Fortunately, the last seven months we spent at home working, went by extremely fast. The time was almost too short to organize all the new and spare parts for the boat. The evening before the flight it was time to pack the suitcases. Once again, we had to realize that the standard luggage wouldn't be enough for the 170 pounds of material we needed to bring. Therefore, we were very grateful that Ben's sister drove us and the six pieces of baggage to the airport of Zurich.
This time, the cheapest way to get to the Azores was with different airlines and a stay-over in Lisbon. Because we had never been in this city before, we decided to spend the 20 hours in a hotel and doing some sight-seeing. Booking on short notice revealed amazingly low prices – even for a four-star-hotel the rate was only in the double-digit range. Danielle didn't really feel comfortable there, because the concierge didn't allow her to carry the bags herself and drive the car into the garage...
Since it was only late afternoon, we decided to cross the bridge over the Tejo and visit places around Cristo Rei. The GPS told us to take a big detour around the center of town and an estimated travel time of 20 minutes. Buuuut – we supposed it would be shorter and nicer to go across the town center and drive along the river of Tejo. The first time we considered our decision a mistake, was when, due to a diversion of a construction site, we passed the same houses a third time. The diversion of another construction site sent us back in a big circle all the time. Meanwhile, the rush hour had started and we were kind of trapped in the center. Finally, after 1.5 hours we reached our goal and agreed to obey our GPS a next time.
The following morning, we got up early to visit the area of Belém. After an amazing buffet breakfast (one could eat the whole morning) we followed the instructions of the navigational device and reached Belém long before all the tourist buses. Thus, there was almost no waiting at the tower of Belém. This tower was built in the early 16th century and is a prominent example of the Portuguese Manueline style. The structure was built from lioz limestone and is composed of a bastion and a 30 meter high, four-storeyed tower. Originally, it was built on a small island in the Tejo river and was one of a few buildings that survived the great 1755 earthquake. The remaining time we spent in the same area with it's beautiful parcs. Fortunately, we were kind of relaxed when we arrived at the airport. Because they had problems with the scanners at the security check, it took us more than an hour to pass it (in a low room with hundreds of sweating people).
Sao Miguel, Azores
To reach Santa Maria, we had to wait for five hours on the island of Sao Miguel. Until this time, we never had the opportunity to explore this part of the Azores. So, we decided to rent a small scooter and visit the western part of this island. One of the “must have seens” is the Sete Cidades lagoon – a divided lake in a huge volcanic crater (last eruption 1440). The two parts of the lagoon should show different colors (green and blue). But to our disappointment it was all a deep seaweed green. However, we were surprised by the rough landscape, originating from several volcanic eruptions during the past 30'000 years. To gain a better overview we decided to drive along the rim of the biggest crater. As usual, the gravel road grew smaller and due to deep washouts we had to push the scooter over them – hoping there would be enough time to reach the airplane. Shortly after the middle of the way the road changed into a hiking path which led us to the highest point of the area. To our relief, we found a small road on the other side of the peak which led us back to a tarmac road and back to the airport just in time.
Santa Maria, Azores
Finally, we reached our destination. Detlef picked us up and we drove along lush green fields and through dense forests to the apartment. It felt like coming home. The island with its great nature and with only a few houses has this effect of calming you down and creating a growing sense of happiness. The land around Detlef und Lorena's apartment was again full of animals – in addition to the three dogs, there were two horses and several geese, a rescued foal, that had almost died from starvation because the owner had to go to a hospital with severe problems. The geese waddled all over the place followed by their chicks. And not to forget the loud (especially during the night) frogs in the ponds.
The first days we spent on the final works on the boat and meeting friends on the island. Unfortunately, Ricardo (owner of the boatyard) had always way too much work and wasn't able to put back in the engine and order the last parts we needed to install before putting the boat back into water. To our relief the weather was quite calm and within two days we had the engine back in and stepped up the masts.
We hope to be able to finish the work soon and be on the water again. We are also looking forward to the visit of Ben's sister and her husband next week – four more hands to work on the boat ;-)