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.
Getting to Furnas from our farm includes passing through some towns.
Followed by twisty roads outlined with tight rows of trees and hydrangeas.
And naturally, there are some high lookout points overseeing the ocean.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 😉