Arriving in São Miguel

Somewhere in the middle of The Atlantic Ocean, way out beyond The Pillars of Hercules: the island of São Miguel. We are about forty minutes away from the main city of Ponta Delgada now, on the weekly plane from Stansted. There are 73 passengers on board out of a capacity of 198. There are only 137,000 people living on the island. It’s 287 square miles.

If you look on the map The Azores will be drawn bigger than they are – just to make them more visible. It’s an archipelago but none of the other islands can be seen from São Miguel. They are far flung lush volcanic islands, boiling with life. Situated as they are atop mostly dormant volcanoes, they are peppered with hot springs – there’s even a warm waterfall. Hot springs don’t care that it’s winter, even if most tourists seem to. Lava doesn’t need the sun to be warm, but nevertheless it’s about ten degrees warmer in the air here than the UK air. Ten degrees. That’ll do.

This flight would’ve been £7.99 if we didn’t have overhead locker bags.

All the cabin staff are extremely happy and full of laughter despite the fact that the airline probably pays them in socks. I get the sense they’re glad to live in such a beautiful place. And they only have to work once a week this season if this is their only route.

Thank God mass tourism hasn’t come there yet. The weather is perhaps too changeable – everything tells us to pack for all seasons. Also I suppose that if one of the three volcanoes on the island pops there is nowhere for anybody to go. But hey! What are the chances? I’m happy to roll the dice on that.

We are hotel hopping. Not by constraint. By design. We had so much choice we chose 4 and we’re only here for a week. Tonight, even though we land after 10pm UK time, I insisted we stay one night in the pineapple farm. Tomorrow morning we get a tour, and I intend to eat a lot of pineapple. Then we drive in a cheap rented car to Furnas and we check into a luxury spa hotel in a nature reserve for two nights. There are hot springs in the garden that are closed to all but guests after hours. I’m so excited about all this.

We might land and discover that the books are a lie. We might find out that the Azores is just a conspiracy. We might be crushed into goo and fed to horses. But I have a feeling we are about to have an incredible week, and seriously, it cost us nothing compared to what you would expect.

After all the Covid travel anxiety pre flight, so far, things have been easy as pie. We had to show a doctor certified antigen test certificate, which cost an extra £39. But with the flights so cheap and the accommodation prices slashed for the winter I reckon we hit on an absolute blinder booking this when we did, and this next week, with apologies, I’m hoping to make everybody jealous with incredible photographs. I promise I’m not being employed by Azores tourism.

Even if it rains every day its not London. And it’s out in the middle of the ocean. And we land in ten minutes. We shall be landing shortly. Aaaaaaaaa

I hope we get through passport control okay.

Aaaaaaaaa

We are IN. The car rental place didn’t like the cut of my jib so they charged me a 1350 Euro deposit! It is refundable. But if I didn’t have a card I could put it on, I would have HAD to pay 135 Euro extra for the bonus insurance scam thing. That aside it is immediately gorgeous and so friendly. Andrea just welcomed us to Herdade do Ananas. Everything is pineapple themed.

I’m having a free glass of pineapple liqueur on the terrace. Palm trees and red walls.There’s the smell of woodsmoke. I’m in my jumper with no coat outside at half past ten. It feels calm and unfamiliar here. It feels beautiful here.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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