Divers at the azores can greet underwater oddities like the ornate wrasse. a diver observing a school of guelly jacks. A t nine in the evening, the front door of Vila Franca do Campo's best seafood restaurant, Atlántico, is firmly shut. Through the window, though, waiters can be seen rushing to and fro, sweat on their brows. Eventually the owner cracks open the door and peeks out. "I'm sorry but the house is full. Next time make a reservation," he says, offering us beer on the patio. Fortunately it was not a long walk to this quayside restaurant along the deserted main street, and we soon find an unpretentious traditional restaurant near the Town Hall that opens its door to late diners. Vila Franco do Campo on the main island of the Azores, São Miguel, is hardly a party destination. Unlike the mainland Portuguese, the locals dine as early as seven or eight in the evening. Those looking to partake in rowdy nightlife should head elsewhere. Across the nine islands of the Azores, both locals and tourists tend to get up at the crack of dawn to fish, sail, dive, play golf or trek around the volcanic islands. Sun-worshippers and families with children head for the sandy beaches or the nearby Atlantico Splash water park. ninE DoTs on ThE MaP Among blue-water sailors, the best-known island of the Azores is Faial and its Horta Marina. It has been a popular port of call since the harbour was built in 1876. At the Horta and Ponta Delgada ports, trans-Atlantic sailors paint their vessels' names, symbols and crew lists on the asphalt for posterity. Thousands of such images have been painted in and around Horta Marina sending even a landlubber's thoughts sailing to faraway ports of call. Each island in the group has some distinguishing characteristics. The AtlânticoBoth locals and tourists tend to get up at the crack of dawn. line car ferries make loops around the nine islands, but not on a daily basis. The whole circuit takes about a week. The local airline SATA sells air passes (165 euros for adults, 95 for children), good for one flight from any island to any other. Travelling to each additional island adds just ten euros to the price. The biggest island, São Miguel, is known as the Green Island and no wonder. It rains a lot here, but usually not for long at a time, and the roads are lined with aromatic azaleas and hydrangeas. The mountains in the middle of the island are interspersed with stunning crater lakes and lush pastures dotted with cows and sheep. On its north shore, the coast around the village of Ribeira Grande attracts surfers, while the island's northeast corner, Nordeste, draws hikers in search of peace and quiet. The harbour of the Azores' largest town, Ponta Delgada, is crowded with yachts that rock gently in the waves. São Miguel's population is about 150,000. The island of Pico is dominated by a volcano of the same name, which last erupted more than 300 years ago. The mountain's volcanic soil is ideal for growing grapes. Not surprisingly, it produces the best of local wines, and its cheeses are also impeccable. The third-smallest of the Azore Islands, Santa Maria, is dubbed the Yellow Island because of its golden sand beaches. The landscape is also dotted with whitewashed houses, which are home to 5500 year-round residents. The island of Terceira's pride is the old town of Angra with its many chapels, which is on UNESCO's World Heritage List. Pico's eastern neighbour, Faial, where the 15,000 residents live in blue-ornamented houses, is known as the Blue Island. To the north of Pico lies San Jorge, where the kilometre-high Pico da Esperança offers JUNEAUGUST 2010 BluE WinGs 35
Why do I see this page ?
For proper operation Digipaper-publication needs Flash Player version 7 or newer.
Install the latest version of Flash Player from this link.