Terciera Island is a true treasure! Even being there in January the temperatures were temperate, although it is rainy season and it did rain, but it wasn’t so bad that I was deterred from walking out of the hotel everyday. One of the interesting features of the island is that there are no traffic lights. There were plenty of roundabouts, but no actual stop signs or traffic lights. I thought that was curious. How do people cross the road without a signal of some kind that you are not going to get run over by a little car zipping by? A friend of mine who took this same Travelzoo deal mere weeks ahead of me gave me the heads up that the Acoreans are super great about stopping to let you cross the street. I was thinking, yeah right, I’m sure there are some but not that many. Boy was I wrong. Every time I came close to a curb the very next car stopped. Every single time. In fact a few times I was kind of futzin with my phone while standing near a curb and people just stopped and patiently waited until I figured out what I was doing, in some cases I was paying so much attention to my phone I didn’t realize that they had stopped and were patiently waiting. I learned to futz with my phone away from the curb so these nice people could move on with thier lives. By the end of the week, I did not even bother to look for traffic, I’d just boldly walk off the curb with complete confidence that I was not going to get hit by a car. But how nice is that, that kind of courtesy is a rare quality in a large group of people.
Everywhere I went, everything I did, I always felt safe. The Acoreans also had a way to make you feel valued. They are good at making you feel that they genuinely are vested in your happiness. They all love thier island and are very congenial. I know some of it is that tourist spend money and that makes folks more prosperous and happy but it was more than that. They really made me feel like I was not so alone somehow. I haven’t yet put my finger on what that spark is called but these folks had it. My very favorite dining experience while on Terciera Island was at an awesome restaurant on the water called Beira Mar. Their specialty was fish. I had one of the best seafood dishes of my life there. Of the people that I admire and always said I want to marry until I found out he’s already married, is Andrew Zimmern of the TV program Bazaar Foods. Like him, I will stick pretty much ANYTHING in my mouth and least once. I do have 3 rules, 1 it needs to be dead before it get’s to my plate, 2 it can’t be something that is causing the demise of a species (like shark fin soup) and it can’t be human, apart from that, it’s fair game. So when I visit someplace and see something on the menu that I’ve never eaten before, I’m going to order it! If it’s a whole entree then I’ll order 2 different entrees just in case I don’t like the one I’ve never had before which I really need to stop doing because I almost always enjoy it. When I got to Beira Mar the first thing I noticed on the menu was Cracas or Barnacles. I was dumbfounded. Growing up near and around the ocean on the east coast of the US I had been around barnacles all of my life. I had no idea there was anything in them to eat. Was I ever wrong. They come as an appetizer and you can order them by a single barnacle. I tried 3. I was provided a dish with 3 barnacles on a plate and a nail bent at a 90 degree angle. I looked at the nail, looked at the barnacles, then looked at the waiter and said I know you are going to hook a sister up with the Intel on how to use the nail and what part of the barnacle that you actually eat. He smiled and began to show me that the barnacle has a beak like structure on the top. When you pick that out of the outer shell there is white squishy stuff revealed inside, a little like a barnacle shot glass. Who knew?? Not me. So being a fan of steamers and oysters and mussels, I’m thinking ok this won’t be bad but then my mind went to that time I ate jelly fish and I got a little conflicted but I was curious so I gathered up my resolve and stuck the white squishy stuff in my mouth and was I ever glad I did, it was a beautifully rich and fresh experience. It was extremely salty and watery but also fresh and oceany. I enjoyed my barnacles or cracas very much. Besides wonderful food at Extremely reasonable prices, the history of the place is very rich as well. Terciera Island is an UNESCO heritage site which I found interesting because there was a catastrophic earthquake there in the 1980’s which ruined about 70% of the island and the good people of Terciera Island decided to rebuild all of the buildings as they were originally. I recommend a visit to the Angra Museum. The museum on the outside appears to be a small and unassuming place until you start walking around. The museum is only open for 3 hours and only on certain days. It is absolutely worth the effort to arrange you activities around thier schedule and plan to get there promptly at opening time. The museum is big enough to fill up the 3 hour timeframe easily especially if you are a plaque reader. It is also connected to the church of Saint Francis convent. They have mass there only one time a month if you are Catholic try to plan to do mass at this historic place. For all of it’s grand history and architecture, there are wonderful places that are also modern and new. They really seem to put thought into what they are presenting. As stated in a previous blog, Terciera Island is known by the Portuguese as the amusement park of the Azores. They are known for their festivals that they hold all year long. They love thier music and through out the towns I noticed buildings allocated to Music clubs, like sporting clubs that you see back east, but instead these are all about the music. The locals host a music festival around Mardi Gras so that might be something to check out if you plan to go there sometime. It’s a beautiful Island with a rocky shoreline, amazing Pastelearias which is a bakery cafe with amazing looking pastries at every street corner. Unfortunately for me I was low carbing but all the other people on the trip said they were wonderful. Especially the little custard tarts for which the Portuguese people are known for. I looked and there appears to be lots of cheap flights on SATA airlines from Boston to Terciera Island that would make it affordable for just about anyone. So instead of island hopping to Burmuda or the Bahamas, take a look at the Azores and in particular, Terciera Island, it won’t disappoint.