Friday, 8 July 2016


Pico in the early morning. Highest mountain in Portugal at.2,351 m (7,713 ft) Rarely seen in the past month.
Arising at zero dark hundred a couple of days ago to make our way to the inter-island ferry we were granted a rare glimpse of the volcano, Mount Pico. The excuse for dragging David and Paddy from their comfortable nests was a proposed visit to the nearby island at the invitation of Ian and Lynn Bashaw, "Windward", a couple we raced with at the George Town Regatta in 2015 aboard "Geniet Lewe". We didn't know Ian and Lynn very well but they took the trouble to call on us in the marina at Horta and invited us to come visit and welcomed us to stay. They also offered to show us the island they now call home for several months of the year. How could we refuse.

Lagido. Walls around each vine. No trellis
We were collected at the Ferry Terminal and after caffeine reinforcement commenced the island tour with a visit to the Lagido vineyards, apparently established by monks around the beginning of the 1800s. We sampled many a bottle over the next two days and can attest to their excellence. The vineyards themselves are on rock with black volcanic rock walls very close together, with only one or two vines growing within the walls which create a micro climate very conducive to grape growing and wine production. There are acres of these fields. I can only think of all the ruined backs!
Homes constructed with volcanic rock. It is cut for tiles, bench tops and numerous other things.
Next we drove to the Mountain House on Pico from where the hikers leave on their 6 to 7 hour climb. Our mountain goat friends Sven and Gerda climbed it and when asked if we would manage it..... they muttered something in German and laughingly agreed that it would be impossible for us!!! Thank goodness!! So we returned in automobile comfort to continue our tour of the fringes. 

Farming of cattle and some crops inside the stone walled fields on steep hillsides.
 Whaling was a primary source of income for a couple of centuries and the return of these leviathans had spawned a new tourism industry. Blue whales and Sperm Whales being commonly spotted from the boats. 

Overlooking Sao Jorge.

The countryside is just spectacular and Ian and Lynn have a fabulous home with history dating back a couple of hundred years on the north eastern end of Pico. The view is just magic overlooking Sao Jorge about 10 miles north. Pico's first settlers arrived as early as 1460. Pico's average minimum temperature is just 11°C and the average maximum is 25°C with ocean temperature fluctuating between 15°C and 21°C. Very little need for air conditioning or heating. Perfect  temperate maritime climate. Rich soil seems to grow anything. Strawberries were growing wild on the walking trail!
Housing is cheap as is the local wine and local cheese. What else does one need?

Feasting on Pico
 We had a wonderful feast with our hosts neighbors and friends on Monday night and so much fun was had we stayed on Tuesday night as well. More touring was followed by an hour walk down through the most beautiful mountain trail.

Add caption
   We returned to Taipan weary but excited to have been able to spend some time with Ian and Lynn, to have seen their beautiful island and to have the opportunity to get to know them. Wonderful new friends.

Maybe this could be our next challenge?