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Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Sail Terceira to Santa Maria, Vila do Porto etc, Azores 29 June 2010


At 1600 hrs on 26 June 2010, the low clouds had lifted and we made a spontaneous decision to leave Angra. We had been debating when to leave for some time - on the one hand this was the only chance of enough wind to sail for several days, on the other the forecasts indicated a rainy trip. At 1700 hrs we cast off and had a good sail to Vila do Porto on the island of Santa Maria arriving at 1930 the next evening, having to motor for only 6 of the 26 hour 145 nmile trip.



The very friendly harbourmaster Amando plus other sailors helped us to moor in the marina.
The marina is a welcome change from Angra as there is absolutely no surge here.
The town is situated on top of a hill with a very long straight main street climbing steadily even higher.




Several of the buildings are quite ornate but there are several facades of ruins particularly at the lower end of town. We understand that the population has declined from over 13,000 in 1960 to less than 6,000 in 2001 - mainly due to emigration to North America and other parts of Portugal, leaving many houses vacant.





The pavements either side of the long main street are paved with black basalt rock with two parallel 'rope' mosaics





and mosaics of ships, dolphins and conches in white limestone - very ornate.









Most of the street names are given in the form of tiles, similar to on the other islands and in mainland Portugal.


Many historians consider that Santa Maria was the first of the Azorian islands on which Portuguese sailors came ashore - thought to be somewhere between 1427 and 1432. The sailors had been sent by Prince Henry the Navigator. Vila do Porto is the first settlement in the Azores to have been given a town charter

Friday, June 25, 2010

Terceira, Azores 21 + June 2010


The week long Fiera de Sao Joao (festival) has been great fun with all sorts of activities throughout the day and night till almost daybreak.




One of the highlights was the procession of 28 dance groups from the villages of Terceira island plus one group from Sao Miguel - our sailing friends Manuel and Leticia were enthousiastic members of this group.


Please click on arrow at bottom left to start video clip of Sao Miguel Dance Group
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From 21.30 hrs the groups danced their way from a square at the top of the old city, down the main street, Rua da Se and other streets to a square in front of the council house. Each group consisted of all ages from small kids as mascots to grandparents , rich and poor all dressed in the same style clothes, specially made for the event.


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Please click on arrow at bottom left to start video clip

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Each group was followed by its own band of musicians.





After the last group had finished - around 03.30 in the morning, everyone migrated to a side street where free sardines were barbequed and the wine provided gratis. Several wood fires had been lit in the middle of the street and the local daredevils Jumped over the metre plus high flames.













Another evening there was a similar parade but with only kids performing.






Please click on arrow at bottom left to start video clip
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Please click on arrow at bottom left to start video clip
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On another evening, there was a parade of Walt Disney figures for the younger kids.




















The islands fascination with bulls was clearly demonstrated by there being bull fighting in different streets blocked off by lorries and barricades every day.

One of the bull fights was carried out by releasing several bulls into the street at the same time without ropes round their necks.




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Please click on arrow at bottom left to start video clip
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One event took place by the Marina where the bulls showed their lack of fear of the water.

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Please click on arrow at bottom left to start video clip
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i
At the end of last night's festivities a group dressed in the traditional clothing of the island from many years ago danced to traditional music provided by local musicians on guitars and wind instruments and singers.

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Please click on arrow at bottom left to start video clip
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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Terceira, Bull Fight Angra,Azores 20 June 2010


1830 hrs 20 June we were at the Praca de Torros ready for the bullfight - our first for many years. We treated ourselves to seats in the best sector - the Sombra (shade) rather than Sol (sun) or Sol/Sombra. Terceira is one of the few Azores Islands where the spectacle is still enthousiastically pursued.

The evening's programme included 3 bulls to be fought on horseback by a mainland Portuguese Toreador, Luis Rouxinol - with the bull finally subdued by the usual Portuguese line up of young daredevils.

