S. Miguel, a garden in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean
In 2016, in addition to Bayahibe, London, and Seville, I was lucky enough to visit S. Miguel with my great friend Omar. We traveled in early September on TAP. The flight was short and smooth and we were served a snack (a sandwich). We stayed close to the center of Ponta Delgada (next to the coliseum) at the Azoris Royal Garden, a 4-star hotel. The quality is more than enough for a pleasant and refined stay. The rooms (single) are very pleasing with modern and cozy decorations. These had LCD TV, air conditioning, fast internet, personal hygiene products, a hairdryer, a bathtub, a minibar, daily cleaning, and views over the hotel's gardens, which are beautiful, or over the city of Ponta Delgada, with the sea right behind. The hotel also has an indoor and outdoor swimming pool, gym, bar, spa, sauna, Turkish bath, jacuzzi, and garage (free parking for guests).
On the first day, as we were so close to the center of Ponta Delgada, we left our bags in the room and went for a walk to the city and enjoyed the view of the marina. Located in the south of the island, Ponta Delgada has several constructions with basalt (volcanic stone) such as the city gates or Igreja Matriz de São Sebastião. I found the city very pleasant right away. In the evening we had dinner at the hotel (we had C.P.), and the buffet had some variety and a lot of quality. In the end, we took the opportunity to enjoy a little of the calm of the garden.
The next day we rented a car and went to explore. We continue towards the famous Lagoa das Sete Cidades. Before getting there, we explored Lagoa das Empadadas, which we discovered by coincidence... It's not the biggest or the most beautiful, but it's still beautiful, with lots of vegetation and surrounding nature.
Until we reached the destination, we stopped a few dozen more 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 always ended up finding cows - ahaha! After many breathtaking landscapes, we arrived at the famous Lagoa das Sete Cidades! With an area of over 4 km², this is without any doubt one of the most beautiful places in Portugal... The combination of green tones along the slopes with the different tonalities of blue and green of the lagoon left me speechless...
We continue to Sete Cidades, a small town next to the lagoon, where we took several pictures and visit the church of São Nicolau. Another interesting detail of the island is the fact that the roads are surrounded by a surprising and enormous layer of vegetation.
After a short visit to the town of Sete Cidades, we headed towards the Miradouro da Ponta do Escalvado, close to Várzea, from where we could observe Mosteiros and its little island. After passing through Mosteiros, we headed towards Ribeira Grande, on a road very close to the coast... It was just curves and more curves... At a certain point, I was already a little nauseous (LOL)... And we decided to stop for lunch. We found a restaurant with a sea view (and once again with the cows right in front of it) called 4 Plátanos... Although we had never heard of this place and it is out of town, we decided to give it a try and it was a great surprise! Both the veal and tuna steaks we had were divine. Very good indeed, I recommend it.
We then continued towards Ribeira Grande, where we enjoyed the dark sand beaches! The sand of basalt origin! From here we head to Vila Franca do Campo, where we went to see the islet, where one of the Red Bull Cliff Diving stages takes place. Unfortunately, it was late and we ended up not being able to actually go there, but we still took some pictures with the islet behind us.
After that, we returned to the hotel, where there was still time for some diving... until dinner at the hotel.
At night, we went to the marina for a walk and had ice cream... That area comes alive at night with all the light that surrounds us... Fantastic!
The next day, after a good breakfast at the hotel, we headed towards Lagoa do Fogo... Unfortunately, the fog was very heavy and we could barely see a hand in front of our noses... We followed, very carefully, to Caldeira Velha, a biosphere reserve. This is one of my favorite places in Portugal. Walking through that vegetation, reminded me of the vegetation I find when traveling in the Caribbean. In addition, there is also a beautiful waterfall and two pools where you can take a bath with hot water (for example, in the waterfall pool the water is around 30ºC). The road that passes through Caldeira Velha is also full of vegetation and when opening the car window we can smell the flowers and the fresh air that surrounds us.
From here we head to Lagoa das Furnas where the famous Cozido das Furnas is made in the fumaroles. It's fantastic to be able to observe these volcanic phenomena so close and feel the (bad) smell of sulfur... Moments that I will never forget. In one of the street vendors we even bought a natural juice, which was served to us inside the pineapple itself! Divinal! And the pineapple was also useful to take some pictures next to the lagoon... We continue to the Lombo dos Milhos Viewpoint, from where we can have a panoramic view of the caves and the surrounding environment! Definitely, a place to visit!
From here, we head to Terra Nostra park, a botanical garden, in the Furnas valley. A very gorgeous place, where we can find endemic flora from the Azores or even plants native to other climates. We can also bathe in the thermal water tank.
We still went back to Lagoa do Fogo, to finally try to see the famous lagoon. And we were lucky! Despite being cloudy, we could actually see the lagoon. For me, this is one of the most relaxing places I've ever been and here, we can still see the north and south of the island.
After visiting this spectacular place, we returned to the hotel for a few more dives and later on returned to Ponta Delgada to do some last shopping.
The next day we enjoyed the hotel again and returned to the mainland.
*The pictures are taken by me and do not present any type of edition.