Americans discovered the Azores islands as Meredith Vieira shared her family history with the Today Show’s national audience
Monday, 25 August 2008 13:00
This past Monday morning million of Americans discovered the Azores islands as Meredith Vieira shared her family history with the Today Show's national audience. In her returning to her roots segment, Vieira explored the Azores for the first time with members of her family to rediscover bonds that go back 100 years to when her ancestors left the Azores for New England. All four of Vieira's grandparents came from the Azores - three from Faial, one of the nine islands in the archipelago. They all left for a better life in New England in the late 19th and early 20th centuries - settling around Providence, RI. Until this summer, Meredith Vieira had never been to the islands of her ancestors.The Azores are midway between the eastern coast of the United States and mainland Portugal - scattered over several hundred nautical miles of Atlantic Ocean. The closest point to Europe from the United States, just four hours away. The Azores are an autonomous region of Portugal.The ties that bind the Azores to United States go back 300 years, when many English ships carrying what would become American colonists to the New World stopped in the Azores to rest and replenish supplies. Azoreans were among the first to fish the waters of North America. Many Portuguese historians believe that sailors from the Azores sighted North America years before Columbus.Sailors stopped in the Azores for centuries to load up on oranges, which was the only way to ward off scurvy on board. Every major whaling expedition sailing from New England -- from ports such as Nantucket Island, New Bedford and Edgartown -- sailed to the Azores for supplies, dories and sailors before starting their voyage. In fact, it was New Englanders who taught the Azoreans the value of whaling. The Azoreans became so good at landing whales that American sea captains came to the Azores just to get crews. This built the foundation of a strong commercial bond between the sailing ships of New England and the Azores.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, the Azores became the main port of call for trans-Atlantic clippers. Leading Boston merchants felt at home in the islands. In 1944, an American airbase was set up on Santa Maria and was later transferred to the NATO airbase at Lajes on Terceira.
As the whaling industry declined following the introduction of crude oil in the 1870s, many Azoreans - like Meredith Vieira's family- began to immigrate to New England. They brought their strong work ethic to the then-thriving mills in southeastern New England and the fishing industries. But they also made a significant cultural impact on New England. Popular summer feasts and festivals in Portuguese communities in New England all trace their roots to the traditional Holy Ghost festivals of the Azores.
In the middle of the Azores, Faial Island encompasses some 67 square miles.
The lava from a 1957 volcanic eruption eventually added to the land mass and made the island's western end look a lot like the surface of the moon. Now a regional park, the landscape is one of reddish and black dust rock and the charred remains of a lighthouse. In Providence, RI, her father worked with other community leaders to help the many people who left Faial ,in the aftermath.
Ships have stopped in Horta – the main port of Faial – on their way between the New and Old Worlds for centuries. The seafarers left their mark by creating a giant collage of inscriptions and colorful paintings on the walls and sidewalks of the marina's jetty. Legend has it that bad luck will follow any sailor who doesn't leave a painting or inscription behind.Horta's internationally flavored waterfront offers shops that specialize in outfitting the ships that pass through. The city is full of modern cafes, bars and a few nightclubs, while the architecture is largely from the 19th century.While her paternal grandfather hailed from Horta - two of Vieira's other grandparents came from the farming town of Cedros on the north coast, where the islands famous Ilha Azul cheese is made.The Azores sit at the very spot where the tectonic plates for Europe, Africa and North America meet. The Azores are also the perfect spot for adventures. Water sports, yachting, fishing and whale watching are widely available. Equally popular are horseback riding, cycling and hiking. For more information visit http://www.visitazores.org/
Tuesday, 19 August 2008 18:16
The American media calls Portugal as the next big travel hot spot. The New York Times listed Lisbon, Portugal's capital, as #2 on it's list of 53 places to go in 2008 (New York Times 12/09/2007), and called it "dynamic," "alive," and "Western Europe's fastest rising cultural center" (New York Times 07/13/2008) Sherman Travel agrees, ranking Lisbon as #3 on it's list of The World Next Travel Hotspots, remarking that the Portuguese capital is "fasting becoming Europe's next 'it' city" (Sherman Travel Magazine). It's not just Lisbon, however, that's hot. The Douro region has been celebrated for "attracting a growing number of cosmopolitan travelers"(Town and Country 05/2008), and the beaches in Cascais and Estoril are the "latest coastal draw" for luxury travelers (Elite Traveler 05/06/2008). Indeed, the whole country is "experiencing a boom among travelers" according to Travel Weekly (Travel Weekly 05/12/2007), and the statistics prove it. Yahoo Travel Guides crowned Portugal as its top mover in 2007, with "the biggest increase in page views of any international destination" (USA Today 12/27/2007). This online interest corresponds to a 20% increase in US tourists to Portugal in 2007 (Budget Travel 04/2008).So what makes Portugal “the next big hot spot?” Here are the top 5 reasons pulled from a recent review of media coverage.
