Life on Azores

This is a series of blog entries from SkySurf.Travel’s first travel hiree, Romanna.

Lagoa do Fogo
Lagoa do Fogo

“Are you kidding? I want to spend my life on this island; I’m in love with it!” That was Joao’s answer. He was born on San Miguel island and lived here all his life – 25 years. I was wondering whether he ever thought to move somewhere else. Usually, young people are trying to find a better life in big and crowded cities. But he doesn’t.

We came to the beach with friends early in the morning. There was a strong wind blowing from the ocean, and waves crushed cliffs so loud every few seconds. This view and sound were wild — pure nature beauty without any human impact.

“You see? How can I move from this place? Just imagine, I can see and hear this every day. And every day I’m impressed with it.” I understood him now 100 percent. To tell you the truth, I was jealous. Isn’t it a dream life?

Ponta Delgada city.

More and more people discover the Azores every year. Even though the amount of travelers is growing, it is still not a well-known destination. Locals have their routine, and it is not much affected by tourism. At least I had such a feeling.

Park in a city center of Ponta Delgada
Park in a city center of Ponta Delgada

So let me tell you about the capital city, Ponta Delgada, located near the ocean. There is a comfy airport near the city – you don’t need to spend too much money to get to your accommodation. I was in a good mood that day and made it on foot. Anyway, you can catch a taxi, and it will cost you 10-20 euros (in Ponta Delgada).

I can’t say there was something incredible there. But I am sure that you need to walk through this city at least for a few hours. It seems like anything I saw before. Some areas are full of colored one-floor houses; in others, there are black and white, three-floor buildings. Quiet and tiny streets seem inhabited in the evening.

Lots of buildings in Ponta Delgada are black and white
Lots of buildings in Ponta Delgada are black and white

I am sure there should be some fancy places, but I had not seen one. We found a few places where locals eat. Lovely budget cafes where you can get some meat or fish, French fries or rice, salad, coffee + one more drink just for 6.5 euros! Also every day we used to cook by ourselves. For example, the cost of products including wine, seafood or meat, and fresh vegetables was 20 euros for three people, isn’t it nice?

There are three-night clubs on San Miguel island. Locals say that two of them are not worth visiting. Usually, young people gather in one of them on weekend nights. But during my visit, the San Joao celebration was held, and I was told that all the people on the island would gather in one place. Even though I was expecting something boring from the religious celebration, it surprised me!

Live music festival on San Miguel Island
Live music festival on San Miguel Island

I couldn’t imagine so many people are on the island. There was some music festival with Portuguese popular bands and DJs. I never heard of any of them. But when all those people were singing songs, that was so incredible! I think that experience was much better than a night spent in a club. Entrance for one day cost 5 euros. 2 days – 10 euros.

What else to see on San Miguel

There is no industrial production here and no fish exporting. So I wondered – what do they do here? Local people develop agriculture and livestock.

Pineapple plantation sign
Pineapple plantation sign

You will be astonished by the fact the most famous fruit on the Azores is pineapple. I found it strange at first because the climate is too cold for them. For many years one family is an owner of pineapple plantations where they grow in the greenhouses.

Pineapple greenhouses
Pineapple greenhouses

Did you know that pineapples need two years to grow?

There are a few greenhouses that you can enter free. There you can see how they grow. From 1-3 months until ready to eat.

Entrance to the third phase pineapple greenhouse
Entrance to the third phase pineapple greenhouse

Interesting fact Azorean pineapples are much smaller than the usual ones. Their core is edible and has a rich aroma. For example, if you will leave the fruit in a room for a few hours, it will fill the room with its smell.

Pineapples growing on a greenhouse
Pineapples growing on a greenhouse

Another place worth visiting – tea plantations.

Tea plantation
Tea plantation

In the 19th century, the Azores were producing 250 tones of tea per year, but now there are only tea plantations on San Miguel.

Tea factory
Tea factory

The same as with pineapples, this is a family business, and now the fifth generation is taking care of it. Except for plantations you can visit a tea fabric, see how everything works, and try the tea. It is named Cha Gorreana, and it was established in 1883. Exported are the most significant parts of the harvest; to continental Portugal and other countries.

Tea factory equipment
Tea factory equipment

Discovering the island, you can find lots of cows. But you need to know that on Terceira island there are more cows than people! Because of the climate in Azores cattle spend all-time outdoor eating fresh grass – this is one of the main rules of the “Happy Cow” program. Local dairy products are one of the best in the world because of the highest standards. Locals make sure the cows are happy – they have perfect fields with grass and fresh ocean air 365 days per year.

Happy Azorean cows - Moo!
Happy Azorean cows – Moo!

Raging fumaroles, boiling water, dust and a smell of sulfur; Feels like you found yourself in Iceland! This place is a complex of geothermal springs near Lagoa das Furnas and Furnas village. Entrance fee – 2 euro.

complex of geothermal springs near Lagoa das Furnas
a complex of geothermal springs near Lagoa das Furnas

It seems better to avoid this place. Nevertheless, locals found to benefit from it. Vat das Furnas is famous for its Cozido das Furnas dish. A vat with meat and vegetables is buried under the ground over hot springs for 6 hours; This is how it’s prepared in a “natural oven.” After the vat is rigged up and transferred to the restaurant where you can try it.

Place where Cozido das Furnas dish is prepared under the ground
Place where Cozido das Furnas dish is prepared under the ground

This is life on the Azores!
Hope you enjoyed my story.

See you soon!

– Romanna

Previous post: To See Everything in Two Days – the Fast Itinerary of the Azores

Next post: Somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean – Madeira Island

Romanna’s trip to eight cities (five islands) in Europe cost a total of $815 (flights only).  To build your own cheap multicity itinerary, visit SkySurf.Travel.

View more photos of Romanna’s European SkySurf.Travel adventure on Instagram

To read more of Romanna’s SkySurf.Travel adventure blogs, click here.

 

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