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Clare
Clare

Day 7: São Jorge

It had been really sunny all yesterday evening and we'd sat on our terrace, eating pasta and enjoying the view of Pico. We'd hoped to have breakfast on the terrace this morning too but no such luck; it rained heavily during the night and when we woke up it was still very cloudy and windy. There was no sign of a volcano on the other side of the water at all!

Our plan for today was to explore as much of São Jorge as possible. It started raining again just after we'd finished breakfast, so we held off on going out for a bit until it looked like the weather was clearing up. Then we set off on a road trip around the island, starting with a drive along the northern coast. The northern coast is probably very scenic but we ended up not seeing any of it! The rain got worse and the visibility was terrible. As we made our way across the island, all we could see were clouds.

Luckily, by the time we got to the south coast and descended from the higher inland part of the island, things began to brighten up a bit.

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As we were driving along we saw a sign towards a place called Cascata do Cruzal and decided to pull over and investigate.

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We followed a beautiful path by the side of a small stream.

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As with everywhere in the Azores, the countryside which we were walking through was really green :) 

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After a few minutes we reached a little platform, from where we had a view of the waterfall.

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There was certainly plenty of water in it! As we walked back up towards the car the weather was starting to look a bit less wet though.

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We were driving towards the eastern end of the island, to a small village called Topo.

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There's a lighthouse here at the edge of the island.

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I loved the fact that when we got to the viewpoint below the lighthouse, there was even a lighthouse pattern in the pavement :) 

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From the viewpoint we also had a view of another small island.

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This is Ilhéu do Topo, an uninhabited islet off the coast of Topo which is protected as a nature reserve.

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There were some lovely views of the coast in the opposite direction too.

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And some more pretty patterns on the pavement :)

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We climbed down a series of steps towards the sea.

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There was a small beach and bathing area here.

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The waves were quite fierce today though; it didn't look like a good day to swim!

Once we'd finished admiring the waves, we climbed up the steps on the opposite side of the beach.

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There were some lovely views of the coast here too.

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Now that the weather had improved, our plan was to visit a place called Fajã dos Vimes on the southern coast of the island.

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We had an exciting drive to get to it, down steep and winding roads towards the coast.

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The village that we were heading to is built on a geological feature known as a "fajã".

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There are lots of these fajãs on São Jorge and they're essentially flat pieces of land beside the sea, historically created by lava flows or debris falling from the high cliffs above.

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The land on the fajãs is very fertile and so there are lots of things growing here.

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We'd come to Fajã dos Vimes because there's something rather unusual growing on the outskirts of the small village here.

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Fajã dos Vimes is home to one of Europe's only coffee plantations :o  So of course, we had to stop at the local cafe and try the coffee!

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It was really good! And while we were sitting there, the owner offered to give us and another couple a little tour of the coffee plantation.

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They have around 700 coffee plants here and they harvest them all by hand.

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We were able to see the coffee beans growing on the plants.

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They're all green at the moment. They won't turn red and be harvested until March.

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It was really fascinating to see. And we were able to buy some coffee to take home as well :)  Afterwards, the man also showed us a workshop next door where a couple of ladies do traditional weaving...

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...making amazing carpets with patterns like this.

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It looked like very hard work!

We had a second coffee, then had another stroll around the fajã.

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We were hungry by this point so headed back to the apartment for some food. In the early evening we set out for another walk on the western side of the island.

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No views of Pico from the path today, but it was a lovely place to walk nevertheless. Everywhere on the Azores is so wonderfully green!

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Although the weather hasn't been perfect, visiting São Jorge has been fun and the views from our apartment have been amazing. Tomorrow we are moving on again, having our first ferry experience in the Azores with a boat across to Pico!




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