arrival of participants, accommodation
welcome to the school, school tour
The day started pretty early, we woke up something around 6:30 and than we met around 8 am at school. Azorean students showed us their school (all the classes, equipment and places they usually use for a chill before school starts.
presenting „Our schools, regions and countries“
Then each country was presenting its own presentations about their school. We prepared a video where we had that opportunity to show our whole school with all the classes included.
There was a Portuguese music teacher who was trying to do ice-breaking games. We were walking randomly with some music in the background and when the music stops, we must stop walking as well. Then three people who are standing near should join you and dance with you a few steps…and that was the thing for about 40 minutes I would say, It was pretty fun.
mills visit and Ribeira Grande Old Town
School’s full name is called Escola secundária da Ribeira Grande. Then after lunch, we visited interesting places in Ribeira Grande. We saw a flour factory, Cityhall, local small theatre, local romantic gardens, and art gallery museum.
We had Erasmus-feast where we could taste food from each country (Spain, Azores, Estonia, Slovenia). Our food from the Czech Republic included sweets and some salted snacks. I would say that all of them loved it. For the evening schedule, we visited their favorite bar (cafeteria) at night with all of their friends and some of the teachers
presenting „Online and offline communication“
On tuesday 8th we woke up at 7:30 AM, so we could have time to be at school by 8:45. We waited in the main hall of the highschool of Ribeira Grande until all the erasmus students arrived. We all went to the auditorium because two persons came to do some presentations about the use of internet. They made us do some polls and the answers were in the presentation.
The questions were:
- What do you use the internet for?
- How many users are there?
- How many users are there depending of the region?
- How long do you stay offline?
- What do you prefer, communicate face to face or online?
They also talked about online weakness, the threats and some Nettiquette guidelines.
workshop „How find more time: Effectively and correctly using of social networks“
At the end of the presentation we were separated in five groups and we had to answer some questions about Facebook services. When we were done we compared our answers.
meeting the Mayor
We had lunch at school (spaghetti with meatballs) and after that we went to visit the Mayor. He showed us a video and we visited a local museum.
outdoor game „FB contact list“
We went back to the highschool and did an artistic activity. We had to draw our FB profiles. We finished at about 6PM and went home. Every student had different activities in the evening. Some of us met some Portuguese teenagers at dinner time.
visit to Lagoa do Fogo
On Wednesday, we started our trip in the morning. Our first stop was Lago de Fogo. We were driving for about 20-30 minutes from school in Ribeira Grande. Then we suddenly stopped and we could leave the bus and go see the lake. From where we were standing, the view was stunning. We could see the whole lake and on the other side the town of Ribeira Grande. Unfortunately, it was cloudy and a bit windy but it was still amazing to see this lake. After about 30 minutes we had to get on the bus to drive to our next stop.
Observatório Vulcnológico e Geotérmico dos Açores
After visiting Lake Fogo, we drove on a bendy road to Lagoa. We visited the Azores Volcanological and Geothermal Observatory. The museum is separated into two parts. On one side there is an exhibition about evolution. Our guide gave us a fun and detailed look into evolution. We also saw a lot of fossils and recreations of now extinct animals. On the other side there was an exhibition about minerals. We started the tour by walking through a lava tunnel. The observatory is a non-profit organisation, so we didn’t pay with money. Each country gave a couple of stones for further research and examination.
After visiting Gruta do Carvão, we sat on the bus and rode to our next destination. That was Sete Cidades. Sete Cidades is one of the 7 Natural Wonders of Portugal, it showcases the Green and Blue Lakes, which according to legend, were formed from the tears of a shepherd and a princess who shared a forbidden love. These lakes can be seen from the Vista do Rei (King’s View) Lookout.
To see the lakes better, we asked our teachers, if we’re allowed to go to the rooftop of the abandoned hotel and when they allowed us to do so, we were so happy we ran inside. The hotel was called Hotel Monte Palace and it was a 5-star hotel that was once voted the finest in all of Portugal. The large complex featured two restaurants, a bar, a nightclub, a hairdresser, a bank, and 88 rooms that overlooked the Atlantic Ocean or the twin lakes nestled in the caldera of the volcano. It officially opened for business in 1989, but unfortunately closed only 18 months after due to the owner’s declared bankruptcy.
