Yesterday we learned two things.
One is that in the Azores it is important to rent a car. Public transportation will not cut it here. This is why there are so many car rental offices on the island which brings me to lesson number two. It pays to reserve a car online even when you will pick up the car at the car rental next door. We snagged our WV Polo for just $9.00 a day. Great little car!
Before heading out to explore the east side of the island in our new rental we did a mini-tour of the pineapple plantation.
Our hotel, the Herdade do Ananas sits on a small private pineapple plantation and as a guest, we were welcome to walk around and explore the operation where we found a row of the most delicious strawberries tucked in one of the greenhouses NOT on the tour! We truly loved this hotel, the beautiful space, and extraordinary service. We would recommend it to anyone who wants to stay close to Ponta Delgada.
For us however, and after experiencing the remote beauty of Sete Cidades, the area felt too urban. We made reservations for the small, family run hotel Quinta da Queiro for the following Monday instead of extending our stay. With the car keys burning a hole in our pockets we headed out to roam around the east side of the island.
The drive was smooth and spectacular. The roads are modern and easy to figure out with some Google Maps GPS help. The trick here is to ignore the voice commands for roads and look at the map to anticipate turns. This is because the software doesn’t read Portuguese well. A turn left on Rivera Grande would sound “turn left in R.G” Or turn left on EN1-1A. Overall, we found it easy to locate Furnas.
On the way to the Furnas Village, we saw a sign for the Furnas Forest Living. Its entrance looked inviting and we made a note to check it out on our return from the hot springs.
Heading down the road we found a charming town with narrow streets, water canals, waterfalls, hot springs, and calderas. Later we found that the area is called the Hydropolis of the world. Excellent description.
Towards the end of the road, we found the Furnas Spa Boutique Hotel where we had a delicious wood fired pizza. The idea of staying here was tempting. “Maybe we should stay one week in Sete Cidades and one week at the Boutique hotel?”
The reservations manager showed us some rooms, the thermal pools, and the spa area and gave us a sense of rates and availability. They had openings for the following week but were 100% booked through Easter and beyond. We would have to make reservations fast if we wanted to lock the rates.
On the drive back we saw the Furnas Forest Living sign again and drove in.
Oh no! Another incredible beautiful place to stay.
This place was different however. It was magical, remote, and didn’t feel much like a hotel. The property offered 12 Japanese cedar cabins inside the secluded grounds surrounded, on one side by a steep mountain and a large open meadow on the other. We found the manager and he showed us rooms, the pool area, and the restaurant. Wow, we thought, it would be wonderful to stay here for a month so we inquired about long stay rates. Again, the manager told us they have some openings but they were expecting to book fast especially in April when the high season begins on the island.
Since we had reservations made for Sete Cidades we decided to set the idea aside and just play it by ear. We will check back in two weeks on both properties to see if we could stay on this side for some time.
We have been on this beautiful island for just 4 days and everywhere we go we want to stay. “At this rate, we will end up living here.” We laughed.
Finding the way back to our hotel was a challenge but after an hour long drive we finally found the pink walls of the pineapple plantation.
That was it for the day. Tomorrow we explore the north side. Let’s see what we find there.