Travel Thoughts By Kim

By Kim Pritt, Contributor Posted 21 January 2023 at 3:00 pm

View of the port of Ponta Delgada, Portugal from the cruise ship at sunrise.

Let’s go on an adventure together….to the Azores!

In April / May 2019, I took a cruise across the Atlantic Ocean. I left out of Fort Lauderdale, sailed for seven days across the ocean, spent two days in the Azores, two days in Cork, Ireland, a day in Liverpool, England, and two days in Dublin, Ireland (the cruise ended upon arrival in Dublin, I chose to stay over another day). I will focus this article on my time in the Azores.

The Azores are an archipelago – a group of islands made up of inactive volcanoes that are part of Portugal. The island that we docked at is Sao Miguel and Sao Miguel’s capital is Ponta Delgada – the port we spent two days in. I really enjoyed exploring this island — it was beautiful and I learned a lot!

The wildest animal on the island is the rabbit — nothing poisonous and no snakes! Dairy is a huge industry for them – lots of cows and they told us that the cows have adapted to be able to climb the steep hills like goats do. Since the islands consist of inactive volcanoes, there was really nothing growing on the island when it was first discovered and began to be inhabited. All the flora was brought in from other places, there is very little, if any, native plants – mostly just mosses. Winter is the azalea season and summer is hydrangea season — we saw LOTS of gorgeous azaleas in full bloom just ending their season growing wild all over. One of our tour guides said, “The Azores is a place where you remember to breathe.”  What a beautiful way to describe her island! It is simply stunning and definitely has a laid back atmosphere.

Traditional Portuguese singers and dancers entertained us after dinner in port.

We spent two days in Ponta Delgada. On the first day, I booked a whale watching tour. We saw mostly dolphins and the weather was a bit rough, but I can now say I’ve been whale watching in Hawaii, Alaska, and Portugal.

After the whale watching tour, I got back on the ship to freshen up and change before an evening excursion. For dinner, I went with a big group to a local hotel for a traditional Portuguese dinner and entertainment. The food was amazing and the views from the room we dined in were incredible. After dinner, a local troop of folk dancers and singers entertained us. It was so much fun. I was exhausted when I got back to my cabin on the ship – the exciting full day wore me out.

On day two, the sun came out and it was perfect for exploring. The shore excursion I chose for day two was a scenic country side tour and it was amazing. We toured the city of Ponta Delgada, strolled through one of several botanical gardens on the island, visited a pineapple plantation, and took in the views from the upper rim of one of the inactive volcanos.

We visited a pineapple plantation – a major agricultural export for the Azores. The climate in Portugal isn’t right for growing pineapples in the ground, so they grow them in greenhouses.

The botanical gardens was gorgeous and so peaceful – I could have spent an entire day there. I was surprised to discover that one of the island’s major exports is pineapple. They were originally brought to the island as a decorative flower, but they soon found they could grow them in greenhouses and export them for income. I learned all about the process and also got to try some pineapple liqueur – very potent, but quite delicious.

At the rim of the inactive volcano, we had perfect views of Sete Cidades – Crater Lakes. This is the second largest crater on the island and one of the Seven Wonders of Portugal. Inside the crater are twin lakes separated by a narrow strait. When the weather conditions are right, you can see the two lakes take on different colors – one is blue and one is green. It wasn’t a vibrant view, but we could definitely see the two different colors. It was gorgeous! There is a legend explaining this phenomenon involving a bad-tempered king who was also a sorcerer, his princess daughter, and forbidden love. The whole story is included in my blog post, so be sure to check it out (I love stuff like that).

It was an amazing two days on a gorgeous and interesting island rich in history and tradition. Check out my blog for more photos and stories about my time in the Azores, here!

Happy Adventuring!

A visit to one of many botanical gardens on the island resulted in my favorite photo of the entire trip. I wanted a photo of the staircase, but this young girl ran into my shot. I thought it ruined the photo, but it turned out amazing – like something out of Harry Potter!