The next day was the day of our first show on the island. Most of us were quite content to just to go for a leisurely walk, see what Ponta Delgada had to offer, then go play the show. After over a week of complete sensory and physical overload, an 'easy' day sounded like a great idea. As I often do when first visiting any town, I headed first toward the water, then doubled back up through town and met everyone for soundcheck.Ponta Delgada harbour was rather unremarkable, much like many a busy working waterfront. I remembered that the Azores were only discovered in the 1400's, then void of anything including people. Shortly after that it was colonized and everything on the island was brought to the island by boat, and later by airplane. Even in the 'off-season', the harbour was still a busy place during the week.Where the harbour may have been rather 'normal' and unspectacular, the downtown part of the city more than made up for it. Thinking of the problems I have laying a few patio stones outdoors in Canada, I couldn't help but be amazed by the beauty of the ornate, perfect, stone work on every walking or driving area in the central city. And the comical pic to the right would be your Azorean traffic jam. There was no hustling through town with a vehicle in Ponta Delgada. And another thing I noticed is that on the streets of Portugal and the Azores there is absolutely no litter -- something again that was hard to get used to.
Left: By mid-afternoon, we were all getting rather tired and we headed over to the venue -- the Ist Ponta Delgada Coliseum.You'd think that one of us would have remembered to tell someone that we were coming.
Walking into this place was like stepping into another time period -- incredible ornate woodwork, foyers, huge arched ceilings and rows of box balcony seats going up four to five levels high. Even the ceiling (which was massive) was covered in hardwood planks. The venue was spectacular as was the sound reproduction in the hall.We ran over a couple of songs, checked that everything was OK, then it was time to head back to the hotel, eat and get changed for the show. I'll save our performance shots for tomorrow, our last night.
The next day, our last full day on the island, one of the band trucks took an excursion to the west end of the island toward Sete Cidades, where I had been a couple of days earlier. I took a back seat and went along for the ride, acting at times, like a bit of a tour guide. Unlike my travel day, this group actually stopped for food and drink. The colours on the roadside cafe stop above were hard not to notice.Again, the scenery was gorgeous. This trip went back into the crater from the opposite side that I had done. The sky was clear earlier in the day and I was able to see some of the scenery that I had missed on my trip.
We arrived at the narrow causeway that separated the Blue and Green Lakes at the bottom of the crater and, as we had seen happen a number of times since we arrived on the island, within minutes, the clouds rolled in low just above the water level. It was amazing how quickly the weather could change in the Azores. We stayed here for quite a while, admiring the beauty of the place, then headed out of the crater toward the far eastern side of the island and a town that I saw from a distance on my trip. The clouds lifted again for us as we made out way up the side of the crater and over the top edge of the crater.
I had seen the rocks offshore at Mosteiros from high up on the side of the crater in my trip, but today, we went down into town and spent some time meeting a few locals (very friendly and nice people, I might add) and wandering around down along the shore. Some of the black lava rocks, were remarkably light in weight -- almost like balsa wood. We finished our driving day early and headed back to the hotel in Ponta Delgada to eat and get ready for our final show on the tour. After nearly two weeks of gorgeous scenery, excellent food, accomodation and everything else, countless hours of practise in Canada before the tour, and four shows previously, this last night promised to be one of those nights that would be remembered for a long time by band and audience alike.
Not really a lot to say here that the pictures don't show. Let's just say that we won't be forgetting that show for a while.
Final curtain call as the band waves good-bye to Ponta Delgada and our Portugal Tour.
Off toward the mall with Greg
The last day on the island saw everyone scatter again, as we all headed out to see all the last-minute things, pick up souvenirs of the trip, etc. Some went out to try to find the mall, some down into town to the food, wine and curio shops. For myself, I tagged along with the group heading to the mall for a while, then decided to head down into town for one last look at the waterfront. There was too, a church, high up on the hill in the middle of town that I wanted to see.I stayed with the group heading to the mall for a few more blocks before I headed back down the hill toward the waterfront. Here, to the left, is one of the residential streets in Ponta Delgada, and to the right, the view over the fence into the back yard. The gardens in this town were quite spectacular at times.Below: I headed to the waterfront by way of some of the less-traveled streets. By the time I got to the waterfront, there was what looked like a cruise ship or ferry in the harbour, but everywhere else, during midweek, this was definitely a working waterfront, even in the off-season.
I wandered around the harbour for a while and then stumbled on a Military Museum. I paid my 2 Euro fee and went in.Although cannons and guns are not really my 'thing', I was reminded of the location of the island in the mid-Atlantic and the need for protection during colonial times from various raiding groups and pirates.On one of the wall plaques, I read that Christopher Columbus had stopped here during one of his voyages to the New World and was imprisoned. Apparently, the islanders thought he was a pirate.
I could see the church from almost everywhere in the city, but finding the road that would take me up there was a bit of a task. Finally I climbed the last steps and went out on the church grounds to take some pictures.From my view on the church grounds, I could see in all directions on the island -- it was well worth the climb up to the church. I could see north past the residential part of the city to the central mountainous area, along the southern shore in both directions from my trip a few days ago, and down to the harbour, marina and breakwater.
It was mid-afternoon when I got back to the hotel and packed up my things. There were still a few hours to go before we left to catch our plane and I ran into Carlo and Sabby who were heading out to a nearby golf course to hit a few balls. I figured that rather than falling asleep in the lobby of the Holiday Inn, I could just as well fall asleep in the back of the van. So off I went with them.Of course, once we got to the golf course and I saw how beautiful was the setting, there were no thoughts of sleeping in the back of the van.
Above: To a golfer, having your picture taken at the first hole and by the leaderboard of a PGA Tour stop is rather important.
All good things must come to and end, and now it was time to make our way to the Ponta Delgada airport. We flew out in the early evening and made our way back to a hotel across the courtyard from the Casino Estoril to stay the night. Our flight back to Canada was not leaving until tomorrow morning.
I didn't take a lot of pictures at the airport when it was time to say good-bye (I really hate saying good-bye to people) -- but I did want to get a picture of Sabby, our tour director who'd become such a good friend to all of us on the tour. Here, he's pictured with Pete and Sharon.