Mostly, during our time on Sao Miguel, the largest of the nine islands in the Azores, it seemed like Ireland: stunningly green, azalea bushes in full flower everywhere, mountains down to the ocean and an overcast sky that— fortunately only once— actually turned into some rain (and not much at that).
But then, when you least expect it, you notice a bird of paradise or bougainvillea or an orange grove, that gives away that you’re not on the Emerald Isle. But what really gives it away is the black rock. The island’s infrastructure: buildings, roads, walls and dirt, are all black, made from the lava rock that is the earth of this place. And the beaches are all black sand beaches. Like the ones on the Big Island.
Black lava is used extensively, for example, in old-style Portuguese architecture (I’m doing my best to avoid over saturation of churches!) and the characteristic tile patterns that distinguish a neighborhood or plaza anywhere in this country. But here, it’s always partly black!
We had a marvelous day hiking about half the distance (8 of 18 miles) around the caldera of the volcano that is the paramount scenic spot on Sao Miguel. From its rim, one gets ocean views and also the panorama of Lago de Sete Cidades (Lake of the Seven Cities), which is sort-of two lakes, one blue, the other green. By the way, there are not seven cities anywhere, just the small village of Sete Cidades where we enjoyed yet another amazingly satisfying meal of traditional Azorean food, including a buffet meal, wine and dessert, for less than $20 each.
Five days, which was really only three with arrival and departure, is not enough for the Azores, but we managed to hit the highlights of this one island. We did not go to Isla Terceira, however and that means that we simply must come to the Azores again. I could spend several more days just on Sao Miguel, between hiking and thermal baths and cozido!
Leave a Reply