After that we headed back to the school, where the parents of our hosts came pick us up and take us home.
visit Gruta do Carvão
When we arrived at Gruta do Carvão we were separted into two smaller groups and then led in to the tunnel under the highway. We were given blue safety helmets for it is obvious that in the other scenario at least one of us would have walked out with a bump on his/her head. A very kind guide walked us around a part of the cave and explained to us how the cave was created etc. We took some photos – we were even allowed to use flash! – and then walked the tunnels back to the surface.
Volcanic caves are not a very frequent geologic phenomena though they can be found in several places where magma ascends to the surface, like the Azores, Canary Islands, Iceland, Italy, Japan, Kenya and Korea. Nowadays, there are 271 volcanic caves known in the Azores spread all over the archipelago with the exception of Corvo island. We got the chance to take a look at one of them.
Gaspar Frutuoso, the 16th century chronicler and historian once wrote:
„Afar, a short way from the Fortress, going west, is a place called Ponta dos Algares, because there are two grottos with their opening, inside which there is a large underground path where rivers of lava seeming to have run in ancient times, not known nor seen.“
Gruta do Carvão cave system is the largest known in São Miguel island and one of the most remarkable of the entire archipelago with about 2,5 km of total length since coastline of Ponta Delagada up to Arrifes parish. Due to its location, size, variety of geological structures and volcanic phenomena associated with, Gruta do Carvão was classified as Regional Natural Monument by the Regional Decree Nº4/2005/A of May 11th. Today we can´t determine the age of the basalts associated to the “Gruta do Carvão”, however, this cave´s age is said to be around 5 000 to 12 000 years BP (Before Present). Taking into account this reported data it seems plausible to assign “Gruta do Carvão” to a Holocene age.
whale and dolphin watching by Picos de Aventura
On Thursday we went to see whales and dolphins. The trip started in the morning and lasted for ~4 hours. We got on a boat in Ponta Delgada and first we had a little lecture about whales. We had not travelled long, when we already saw the dolphins. They swam around the boat and jumped out of the water. After being on the ocean for ~2h, we saw one sperm whale. Whale watching is very popular in the Azores, but you are not guaranteed to see any of them. Fortunately we were lucky and saw many whales. The weather was great during the trip, it was sunny and warm. This experience was incredible!
visit at Furnas and pedestrian walkway to Furnas Lagoon
For lunch we ate Cozido das Furnadas, which is a typical Portuguese dish. What makes it special is that it is cooked with thermal heat for 4-5 hours. It had a specific interesting taste that will remind me of the Azores.
After the traditional lunch we went for a nice walk on the streets of Furnas. It was amazing to see how different people live compared to Estonia.
We walked until we felt the smell of natural hot springs and then we were at Furnas Lagoon. For me it was a good experience to see so many different hot springs. Also in the lagoon there were different types of mineral water which we tried. Furnas Lagoon was amazing and unique, unfortunately we had little time because we had to hurry to Poca de Beja.
Poça da Beija pool
After the wonderful walk near the Furnas lagoon ,we headed out to visit the long-waited thermal pools Poça da Dona Beija. It is a complex of five geothermally heated pools, where water temperatures rise up to 39 degrees Celsius, one pool was slightly cooler with 28 degrees. The waters were murky brown colour from the iron dissolved in the water and had a slight smell of sulphur. To some people these properties might drive them away, but for us it was really fun. The pools were enriched with minerals, so naturally we all had to get face masks using the natural benefits of the mineral clays found in the pools and enjoyed the beautiful nature that surrounded us.
project „One weak offline“
The last day that we could spend together finally came. We started this day with the presentation of the project ‘‘ONE WEEK OFFLINE‘‘. Before the meeting on the Azores some students (from each country) got a task to be without the internet for one week. They were writing down their experiences during the whole week. In the morning these students presented their experiences in front of the others who could learn what it was like to be offline in the online world. I think it was very good experience for everybody.
The end of our meeting was coming. We met all together at school in the dining room in the evening, where there was a lot of food prepared for us. Everyone could eat whatever he wanted. We talked, laughed and ate together… After some time, we moved to next room. There was a program prepared for us. A group of people, who were wearing typical Azores costumes, showed us how people on the Azores dance and sing. Singing and dancing was also accompanied by musical instruments. Some of us could even try to dance. It was a beautiful end of our meeting. There wasn’t any other program, that was prepared for us. It was time to say goodbye. It was just a few days, but I think, we will never forget those days. And I hope one day we will meet again.