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Horta, Portugal
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Sweet Sunrise Horta  Portugal

Sweet Sunrise

Ask any old salt if he's been to "The Painted Harbor." If they've crossed the Atlantic in a yacht or similar, they've probably been there. This is your first stop on the European leg of the journey. You've been at sea for a while, the last land you saw was probably Bermuda, since then just water and sky.

Tradition says if you land in Painted Harbor (Horta, on the Isle of Faial) you can paint a sign commemorating it on the harbor walls. There's even a chandlery nearby that can supply the paint - sadly they can't supply the artistic talent. The gallery of pictures runs the gamut from primitive splotch to quite accomplished and meaningful. Usually they include the names of the vessel and crew, and a date.

Fortunately or un, the number of crossers is growing and the number of spots on the wall is finite. I don't know the average lifespan of each sign, but I'm guessing about 10 to 15 years. If yours is the oldest in the harbor, expect it to be painted over.

It just means you'll have to return that much more frequently.

Peter Café Sport is the usual recco. It's nice, but there are other restaurants to try. I also recommend crossing the strait to Pico (the big island in the photo above). Many nice little cafes and restaurants. Try the coffee in the islands, for some reason it is very good. And stock up on white wine. They make a very good vinho verde here - it was once the wine of the Romanovs in Moscow - now they sell it for a few dollars per bottle.