Ernes (and Bibi) told me not to get my hair wet because the water is so drying. The water is also opaquely-orange. Bibi warned me not to wear my favorite suit because the iron in the water would stain it. Since my life is a vacation, and that’s exactly how I packed, I only brought bathing suits I like. I picked the darkest one and it didn’t stain.
We stayed for over an hour and then got out to go home. Lina and Ernes were having the four of us plus about eight other people over for a dinner party at 9:00pm. We talked about food the whole way to the car and Ernes said we must be hungry. Five minutes after we got in the car he pulled up a super-skinny driveway up to what looked almost like a house, but was actually a bakery. He bought us a package of the best bread I’ve had since we got here (which is saying something) and told us to pick out a pastry, too. I picked a caramel sticky-roll which was incredible. John and I shared one and Ken&Bobby shared another. The bread (bolos levedos) looked like an English muffin that was five times the normal size, it tasted sweet, and was much smoother and softer than an English muffin. We picked through the package of three that he bought for us and he gave us another package to take home. After exclaiming over and over how delicious it was, he ran back inside to buy us ANOTHER package. He also bought two containers of rice pudding; one for me and John, and one for Ken&Bobby. We went back home to get ready for dinner.
John and I still had the rental car, so we followed Lina and Ernes with Ken&Bobby in our back seat. Lina had also invited her brother, Emanuel, his wife, Louisa, and their daughter, Julia who has been coming to my class at night. She is eleven. Carla and her husband Joe, were there. Paula and her husband Pedro (who I met last week at Toronto Nights) were there. Lina’s niece, Marci, and her boyfriend were there. Lina and Ernes’ daughter, Xana came later with a couple friends. Dinner was ridiculous. Lina made honey-barbeque chicken wings, pizza, bruschetta, guacamole (because I told her I love avocados!), a dip with cheese that I didn’t eat but looked awesome, and then had grapes and cheese, and a veggie platter. We all started with wine, but Lina’s brother quickly pulled out some sweet cherry liqueur that you can only find in one place on the continent (which is what they call mainland Portugal), maybe it was Porto. Shot glasses were passed around and filled and we shouted “Viva Mira Mar!” as we drank. John and Ken were taking it easy because they had a game the next day. Bobby was out because of a groin pull, so he and I drank. Next came out a caramel liqueur. Then something black that they thought might taste like Yager. It didn’t. After dinner (and two pastries that I shouldn’t have eaten… I was so full from the rest of it) Lina gave me a fruit to try. It looked like a tomato shaped like a radish, and Lina told me it was a kind of passionfruit (maracuja). She cut the top off and told me to suck the inside out. It tasted like a sweet, fruity-tomato. Then, her brother filled it with the black liqueur and told me to drink that, too. At this point, I found it appropriate to share my Bobby&Ken-sounds-like-Barbie&Ken joke. Bobby flipped me the finger but everyone else laughed and laughed. Then Ernes’ went to fetch a plate for Bobby to eat on. A Barbie plate. Everything was delicious. Finally, we drove home and went to bed. I set my alarm so I could get the car back by 10:30am.