The joy of being back on European soil with the smell of grass, sounds of birdsong and the welcome of the Portuguese.
This is our anchorage!
Our first day here we were confined to the boat since it was too rough to land the dinghy ashore. During the night, the swell died down and we went ashore in the dinghy with two bags of washing and the ships’ papers. Dora and I headed off to Lajes on the other side of the island to the marina/port office to complete formalities and get the salt out of our clothes. We were mightily pleased not to have our boat in there as the waves were slurping into the tiny marina, causing all the occupants to constantly heave against their mooring lines, their masts waving dangerously close together from side to side. The marina manager said he wished they would come round to the safety of our bay!
The scenery is Scotland, Yorkshire and Devon all rolled into one.
We returned happily to Faja Grande, our route taking in the incredible scenery – towering cliffs, staggeringly thick vegetation everywhere and the crazy display of hydrangeas pictured in the tourist brochures. Along the side of virtually all roads and along the walls dividing the fields are thick hedgerows made up entirely of hydrangeas. And not those horrid pink ones, but the lovely blue ones. It is just stunning. Never seen anything like it.
We are so taken with this beautiful outcrop of Europe. Our village has a small shop with all the outlets of the Thoroughfare in Woodbridge rolled into one tiny place – coffee shop, (H+H), basic food supplies (Coop), kitchen utensils (Kitchen Shop), book swap (Oxfam books), men’s checked shirts (Alexanders), cards and china (Happiness store). It is run by a delightful Portuguese lady who speaks excellent English and holds Court with the locals who all manage to squeeze into the tiny coffee shop on their way to work each morning. And at €1 for a coffee, who can blame them.
Looking back towards the anchorage and the village of Faja Grande on our morning walk.
The anchorage is surrounded by huge cliffs, waterfalls, fields broken up by dry stone walls with grazing cows, coastal paths in each direction, beautiful churches, an excellent restaurant and a cat that accompanied us on our walk this morning.
Dora and her new best friend. The cat was far better behaved than Bingo ever is on a walk!
We would love to stay here and walk even further and explore the rest of the island but we are very very much at the mercy of the elements here. The calm and predictable conditions associated with the Azores high are notable in their absence. Instead we have a series of depressions forming and migrating over the top of us with their paths and characteristics changing on a daily basis. This makes for very difficult forecasting and we are finding anything more than 24 hours out cannot be relied on. Fortunately we have good communications and we check the new forecast at 7am and 7pm each day and plan our next 24 hours on that basis. We keep our fingers crossed the wind keeps out of the west, but in the meantime we shall be grateful for our safe anchorage, staggeringly beautiful views and the vast stash of tins and packets of food we have on board. And the local vinho verde at €8 a bottle.