SO WHERE ARE THE AZORES?
These nine volcanic islands are scattered across the mid-Atlantic, about 1,500km west of Portugal and 4,000km east of New York. They form part of Macronesia, a geographical region which includes the Canary Islands, although the Azores are greener than the more southerly Spanish isles. Politically they are part of Portugal – the Azoreans speak Portuguese, have adopted the euro, send deputies to the Portuguese parliament and are represented in Brussels by their own MEP. Where they differ from the rest of Europe is in the pace of life, which feels rather like stepping back to the 1950s.
The Crown Princes in Ponta Delgada
The islands divide naturally into three groups: the eastern islands of Sao Miguel, the largest of the nine, and Santa Maria; the central group consisting of Terceira, Graciosa, Sao Jorge, Pico and Faial; and the western islands of Flores and Corvo, the smallest and most remote. There were no inhabitants at all until the 15th century, when the Portuguese explorers happened upon Santa Maria and Sao Miguel.
The harbor is full of whale watching and fishing boats
The island of Sao Miguel is the largest of the Azorean Islands and is home to the harbor of Ponta Delgada. The island is known for its rich volcanic soil that produces a multitude of crops; tobacco, tea, tropical fruit such as pineapple and bananas. It was a little foggy but the weather forecast calls for a pleasant day. We have until 1:30pm here so I’ll say goodbye for now and pick up once we get back to the ship.
M.A. and I got off the ship at 9:30am with no real plans for the day and no plans to see anything in the city. We walked up on a guy hawking an open air bus ride around the town for 10 euros. We jumped at it. It is called the “Fun Bus” and it’s like a “hop-on, hop-off” bus without the getting off. It made one circle around the city.
What we learned about the Azores was the climate is pretty much the same all year. This morning it was really pleasant and I did not take a jacket. The islands were formed from volcanoes umpteen years ago and that fact is very evident in the homes, beaches and countryside. Many of the houses are made from volcanic rock. All of the fences dividing pastures are made from volcanic rocks. The black paint you see on the trim of the houses is made from volcanic soil. Our journey around the town was an attraction for many of the residents of Ponta Delgado. They waved at the tourists and shouted “spend more money!”….just kidding. They were very friendly though. The journey around the town ended so we got off and walked into a café where M.A. had a snack and coffee. We walked back to the ship and waited to get back aboard. I took some photos and hope you enjoy them.
We off to Cherbourg, France. If you like the blog leave us a comment!