Being in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, it rains quite often on the Azores archipelago. In fact, it rained every single day we were there but given our unique “shelter“, we didn’t mind much. Besides, the sun always came out after the rain. They have neither real winter nor real summer, the weather is constantly mild, almost like spring time all year round, which is actually quite nice. The most popular activity on Sao Miguel, or any other island, is hiking, and the most pleasant one, for us ;-), is taking a long dip in one of the natural hotsprings in the volcanic village of Furnas.
Some fun facts about the Azores and its 9 islands:
All are volcanic islands dating back to million years ago.
It is an autonomous region with its own government and administrations within the Portugal Republic.
Sao Miguelis the largest of all islands and is home to Europe’s two and only tea plantations, Gorreana & Porto FormosoFlat-16q4
both on the north coast.
Due to its unique weather condition, all islands are very green and most flowers are in bloom all year round.
Each island has its own distinct characteristics and specialty products: Pico is known for its high mountains and wine, Sao Miguel for its tea and agricultural products, Sao Jorge for its excellent cheese, Faial for its volcanos, Flores for its valleys, Santa Maria for its brown sandy beaches.
The “Azores High” climate is named after the archipelago, distictive for its high atmospheric pressure.
We have to admit we’re quite intriqued about what the other islands have to offer. This is undoubtedly one of the places we would come back for more.
The title has said it all. The minute we arrived in this amazingly beautiful “resort” on Sao Miquel – the biggest island in the Azores, all the sickness and hustles of the past few days were immediately forgotten. The owners, Jorge from Sao Miquel and Eleni from Australia/Greece, renovated their property and turned it into a wedding locatin just last year. They added the Greek chapel and a “glass house”, in which the newlywed couple could spend the night in the “honeymoon suite” in the back. We call it the glass house because the front (living) room is made entirely of glasses. It is one huge open space with the bedroom/honeymoon suite and the bathroom are “hidden” behind the open kitchen. We loved the view in here so much that we chose to sleep on the bed-couch in the middle of the glass house just to take it all in.
What we heard about Lisbon didn’t disappoint: the city, the people (exept taxi-drivers), the night life, the markets, the food-scene. They were more than captivating. Too bad we didn’t spend enough time here at once (our schedule was 3 nights Sintra – 2 nights Lisbon – 5 nights Sao Miquel – 2 nights Lisbon) cause coming in and out for two nights each left us only 2 full days to explore the city. But we loved what we saw and would definitely come back for more.
Wanting to escape the busy city life, we headed to the National Park of Sintra-Cascais right after landing the first time in Portugal, saving its capital for later. After reading too many reviews about the cheating behavior of Portugese taxi-drivers (which is really a shame cause this country could really do better), we decided to book our pick-up in advance to save us all the troubles. After about 45 minute drive, we arrived in the little town of Colares where we rented a small cottage on the beautiful property of a Portugese family. Taking on their advise, we booked the sunset dinner at Bar do Fundo, nicely located on Praia Grande beach which is just a short walk away. Our timing couldn’t have been any better as it was late in the afternoon and the sun was casting its shade on the horizon. The descending walk to the beach we took happened to be the Dinosaur route with supposedly some Dinosaur footprints to be seen. Honestly, we didn’t see any cause we weren’t aware of of their existence, hence we weren’t looking. But we saw something else we liked maybe even better: our dream home. It was a spacious wooden villa on the cliff overlooking the Atlantics, totally secluded from the village life, something we had always imagined our home would look like…. (sigh)…. No, we didn’t take pictures of it, only in our minds.
Dinner was great. Our host even offered to pick us up from the beach to save us the hike back home so everything was exactly how it’s supposed to be: lovely place, beach, sunset, seafoods, good wines, and the two of us. We were very content till the next morning when I suddenly got reeaallly really sick in the stomach (it turned out to be some virus infection). I won’t bother you with all the ugly details, just saying it was a truly horrifying experience being in a secluded Portugese coastal town on a Friday afternoon (which also meant no chance to find any doctor at that hour) where people spoke very little English… Fortunately, our host has a Doctor friend whom they could call at the house and had him come to see me. So all is well that ends well, isn’t it. Only that it took me a couple of days to recover and it kind of ruined the first part of our trip, and my mood to say the least :-(.
Needless to say, with me in bed for 2 whole days we couldn’t spend much time outside. On our last day in the area, we decided to make the most of it and start our vacation all over again so we rented a bike and drive around. We were very glad we did.
Sintra is a very lovely coastal town about 30km away from Lisbon but since we’re not the tourist kind, the only attraction we chose to visit is Quinta da Regaleira with its magnificently designed and well-kept garden. It is truly a magical place that could have come directly from a fairly tale.