Report - Travel guide on the AZORES
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Travel guide on the AZORES
A few years ago, we spent some time in the Azores. Here are my impressions.
Macaronesia in the Atlantic
The Atlantic Ocean spreads in the northern hemisphere in its typical, sometimes raw and fascinating embossing. The continents, which touch him to the east and west, contain the apparent advantages of human civilization. Islands in the Atlantic provide rare peace and solitude.
Many want to escape the civilization tress. You do not pass the islands of Makaronesia or Macaronesian islands - Greek blessed / happy Islands.
The name Makaronesia refers to the Florian area in geobotanics, which comprises the subtropical island groups of volcanic origin lying in the eastern central Atlantic. In spite of the great distances, there are commonalities in the animal and plant world between the individual islands. The flora and fauna is characterized by a high endemic content. There are plants or animals that occur only in the spatially clearly defined surroundings of these archipelagos. In higher mountain regions, the laurel forest is characteristic.
Macaronesia comprises five island groups, the Azores (Portugal), Madeira (Portugal), Ilhas Selvagens (Portugal), Canary Islands (Spain), Cape Verde Islands (independent from Portugal since 1975).
The Azores Islands
And those who really want to escape the civilization turmoil will inevitably come across the Azores archipelago - the Azores, the German Habichtsinseln. “Ready for the island?” The nine islands of the Azores are thousands of miles off the continental achievements. They range from 36 to 40 degrees north latitude and 24 to 31 degrees west longitude in the Atlantic between Europe and North America.
The islands have been an important stop over the Atlantic for many centuries. The Gulf Stream runs along the western part of the archipelago from the Gulf of Mexico to the North Sea. One is here in the middle of the Atlantic on a volcano landscape. One is on the summits of a vast, many-kilometer-high Atlantic sub-mountain range.
The Azores - an insider tip for travelers? But rather a tip for those seeking peace, who do not want to follow mass tourism or are looking for an extraordinary environment, nature and landscapes with extraordinary people. The time does not take the locals so seriously - it is only a scourge. “Waiting” is seen here as a happy inspiration - you have time to think about your life.
There are also sports facilities for golfing, diving, tennis, deep sea fishing, horseback riding, mountain hiking, sailing and paragliding. Beautiful beaches and secluded bays invite you to bathe.
Not everyone can begin with the Azores immediately. At the very least, the Azores are known to many Europeans from the daily weather reports - when it is so beautiful: “The Azores high ‘XYZ’ is moving towards Europe and brings a stable weather forecast.” An Azoreshoch is usually south of the Azorean archipelago.
In the Azores, the weather is not always stable. A day has here sometimes several weather conditions with fast changes of sunshine, windstill, storms and short rain showers. The peaks of the mountain are often covered in fog banks.
However, one’s own feeling does not give the sensation of unpleasant cold or bad weather in the summer - on the contrary. Temperatures during the day are generally constant and reliable at 14 to 16 degrees in the winter and 26 to 28 degrees in August. At night it cools only a little. The Atlantic Ocean has a water temperature of around 22 ° C in the middle of July to September and barely 16 degrees in winter.
Due to climatic conditions there is a stable flora and fauna, which can be admired all year round. In this subtropical atmosphere one experiences a special Azorean form of flora and fauna. There are 56 species of plants that can not be found anywhere else in the world.
One is particularly striking. Everywhere it grows - all year round. So the transitional or winter months are also exciting when there are almost no tourists here. And everywhere flowers are found in all colors. The best tropical fruits thrive. Europe’s last two tea plantations are located in the north of the island of Sao Miguel around Gorrena. The Azores Islands are a green paradise.
In terms of their origin, the islands are a paradise that never stands still. The Azores form a zone of fracture on the Middle Atlantean back. Magma rises, rising further from the North American and Eurasian plates.
The waters of the Atlantic appear on the beaches of the black volcanic sand turquoise blue. It is so salty, that you are almost worn when you swim, and you get a huge thirst when you snorkel.
While there are different fish among the stones meandering on the sea floor, I wonder: “What was here first:” The island, this unique flora and fauna or the ocean. “No matter, let’s put down the dialectic. Philosophically and at the same time, one could say: “It is not the time or order that is decisive, but the present or the being.” Or, as one says in China, “The way is the goal.” And the Atlantic is today and In this place on a good way ... if not man with his oil platforms were - or in this world whales and dolphins are still hunted - or ... - no, we first leave this consideration.
If you want to visit this Azorean idyll, you will inevitably make your first acquaintance with the main island of Sao Miguel. Here is the international airport of the Azores in Ponta Delgada.