#1 AN UNDISCOVERED GEM - Up to now, Portugal has remained a largely undiscovered destination for many travelers. Virtuoso called it the "unknown pearl of Europe" and praised its "relatively untrammeled attractions." (Virtuoso Life 01/2008) Budget Travel claims it "has everything those famous areas of Europe have – except the crowds" and noted that the country with such a prominent role in the Age of Discovery is now "slowly being rediscovered" itself (Budget Travel 02/2008).
#2 A CULTURAL VITALITY - Portugal's "rediscovery" is being led by what the New York Times calls a "sudden cultural emergence." (New York Times 07/13/2008) Described as "cosmopolitan" and "chic" (Virtuoso Life 01/2008), Lisbon has a "major trove of modern and contemporary art... [and] designer hotels" that are drawing "savy travelers" and "cementing the city's avant garde status." (New York Times 12/09/2007) The capital is further fueled by its "flourishing nightlife" (Sherman's Travel, Summer 2008) with "spill-onto-the-cobblestone-street parties" (Sherman Travel). Add a "nascent fashion scene" to this mix and it's easy to see that as Lisbon's "cool factor has surged, so has its international profile" (New York Times 07/13/2008). However, the "culture boom" has not been restricted just to Lisbon; Sherman's travel calls Porto the "culture capital of Portugal's north" and highlights its "stellar art collection" and "architectural showpieces."(Sherman Travel, Summer 2008).
#3 WORLD CLASS WINERIES While art and architecture may be helping to raise Porto's profile, the regions "outstanding wineries," as recognized by the prestigious Elite Traveler magazine (Elite Traveler 07/08/2008), are another major reason that Portugal is becoming such a hot travel destination. As National Geographic Traveler discovered, "apparently Portuguese table wines are the next big thing." (National Geographic Traveler, May 2008) Travel and Leisure have speculated that "the Douro Valley [is] about to become one of Europe's next great wine destinations" and have recognized that the region is "emerging as the latest stop on the European enotourism circuit." (Travel and Leisure 06/2008) Sherman Travel goes a step further in calling the traditional Douro quintas "some of the hottest destinations on the international wine circuit" (Sherman Travel, Summer 2008). Town and Country predicts that wine tourism in the Douro "will continue to awe visitors" and attract high profile celebrities and heads-of-state (Town and Country 05/2008).
#4 IRRESIBTIBLE CHARM - Whether it's in the cultural capital of Lisbon, the rustic Douro Valley, or other popular regions, US travelers and journalists have fallen under the spell of Portugal's irresistible charm. Sherman Travel called the Algarve "an oasis of laid back charm" and noted that despite Lisbon's cosmopolitan status, "the city retains its low-key mood" (Sherman Travel, Summer 2008). Rick Steves recently reported on the charms of the laid back humor and traditional life in the humble, rustic Alentejo region. (CNN - Rick Steves, 06/2008) The determination of the Douro to "preserve that rustic naiveté that Tuscany and Bordeaux can no longer claim" made it a uniquely charming destination for Travel and Leisure magazine (Travel and Leisure 06/2008).
#5 OUTSTANDING VALUE – Finally, Portugal is a hot travel destination because of the great value it offers visitors. Sherman Travel ranked it #1 on its top 10 list of affordable cities, claiming one can "live like an aristocrat without blowing the family fortune."( Sherman Travel) In an article for MSNBC, author and travel columnist Tim Leffel declared "Portugal is hands-down the best travel deal in Western Europe these days" (MSNBC 04/01/2008). Travel and Leisure/CNN reported Portugal is "an affordable destination" in today's tough economy (Travel and Leisure/CNN 02/23/2008), while the New York Times recognizes that it's a destination "where the dollar goes further" (New York Times 04/12/2008). Yahoo Travel Guides calls Lisbon "the last affordable European city" (USA Today 12/27/2008), and for residents of the Eastern US, it's "closer than you think and less expensive than you'd expect." (Morning Call, 07/27/2008)
Wednesday, 13 August 2008 20:30http://www.visitazores.org/
Wednesday, 23 July 2008 20:firstname.lastname@example.org
Monday, 07 July 2008 03:34www.Azores-Express.com
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