Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Ponta Delgada, Azores



Good morning everyone! I hope you are all having a good week so far, and, for those of you stateside, getting excited for the holiday weekend. We are gearing up for family to come into town, before we all head out to the beach for a couple of days.

If you recall, right after we moved (literally days), we went on a week long vacation to the Azores. I'm sure most of you have never heard of this place. I hadn't, until my husband stumbled upon a Groupon for a trip to Ponta Delgada on the island of São Miguel. He decided to do a little research, since it seemed like such a good deal, to see what this place was and what it had to offer.  He found out that the Azores are a chain of volcanic islands that lay just over a thousand miles off of the coast of Portugal. Just a four hour flight from Boston (read about our layover adventure in Boston here). They are lush, green, and known for their tea, dairy farming, and pineapples. There are any number activities for tourist and locals to enjoy, depending on what you are looking for on your vacation. 

Anthony Bourdain has a huge presence in our house. We watched No Reservations religiously, The Layover as well, we now watch Parts Unknown, and I have to say that Kitchen Confidential is one of my favorite books (having worked in the service industry for half of my life). As it turns out, Tony paid a visit to the Azores during his time on No Reservations. See more here, or watch the episode here. A beautiful landscape of rolling hills dotted with cattle, encapsulated by azure waters, Tony's seal of approval, and (of course) the food, all sold us on a visit to this mysterious destination.

We were not disappointed. Beside the major jet lag from the four hour time difference, we thoroughly enjoyed our stay. We explored the town of Ponta Delgada; enjoying local food, beer, and wine. The street art you find strolling through the streets brings this European style town into the modern era with vibrant colors and unique visions. At the center of the wondrous Terra Nostra Botanical Garden, overflowing with flora from around the world, lies a hot spring of a deep ochre yellow, smelling strongly of minerals and earth,  that had us steeping in its healing waters. Another geothermal pool that met the ocean was a whole other experience; as the tide washes into the pool naturally carved into the rocky oceanside, the fresh water cools the steaming thermal waters seeping from deep within the rocks below. Black sand beaches seated on the cold Atlantic Ocean were a treat on a nice afternoon. Drives on winding roads lined with Hydrangea waiting to bloom, through the rolling hillsides into peaks shrouded in clouds were lovely, and a bit scary at times. Tiny villages to explore kept us marveling at this docile little jewel nestled into the Northern Atlantic Ocean. How had we never heard of this place, and how long 'till we made our next visit?











































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