After the last busy weeks that followed our trip to São Miguel I found some time to go through and edit my photos. So, finally I can give you some impressions of this beautiful island in the middle of the Atlantic.
I fully realized that we were approaching a tiny archipelago in the middle of nowhere on our flight to the Azores when we mostly saw … water. Flying along São Miguel’s south coast, then landing on the small airport that felt more like the railway station of a medium European town made me finally understand that we’re on an 62 km x 16 km “big” island, although the biggest island of the archipelago with about 140 000 inhabitants.
But don’t let numbers fool you. This island has much to offer on its 745 km² (as you will see during the next weeks).
What the Azores are famous for is their stunning unspoiled landscape, that was created by the power of nature. It’s not the perfect place if you seek for a buzzling urban life. So it might seem strange to start this first post with the main city of São Miguel, Ponta Delgada. But its charm derives from its laid-back sleepiness, the signs of a small creative scene, the traces of various cultural influences.
Indeed, what we realized in Ponta Delgada: The Azores are far away from being “at the end of the world”, actually when it comes to exchange of goods, animals and plants, migration of people and their traditions it was and is indeed a point of interchange.
This can be seen f.ex. in architecture, but also when it comes to food of course. Or have you heard about a dish that serves blood sausage with pineapple?! Taberna Açor serves this and other Azorean specialities. In the market hall Mercado da Graça and at the ‘King of Cheeses’ (O rei dos queijos) next door you will find even more foodie treats: cheeses, ananas jam, canned sardines,…
A special place that we found is the Louvre Michaelense, located in a former hat shop and decorated with lots of vintage accesoires. It now serves as a café, but also as a shop for all kind of artisan and culinary local produce of the Azores, especially of course São Miguel. A place, where you can definitely forget about time…
No Andar de Cima is – as the name says – just upstairs: A beautiful designed place were you get lovingly served breakfasts in a quiet, relaxed atmosphere … not that you have to escape crowds of people and noise in Ponta Delgada, but still! No Andar de Cima is also a space for various exhibitions, workshops, concerts (sadly not when we were there).
We found both places through Ponta Delgada para curiosas – a great alternative city guide, released by Yuzin Azores, an alternative calendar of events located on São Miguel that not only informs about but also supports and organizes various cultural events on the Azores, f.ex. the popular Tremor festival.
If you still feel you need a break from strolling through Ponta Delagada, you could head to one of the Botancial Gardens of the city. We visited the Jardim Botânico Antonio Borges (no entry fee) named after the most succesful ananas grower of São Miguel 😉 This garden already gave us an idea of what could be expected from the islands nature outside its capital.
Our holiday cottage that we’ve rented via airbnb lay in São Roque, a suburb of Ponta Delgada with working class atmosphere that can be reached by a walk along the coast passing the marina of Ponta Delgada.
The famous landmark of São Roque is a small peninsula, remains of a vulcanic crater, that given to its name Rosto de Cão looks like a dog face. Ok, you could argue about that, but it is a beautiful section of the south coast and from the nearby miradouro you have a great view on Ponta Delagada but also to the left along the coast up to Lagoa. At the waterfront you can watch the waves of the Atlantic ocean come an go, dig your feet into the sand of the beach, eat seafood, f. ex. at Cais 20, smell the salty air and look for Yves Decoster’s hearts that are very likely to be seen especially on the south coast of São Miguel.
And just behind the coast, tucked away on a small ananas plantation lay our holiday home. A small cottage just for us! Cozy and furnished with love for the detail it made us feel comfy from the first day. And when we learned how to get the fireplace started in the evening (April evenings can be chilly on the Azores), this multiplied.
But the star, oh, the star were the views from the upstairs bedroom windows: unbeatable! From there we could overview the rooftops of São Roque, Rosto de Cão, the coast and the wide wide atlantic ocean! With such vista and a cup of coffee in your hand it can become a real challenge to get out of bed in the morning!
But then we wanted to see something, explore the island, and for that Ponta Delgada as the central hub on the island and our little cottage next to the dog face proofed to be a good starting point.