Touring São Miguel

It’s been an interesting week.

In the same week that saw the American government violate the sovereignty of yet another nation in order to apparently murder Osama bin Laden, we’ve been concerned with much lighter matters, driving the length and breadth of São Miguel, the largest island of the mid-Atlantic archipelago known in English as the Azores.

This is one of the remoter corners of Europe. Indeed, not since our 2004 trip to the Faroe Islands have we felt so far off the beaten track. Most friends and acquaintances reacted to the news of our destination with puzzled enquiries of “Where?”, whilst others thought that the islands were located off the coast of Africa and were Spanish territory.

It’s been an amazing week. We have walked through lush gardens, bathed outdoors in a geothermal pool, smelt the sulphuric odours rising from gurgling mud pools, eaten a dinner cooked underground by the heat of nature’s kitchen, combed beaches, viewed waterfalls, burnt rubber and slid backwards as we struggled for traction on a 25% gradient after visiting a lighthouse, been to Europe’s only tea plantation, and eaten lots of delicious fish.

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