We flew again, and saw the green paradise swallowed by clouds. I was genuinely sad I had to leave, but luckily there was still a short treat to look forward to. We landed again to Horta before heading onward to Ponta Delgada and from there to Pico. As we took off towards Ponta Delgada the pilot offered us a good look to the mountain we were hoping to climb, we flew ridiculously close to the tip of Mt Pico, the whole plane let out a sigh and all the windows were manned by phones.
When we eventually landed on Pico the sun was already setting and the dusk was quickly wrapping around the landscape. We did steal a few glimpses of it, and immediately agreed, that the amazement the holiday was offering was far from being over. We navigated accross the western end of the island towards our next Airbnb in the village of São Mateus. (When booking your accommodation on from Airbnb on Pico, do check that the place you are looking at actually is on Pico! Some of them actually are on Faial…)
We had a beautiful stone house in the middle of the special stone squares the people of Pico use to cultivate wine in. And a pretty view to the ocean. Then the hope of climbing the mountain was still very much alive. The schedule would be tight. Our flight was leaving at 5 pm, and by then we would have to manage to get up and down the tallest peak in the whole of Portugal. So we shoveled down a sturdy dinner and hopped to bed.
In the morning the plan of getting up the mountain was crumbling. I was barely standing on my own feet and Waffle was not in his heydays either. So instead of crawling out of our beds before sunrise, we resorted into snoozing the alarm a few times before deciding to use the hours we had for exploring the island by car.
The peak was there, teasing us as we started to make our way further to the east. The mountain is really an astonishing land mark, towering straight out of the sea to the height of 2531 meters as a very smooth, extremely steep cone.
I am not sure what I had been expecting from the island, but as the road trip advanced, I got to notice that I had been largely wrong. The biggest volcano had last erupted in the early 18th century, which meant that large amounts of greenery had had time to occupy every bit of fertile land. The island is far from a barren volcanic landscape.
Also, if you were expecting to find just one big volcanic mountain standing alone on the island, you have mistaken. The island is littered with smaller domes, dozens and dozens of them standing right next to one another, the whole island through. Crater lakes are also a common sight.
Again we saw a big difference between the shoreline and the higher grounds on the island. The center is rugged, still semi-wild, windy and sitting inside a cloud for the better part of winter. But still magnificently beautiful! The black earth is sprouting endless green stuff, even the roads are partially covered in moss. The misty volcanic cones create an eerie atmosphere.
The cost however is a different story. Whenever there is no cliff plummeting down to the sea, there is a village. Cute one, most often. People have managed to tame the island’s coast rather thoroughly and the viticulture has the specialty of utilizing the heat from the black volcanic rocks to grown the vines. One of the prettier things on the island are the views you get to the neighboring Faial and São Jorge.
The time to return home came far too soon. We had only gotten a small taste of Pico. Needless to say, we plan on returning. The tourist office at the airport gave us nice ideas; there is a very affordable boat service sailing between the three islands, Faial, Pico and São Jorge. Doing that triangle will most probably be on the agenda for the next trip to these green places of wonder!
The holiday’s bottom line:
Flights / person: 140 euros
Rental cars on Flores and Pico + fuel: ~250 euros
Accommodation, Airbnb once on São Miguel, once on Flores and once on Pico ~80 euros
Food, beverages, etc: ~150 euros
Amazement, fun time and hurting laughing muscles: Priceless.