Saturday, October 28, 2017

Vegetation on Terceira Island

This is a blog article I wanted to do simply because I loved the different plants on the island that you don't get to see at home.  I'd like to know more about them.  Someday I'm going to have to pick up a plant book and pack it around with me so I can identify them.  Here's some of my favorite from the island.

I mentioned these first two in a previous blog but thought I should include them again with the other vegetation.  This was a unique tree to me because I couldn't figure out if it was like a palm tree but had different bark and different leaves. 

This trees leaves looked and felt like they were rubber.

This bush was right outside our hotel.  I wish I had gotten a closer up picture of the blossoms.  It was so pretty.  I think we have a similar one at home - even in our front yard but I couldn't tell you what it is.

This little tree was also just outside our hotel (obviously).  The used these as parking spot markers.  I don't know if this is how tall they grow or if they're just babies.

Another rubberish looking plant.  Everything is so healthy and green here.

This plant reminded me of geraniums but perhaps a wild variety?

This tree has fascinated me.  I first saw it in New Zealand.  To me it looks fake.  You see them all over though so I know it's not.  They must only grow in tropical climates though...or at least that's the only places I've seen them.  The next couple of pictures are close-ups of the needles.  It's so strange how they grow in these cylinder type bundles.

This tree reminded me of a fern on a stick.  So delicate.

Another pretty flower from the island.  Looks similar to ones we have at home.   Here they grow wild though.

Wild petunia perhaps?  That's what this plant reminds me of.  Maybe morning glory?  Again this grows wild and you see it all over.  So pretty.

This isn't a great picture but I wanted to include it.  This lone flower was growing all by itself in a trail that we hiked down.  It was so delicate.  I'm glad someone hadn't stepped on it.

The leaves on this bush were huge.  How do you know where the base is to water this?  Maybe they don't have to do that here since they don't live in a desert like I do.

This little plant was growing out of the rocky sharp edges of the lava rocks.  How does it do that?

These are ALL OVER the island.  They had peaked when we arrived so many of them had started to wilt and turn brown.  We did see a lot still in their vibrant colors - yellow, white, pink, blue and purple.  I think these are called hydrangeas.  We grow them at home but not like here.  There were so many I wondered if they were a national flower or something.

This struck me as looking almost deserty.  Just a cool plant at a park on the edge of the ocean.

More plants growing in adverse conditions and surviving.  This one was on one of the really tall rock walls.  Somehow it had gotten a hold and had grown to be about 6 feet in length.

Another plant growing out of the lava rock. I understand that lava rock makes good soil once it breaks down so I suppose this is how these plant make it.

I believe this is the invasive species that was introduced from South Africa that now they are trying to eradicate.  It does well here but apparently they don't like it.

I loved the delicate blossoms of this tree.

More wild bushes - such pretty colors.

I'm not sure what the fascination is with cactus but we saw these types of planters every now and then.  At the hotel dining room they have small cactuses on each of the tables.  A complete opposite of the area they are living in.  Interesting...

Another plant right outside our hotel.  I want to say these are called Bird of Paradise but could be completely wrong.

This tree was right out side or balcony.  I love the red flowers it produces.

We saw this flower all over the island.  Its a bit strange in that it grows on this skinny little stick with this huge blossom.  They've got to be some sort of lily. 

So many beautiful plants.  Next time I'll come prepared with a book to identify them. 

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Flying Home

We had to make one final stop at our favorite grocery store.  I thought it was interesting that throughout the island we saw Halloween decorations.  This American holiday is spreading worldwide. Is that a good thing? 
One of many Halloween displays we saw on the island

Removing the luggage tags means we really are heading home....sad and glad at the same time.

We had to stop and fill up the car.  Even though we'd driven all over the island we'd only used 1/2 a tank of gas. Still it was $35.  By far the most expensive thing we'd done all week.  They also don't let you pump your strange.  

