Furnas: some like it hot

August 31, 2014
Posted on December 21, 2014

Nowhere on São Miguel is the island’s volcanic nature as evident as in Furnas, a region in a lush valley, which harbours a crater lake and a pretty town. It gets hot enough to cook food! As usual, getting there is half the fun.

Terra Nostra Botanical Garden in Furnas, São Miguel

Getting to Furnas from our farm includes passing through some towns.

Streets of Ribeira Grande

Followed by twisty roads outlined with tight rows of trees and hydrangeas.

Road lined by hydrangeas

And naturally, there are some high lookout points overseeing the ocean.

Overlooking the south shore of São Miguel

A lonely horse in the endless green pastures.

And some cows, most definitely.

Underpass for the boring fast expressway.

Quiet rural roads.

Cows and hydrangeas – Azores’ most common roadside attractions.

Coming from the north, we get a chance to check out a miradouro (lookout point) that open up to the lake, the village and the boiling hot springs all visible at the bottom of the valley.

Coming towards Pico do Ferro lookout.

Furnas valley in infrared.

Furnas – the lake and the village.

Speaking of the hot springs. Right by the lake they are hot enough to be dangerous, and the locals use them to cook a kind of meat stew. Called cozido nas caldeiras, it’s a mixture of several kinds of meat (chicken, beef cow, pork pig, as well as chouriço and blood sausages), together with veggies such as potato, cabbage, carrot, etc. The pots with raw ingredients are placed into the ground in the middle of the night, removed late in the morning, and then served for lunch and dinner. Since it took us a while to get to Furnas, this speciality dish was very much on our minds as we descended to the bottom of the valley and into the village.

Streets of Furnas.

A small church in Furnas

A garden in Furnas.

Hunger was onto us, and I was very happy to find that a quiet lunch spot advertising cozido nas caldeiras was ready and willing to feed us. Some people say you need to place your order for this kind of meal a couple days in advance. I accept that one needs to order airplane tickets in advance, but we have to draw the line somewhere!

The friendly lunch spot in Furnas.

View from one of the streets in Furnas.

The dish itself was hearty and down to earth. Nothing fancy, just the good stuff with no fillers nor inedible garnishes. Great fuel to make sure you have energy to explore the rest of Furnas.

We walked around the village and contemplated whether we should visit the well regarded botanical garden of Terra Nostra. Sometimes when something is very strongly recommended, it ends up being overhyped, though in this case we were glad we dropped by. It’s one of the most beautiful botanical gardens I’ve ever seen.

Santa Cruz Water Lily

A steaming hot waterfall

Huge trees surround the hot springs pool in Terra Nostra garden.

The grotto.

The black swan.

Lots of sulfur rich water flows through the garden.

Lots of twisty trails.

A few green covered bridges.

A tiny bamboo garden.

A chestnut tree with an incredibly large span of branches. Watch out or one of these will lend on your head!

The flower garden.

The garden is vast and would take a much longer time to fully explore and appreciate. It is spread not only in space, but also in time, as different plants bloom and bare fruit at different times of the year. A little further inside the garden is a long green path lined with tall trees. It was incredibly romantic and seemed like something out of a fairy tale.

A long path surrounded by Ginkgo trees.

A painting marks the beautiful path lined with Ginkgo Biloba trees.

The numerous flowers of Furnas.

After spending over 2 hours walking around the lush garden and exploring the different sections of it, we decided to go for a dip in the warm geothermal pool. It’s one of the first things you see when entering the garden, and in daytime, there are quite a few people enjoying the warm sulfur water and green lawns around it. At the end of the day the pool is almost empty, and the murky yellow water – incredibly relaxing for a tired body.

P.S. despite our best efforts, it was impossible to clean off the sulfur residue using the showers provided near the pool. Don’t use a crispy white towel or a light coloured swimsuit 😉

1 Comment »

  1. Ludmila says:

    Thank you for such a delight!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *