This winter we visited the beautiful Azores, the archipelago of volcanic islands located in the Atlantic Ocean west of Portugal. We spent our time on the largest Azores island of Sao Miguel also known as the Green Island for its lush landscapes and rolling green hills. The island was one of the most visually stunning places we have ever visited. It was simply beautiful everywhere we looked, from the sweeping vistas of the Atlantic ocean to the verdant emerald green hills filled with cattle to the crystal blue endless lakes. It was a place that made you stop and say WOW several times a day.
We had a fabulous guide named Rui who showed us every nook and cranny of his beautiful island home. Rui was a most gracious host and really took the time to show us why his island is such a special place.
Among the highlights of our stay were the following magical spots:
Set Cidades crater: an incredible volcanic crater lake on the western side of the island.
Lagoa de Fogo (Fire Lake): another volcanic crater lake that afforded incredible views.
Furnas Lake: an active volcanic area that included steaming domes where locals would lower their food via baskets into 4 foot holes dug into the ground and cover them will soil to cook.
Caldeira Vehla: a warm water geothermal waterfall in a lush tropical setting.
Pineapple Farm: Azores produces their own species of pineapple which is markedly different from the kinds we are used to eating in the US. These pineapples are smaller and so deliciously sweet. We could not stop eating chunks out of the sample tray! We ended up buying our own and eating it right there on the spot!
Cha Gorreana Tea Plantation: We visited this factory/plantation and learned how tea is made from start to finish. Founded in 1883, it claims to be Europe’s oldest family run and continuously operating tea factory.
Mulher de Capote liquor factory: This family business produces a variety of fruit liquors all aged in beautiful oak casks. The fruit is grown on the island. We had fun in their tasting room sampling all of the different varieties.
Local architecture and a local feast: We were fascinated by all of the beautiful buildings and how well they were preserved. We also visited a very local restaurant and asked to be given the typical Azorian meal. What was served was very different indeed- some of it we had no idea what it was. We can’t say that it was all delicious- but it was definitely interesting!