Subject: Faial and the Azores
We were on Faial, Sao Miguel, and Flores in the Azores in May, 1999, as part of a repositioning 20-day cruise across the Atlantic (with lots of stops) on the Caledonian Star with Lindblad Special Expeditions (a company I can heartily recommend!) We spent a day on each of these three islands, so I cannot say we have seen each in depth. However, since Lindblad's focus is learning, with on-ship lectures and slide shows and videos, much was packed into a short time.

Faial is a lovely island with numerous volcanic craters and calderas. Especially worth seeing is Capelinhos, which erupted in the 50's and devastated villages and countryside with volcanic ash. The area is till covered with the ash and has an absolutely other-world appearance and truly does show the horrid destructive effect of a volcanic eruption and is well worth seeing.

Caldeira is a volcanic cone dominating the island with a deep, wide crater. Nearby are marvelous Faial vistas.

The Feteira coast is full of grottoes and caverns and a lava arch and bird refuges. Take a boat trip.

The island is known for its masses of hydrangeas.

There are lovely beaches and natural pools: Porto Pim, Praia do Almoxarife, Faja da Praia do Nortes, Varadouro, and Castelo Branco. Also a lot of yachting.

Horta, the main town, is very Mediterranean looking with 18th and 19th century whitewashed architecture and bright painted cupolas. There are some museums, one of sacred art, plus the Hora Museum.

There are many, many special festivals all summer, esp. religious ones -- from Whitsun. through end of August.

Scrimshaw is one of the native folk arts.

If you have a chance, also visit Sao Miguel, the largest island of the Azores with its beautiful vegetation and deep blue crater lakes, pineapple and tea plantations, and Ponta Delgado, its main town with its wonderful mosaic architecture and streets.

The Island of Flores is less visited; it is mountainous and very green and there you can stand on the Westernmost point in all of Europe!

Enjoy your visit to the Azores; we surely did. Our ship was our hotel, so cannot really recommend places to stay. Cheers, Pat in Baltimore