After 2 years of getting our wings clipped, we’re lastly freeeeeeeee!
Earlier than the pandemic, our passports had been our most prized possessions. We by no means went wherever with out them, continuously frightened about shedding them, and now and again took them out of their protecting journey circumstances and flipped by way of their pages lovingly, admiring all of the visa stamps.
Up to now 2 years, they’ve been sadly gathering mud in a drawer, uncared for, and forgotten. I didn’t assume they’d ever see the sunshine of day once more. Actually, after we purchased our airplane tickets lately, I practically tore aside my Toronto rental condominium as a result of I’d forgotten the place I put them.
Oh my poor Move-Porty-Port, I promise to by no means abandon you once more.
Uh-hem. Anyhoo…in order you’ll have guessed, we’re travelling once more!
After holding within the journey urge for an entire two years, I used to be lastly capable of scratch my itchy toes by heading for…
Sao Miguel island within the Azores!
Now, I’ve to confess, earlier than penning this weblog, I’d by no means even heard of the Azores. It wasn’t till a reader posted on my Iceland publish, saying “if you happen to like scorching springs, you need to go to the Azores” that it even entered my radar. So, thanks, superior reader, for telling us about it.
To be trustworthy, I debated arduous about penning this publish. I’m the kind of one who, upon discovering one thing she loves, can’t assist however shout about it from the roof tops. However a louder voice in my head shouted, “IDIOT, SHUT UP! Don’t TELL folks! Would you like this place to be overrun with vacationers like Iceland?” I desperately needed to emphasise how a lot it rains right here and the way a lot you’ll hate it so I may preserve all of it to myself and my pals. However as a result of I’m a dumbass who can’t even lie correctly, right here’s the reality:
As a lot because it pains me to let you know, the Azores ended up being probably the most underrated (my favorite kind), finest locations on the planet.
Right here’s why:
We received hooked on pure scorching springs after visiting Germany, Iceland, Taiwan, and Costa Rica. So, as quickly as I heard that Furnas (pronounced “fur-nah-shh”) on Sao Miguel Island was well-known for its many scorching springs, I instantly booked our Airbnb.
Simply to make clear for many who’ve by no means been there, the Azores (pronounced “Ah-ssor-esh”) is a gaggle of Portuguese islands (or “archipelago” if you wish to be nerdy about it) positioned between North America and Europe. We went to the largest island known as Sao Miguel and stayed in 3 totally different locations: Ponta Delgada, Vila Franca do Campo, and Furnas.
*finish geography lesson*
Now what was I saying?
Oh proper. Sizzling springs. So, of all the recent springs in Sao Miguel we visited, listed here are our prime three:
The largest of all the recent springs, you may pamper your self all day on this large Olympic pool-sized scorching spring smack dab in the midst of a flowery park made for a princess. You don’t even must shell out 200+ an evening for the 5-star lodge on website, simply use their 3 thermal swimming pools for the low low value of solely 10 euros for the whole day.
The park even comes with a head gardener who lives in a mansion along with his complete crew of employees on website to take care of the property! Daammn! Portugese gardeners are baller.
The one bizarre factor is the colour of the water, which is a murky yellow as a consequence of its iron content material, so be sure you don’t put on a brand-new bathing swimsuit as a result of it’ll get stained. And if that’s not your jam, worry not. There are two different jacuzzi model scorching springs you should utilize:
Even if you happen to’re not into scorching springs, Terra Nostra is price going to, even simply to stroll round and admire the grounds. After travelling to just about 50 international locations, that is one in all my favorite parks of all time.
Poça da Dona Beija
With its 5 thermal swimming pools of various temperatures, and even one with a scorching waterfall you may sit and meditate behind, this place will chill out you and make your pores and skin really feel smoother than a child dophin’s bum.
For under 6 Euros, you get 1.5 hours of blissful leisure.
Poça da Tia Silvina
This little gem is a pure foot tub that we stumped upon whereas strolling beside a river. Clearly solely the locals knew about it as a result of we by no means heard English spoken as soon as by different folks each time we went there. As an added bonus, it was utterly abandoned in the midst of the day, so we had all of it to ourselves. Good for soaking our toes after a protracted day of climbing, no admission required.
