Located in the west of Portugal mainland lies an autonomous archipelago, Azores. São Miguel island is the home to the capital city, Ponta Delgada. The island is home to some volcanic craters, lagoons, hot springs and geothermal baths. With many hiking trails, on a good day, this place looks very beautiful.
I landed on the island late morning and to my surprise was greeted by a pleasant weather. The airport is built next to the sea and the first view of the island is pretty breathtaking.
The lady at the information center on the airport was polite, kind and helpful. After arriving at the hostel, I unpacked and went around to see the city. I walked into a small restaurant and asked if they are still serving lunch. Most of the eateries close for a few hours in the afternoon, something like a siesta. But fortunately, this place was open and serving. The lady at the desk didn’t speak much English but asked a colleague of hers to attend me. The guy informed me that they were serving just fish and but it’s delicious and I won’t be disappointed. He was correct in every sense, it might well have been the best fish I had with a local beer, called Especial. After the meal, the guy wished that I enjoy my stay here. It felt like the people of this place would take every step to make me feel welcome and make sure I won’t have any inconvenience here.
A taste of local beer
During one of my evening strolls in a garden, I ran into a group of school going kids and decided to exchange some greetings. They weren’t fluent in English but were delighted to have a tourist walking up to them and having a quick chat. They were young and have not left the island yet.
“One day, it’s my dream to go to the mainland and travel“.
One of these kids moved from a neighboring island, Madeira. For the ones, who aren’t aware Madeira is home to Cristiano Ronaldo.
“People are very very proud of him. Its a very very small place and he came up from nothing and look where he is now.”
People in Madeira dare to dream because of Ronaldo. He has given hope.
The island has a coastline with the black sand beach. While taking a walk along the shore to view the sunset, there were many different advertisements of the of “Whale Watching”. Apparently, during the peak tourist season, one can hire a boat and the company would take you to a place in the closeby in the Atlantic ocean to watch the whales and dolphins.
The next few days, I traveled to the east and west coast of the island, to experience the hot springs and see the lagoons. It’s very easy to hitchhike and people are more than willing to help you with directions. A friend at the hostel recommended a very scenic hiking trail, and it was indeed very very scenic. On returning, he enquired if I liked the hike and elated on listening that I enjoyed it.
The bus connections from the town of Ponta Delgada to the coasts are limited, hence, I had to wake up very early to get the only bus to the other end. One of these days, en route to the hot spring I deboarded at the wrong stop, a small city some 10 kilometers of the actual destination. I went to ask for help, the guy didn’t speak English and he roamed around to find someone to help me. It turned out the next bus is in the evening, but an alternative mode would be to hire a taxi. I waited at a small stop, reading “Taxi Parking”. I was informed the taxi would arrive in half an hour, 09.00 in the morning. I waited waited waited, 09.00 am, no taxi…
09.20, still no taxi…
09.30, taxi nowhere to be seen…
All this time a lady a store next door was watching me waiting all this time. She called the Taxi Driver. The car was standing in front of me within next ten minutes.
I have already described in brief about the love for books and reading being one of the favorite pastimes Portugal. The central square, a little square in the middle of the city has a little, Microlibrary. It’s like an old telephone booth with books neatly arranged inside. How it works is one can borrow a book and keep one inside. If the book you’re looking for is missing, you can put the details on the notebook kept inside.
The Azorean experience has been absolutely wonderful and in my opinion, this is one of the most underrated travel destination. I wished I had more time to spend here, people are welcoming, the sea, the sand, the hills, the hike, the mountains, the springs, the volcanoes, the lagoons, this little island has a lot to offer.
Now, I fly to my next destination, the city of Porto.