By Pedro Gonçalves
Olá, dear readers! Today, I invite you to join me on a virtual journey to my homeland, the Azores, for a weekend escape that promises to rejuvenate your spirit and connect you deeply with nature.
Day 1: The Heartbeat of the Islands
Begin your adventure in Ponta Delgada, the charming capital of São Miguel, the largest island in the archipelago. Wander through the cobbled streets, where the blend of modern cafes and historic churches echo the islands’ unique blend of old and new. Stop by the Mercado da Graça, where local farmers and fishermen bring the freshest produce and catch of the day. Here, you’ll not only find the ingredients for your Azorean culinary journey but also stories and smiles from the island’s soul – its people.
In the afternoon, venture out to Sete Cidades. This majestic volcanic crater, with its twin lakes, one blue and the other green, is more than just a stunning natural wonder; it’s a testament to the volcanic origins of these islands. Hiking around the crater’s rim offers breathtaking views and a profound sense of connection to the earth.
As the day winds down, enjoy a meal at a local family-run restaurant. Indulge in cozido das Furnas, a stew cooked underground by volcanic steam, a perfect example of how we, Azoreans, harmonize our lives with nature’s forces.
Day 2: The Call of the Ocean
The Azores are a premier destination for whale watching, and no visit is complete without experiencing these magnificent creatures up close. Embark on a guided tour from Ponta Delgada and witness the awe-inspiring sight of whales and dolphins in their natural habitat. It’s a humbling reminder of our responsibility to protect these waters and their inhabitants.
In the afternoon, I suggest a quieter, introspective activity. Visit the only tea plantations in Europe, such as Gorreana or Porto Formoso. Stroll through the lush fields, learn about the delicate process of tea making, and savor a fresh brew as you overlook the serene Atlantic.
Evening: Reflecting Under Starlit Skies
Conclude your weekend by gazing at the stars from one of the many dark sky spots on the islands. The Azores offer some of the clearest skies for stargazing, a perfect way to reflect on the profound beauty and tranquility of these islands.
In just a weekend, the Azores offer a glimpse into a world where nature and culture intertwine gracefully. It’s not just a place; it’s a feeling – of being one with the earth and sea, of understanding the delicate balance of life, and of carrying the essence of these islands in your heart, long after you’ve returned home.
Até breve, and may your journey be as enriching for your soul as it is for your senses!