Where is the Azores?
That is the most common question I am asked when I tell people that I am going there. It should be well know as there was a complete diaper of people from the Azores and many of these folks wound up in Canada.
I got a great flight through TAP Airlines and I am flying with them with a brief stopover in Lisbon to Terceira.
The Azores are a group of 9 islands roughly 1,500 kms off the coast of Portugal in the middle of The Atlantic Ocean. The islands are volcanic and sit beside the Gulf Stream giving them a mild climate and a place on the whale migration routes. It is 1,900 kilometres southwest of Newfoundland. (Have to plug Canada…)
Well known to sailors it is usually a stop off point when sailing from the Americas to Europe/Africa. In the 1500’s it was the stopover point for the Spanish and Portuguese Conquistadors headed to and from the New World. Modern sailors see it as a respite from the long sail across The Atlantic and its ports are a welcome respite.
The Islands are grouped into three groups of three islands each (some of which have little islets associated with them). I am flying into Terceira one of the islands in the central group of islands. It is small with a circumference of only 80 kilometres (which I plan to ride along the coast highway while I am there). It’ has a World Heritage site in Angra do Heroísmo which was awarded in 1983 because for the historic centre and its role in Portuguese maritime history.
Since WWII it has been a key refuelling stop for American Forces going to/from Europe and there is a large AirForce base there called Lages, which is also the airport for the island. I got an amazing airfare and so I jumped on it.
Unfortunately the main Youth Hostel is closed but there is another one in Angra that I have booked myself into for a few days. I am currently researching what to do and where to go on Terceira but I am also trying to see if over the two weeks I can squeeze in another island. SATA (part of Azores Airlines) flies between the islands but an airfare costs about the same as my round trip from Canada. There are ferries but they operate on an unusual schedule and take 4/5 hours to go between islands. After September they appear to stop or operate on a reduced schedule).
I am still debating if going to another island is worth it.
My research aids are:
Moon Guides – Azores
Eyewitness Guides – Top Ten Azores
and a Facebook Group – Azores Islands