The Azores Islands: A Paradise on Earth
Some of you may have heard about the Azores archipelago, as it is the target of well-known media such as the National Geographic and Eurosport. It also organizes some of the well-known world events like: the Azores Airlines Rally (FIA ERC), the Azores Airlines Pro (Surf – WQS) and the Azores Trail Run. Nowadays, this amazing archipelago is being discovered by people from all over the world, and with it they are starting to believe that a paradise on earth truly exists.
Composed by nine islands – São Miguel, Santa Maria, Terceira, Graciosa, São Jorge, Pico, Faial, Flores and Corvo -, this paradise offers an amazing and diversified environment. Each island has its own specialties, which can guarantee the most breathtaking experience. Magical nature, unique gastronomy, clean and fresh air, as well as health & wellbeing services are some good examples.
Being surrounded by water, one of its great beauties is the ocean. Through it, not only the local population can gather maritime food to provide for their basic needs, but also people can enjoy the observation, by boat or through underwater diving with cetaceans such as sperm whales and dolphins.
In land, we can find some of the most outstanding creations of mother nature. Imagine massive volcanic craters filled with water, creating therefore gigantic lagoons of unmeasurable beauty. One perfect example is the Lagoa das Sete Cidades (located in São Miguel), which is divided into two magical lagoons: the blue lagoon and the green lagoon. In the middle of the crater you can also find the Sete Cidades civil parish, which increases the emotional cargo of the scenario. In Terceira island, we can also find another amazing natural wonder: The Algar do Carvão. This ancient and extinct volcano is the only one in the world where it is possible to visit its interior. We also can find the highest mountain (stratovolcano) of Portugal in Pico island, with 2351 meters high, categorizing it as one of the wonders of the Azores.
Besides the Azorean natural beauty, it is possible to enjoy a unique set of gastronomic setting. There, we can find always the freshest sea food and fish in local restaurants, while for meat lovers this region is known for having more cows than inhabitants, so no matter the place you go you will always find tasty meat dishes, namely Alcatra (rump) from Terceira island and Bife à Regional (regional steak). A very good example of this uniqueness is the dish named Cozido das Furnas, which consists in several types of meat and vegetables placed in a pot and after cooked through volcanic steam by placing it beneath the ground. Also, in São Miguel island, grows two unique agricultural elements in Europe: Pineapple and Tea.
Finally, I would like to speak about healing hydro-thermal resources, which in Azores are being used for health & wellbeing services. The most well-known places in São Miguel are the thermal baths Termas da Ferraria, the iron water pools in Furnas (Poças da Dona Beja) and the newly opened Termas das Caldeiras. Also we have the Termas do Carapacho in Graciosa island. From my personal point of view, being in touch with this type of waters is one of the best experiences that one can have in the Azores.