What Would You Have Done?
Finally! Ilheu de Vila Franca

Travelers --- not Tourists

IMG_5855IMG_5860For our second unplanned Edouard lay day in Sao Miguel, we decided to visit Sete Cidades, described in our tour book as “a crater with a 12km parameter where one can find twin lakes, the Green Lake and the Blue Lake.” There is a legend about the lakes (of course) and the love of a princess and shepherd boy. When she told the shepherd that her father had forbid the romance, they cried so much that their tears formed two beautiful lakes, one green, for the Princess's eyes were green, and the other blue, for the shepherd's eyes were blue.

(I like this legend because nothing is mentioned of them plunging to their deaths in despair, so I can imagine he later married the daughter of a cattleman and therefore prospered (we haven’t seen sheep here) and that she married a prince and lived happily ever after.)

I had checked in with the tourism office to confirm that the bus schedule for Sunday, so when the bus was late, we weren’t worried. We were able to reassure three travelers from the Washington D.C. area, J, L, and E. The ladies, L and E work together and love to travel; they were joined this time by J, who had gone to college with L and who also is a traveler.

“Traveler” is their word. They don’t describe themselves as tourists. Evidently there’s a difference as indicated by this Huffington Post Blog. EW and I are travelers, too. (Here's a cruiser's blog discussing travelors and tourists Ceilydh Set Sail.)

IMG_5863We chatted at the bus stop. They had arrived from Boston the previous day and this hike was part of their planed adventure on the islands of Sao Miguel and Pico.

They are all three energetic hikers and their guidebook showed the hike starting from the town of Set Cidades. Our map showed a start out of town, near the aqueduct. After a half hour of wandering the small town, taking photos of the lake, and looking for the path to the start of the hike, I suggested that the whole trip may be a tad too long to get us back to the bus in time. L said that she usually completes every walk much faster than the books say it will take. My experience in the Azores has been that I am much slower than the maps indicate. They graciously agreed to stay with us and share a taxi. EW found a van taxi driver who agreed to take us to the start of the trail for 3 Euro each. For. The. Win. (That space between where the bus dropped us off and the aqueduct was about 5 kilometers straight up a busy road., and all of us were pleased with our decision to taxi to the start.)


That’s J, L, EW, and E – below. IMG_5869










The lakes are an important water source for the island. Here are remains of the old aqueduct.


This is the Azores.








There were cows.




And trees.IMG_5889






Including some trees that looked ominous.

Can you say earth quake zone?

















This was a medium difficulty trail – according to the map. There were very steep parts up, and very steep parts down, but the whole trail was on a dirt road. Some folks drove the whole trail. Pikers.

And there were glorious views.























IMG_5981It became apparent that this hike offered a special photo opportunity for one of our D.C. travelers. L’s holiday cards always feature a photo of her taken on her travels. Traveling friends vie to have their photo chosen. J and E were on it.

I took a few, but I mostly took photos of the process. Here’s a tip from L:  In the sun, close your eyes and have the photographer count to 3. On 3, open and smile. If you and the photographer are well-timed, your eyes will be open for the shot.

San Miguel Hike


E graciously took my camera for a photo of EW and me. 


I only allowed myself special hydrangea photos. These flowers are still interesting after they’ve passed.



My favorite view.


There were viewpoints or “miradouros” on paths off the road. At the top of one I took the photo at left, and started singing, “The hills are alive, with the sound of music.”  (It’s a generational thing. And a girl thing. L & E got it.)


We learned about J, L, and E and they learned about us. (They don’t blog, so I am protecting their privacy. They know I do and these photos are authorized.) We liked and enjoyed each of them, laughed and teased each other, and EW and I were delighted they had let us invade their party.

Near the end of the day, L found out that I never got “Seinfeld”. She expressed relief that she hadn’t known that earlier. (Apparently the day might not have been as pleasant.) Shortly afterward, I found out she doesn’t like chocolate and expressed a similar thought.


I am submitting this entry for her holiday card.

Because …. cow.


Here’s my favorite shot of EW.







After a very steep descent on loose gravel (not my favorite part of the trail), we arrived back in the village, in time to wander a bit more, have a couple of beers, play with a puppy, and catch the bus for home.





Mainahs and others who live in tourist areas can relate to this guy – working on his roof, while we enjoy the beautiful sights of his island.


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