Wednesday, 31 October 2007 19:11The National Geographic Center for Sustainable Destinations has named the Azores islands as the world’s second most appealing islands destination in it fourth annual Destination Scorecard survey. A panel of 522 experts aided by George Washington University reviewed conditions on 111 islands and archipelagos. The Azores were outscored only by Faroe islands, and received the title of “Authentic, unspoiled, and likely to remain so.” Judges has this to say about the Azores: "Not a beach destination or otherwise susceptible to mass tourism; indeed, its capricious climate probably impedes the flow of tourists. The islands' green volcanic mountains and picturesque black-and-white towns look set to remain unspoiled." ; "Wonderful place. Built environment in good shape. Locals are very sophisticated as most have lived overseas." ; "Remote and temperate, the Azores remain lightly touristed. Main visitor type is the independent traveler staying in B&Bs. The ecosystem—from the beautiful hydrangea-covered hills of Flores to the rock-bottomed bays of Terceira—is in great shape. Whales still a frequent sight. Local culture strong and vibrant. Not uncommon to be invited to a person's house for dinner, or welcomed into a communal meal during a festival." For more information click here.
Saturday, 20 October 2007 23:33The island of Faial is commemorating the 50th anniversary of the last eruption of the Capelinhos volcano, which is located on the western part of the island. After some tremors and an underwater eruption, the volcano erupted with a 100-meter (328.1-foot) jet of ash on November 7, 1957. This kicked off a year-long eruption that ended on October 24, 1958. In total, the volcano ejected more 30 million tons of ash and lava and created more than 2.4 kilometers (1.49 miles) of new land on Faial Island, but nearly half of that land was destroyed by intense sea erosion. As a result, the village of Capelinhos was completely buried and crops were destroyed, but no one died. Thousands of residents on both Faial and Pico were forced to immigrate to the United States. Former President John F. Kennedy, a U.S. Senator at the time, sponsored a special bill that allowed the Azoreans to relocate to Massachusetts. In June 1958, National Geographic ran a story on Capelinhos after sending reporter John Scofield and photographer Robert Sisson to Faial for a month. The America cruise liner SS Independence diverted its route to Europe so passengers could see the volcano. Today the Capelinhos volcano is a natural park where visitors can see the unique changing landscape and the power of volcanism. The vegetation is slowly turning to the land, which is similar to the planet Mars with red, crunchy soil. Visitors can also hike to the rim of the volcano and look over the new land that was formed. To commemorate the 50th Anniversary of the Capelinhos eruption, the regional government is creating a new museum, which will open later this year. It is located at the site of the famous lighthouse, which guided ships to the islands for years and was buried by the eruption. In addition, the anniversary will include a series of special events throughout the year.
Tuesday, 18 September 2007 02:30Talented Azorean jeweler Paulo do Vale is quickly gaining international attention for the unique jewelry he is creating with black basalt lava rock and gold and silver. do Vale’s unusual and exquisite necklaces, earrings and rings have caught the eyes of the Portuguese national market. Created by volcanoes, the Azores is known for black basalt and the roads in the Azores are made of this rock. do Paulo got the idea for the basalt rock jewelry when his son found a beautiful black stone and asked do Paulo to make a pendant out of it. Paulo studied jewelry craft in Oporto. He created his first piece of jewelry at the age 12, a ring for his mother. In addition to making jewelry, he advises quality control at the Casa da Moeda, the Portugal national mint. Do Paulo’s work is on display and available for sale at his shop in Ponta Delgada on his native São Miguel island, with pieces priced between 300 and 1,000 euros. Contacts: Ourivesaria Rui Martins - Ponta Delgada Tel: +351 296 307 130
Wednesday, 12 September 2007 21:37Rural tourism is a great way to enjoy the Azores. It gives a local perspective, and closer relationship with the natural beauty of the islands. Country estates, called Quintas in Portuguese, and rural farmhouses restored as bed and breakfasts are a unique way to better understand this special place. The new Azores country inn package offers six unique properties to choose from on four islands. Azores Express is offering round-trip air from Boston, and six nights lodging with breakfast starting at just $629 per person. Price is for travel from Boston direct to the Azores (with inter-island air include where applicable). The flying time is just four hours. Taxes are not included in the price. Rooms, as these are inns and B&B¹s, range from rooms to individual houses. Breakfast is included. Friday departures are available, for an additional $80 per person. Direct flights from Boston to Portugal¹s Azores Islands will depart from September 2007 through October 2008. For just a few hundred dollars each way, passengers can upgrade from coach to SATA Comfort Business-Class. All packages must be booked by phone, by calling Azores Express at 800-762-9995. http://www.azores-express.com/
Friday, 07 September 2007 16:55Two new hotels are under construction on two of the lesser known, but very inviting islands of the Azores. Graciosa and Flores are know for their waterfalls, windmills, and underground lakes, but not their hotels... The new Hotel da Ilha da Graciosa, in the town of Santa Cruz right on the harbor, will offer 120 beds, and have 4 -stars, as well as cottages and a restaurant. The new Hotel das Flores will be in the former whaling factory, Fábrica da Baleia do Boqueirão, and will offer sweeping water views.
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