Before we left for Sao Miguel late Saturday we had enough time to return to Capelinhos Volcano site. We took time to walk across the 60 year old new land created from the eruption of the volcano in 1957. It's only about 500 meters but it's worth stepping across the sometimes soft and silky sandy crusty lava and ash. Now and then a lonely shrub appears but if it were not for the gulls you'd think the area lifeless. We spent the morning checking out the area and then spent some time in the museum which is very well done. Cap it off with 158 steps to reach the top of the old, no longer used, lighthouse. If you're planning to use a taxi you should expect a driver to take upwards of 30 minutes to reach you.
We killed the rest of our time at the hotel before catching the plane to Sao Miguel. Once there we took a bit longer to get the rental car sorted out (automatics cost more and they were not the default choice of our travel company) but we found our way to the hotel in Maia by 20:00 and had what may have been the best dinner to date: homemade vegetable or Bolognese spaghetti.
Our first day walking took us from Solar de Lalem ( our hotel) in Maia to the next town. It's about 5km one way. Inntravel suggests you can walk it in less than 2 hours and for most that will be true. Our return trip certainly was well under that mark.
You leave Maia on paved road and if there is a way to shorten that I would likely choose it. Turns out it might be possible as a marked trail seems to go the right way. But within 1km you leave the twisting high-speed road behind. A coastal trail of generally good quality slowly drops you down to a seasonal river which was dry. You pass a variety of abandoned water mills and a "vineyard".
Then a short but steep descent on rocky switchbacks deposits you at a dark sand beach. I suppose the sand is volcanic in nature because it's dark gray. By that time we had done about 60% of the walk by distance, likely all the descent, a big chunk on the switchbacks to the beach Praia de Viola and almost no ascent. That was going to change.
You climb seemingly countless stone steps along a curving path that winds past cascades of water. I'm pretty sure an abandoned water mill station or two was passed. In time you came to a drivrable road. This is a popular beach as these things go. That doesn't mean it's bustling but people do visit. Up and up the moderately steep road we climbed. From this point it's an easy walk into the town of X. our walking time was 2:08:00. I bet the biggest time eater was the descent to Beach x.
If we could've gotten a taxi back we would have. We failed. We weren't about to walk the 4 or so kilometers (4.1km according to Google Maps) on those narrow, no shoulder, let's-drive-fast roads so a return via the trail was in order. It really turned out well. We saw things we would not have otherwise done. The poor "stuck on-a-dry-waterfall" cow was just one instance. Several men were figuring out what to do. It's a short walk and but you feel like you see and experience a lot.
About the Photos
Photo 1 is at the Cove we think whaling boats docked that belonged to the now buried whaling station.
Photo 2 provides a view from the now no longer used lighthouse of the new land, the youngest in the Azores, of Faial.
Photo 3: Hydrangeas seem to be everywhere. But the specimens here are something special. Mom and Dad look good too.
Photo 4 really shows the impact of man. This wall is just an impressive example of how people have been influencing the land for centuries.
The last 2 photos were taken on the promenade above the seashore in Maia.