Wednesday, June 27, 2018

guide of the forest


It was hard to leave Antonio and Lino's upcycled Bohemian spread and Sao Miguel, but Faial beckoned. A small island in the central group, whose only real town Horta is a famous boating harbor.

Faial is a world away, even by Azorean standards. The flight takes about 45 minutes. The sun was a lot hotter, hitting 80º with the reflection on the volcanic bricks, and just as humid.


I'm staying in a spectacular guesthouse, with a corner room looking out on Monte do Guia, the forest guide. There's a small chapel at the top.

 In the center is Porto Pim beach, where people swim. Downtown Horta lies to the left.

 I love the architecture here. It's a strange mix of Colonial and modern.

With tropical trees to remind you this isn't the European mainland.

 A bit of Art Nouveau in pastels
And the azulejos, the famous blue ceramic tiles Portugal is famous for. There's some argument as to whether the Portuguese adapted the pottery style from the Chinese or vice versa.

 As you get closer to the center, the buildings are grander.
 Even the ugly buildings are beautiful here.
 A guardian angel outside someone's home.
I stopped for a snack, some wifi, and World Cup watching. Germany lost! Brazil won! The soup of the day was spinach, followed by this butter tart. I asked what it was called in Portuguese. "We call it a tartelette, because it's small," the woman said.

The dominant feature of Faial isn't even on this island: it's Pico volcano on nearby Pico island. Pico creates its own weather and was surrounded by clouds most of the day. This climate makes it perfect for...wine production. More on that, later this week.

This fountain in the park (made of lava rocks) spurts water, not lava.

Joanie might enjoy this low-tech approach to Azorean history: post photos of people who lived and worked in this house.
Hard work accomplished, I went to Peter's bar, a famous Horta watering hole for 100 years. It's right on the marina. Like everyone else, they had a TV set up for the World Cup.


Limpets in garlic butter with a perfect gin and tonic, which Peter's is known for. They're cheaper inside, but at less than $4 a piece, I'll sit outside by the boats.

Which is how I met Kai, who just brought a sailboat from Newport, Rhode Island and is spending the summer restoring it for a wealthy American.

We talked about Bruce Lee and the Milky Way and the four As (agua, alimentos, alojar, amor), and also about baseball and rum, the drink of pirates. He even ate a pirate steak. And then it was time to sober up and make my way back to a conference call with Pacific Daylight Time about a potential project.

Why yes, that is a red windmill. Azores are full of surprises.


Appropriately, my guesthouse is on a street named for Azorean writer and journalist Manuel Greaves.


On a clear day, you can see Pico through that gap above Porto Pim. Maybe tomorrow.