Every island offers its own special charm. The size of the islands is small. About 242,000 inhabitants are spread over the nine islands. One finds here the native Portuguese, which are nearly a thousand and one hundred kilometers from Lisbon so not at all Portuguese. For more than six centuries, they have developed their own dialect as well as their own culture. But they have also suffered many privations.
Approximately one million Azoreans settled in the past, mostly on the North American continent. They are called emigrants. Sometimes they visit their old home again. They probably make up the main part of the Azores visitors. When a native rarely leaves the islands, he draws more to the North American continent than to the motherland to visit his emigrated relatives.
From the Armenian House of Europe the islands have been relatively farewell since the 1990s, since the rich EU funding came to this area. The Azoreans are mostly aware of the fact that the EU subsidy, mainly from Germany, helped to significantly improve the living conditions on the island.
But, where are the real values already to be sought, if one speaks not only of material values? Here one reminds one at every step very pleasant also original from earlier times. In agriculture and fisheries, only 12% of the workforce is employed. As a visitor, you should take advantage of local products in the small markets to ultimately promote the regional economy.
Festivals and events of the locals are abundant on the islands. Island leaders provide information. Learning some basic words of native language before a visit can not hurt. It may also be a question of respect for the local. Locals feel honored and are delighted to be addressed to some Portuguese or Portuguese words - and if it is only the good morning - to Portuguese bom dia. A list of important words with translations is provided by the Internet site www.azoren-online.com.
About 15,000 Germans visit the islands annually. Significant for the social conditions here: There is only a small prison on the main island of Sao Miguel in Ponta Delgada. It is said that the cells are partly rented to tourists, because they are under-owned.
All the islands also consist of imposing mountain ranges. These often rise above one thousand feet above the Atlantic Ocean. Portugal’s highest mountain, Ponta Do Pico, is located west of the Azores archipelago on the small island of Pico. The mountain with its classic volcanic shape surpasses the Atlantic by 2351 m. The ascent of the Pico is possible, but should be well prepared and is permitted only on registration or with a mountain guide due to volcanic activities.
From Pico you can get an overview of all the islands of the Azores central group in good weather, which include the islands of Faial, Sao Jorge, Graciosa and Terceira. The islands of Corvo and Flores form the Azorean Ikzidental Group to the west. The Azorean Oriental group consists in the east from the islands of Sao Miguel and Santa Maria.
The main island of Sao Miguel is closest to the south-east the island of Santa Maria. Santa Maria is the only island in the Azores that rests on a pure sedimentary rock, which is not of volcanic origin. Here you will find white sand beaches. All other islands offer mostly sandy beaches of black, fine lava sand. The short sandy beaches of Santa Maria are located between steep, high cliffs.
Is Santa Maria also the island, “born of dreams”? This can only be determined by yourself. In any case, the hospitality will surpass everything else in this world. On Santa Maria is particularly recommendable the old town of the port town Vila Do Porto. Every year, a multi-day international music festival takes place here in mid-August.
The animal kingdom of the Azores is characterized by the life forms in the Atlantic Ocean. In the summer, around the Azores archipelago are not only the dolphin schools with hundreds of pupils. If you are lucky enough to meet the whales on their hikes. 24 Whale and dolphin species are found in the waters of the Azores.
There are no ferry connections from the mainland to the Azores archipelago. How to get here? Few times a day, one of the SATA engines specialized in Azores flights departs from Ponta Delgada International Airport and connects so few airports in the world with this charming seclusion.
Best to book a direct SATA flight from Frankfurt am Main to Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel. The three-kilometer-long flight from Frankfurt am Main can be booked comfortably online. The return flights take place in the summer semester on Sundays and Wednesdays - in the winter semester only on Sundays. If it works (best as early bookers), the flight with a modern A320 for two back and forth (including train transfer) does not cost more than 650, - €.
The route starts in Frankfurt am Main, crosses Paris after an hour and a half, and the northern tip of Spain after an hour and a half. Then go out on the endless Atlantic. After four hours of total flight time in just eleven kilometers of airport, you reach the destination airport Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel. From here you can fly to the other smaller Azores islands or you can get to the advantages of the Azorean main island, among other things in Mosteiros.
On the larger Azores islands there are regular bus connections or you rent a car in the airport building or better in advance in the Internet. How to get to the other Azores islands? From Sao Miguel, for example, the 80 km distance to the island of Santa Maria can either be covered by a modern SATA passenger or by ferry. The ferry takes 2 hours. It offers all the charm of the Atlantic at close range. At the port in Ponta Delgada on the island of Sao Miguel, a SATA plane or an Atlanticoline ferry can be booked comfortably in advance.
