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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

TAKE ME BACK! Sao Miguel, Azores, Portugal

a reminder of warmer days ;)  

Hello friends.
I was getting my Utah pictures on the blog, and looking  Emi's photos from Portugal (The Well Traveled Wife) and I realized I never shared my beautiful Azores vacation with you.  Which is truly a shame because it is such a beautiful unique well kept secret.  

Well, a secret no longer so grab a cup of coffee 
while I take you to a beautiful island.
But first, a little history and geography lesson. 

"The Azores is an archipelago, "composed of nine volcanic islands situated in the North Atlantic Ocean, and is located about 1,360 km (850 mi) west of Portugal, about 1,510 km (940 mi) northwest of Morocco, and about 1,925 km (1,196 mi) southeast of Newfoundland. Its main industries are agriculture, dairy farming (for cheese and butter products primarily), livestock ranchingfishing, and tourism, which is becoming the major service activity in the region.   

There are nine island:  these are Flores and Corvo, to the west; GraciosaTerceiraSão JorgePico, and Faial in the centre; and São MiguelSanta Maria, and the Formigas Reef to the east. They extend for more than 600 km (370 mi) and lie in a northwest-southeast direction.  

All the islands have volcanic origins.  Mount Pico, on the island of Pico, is the highest point in Portugal, at 2,351 m (7,713 ft). The Azores are actually some of the tallest mountains on the planet, measured from their base at the bottom of the ocean to their peaks, which thrust high above the surface of the Atlantic."--  Wikipedia  

So now you know a little about this beautiful place, well why did I pick this for my vacation.  My parents were both born and spent their younger years on the Island of Sao Migeul, Azores.  Growing up very poor on the island and both a part of large familes, they moved to the United States at a young age to seek a better life.  

They attended school here in Connecticut and whlie my mother graduated high school, my father dropped out of high school to join his brothers in a "portuguese boy band"  where my father met my mother at one of his concerts. 

Almost 30 years later they brought their children to their hometown to see their culture and immerse themselves in this European Island.   

Below is a photo diary of a wonderful trip<3  

 It was a large group that went--  aunts, uncles, grandparents --all that were born on the island and my cousins.  My sister brought her fiance.

And Thatcher came along too.  An amazing place to experience together, and the perfect company to keep me sane with THAT much family....

Everything about the Azores was beautiful.  Even the street signs.  Rua Das Figueiras.  I do not know Portugese well but I think this translates to the Road of Figs.  Figgy Road anyone?

Because the islands are volcanic,
 the beaches and sand are black and fine "sand". 

Beautiful rock formations by the beach.

Many beautiful churches all over the island 

This was the church where my dad grew up

The family by my father's church!

Love anywhere that is horse friendly

These fellows were hanging out at the restaurant.  I guess a customer had a large tab so he traded in some horses.  Typical Europe.  

Beautiful flowers everywhere 

I heard a racket out my window and saw a bizarre parade going on.   There were dancers, musicians, people in costumes, followed by a parade of cows, in order from big cows to little cows.  I think they were a part of some religious feast/offering. 

The hotels were beautiful but we stayed in a gorgeous rental house.  

Of course the diver in me HAD to go diving so I lugged all of my dive gear to the Azores to take part in some world class diving. 


Coming back on the dive boat!  My first time diving off a boat and going down a line. 

We dove around this island that is a well known dive spot and nature preserve.  You can take a ferry over to the preserve as well. 

Oh and the food... the bread... the cheese... the seafood.. the steaks....  the wine... the coffee... the espresso (Cafe Pequin)  the beer (cervejas)  the long 2+hour lunches, the laid back attitude, Europeans know how to lunch.   

Then there were the beautiful rolling hills, the gorgeous green pastures.... and all those cows! How rare to find an island with so much green beautiful open space.


Sao Miguel is known as the "Green Island". 

 I was also told there were over 2,000 cows on the island. They export a lot of beef.  

The views on this island were simply breathtaking.
Where else can you find a view like this?

