One of the highlights of the Azores port of call was a day trip to the neighboring isle of Pico. About 65 participants joined the excursion which was sponsored by PAE's long-time partner, South Coast. The group hopped on the ferry for a 30-minute ride over to Pico and spent a fun day touring the island and learning about its rich history.
*Wine is a major export of a Pico so the first stop was a visit to a local vineyard. Participants learned about the unique way wine is cultivated there with vines encompassed into 8-square-foot quadrants surrounded by lava rock walls. The walls protect the vines from the wind and also retain the sun's rays thereby emitting heat at night when temps cool. Wine season is not processed until September so there was no wine tasting to be had!
*Pico's other chief export is cheese and participants got to see first hand the painstaking fermenting, straining and shaping process. Cheese is always in season so the group enjoyed lots of sampling and purchasing of their favorite cheeses.
*Participants were fascinated with the stop at a whaling museum which documented the history of whaling in the Azores. Until as recently as 1987, whaling was a profitable resource for Azoreans, but it was outlawed because it was found to be cruel to the mammals. Now whale watching - particularly of Sperm whales - has taken the place of the gruesome practice of whale hunting.
*The day wrapped up with a tour of Mount Pico, the island's 7,000-foot mountain. The tired group didn't climb to the peak, opting instead to let the bus drop them off at one of the mountain lakes and to check out the view across to Horta.
PAE, the NAR Committee and the participants express their sincerest appreciation to South Coast for providing such a fun-filled and educational day of sight seeing.
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