Corvo - The Azores - Our adventurous tales.
Corvo - The Azores
Highlights of our Corvo Azores Adventure: Boat trip : Isolation : Walking : Camping : Swimming : Return Plane Trip
Today, we are going to Corvo, the smallest of the Azores islands!
Rather than flying the short distance from Flores, we had previously discussed taking the ferry over and having checked out the tiny harbour and booked our seats over the telephone the day before, we arrived early expecting to see a boat ready for departure.
While watching the locals, who one by one let their boats into the water (the harbour is so tiny, that all boats have to be taken out of the water at night and be put back in with a crane in the morning), we have some breakfast.
When it finally is five minutes before scheduled departure time and we still don't see any ferry, we go down to the dock and immediately a woman comes towards us, leading us to the right boat. The so-called ferry that will take us across the 25km wide channel to Corvo today, is a ribb!
There are three companies on Flores who do both whalewatch trips and "ferry trips" to Corvo. To take the ferry, you need to call each of them up and ask when they intend to go out, which greatly depends on the weather and whether there are enough passengers. We are therefore incredibly lucky that they have a trip on today because we booked our flight back from Corvo the following day. Then again, It wouldn't have been the end of the world if we were stuck here for a bit longer.
Anyway, we are going to go onto the Atlantic in a ribb and after a little initial shock I am thinking, Great! Adventure!" I have never ridden in such a boat on the ocean. The older people, though, who are to come with us, are visibly less enthusiastic about the idea of spending an hour in the middle of the Atlantic in a "blow-up" boat, being thrown from one side to the other. The adventure of it all though soon encapsulates them and the sometimes bouncy journey begins.
Before we head over to Corvo, we have a little sightseeing tour along the coast of Flores. From the small craft, the cliffs look even more spectacular and the coastal tour takes in some magnificent grottos and formations that could only be viewed from a boat. After and hour of roller coaster excitement we reach Corvo Harbour.
We are the only members of the party staying on the island overnight, everyone else are day trippers. So while the group clamber into a waiting taxi that will take them up to the Caldeira, we go through the small settlement of Vila Nova in search of the campsite.
We notice immediately that Corvo is a world all of its own. An old man rattles past on his scooter, a dog sitting in front of him between his feet. On the steps of an old windmill, there is another old man who, as we soon find out, seems to be sitting there all day, every day. A bit further on we pass a house which totally does not fit into the romantic picture. A huge villa with five buildings, big enough to be houses in their own right, plus a garden, a private path to the sea and a private boat in the yard. The rest of Vila Nova do Corvo is more or less just narrow alleyways, backyards, and quaint old Azorian houses.
Later we find out from one of the returning locals, that the villa belongs to the only doctor on Corvo, whose wife is the island's nurse.
The campsite (free) is a meadow situated next to the end of the airport runway and just a few meters from the sea. There is a toilet block with outside and inside showers, but don't expect luxury as with the exception of a few locals and the occasional camping tourist they do not get used all that often. With a large empty area to choose from we set up camp.
Note: Ants. Be careful where you camp and keep your food items well sealed.
With the exception of Vila Nova itself everything else on Corvo lies on a high plateau, which is often covered in cloud. Today is no different. We still however, make our way up the mountain road towards the other end of the island, where the crater, the only real attraction of the island, is situated. We hope that by the time we get there, the clouds will have gone.
We march along and up the only road on Corvo and although we cannot see too much of the scenery due to the fog conditions its an enjoyable walk. We do however get to see Corvo in action with many locals working the fields and maintaining the cows.
Until a few years ago, there were only two cars on the island, the one of the mayor and the one of the doctor, and they still managed to collide. Today, there are a few more cars and pick up trucks, and some friendly locals take pity on us (it had started to rain) and offer us a ride up to the top.
Once at the top, we just about get a glimpse of the crater and its lakes before it starts pouring down with rain. Cold and wet we decide to make our way back down.
If only we had waited for an hour or two, we would have got the best views as by the time we reach Vila Nova again the clouds have all but gone and the sun is shinning again. We spend the rest of the day relaxing at the beach, strolling through town, and have dinner in one of the few restaurants available on the island.
After dinner while walking back to the campsite, a guy on a shiny Harley with a fake Massachusetts licence plate drives past, his girl sitting behind him, juggling shopping bags in both hands. Elsewhere, this might not be a peculiarity, but on an island where, generally, time seems to have stopped 50 years ago, this looks very out of place.
We pass fields with huge pumpkins, marrows, carrots and turnips. Everything that grows here seems to grow big.
The night is also once again very amusing. On Flores, there were a large amount of ants, but the Corvo campsite seems to be overrun with them! Sean spends the night outside and when I wake up after a more or less good night, looking at the ceiling of the tent, all I see is a bustling bunch and two black lines moving up and down the poles. Thankfully, these little buggers don't seem to like me very much, as they leave me alone for most of the night.
Note: Choose your camping spot carefully.
Friday, As the night is over early for us and our flight does not leave till noon, we spend the morning at the beach, where we are ask ourselves just how big the airplane will be. Considering how short and narrow the runway is, (looks more like a 100m race-track.) and anything bigger than a nutshell would take off the roof of our tent with the wings when turning.
The airport terminal is just as small as the island. The reason I am not mentioning the Tower is because there is none! Going into the terminal, you have the waiting area in front and right of you, to the left you look onto the runway through 3 glass double doors. In front of the farthest double door is the ticket booth, where you can buy tickets and at the same time check in. During check-in, there will be a guy taking your luggage away immediately, through the door, outside, onto a luggage trolley, which stops 5 meters further in front of the plane - all within your sight. Such modernity like a conveyor belt, on which your luggage disappears in a maze behind the wall doesn't exist here.
Directly next to the ticket/check-in booth is the baggage claim, which is literally a 4meter square patch of blank floor in front of the middle double door. Next to that is the departure gate, the third door, at which the tickets are checked. ID is not necessary again as the person checking your ticket is the same checking you and your luggage in. Security measures like body and carry-on bag check? Unnecessary nonsense! And when I turn around again after passing through the departure door, I see that on this side of it, it says "arrivals". How practical is that.
The airplane, it turns out is not much bigger than a nutshell, with a seating capacity of 18. But with only a few other seats taken it feels more like our very own private jet. This is also the first time that I bang my head when entering an airplane. There is no door between the cabin and the cockpit, just a curtain, which stays open during the whole flight, so we can marvel at all the screens and buttons and how they are operated. This flight is quite simply a perfect conclusion to the adventures we experienced on our visit to Flores and Corvo. Till we meet again.
The Azores - Nine Islands of adventure - Our stories
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