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Day 4: Lakes, rocks and tea

When we woke up this morning the first thing we noticed was that the weather looked considerably better than yesterday :) The forecast had actually been for there to be intermittent showers throughout the day, but we could get glimpses of a blue sky over Ponta Delgada so it didn't look like it was going to be as bad as we had been expecting.

In a fit of optimism, we decided to start the day by driving up the road to the Sete Cidades viewpoints on the offchance the weather might be clear enough to see the views, but that turned out to be a wasted effort. By the time we had got partway up the hillside, we were completely engulfed in clouds and there was no way we were going to see anything. Instead, we decided to take the road downhill towards the village of Sete Cidades, which is situated next to the lakes, in the hope that we would at least be able to get a bit of a view when we were at lake level.

We were driving through the mist and cloud when we saw a van coming towards us flashing its lights. For a few seconds I couldn't work out what the problem was, and then I realised that he was being followed by a herd of cows. We had no choice but to sit and wait while they went past xD

We eventually arrived at the lakes and found that there was plenty of space to park, or at least there would have been if most of the available carpark wasn't being occupied by ducks!


As soon as we had parked they came waddling up to us en masse, clearly hoping for some food. This duck was particularly persistent; he reminded us of what Pebbles would be like if she was a duck :D

Now that we were down at lake level we could see how low the clouds really were!


There isn't a path which goes all the way around the lakes, but there was a track we could follow for a little way at least.


Initially we weren't 100% sure whether we were walking around the green lake or the blue lake...


...but it soon became clear that this was the green one.


Apparently the two lakes reflect the sunlight differently, causing them to appear as if they are different colours.


We wondered whether the green lake appears green because of the very dense green vegetation which seems to be growing in it.


We walked as far as we could on the track and then turned around back in the direction of the car park.

We got back to the bridge between the two lakes and went to have a look at the blue lake too.


This one definitely looked a little bluer, and there was even a bit of blue sky trying to break through the clouds :)


We admired the lake for a while before hopping back in the car to head towards our next destination of the day.


Our plan was to keep driving in the direction of the northern coast of the island, where there were supposed to be some beautiful views at a place called Ferraria. Sure enough, there were :)


The sky was much bluer here. It was a little bit windy though!


Ferraria is another part of the island where there has been volcanic activity. People come to bathe here because there are hot thermal springs in the sea.


We were going to give the bathing a miss, but we could see evidence of the volcanic activity from the very black earth at the side of the road....


...and, of course, the black rocks down below.


We admired the view for a while and then set off for our next destination: Mosteiros.


Mosteiros is another small village on the coast and it has a very distinctive beach.


I'm sure there's a proper geographical term for this that I don't know, but it basically looks like lava was flowing down to the sea and then set.


It was a bizarre landscape, but a really striking one.


There were beautiful little pools of water in between the lava rocks.


The rock was easy to walk on - not at all wet and slippery - so we were able to explore as much as we wanted...


...and admire the views of the sea.


The sea was really choppy today, so we had fun watching it smashing against the rocks.

This definitely isn't a place where you would want to come and swim!


As we had been driving towards Mosteiros, we had also noticed that there were some huge rocks out in the sea. From here we were able to get a better view :) 


Our final destination for the day was a rather unusual one, even by Azores standards: the Gorreana tea plantation.


Founded in 1883, this is currently the only tea plantation in Europe.


I'd got a leaflet for a marked trail which we could follow around the tea plantation.


It was less than 4km, so I figured it would be pretty easy.


What I hadn't realised was that the tea plantation was actually quite hilly, so there was a lot of walking uphill. It was really beautiful though :)


Seeing the tea growing was really fascinating; it looked like rows and rows of little hedges.


We were able to watch some of the men working in the plantation. They appeared to be mowing the top of the hedges and then collecting up the leaves in big sacks.

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As we climbed higher, we began to get views back down towards the sea as well.


The day had brightened up considerably now, at least around the coast.


It was a circular walk, so having gone very steeply uphill now meant that we had a steep downhill to negotiate as well.


We made it back and went into the tea factory, where there was an audiovisual display about making tea and - more excitingly - an opportunity to sample the teas for free. They were really lovely :)

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It was a relaxing end to what has been a very exciting day :) 

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