Once subdued , the bulls were encouraged to leave the ring with capes and flags (unlike in Portugal where a herd of cows is brought in the ring to calm the bull down and lead out of the ring).

The other 3 bulls were fought by a Spanish Matador, Miguel Angel Perera , Spanish style but without the gruesome Picador and without killing the bull by sword in the ring.

Before the bull enters the ring, its weight (in kilos) and number are displayed on a board. After entering the ring , the bull is played with with pink/ yellow capes. All bulls came from the Rego Botelho ranch.



The Toreador displayed superb horsemanship, keeping the bull very close sometimes even galloping sidestep just ahead of the bull.





Please click on arrow at bottom left to start video clip of opening circuit
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However, he disappointed the crowd with several misplaced banderilleros (barbed darts) and after one fight was not given the usual round of honour.

Please click on arrow at bottom left to start video clip of bullfight on horseback

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The Portuguese style line-up was amazing to watch. The bull is led to one side of the ring with capes, while a line up facing the bull is formed on the opposite side of the ring.


The head guy then dons his funny red/green hat and, with halting steps, approaches the bull making Ugh Ugh sounds with hands on hips. At a certain moment, the bull gets irritated by this and charges. The head man then leaps between the horns of the bull and is carried by the bull to his waiting colleagues who try to slow the bull down. Once the bull has been stopped, one of the guys grabs the tail. The bull tries to gore the guy who is just out of reach. After several circles the bull sometimes falls on the ground and the fight is over.

Please click on arrow at bottom left to start video clip of Portuguese style bullfight nr 1

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Please click on arrow at bottom left to start video clip of Portuguese style bullfight nr 2



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Please click on arrow at bottom left to start video clip of appreciation of bravery


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The Spanish Matador was very good and played the bull with the cape in fine style keeping the bull close to his body most of the time and keeping the bull fluidly in motion. The crowd were very appreciative of his skillful performance.






Please click on arrow at bottom left to start video clip of Spanish style bullfight
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It is traditional for flowers and clothing to be thrown by the crowds at the performers in appreciation and sometimes, the matador is given a lap of honour.










Terceira, "Tourada a Corda" 20 June 2010


No Feira on Terceira is complete without something to do with bulls.

Everyday there is a "Tourada a Corda" or bullfight with bulls which have a long rope tied around their necks.

This is usually in a street which has been cordoned off. On Sunday afternoon there was a

Tourada for kids on the beach with young bulls. A rocket is fired signalling that a bull is about to be released from its pen.

Then the bull charges across the beach, sometimes straight into the sea to the surprise of those swimming there.







Then the brave or foolhardy ones play with the bull either running very close to it and grabbing hold of its horns






or "fight" it using umbrellas as capes.








All the time two or three men keep a hold on the other end of the rope to reduce the risk to the public.





The bull is then manhandled back into its pen and another rocket is fired signalling the all clear.

This type of Bull fighting seems to be unique to the Azores and Terceira is the island where it is most popular.

Sail Sao Jorge to Terceira etc., Azores 17 + June 2010


At 0630 hrs 17 June we left Velas, Sao Jorge and after motoring the 20 miles to the

eastern end of the island, the wind picked up to a SE 4 BFt we we had an excellent reach the next 30 miles to Angra do Heroisme on the island of Terceira.

There we moored in the marina close to S/V Aleria (big surge in the marina - need plenty of fenders).

The marina is integrated into the very picturesque old city of Angra which was built in the 16th century which is a joy to wander around its cobbled streets lined by fine houses, churches and palaces.










Here we met up with our friends David and Sarit of S/V Windmiller and their friend Nadav.

The next day we rented a car together and toured the island ,



spending a couple of hours

walking through Welsh-like bogs in the western Caldeira to find the Black Lake.




























The week long fiera de Sao Joao (festival) started on the evening of the 19 June with a prosession of bands, floats and dancers under illuminated arches over redcarpetted streets through the old city - very picturesque.

The symbol of the fiera was a bejewelled butterfly