Hear about travel to the Azores as the Amateur Traveler talks to Maria Lawton from Azorean Green Bean about these Portuguese islands that her family has called home for 500 years.
Maria says, “I was born in the Azores. My family has lived in the Azores for about five centuries. I can trace my family’s lineage from the first island that was discovered in Santa Maria to back to the mainland. So my roots are very deep. The Azores are these nine islands volcanic islands, this archipelago of nine islands, in the very middle of the Atlantic. They are these hidden, beautiful, semi-tropical islands. People have no idea that they’re there. They’re the most gorgeous, beautiful things. They are the most lush, they’re the most beautiful, green, just rugged coasts. They’re just so beautiful, and something that I think everyone in their lifetime needs to see.”
We focus mostly on the island of San Miguel. The island of San Miguel is also called the Green Island. It is the largest of all of the islands. Maria recommends we stay in Ponta Delgada, which is the capital of San Miguel. From there we can get easily from one end of the island to the other. She says you will need to slow down your pace to match the slower pace of the islands.
Ponta Delgada has a waterfront and old cobblestoned streets. Maria is a foodie and recommends exploring the food at the farmer’s market. You’re going to find the actual farmer selling his goods. You’re going to see these amazing fruits, these amazing vegetables, everything that’s in season. You’re going to see a cheese shop with fresh cheese that was made daily on the island. Maria tells us that “they say there are two cows to every person”.
For the best sunsets, she recommends Mosteiros on the west end of the island. Maria also recommends a visit to the village of Sete Cidades which is located in a massive volcanic crater 3 miles across. There are scenic hikes of the rim, but she also recommends a stop at a local tea house.
There are active tea plantations on the Azores, the only ones in Europe. The Portuguese brought tea back from the far east and even introduced the English to tea time. If you have never visited a tea plantation then you should take a tour and see the lush green fields as well as the process by which tea is dried into the different kinds of tea we know.
Your visit to the Azores can be about surfing, waterfalls, and canyoneering or about spas, hot springs, food, and relaxing. With a weeklong vacation, Maria suggests spending it all on San Miguel with a couple of exceptions. If you are a wine lover you might consider a visit to the island of Pico which has the best-known vineyards. If you are a fan of cheese, you might want to visit São Jorge Island the home for São Jorge cheese. The island of Terceira is known for a slow cooker pot roast, known as Alcatra.
Each of the islands in the Azores has a somewhat different culture and landscape. More and more European visitors are discovering these lovely semi-tropical islands as a sort of European Hawaiian Islands. Good food, volcanic landscapes, and history draw visitors to the Azores.s
right click here to download (mp3)
Azorean Green Bean – Preserving Azorean Cooking
Travel to the Azores – Episode 290 – Amateur Traveler
São Miguel Island
Grand Hotel Açores Atlântico
Mercado da Graça – Ponta Delgada
Tea house “O Poejo”
Lagoa das Sete Cidades
Lagoa do Fogo
Praia de Santa Bárbara
Gorreana Tea Factory
Porto Formoso Tea Factory
Catherine of Braganza
São Jorge Island
São Jorge cheese
Azorean Alcatra (Pot Roast) Recipe
Terra Nostra Garden Hotel
Bolo Lêvedo (Sweet Muffin)
Vila Franca do Campo
Our Lady of Peace, in a Peaceful Setting – Review of Nossa Senhora da Paz, Vila Franca do Campo, Portugal – Tripadvisor
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