Some of the last views on our way to the airport.  I'm really going to miss seeing the ocean and hearing the waves.

Boarding the plane

We won't panic that Matt's seat has duct tape on it or that our row doesn't have table trays...just minor details...right?

We finally got off.  Dinner was served.  Normally, airplane food is okay, not great but okay.  I'm not too hard to please though.  Sadly, this meal was awful.  The best part was the roll.  (Looks good though, too bad it wasn't).  Not the best way to end a wonderful vacation.  Oh well, hopefully there will be a McDonald's close by. 

To say it has been an amazing week would be a huge understatement.  I could never believe Terceira Island could be this relaxing, fun, exciting and beautiful.  I really do want to come back...soon.  

Things I'll miss: 
  • the ocean, the color, the sound, the view
  • the hotel hot chocolate
  • the colors of the city
  • the cobblestone streets and sidewalks
  • the cheesecake
  • the relaxed, slow pace of the island (other than the drivers!)
  • seeing how happy the missionaries are
  • the amazing view no matter where you look on the island
Until next time.....

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Our Last Day on Terceira Island

We've had such a wonderful visit.  It's hard to believe this is our last day.  We decided to take it easy and just enjoy the beautiful day.  After relaxing we decided to head back over to Praia da Vitoria.  I had yelped "italian" food and found there was one Italian restaurant (Buzius) on the island.  I was craving pasta like you can't imagine.  Luckily, even if something is on the complete other side of the island it is only about 25-30 minutes away.  It was sooooo worth the drive.  

This is a typical appetizer - bread, olives and sausage (1.5 €)
Matt's lunch Spaghetti Carbonara (with bacon) - way more than he could eat. 
My favorite - Fettuccini Alfredo - with chicken.  I actually prefer it without
but this was the best fettuccini I've ever eaten.  Really!
Our check came in a shell.  Nice touch.
Throughout our stay one of our minor frustrations is that drinks, no matter what you order, are served with ice.  That's a European thing.  They just simply don't use ice the way Americans do.  We always add to order cold water with no gas.  This meant - hopefully a water bottle that had been in a fridge and did not have carbonation.  I tasted water with gas in Germany last summer.  Nasty!

Just outside the restaurant they had this great swimming area.  It was actually much nicer than the one on our side of the island. 

You can even go straight out into the ocean if you'd like.  No lava rocks.

Not a bad view anywhere on the island!
The Azores are known for their bull fighting and the running of the bulls.  Fortunately, we just barely missed these.  They end September 1st.  The people on the island are pretty proud of these traditions.  I personally think they are barbaric and should be done away with.  No area can be perfect though, right?
This GIANT statue is near the bull fighting arena.
(This is a large roundabout to give you some idea of the size of the statue.) 
Bull fighting arena
Our last stop was an old fortress.  We found when we went to visit it that it had been turned into an hotel.  Apparently, they don't mind having the public come in because we weren't the only ones checking it out. 

It was a sheer drop off to the lava rocks and waves below. 

Because you can't ever get too much of the ocean.

Great views from the fort walls.  I think I want to have some of these made into puzzles.

One of the lookout towers. 
We think this is where they kept prisoners.  Were not sure but it that's all
we could think of for the level of this collar. 
Another beautiful view
Spiral staircase with a port hole.  Interesting...

 For our last dinner on the island we went back to one of our favorite shops.  It's one about a mile away but I was glad we chose to drive.  We actually came just for the cheesecake but decided we should eat something healthy first.  We ordered 2 ham and cheese sandwiches.  These weren't fancy but you can't beat the price (1.3€).  I can't get over how inexpensive food is here given that we're in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean - hours and hours away from anywhere.  

Best cheesecake ever!
Looking down one of the main roads at night
It'll be sad to leave this beautiful place tomorrow.  It's been a wonderful visit.  I'm sad to see it end but excited to get home to see the kids. I look forward to coming back again.  Hopefully, it won't be too far in the future.