S. Miguel, a garden in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean
2016 was a great year to me, besides Bayahibe, London and Seville, I had the opportunity to visit S. Miguel with my great friend Omar. We traveled in early September through TAP. The flight was short and quiet. Our base was near the center of Ponta Delgada (next to the coliseum) in the Azoris Royal Garden, a 4 star hotel. The quality is ok and enough for a pleasant stay and with refinement. The rooms are simple and very pleasant with a modern decoration. They have LCD, air conditioning, fast internet, toiletries, hairdryer, bathtub, minibar, daily cleaning. The hotel also has an indoor and outdoor pool, gym, bar, spa, sauna, Turkish bath, Jacuzzi and garage (free parking for guests).
On our first day, we left our bags in the room and went for a walk to the city and enjoy the beautiful view of the marina. Located in the south of the island, Ponta Delgada has several buildings with basalt (volcanic stone) as the doors of the city or Mother Church of São Sebastião. I found the city very pleasant. In the evening we had dinner at the hotel. The buffet had enough variety and a lot of quality. After dinner, we went to the hotel gardener and enjoy the calm of this place.
Next day we rented a car and went on the discovery. We continue towards the famous Lagoa das Sete Cidades. Before we get there, we explore the Lagoa das Empadadas, which we discovered by chance ... It is not the largest or the most beautiful, but it still has its own beauty, with a lot of vegetation and surrounding nature.
Until we reached the destination, we stopped a few dozen times to take pictures and enjoy the fantastic landscapes of that island (LOL) ... As soon as we got out of the car, the first thing we heard was "MUUUUU ..." !! In addition to the amazing landscapes, S. Miguel is full of cows! Wherever we went, we ended up always finding cows - LOL! After lots of breathtaking scenery, we arrived at the famous Lagoa das Sete Cidades! With more than 4 km², this is one of the most beautiful places in Portugal ... The combination of shades of green along the slopes with the different shades of blue and green of the lagoon itself left me gaping ...
After that, we went to Sete Cidades, a small place by the lagoon, where we took several photographs and visited the church of St. Nicholas. Another interesting detail of the island is the fact that the roads are surrounded by a layer of amazing vegetation.
After a short visit to the town of Sete Cidades, we continue towards the viewpoint of Ponta do Escalvado, near the Várzea, from where we could observe Mosteiros and his islet. After passing through Mosteiros, we headed towards Ribeira Grande, along a road very close to the coast ... It was just curves and more curves and more curves ... At some point I was a little nauseous (LOL) ... So we decided to stop for lunch. We found a restaurant with sea view (and once again with the cows just ahead) that was called 4 Plátanos... Although we never heard of this place and being out of any locality we decided to try it and it was a great surprise! Both the steak and the tuna steak we ate were divine. Very good indeed, highly recommend.
After that, we pick the road to Ribeira Grande, where we found the sandy beaches! Basaltic sand! From here we continue to Vila Franca do Campo, where we went to see the Islet where Red Bull Cliff Diving takes place. Unfortunately it was already late and we ended up not being able to go there, but we still took some pictures with the islet.
After this we returned to the hotel, where there was still time for some dives ... until dinner.
At night we went to the Marina and eat an ice cream ... That area comes alive at night with all the lights that surrounds us ... Fantastic!
Next day, after a good breakfast at the hotel we went to Lagoa do Fogo ... Unfortunately the fog was there and we could hardly see a hand in front of the nose ... We followed, very carefully until Caldeira Velha, a biosphere reserve. This is one of my favorite places in Açores. Walking in the middle of that vegetation reminded me the vegetation that I find when I travel through the Caribbean islands. In addition there is a beautiful waterfall and two puddles where you can bathe with hot water (for example, in the waterfall puddle the water is around 30ºC). Also the road that passes in Caldeira Velha is full of vegetation and here we could fell and smell all the flowers and the fresh air that surrounds us.
From here we continue to Lagoa das Furnas where the famous "cozido" of the furnas is made in the fumaroles. It is fantastic to be able to observe these volcanic phenomena so close and feel the (bad) smell of sulphuric gas ... Those moments I will never forget. In one of the hawkers we still bought a natural juice, which was served inside a pineapple! Divine!! Than we went to the Mirador of the Lombo dos Milhos, from where we get a panoramic view of the furnas and all the surroundings! Definitely a place to visit.
From here, we went to Terra Nostra Park, a botanical garden, in Furnas Valley. A very pleasant place, where we can find an endemic flora of the Azores and even native plants from other places. We can still take a bath in the thermal waters.
We still returned to Lagoa do Fogo, to finally see the famous lagoon. And this time we were lucky! Although cloudy, we were able to see the lagoon. For me this is one of the most relaxing places I have ever been and from here, we can see the north and south of the island till de oceans.
After visiting this spectacular place, we returned to the hotel for a few more dives and later a walk into Ponta Delgada and do some last shops.
The next day (was the last) we enjoyed the hotel again and returned to the mainland.
* The Images are all mine and do not have any type of editing.