The Alluring Azores…

The Alluring Azores
The Alluring Azores

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.

Gorgeous view of Set Cidades
Gorgeous view of Set Cidades
Set Cidades from a different angle
Set Cidades from a different angle

Lagoa de Fogo (Fire Lake): another volcanic crater lake that afforded incredible views.

Lagoa do Fogo
Lagoa do Fogo

 

Hig a
High atop the Lake- it was freezing!

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.

Steaming Furnas
Steaming Furnas- boy did it stink of sulphur
Holes where locals would put food in ground to cook
Holes where locals would put food in ground to cook

 

Food is steaming below this mound..
Food is steaming below this mound..

 

Caldeira Vehla:  a warm water geothermal waterfall in a lush tropical setting.

Pirate and Cajun at the Caldeira
Pirate and Cajun at the Caldeira
Karyn and Heidi at the volcanic springs.
Karyn and Heidi at the volcanic springs.

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!

Pineapples growing
Pineapples growing

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.

Pirate at the tea factory
Pirate at the tea factory
Tea crops growing and a beautiful view
Tea crops growing and a beautiful view

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.

Mulher de Capote liquor factory
Mulher de Capote liquor factory
Pineapples for liquor
Pineapples for liquor

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!

Ponta Delgada architecture
Ponta Delgada architecture

 

Vila Franco de Campo
Vila Franco de Campo
Our interesting local feast....
Our interesting local feast….

 

 

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