Gordon: We had glorious weather today, with a ride to match. All rides from Vila do Porto begin with a climb to 200 metres to the junction that feeds the network of roads on the island. Today we almost immediately dropped back down to the beach in the next bay. It’s only 4 kms from our hostel, but 8 kms and 200 metres up and down by road.
The beach is called Praia Formosa (“beautiful beach”) and indeed it is. I’m not a beach person, but I was impressed by this kilometre of fine sand. We didn’t have our gear with us, but there would have been good snorkeling around the rock outcroppings visible in the clear water. There was a low key, off season beach culture; quite unlike how it must be in the summer.
From the beach we climbed up and up to Santo Espírito, a collection of tiny villages that forms the largest parish on the island. Think of the Hobbits’ Shire and you have some idea of its appearance. The area is preternaturally green, highly corrugated, and sprinkled with bright white houses, many with interesting chimney shapes. On a map the roads look like a plate of spaghetti, but on the ground they are great for cycling because they tend to follow the many ridges.
We stopped at the ethnographic museum in Santo Espírito and were greeted again by Bruno. He gave us a 90 minute personal tour at the museum in Vila do Porto, and he did the same for us in Santo Espírito. I don’t think there were many other claims on his time, as we were the only visitors in the quite excellent house museum. The admission charge of 1 euro raises the perennial question: how do they pay for all of the excellent public amenities?