The island of Sao Miguel
The main island of Sao Miguel is about sixty-five kilometers long and eleven to fifteen kilometers wide. It is the largest of the nine Azores islands.
Greened smaller and larger volcanic hills can not be overlooked and spread over the entire island. The volcanoes range from a few meters of crater height to a crater diameter of several kilometers. Depending on the perspective, the volcanoes sometimes appear as if on a pearl chain. There are picturesque lakes in the crater craters. High mountain ranges on the islands fall steeply to their coasts. From them flowed streams, partly over waterfalls, fed by the subtropical nature and hot springs.
At Sao Miguel there are accommodations for every taste and requirement. The ‘Beach House’ on the outskirts of Mosteiros offers just as much charm as the single holiday house and the Atlantic over the cliffs directly at the feet. 6 or better 12 months before you should however take care of such a domicile, if you do not want to resort to expensive standard hotel offers from various travel organizers. Food business offers
We also meet friendly drop-outs, eg from Germany, which also offer pleasant holiday houses. One does not only hear the Azorean dialect. Many locals also communicate with visitors in English. There are also few tourists from the Portuguese mainland, from Western Europe and North America on their hikes. There is no mass tourism here. Azores visitors expect this.
The village of Mosteiros at the southern tip of the island
Mosteiros - pronounced Mosterosch - is a picturesque place on the west coast of the island of Sao Miguel as well as west of the port and administrative center Ponta Delgada.
The place is protected by the sea. A small fishing port offers daily catch-fishing and seafood. Not far from the coast, a beautiful church forms the regional symbol and center. A small grocery store offers everything for everyday needs. In cozy and simple restaurants, especially the bife and fish dishes are a culinary experience.
Taxi and regular bus service to Ponta Delgada ensure a rental without a rental car. On a black lava sand beach you can bathe and snorkel in the summer under bathing master supervision. On the north-west coast are swimming pools.
Mosteiros is an excellent starting point for hikes on the western part of the island of Sao Miguel. The two volcanic lakes Lagoa Azur and Lagoa Verde can be seen on various paths and hiking trails with picturesque views in many directions of the Atlantic. Another one-hour hike leads from Mosteiros on a high and idyllic coastal road to Ginetes. A hot spring flows directly into the sea. The source is surrounded by a large rock basin. It is very good in warm water.
If you have chosen Mosteiros on the Azores island of Sao Miguel, from Ponta Delgada airport you can take the coastal road south of the island towards the west with a rental car or a taxi. On the journey one gets the impression that the street was decorated for a festivity. However, it is only the kind of Azorean flowers - called Hortenzien - which are unmistakable and everywhere in large perennials adorn streets, country roads, and grounds.
After about forty-five-minute driving on the edge of the Atlantic, crossing mountains, serpentines and small villages, you can see on the western part of the island a hillside above the cliffs of Mosteiros, directly on a bay of the ocean. From here it is only a few hundred meters uphill again steeply downhill and is at the finish.
Unspoil is the village square with its typical chapel and its locals “old” sitting on benches, exchanging their daily experiences. Here you will find the small shopping market, small restaurants, cash machines and telephone booths. From the village square, 3 roads lead through the village directly down to the Atlantic.
The landmark of the place are 4 huge rocks a few hundred meters off the bay of Mosteiros. They form a natural protection zone of the bay with its black attractive sand beach against storms and sea currents. The small fishing village is often exposed to a strong surf from autumn to spring.
What is the name of the protective rocks? There are different opinions. An interpretation is the following: The main rock on the far left looks like a huge building. It is the monastery. The rocks further to the right are disgusted monks. Two monks go side by side and further to the right two individual monks. They abandoned the monastery, depressed and lonely. According to another interpretation or legend, the rocky islands are the toes of the giant Almouros, who dusts under Sao Miguel.
What is particularly noticeable here on clear nights on the Atlantic coast far from the mainland: the air and the starry sky are unambiguous. They want to reach for the stars and the moon. Venus illuminates the sky, that the moon is not needed to orient itself at night.
In and around Mosteiros, as in other places on the island, many German “dropouts” have settled. Some of you and also locals offer here for private rental beautiful houses. They are located near the beach on the edge of the village or high above the cliffs. With the providers you can usually communicate in German or English, or by email important preliminary or booking information exchange.
Those who have experienced the Azores are addicted to you and will probably visit them again.