What to do (and not do) in the Azores
As a former Geography student I am embarrassed to admit that I had no idea where these mystical “Azores” islands were situated. Lucky for me, working in a worldwide traveling (and floating) office is widening my basic map knowledge. This volcanic archipelago is scattered across the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean. For normal holidaymakers this can be somewhat of an inconvenient location but for us “yachties” it makes for a very convenient stop when crossing the Atlantic from West to East.
These far-flung islands, seemingly rising out from the middle of nowhere, belong to Portugal. Understandably being scattered around the ocean the weather is extremely unstable (another reason why it is a perfect stop-off) although with plenty of rainfall this gives the islands a lush green covering.
After 8 straight days at sea crossing from Bermuda, we spent roughly a week on the island of Faial waiting for weather to pass and more importantly enjoying the natural wonders and activities the island had on offer.
Getting back in touch with green
After being in the Atlantic for a while and surrounded by dark blue it is nice to reach the Azores and their welcoming greenery they have in abundance. The islands are a geological hotspot covered in volcanoes and craters. On Faial in particular, you can walk around the perimeter of the caldeira.
Get merry at Peters
Arriving in Horta, Peters Sport Café is one that is hard to miss, especially with the hoards of yachties hanging around outside enjoying the freedom from the ocean crossing. It is one of the most famous yachting bars and rightfully so, filled with historic relics of yacht crews from the past. As a tiny spec in the middle of the ocean it is full to the brim with stories of the sea, grab a glass – or carafe – of port and join the fun.
Cook your dinner on volcanic rocks
Visit Canto da Doca and enjoy an evening with a difference, cooking your own dinner in Faial’s own unique way. It may sound like an effort after crossing half the Atlantic but it is surprisingly a relaxing evening. Sit back and enjoy a carafe of Portuguese wine with a hot volcanic stone in front of you next to a plate of raw meat and or fish to get cooking.
For decades sailors have left paintings in and around the harbour at Horta, in Faial. We spent a couple of days on the background research element of this task in hand, perusing the docks to see the artistic and not so artistic murals and to which category ours would fall into. Typically, when it was our turn to leave our mark it was gale force winds and rain. Due to the weather, enthusiasm was as lacking as my personal art skills however my superstition spurred me on, without a mural I was convinced we wouldn’t make the next leg of our journey.
Embrace the European culture
After spending a bit of time stateside it was nice to be introduced to some European culture and enjoy a slower pace of life. As a European outpost the Azores culture has been crafted from Portuguese traditions as well as its own regional identity. With multiple festivals and celebrations highlighted throughout the year within their calendar, religion is at the core of the islands culture.
What not do…
Whale watching. Two words which are not needed in a sailor’s vocabulary as they are docked in Horta. Coming half way across the Atlantic with the only real entertainment being dolphins and whales, so when you finally get to land no you do not want a whale watching boat tour.
May, 2015 (Mid-Atlantic)