When you tell someone you’re headed to the Azores, you’ll get one of two reactions: “What are the Azores?” or “Oh I was there on a military flight once.” We have yet to meet anyone in person who’s actually been to the Azores for fun. So, let us be those people to you dear reader.
Our interest in the Azores is twofold. We loved our time in Portugal, and (the Azores being Portuguese) were eager to experience more Portuguese culture. We also loved our time in Iceland, and the Azores have a lot in common with Iceland geologically and (to some extent) culturally. Minus the ice of course. The Azores consist of nine volcanic islands, spread across a big swath of the Atlantic.
Getting to the Azores is dead simple. Delta has recently (as in, Friday) started flying direct from JFK to São Miguel, the largest island. It’s an easy four-hour flight. It’s just long enough to skip a sleep cycle, but short enough to preclude actual sleep, arriving around 7am. So we’ve mostly been wandering around Ponta Delgada like zombies today. We parked our rental car near our Airbnb and walked into the historic center in search of breakfast. We found a nice little touristy café next to the Church of St. Sebastian where we enjoyed the local version of pastel de nata and a spread of local jams and cheeses on bread.
Fully fueled up, we decided to follow the walking tour outlined in our guidebook. Like seemingly all Portuguese cities, Ponta Delgada features lovely basalt and marble mosaic sidewalks and streets. The buildings are mainly constructed of local basalt and white plaster, and the contrast is stunning. The city was especially quiet today since it’s Sunday and most shops are closed. Halfway through our tour, we found a bench in a quiet park and took turns napping and birdwatching. Post nap, we continued wandering through the town learning about the historic buildings.
Lunch was an array of local foods suggested by our enthusiastic waitress. We shared blood sausage, pineapple, grilled limpets, and mushrooms and cheese on bread. Thankfully lunch took just long enough to occupy us until our Airbnb was ready for check in. Our apartment is clean and lovely and has a gorgeous balcony view overlooking the tiled roofs of the historic center. We took another short nap and enjoyed the sunshine on the balcony before heading out for another walk.
This time we headed away from the tourist center and up toward the University. We stopped for a pastry then went to the local big box store for snacks and groceries. Backpack loaded with cheesy poofs, we wound our way back toward the waterfront. We happened upon the pineapple greenhouses which curiously have painted roofs. Perhaps these pineapples require indirect sunlight? Unclear. After our heavy lunch, we opted for a light salad dinner before heading back to our place for the night, barely functional and ready for a snooze.