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Day 5: Sete Cidades, Lagoa do Congro and Vila Franca do Campo

When we woke up this morning it seemed like a very dismal day indeed. There was so much low cloud over Ponta Delgada while we were eating breakfast that I couldn't even see the sea from the balcony! We had a slow start to the morning, writing our postcards and going on a trek to the supermarket to try and find somewhere to post them. Once we'd accomplished that, the clouds had begun to lift; so much so, that we gambled it might be worth another trip to Sete Cidades.

As we drove up the road towards the viewpoints, things certainly looked a lot brighter than they had on Sunday...


.and when we got to the viewpoint at Miradouro da Vista do Rei, the view was amazing :)


This is the view that you see on postcards of the Azores, with no mist or cloud :) 

We could see the track we had followed along the edge of the smaller, green lake yesterday morning, as well as the dividing bridge that we'd driven across.

It hasn't come out very clearly in the photos, but in the opposite direction we could also see all the way down to the sea (the darker blue is the sea, then it merges into the lighter blue of the sky).


We could have admired the view here all day, but we wanted to make sure we got to the second viewpoint before the clouds descended again, so it was time to press on, driving past the abandoned hotel once again.


It felt like it took forever to drive, looking suspiciously at the sky to check whether any clouds were overtaking us, but eventually we got to Miradouro da Boca do Inferno, and it was still clear :) 


We climbed up the steps towards the viewpoint...


...and soon we were there :) 


This was the view we'd wanted to get ever since we first started researching the Azores, and it was worth the wait :) 


What we hadn't realised was that from up here, we could also see several other lakes as well as the famous blue lake of Sete Cidades.


The information board explained that in front of us was the Lagoa de Santiago, another crater originating from a volcanic eruption.


Above that, we could see the much smaller lake, Lagoa Rasa.


The blue lake was still the most impressive, though :)


Although there were a few more cars parked along the forest road than there had been on Sunday, we were lucky that it was still pretty quiet and we were mostly able to enjoy the views on our own.


It seems like it never gets truly busy anywhere in the Azores.


One fortunate exception was a nice Portuguese girl who came along the path and offered to take a photo of us together :) 


Prior to that we'd been experimenting with a selfie, but it hadn't gone very well xD


Eventually it was time to head back down the path and set off for our next destination.


We were heading towards a smaller lake, called Lagoa do Congro. We'd read online that, while this one is not as famous as the lakes at Sete Cidades or Furnas, it's still worth seeing. We were initially unsure whether that was going to be the case, as signs led us down a very bumpy single-track road towards some muddy fields.


Another sign then pointed us towards a steep forest track.


It was one of those walks where you spend the climb down thinking about the fact that you're going to have to climb back up!


After 10 - 15 minutes, we got our first glimpse of the lake.


This is another lake which is very green!


Lagoa do Congro is also yet another lake in a volcanic crater.


The sides of the lake are so steep that this definitely isn't one you can walk around!


Time to start the climb back up!


We thought about trying another nearby lake after this, but we could see that the clouds were starting to close in once again. Instead, we decided to stop at one of the towns along the south coast; Vila Franca do Campo.


I would probably have thought the coast here was impressive if we hadn't been to Mosteiros the day before!


We strolled along by the harbour for a while. When we turned back, we could see just how low the cloud now was.


In what seems to be a theme for this holiday, we had been too over-excited with sightseeing to remember to have lunch, so we were feeling pretty hungry by this point. We stopped at the first cafe we saw, unaware (until we saw the certificates on the walls!) that it had won prizes for producing a Portuguese speciality called queijada.


Once we figured it out, we had to try them :) 


At first glance they seemed similar to the pastel de nata I've been eating at every opportunity this week, but once you bit into them they were less custardy and a lot more sugary. 


Now that we had a sugar rush, we continued exploring Vila Franca.


It was a pretty little town, with some interesting street decorations...


...a church which looked quite similar to the one in Ponta Delgada...


...and a matching town hall.


Vila Franca is best known for the Vila Franca islet, which is a kilometre off the coast of the town.


It doesn't look very impressive in these pictures, but the islet is formed from the crater of an old underwater volcano and has a big circular lake in the middle (if you google it, you'll find pictures taken from above which show it properly!).


Finally it was time to head back to Ponta Delgada and start updating the blog :) Miraculously it seems to have become sunny again this evening, so fingers crossed that tomorrow is another rain-free day!

Edited by Clare

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