TERRA NOSTRA GARDEN HOTEL
Located on the island of San Miguel, the resort hotel is built in the crater of an extinct volcano. The particular micro-climate has fostered a lush garden filled with rare species of plants, and thermal springs feed its giant pool. We tour the extensive gardens with the young owner, Luis Bensaude, and eat “cozido,” a special dish that is cooked by burying pots in thermally heated ground.
QUINTA DA NASCE D’AGUA
This lovely manor house on the island of Terceira was converted into an inn a couple years ago and is now the favorite of discerning visitors. Our hostess, Dona Ana Maria, supervises an exceptional restaurant. We visit the site of the Battle of Salga, where the islanders repelled a Spanish invasion by driving wild cattle into their ranks.
ESTALAGEM DE SANTA CRUZ
The fort of Santa Cruz was built in 1567 for protection against pirates. It overlooks the port of Horta on the island of Faial, the crossroads of the Spanish Empire galleon fleet. Our hosts are three local men who take us to Peter’s Cafe, the famous meeting place and message center for sailors, which has an outstanding scrimshaw museum.
Whale Watching - Island of Pico
Azores was the whaling center of the Atlantic during the last two centuries. Whaling was outlawed ten years ago, but the cry of “Baleias!” - “Whales” - still sends out little boats to track the huge cetaceans. Only now the boats are filled with eco-tourists, who thrill to being so close to whales and dolphins in their natural habitat. We also visit the Whaling Museum and a watchtower, where Joao has manned his lonely lookout for whales for the past 40 years.
Tea Plantation, Island of San Miguel
The Azores is the only place in Europe where tea is grown. Once the climate was found to be similar to the best tea growing area in China, the Azoreans brought over two Chinese tea growers to show them how to start their own plantations. We visit the plantation and see tea being harvested, and how it is processed mainly by hand.
Angra do Heroismo, Island of Terceira
This port on the island of Terceira was a major link between Europe and the Americas for almost three centuries. The city was included in the list of UNESCO’s World Heritage sites in recognition of its Spanish Renaissance architecture and city planning. The man responsible for safeguarding the city’s heritage, Professor Francisco Maduro-Dias, shows us around.
Thermal Springs, Island of San Miguel
So many hot water springs still find their way to the surface in various places on this island that geothermal energy now provides a third of its electricity. Visitors can visit wander through a thermal springs area where billowing clouds of steam create an eerie, surreal landscapes.