Terceira is the third largest island after São Miguel and Pico with a population of about 58,000 people. The largest town is Angra do Heroismo (meaning Angra the Brave) The town is nominated by UNESCO as a “world-town ” worth to be preserved. The town was on New Year’s day 1980 struck by a huge earthquake. Many of the beautiful buildings in the centre of the town were destroyed. But many many beautiful buildings are still preserved.
The town of Angra is just a picture. Cobbled stone narrow alleys and flower boxes on the balconies and even at the top of some street lamps are decorating the town with it’s street taverns and colourful umbrellas. The anglais curtains sit like pictures framed in the brightly coloured window frames. The azulasos tiled street names on the corners remind you that it is very much part of Portugal. Almost every house has a big fire oven (for baking bread) with a chimney poking out above the red tiled roofs.
With just about every house having it’s own veggie patch and a few fruit trees, they seem to be very self-sufficient. The centre of Angra will not have these gardens duo to the fact that it is a World Herritage site, but all the surrounding suburbs do. It must be extremely fertile – everything is growing lush and all veggies are organic. Only a limited amount of white wine gets produced on this island – beef and cheese and other dairy products are the main industry after tourism.
The whole island is a patchwork of cattle pastures – not many cattle per farmer but it seems to be enough to keep them financially going and happy! The patches/ farms are either divided by stone hedges (volcanic stone lying around) or hydrangeas (Krismis Roses) – either making a lovely sight! The colours of the greens, reds, pinks and purples are just so much more intense and it seems that the high iron sulphate in the volcanic soil is partly responsible for it. (That is by the way why the hydrangeas are mostly blue. White hydrangeas are only to be seen on certain parts of the island for a short while early in spring and then the overwhelming blues and purples are forming a sea of colour all over the fields)
The island only has a 3 month peak season in which they make the most of entertaining visitors with their Bull Run in the streets! It is great fun! It is on every night for 3 months and every night in a different street. All front doors and gates get protected by plywood barriers to prevent damage from a couple of horns. People will find themselves a seat on top of the stone fences – securely out of the way of the charging bull. Firework crackers sets off the event (one to indicate the bull has been set free and two indicates that he is back in the pen!) They use 4 bulls per night and it was quite interesting to see where and how they pick the bulls. The guys “handling” the bulls on the night are the same people that choose them/ work with them on a daily basis. They are dressed in the traditional black hats and white shirts hanging onto the long 100m rope to give the bull just enough slack to have fun!
We were very lucky to be invited by the taxi driver to join his family and friends to watch the bull run from his balcony – which we thought was pretty kind of him, but did not realise that it includes a most unexpected night of BBQ and festivities with them! It was Ann’s birthday (our friends from the yacht Time Bandit) and we thought it was perfect timing! It happened to be one of the taxi driver’s brothers in law’s birthday bash as well! The traditional food (BBQ Sardines and spicy chicken with sweet bread) and beer and wine on tap and a lot of singing made us realise how fantastic it was to be part of the culture for that night! Needless to say – we did not get back to the boat till after midnight!
This laid back island lifestyle and friendly people with their wonderful culture is something that will bring us back here… we have to come back to see all the blue hydrangeas in full bloom (it was still too cold and too early in spring )! If I could choose an island to live on for 3 months of the year – this will be it!
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