Of course there were lots of family visits involved.

My father posing where his childhood house once stood. 
My parents have not been back to the island since they left at a young age.

Sete Cidades... seven cities,
 home to the beautiful two colors lake in the "crater".
We visited some family that lives in the crater. 

We also did a few trecherous drives around the island.  
Car sick and terrified but worth the views. 

Lagoa das Sete Cidades --- the lake of seven cities-- The two colored lake hard to see but the back side is blue while the front side is green.  "s a twin-lake situated in the crater of a massive volcano on the Portuguesearchipelago of the Azores. It consists of two ecologically-different small-lakes connected by a narrow passage (and crossed by a bridge), located inside a dormant volcano on the western third of the island of São Miguel. The Lagoa das Sete Cidades part of a natural landscape of communitarian interest: it is the largest body of water in the region and one of the most important freshwater resources in the archipelago."  --wikipedia.  Read the legend about the two colored lake here

Then there was Furnas-  Calderas, hot springs, and and geysers.  

You can get a boiled dinner of meat and potatoes cooked in the ground, heated by the hot springs

The Green stinky late was beautiful let quite smelly. 

Gorgeous blue tile was all over the island.   Churches, roads, signs, everywhere.  Very much like the main land, Portugal. 

Oh and the hydrangeas... Gorgeous flowers everywhere!  

We also visited the beautiful gardens with the famous hot spring mineral pool.  We went for a swim that turned out bathing suits brown.  

Terra Nostra Tropical Garden

Fishing is also a large part of this island culture. 

At the end of the week we visited that island I dove around the "ilheau de vila franca de campo"

They were setting up for the Red Bull Cliff Jumping/Diving  Tour that following weekend.  

My list of places to see in Sao Miguel, Azores

* Take the ferry to Ilhey de Vila Franca de Campo-  The island / natural reserve off of Sao Miguel
 -  Go scuba diving or just play in the water and soak up the sunshine
*  Visit Furnas-  Calderas, hot springs, and and geysers-  enjoy a traditional Portuguese meal cooked in the ground, but beware.. blood sausage is exactly what it sounds like... and the place is quite stinky
*  Go to Sete Cidades-  a little town located in the center of a volcanic crater.  There is a really cool eery abandonded resort here that is very beautiful in the fog.  
*  Visit the Twin Lakes in Sete Cidades and read about the folk take on why the lake is two toned
*  Visit Terra Nostra Tropical Garden-  walk around the beautiful park,  take a dip in the iron/mineral spring but bring a cheap bathing suit because it may be stained brown after. 
*  Drive the island to see all the churches, cows, hydrangeas, and beautiful open pastures and hillsides
*  Spend some time on the black sand beaches and soak up the sunshine
*   Eat Eat Eat and Drink-  Be a European for the week and take long lunches, at least two hours.  Don't rush it, drink lots of wine, and ALWAYS say yes to cheese and bread.  You will never be dissapointed.
*  Drink the wine but be open minded, Azorean wine is ... interesting.  If you are more into liquor try the moonshine and be a rebel for the week.  Also a martini is something pre mixed and sweet that comes out of a bottle.. not what you expect.
*  Take in the beauty of the simple things.. the street signs, the blue tile, the art, the people, the cafes, the side streets

This place is absolutely beautiful and an amazing place to experience with my family.   If these photos did not convince you to add this spot on your travel list, I am amazed.   Put the Azores on your list, and tell me all about it when you get back.  But let me warn you, this island isn't your typical tropical vacation, but a beautiful oasis.  Not overtaken by tourists and sky scrapers but natural, beautiful, and full of rolling hills and culture,  a sweet reminder of simpler times.  


  1. wow, so so amazing! now i know i have to go!!! i love that you could do that with the family connection...and bring thatcher. LOVE! also i need to live in the lime green + white building. xoxoxo

  2. Oh my gosh, so pretty. I would LOVE to go here, it's a place, in all honesty, I hadn't heard of before but definitely want to go there one day.

    xo Naomi in Wonderland


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