Saturday September 20, 2014
I’m so happy that it’s finally settled that we have a next destination now. Instead of wondering if we’ll be heading to the Mediterranean or back to Florida, and otherwise stalled until we had that answer. At least now we can begin looking to move forward again, and that next forward is Porto Santo, Portugal. No, it’s not part of mainland Portugal, we’re not going to travel 800 nm just to have to immediately drop south. Porto Santo is part of the Madeira island group, approximately 560 nm SE of Sao Miguel. We think it will be a nice stop before getting to the Canaries, and I have it on good authority from my new online cruising friend, Kitiara, that there are some beautiful golden sand beaches there perfect for laying out after snorkeling through it’s clear Caribbean like waters. Something that we haven’t been able to do since Bermuda, and something that’s sorely been missing from our lives lately.
So there you have it, our next step after spending muuuch longer in the Azores that we ever originally anticipated. Ha, what was supposed to be a 7-10 day stay only in Horta has now turned into almost six weeks in only two spots. That kind of seems to be a trend for us this year. Get to one spot and stay put for weeks on end. It feels like the only real cruising we’ve done so far was our five weeks in the Bahamas. But the Canaries should hopefully give us a good chance to do some island hopping and get back into the cruising groove. We think there’s a window to get ourselves out of Ponta Delgada early next week, and hopefully from there it’s only 5-6 days to Porto Santo where we can spend about a week soaking up sun and sand before moving on again.
Tonight however, we took advantage of the fact that we’re still in a big city with a lot going on. While doing some of my daily wandering earlier I came across a sign in the main square that there would be the town’s local orchestra playing that evening at 10:00. That is still one thing I have yet to get used to in this European culture. Everything starting so late. If it were the US I doubt anything would start after 8:00, probably coming to it’s close around 10:00, but hey, I guess that’s how they do things over here. You won’t hear any kind of complaints from us, especially since we have no kind of schedule.
Somehow we found ourselves arriving a little bit late to this outdoor concert, after squeezing in one last McDonald’s meal we assume until the US, and then guzzling coffee back at the boat just to make sure we could stay awake past 10:30. When we did get there everything was already in full swing. Crowds filled all of the folding chairs in front of the stage and spilled out into both sides of the streets. We weaved our way through people until we were adjacent to the stage to enjoy the show. Aside from the orchestra playing their instruments there were also a few singers on stage. One had a Portuguese accent and must have been a local, and the other was channeling Amy Winehouse in everything from wardrobe to vocals.
The songs we heard when first arriving were all covers of hit songs in English. While sipping from our little single serve bottles of wine, we listened to songs from The Beatles , Bill Withers (Ain’t no Sunshine), and Aretha Franklin. Both the vocals and the accompanying instruments were beautiful, and I kept cursing myself for not getting out for some of the weeks earlier concerts that were probably just as good.
Some of the best parts of coming out to see the orchestra play were watching the kids that were dragged, quite willingly it looked like, by their parents. All over we could see little ones under the age of 10, dancing around, swaying to the music, and clapping along. The best part was when this little girl of about three or four years spent a good portion of the concert seated on a red carpet right in front of the stage, rocking back and forth on her legs as she listened to the music and then clapping loudly and long with everyone else at the end of each song. Even better though was when her mother called her back over to the side of the stage we were positioned on, and this practicing ballerina was dancing along with the music, obviously in some kind of dance course and practicing her moves. Boy was she cute. If she didn’t have a set of parents and grandparents watching over her, she might have found a new home on Serendipity. (Kidding! We’re not actually into kidnapping adorable children.)
Once the music turned from English to Portuguese we stayed for a few more songs before making our way to the food tents that were set up about a block away, no doubt part of the evening’s festivities. Scooping up a few of deep fried donuts from one stand, we wandered to the back of the pack by a reflecting pool and listened to a few more songs before calling it a night and heading back to the ‘Dip. I have to admit, I do not like the gray skies that we’ve been cloaked under here for the past few weeks, which really has me wanting to get a move on to somewhere warm and sunny, but it will be sad leaving this city behind. There’s definitely never a shortage of activities and events going on.