Posted by: MummyTravels | May 3, 2012

The last overseas pre-baby trip. Ever…

The Azores are so far off the beaten tourist track that most people can’t pick them out on a map. Quite literally. Their guesses varied from the Caribbean (I think you’re thinking of the Antilles) to the Indian Ocean (sadly, no) and just complete, bewildered blankness. Which is impressive, considering they’re actually part of Portugal.

Admittedly, you wouldn’t stumble across them by accident. The nine volcanic islands are 930 miles off the coast of Lisbon, and 2,400 from the east coast of America, scattered across 350 miles of Atlantic Ocean. Officially the westernmost point of Europe, they also seem to be a well-kept secret – in Britain at least – despite direct flights of less than four hours with SATA International between April and October. That’s the same as going to Greece.

So they were perfect for my final pregnant getaway – undiscovered, unusual but not actually too far from home in case of an emergency. And despite my stubborn desire to carry on exactly as normal, at 28 weeks, the thought of taking my bump on long-haul flights and hauling it around airports had suddenly become less appealing.

With only time for a short break, I focused on the largest island of Sao Miguel – although it’s still a mere 40 miles long, and only 10 miles across at its widest point.

Landing in the Azores does feel like stepping back in time. While the architecture and language are thoroughly Portuguese, it’s hard to get much more laid-back, even in the cobbled streets of the capital Ponta Delgada.

On the downside, it can feel like you’re stuck in a slight time-warp – slightly dated décor at the four-star Hotel Talisman, in the historic centre where I stayed, shops closing on Sundays and early on Saturdays, and it’s not exactly the perfect destination for ultra-chic nightclubbing nights out. Which was fine by me, as I was ready to fall into bed nice and early every night.

But skip the superficial and the Azores are all about substance over style – friendly service and a hugely powerful shower at the hotel, so much to see and do that you won’t waste time shopping, and simple but delicious meals by the sea, overlooking the black sand beaches. And that’s before I even mention the whales, pineapples and volcanoes…

 

 

Disclaimer: My trip was arranged with the Azores tourist board and SATA International

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