Attending to all 3 thermal swimming pools in Furnas is straightforward and all inside strolling distance if you happen to’re staying in Furnas. Even if you happen to’re staying the principle metropolis of Ponta Delgata, you may nonetheless get to Furnas through the bus for 4.25 Euros/particular person.
Right here’s the central bus station in Furnas the place you may decide up an in depth map of bus routes across the island:
The opposite two scorching springs we went to had been:
Termas das Caldeira
This was the smallest, least costly of the bunch. With solely 2 swimming pools (oh the horror!) behind what seems to be like somebody’s house-turned-spa, it felt like going to a yard pool occasion.
However at 3 Euros per hour, the value can’t be beat. The employees had been even good sufficient allow us to keep so long as we needed when it wasn’t busy.
Getting there was a little bit of ache although because it’s not near any main points of interest, so it’s a must to drive.
This was probably the most touristy of the spas (practically everybody round us spoke English within the swimming pools) and probably the most crowded. The pricing mannequin was additionally bizarre in that they charged 8 Euros for a 2-hour slot, however if you happen to’re not there at the start of the slot, you simply lose out on the time. I attempted calling them forward of time and reserving on-line with none luck so we determined to wing it and simply stroll there after a hike down into Lagoa do Fogo. Since we arrived 30 minutes after the beginning of their slot, we solely received 1.5 hours. The slots for the remainder of the day had been utterly full.
Admittedly, this one has the greenest, lushest nature surrounding it. You’re feeling such as you’re in the midst of the Costa Rican rainforest and there’s even a pure waterfall you may cool off in, in extra to three totally different swimming pools. It appears to attraction to Instragrammers and Tiktokers however wasn’t what I’d name stress-free. It additionally wasn’t straightforward to get to with out driving, was approach too crowded, felt very rushed, and I each my good friend and I received a rash from the water afterwards. Price making an attempt a minimum of as soon as however I wouldn’t return.
And final however not least, probably the most distinctive scorching spring wasn’t even a scorching spring in any respect. It was a—get this—a scorching OCEAN.
Ponta da Ferraria
Yup. This outside thermal pool is actually the ocean. I’ve by no means heard of something like this exterior of the Azores, and it’s a pure phenomenal you should expertise a minimum of as soon as in your life.
On this northwest a part of the island there’s a volcano underneath the ocean that warms up a part of the water. So, once you’re submerged, you’re feeling concurrently cold and hot—just like the lyrics of this Katy Perry track. It’s not precisely stress-free, since, you recognize, it’s the freaking ocean and there are waves, however if you happen to put on water sneakers or Velcro sandals some components are shallow sufficient so that you can stand. There are additionally ropes within the water so that you can maintain on to. In case you like the sensation of being inside tossed round in a pure wave pool, this attraction is for you.
Attempt to go throughout low tide for a extra comfy expertise, right here’s a chart that reveals the timing of the tides.
This scorching ocean wasn’t as straightforward to get to as Furnas as a result of it’s a must to drive to the west most level of the island, however can simply be mixed with a hike in Sete Cidades (seven cities—the placement of probably the most scenic of all of the hikes) if you happen to hire a automobile.
Okay, I understand that this publish has gone on for much too lengthy, and I nonetheless have a lot extra to let you know concerning the Azores that I’ll have to interrupt this into a number of components.
Subsequent time we’ll speak concerning the meals and the worth. I didn’t assume an island could be low cost in comparison with mainland Portugal, however by some means it’s. Keep tuned for Half 2 for an in depth breakdown of how a lot we spent.
Crap, I simply realized I’m gushing approach an excessive amount of. That’s why I wrote this deceptive title within the hopes that a few of you gained’t learn the publish and simply determine to not go to the Azores. Within the curiosity of not ruining this underrated hidden paradise, let’s simply preserve it between us, okay? SHHHHHHH.