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Saturday, December 22, 2007

Furnas Valley - Sao Miguel - The Charm of the Landscape

Huge hollow and luxurious garden in which the colour of the flowers is mixed with the bright green of the Japanese cedars and araucarias. Leafy vegetation from cold and tropical countries, with some species that are hard to find in their lands of origin, Calm and romantic Lake Furnas, with the Gothic profile of José do Canto's chapel - dedicated to Our Lady of Victories - reflected on its clear waters, invites the visitor to rest for a few minutes. On its banks are volcanic solfataras and the "natural kitchens" in which the famous dish called cozido is cooked by burying in the soil hermetically closed pots containing meat and vegetables.

The Caldeiras or craters are an area with diverse forms of volcanic activity, one the most spectacular being Caldeira de Pero Botelho with its boiling mud. Next to the Caldeiras are springs of thermal water at various temperatures. A full-fledged spa, with Pavilions and a hospital (19th c.), is integrated in this complex.
Based on plantations started by Thomas Hickling in the 18th century and continued in the 19th century, Terra Nostra Park, in the picturesque parish of Furnas, is a romantic vision of ponds, winding paths, flowers, centuries-old exotic trees and silence, Two streams converge in the park and there is a pond of warm thermal water that is used as a swimming-pool. A golf course and tennis courts are also part of the tourist complex of Furnas Valley.

The valley is crossed by two fast-flowing streams, one with cold water and the other with warm water coloured by iron in suspension. Typical water-mills exist.
Nearby lies the height called Pico de Ferro, a belvedere affording an expansive view of Furnas Valley. There are also a lot of small waterfalls.

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