Subject: Portugal - Azores, Madeira and The Algarve
Dear Linda and Don,

What a great treat you have in store...great itinerary selection!

The Azores are beautiful - tho all volcanic # each is unique in its own way. Loads of stone arches and incredible views and hopefully, the hydrangeas will still be out lining the roadways and hillsides where they are used as dividers for parcels of land.

My Mom was from the island of Fayal...7th in the 9 islands..and I've been a couple of time, latest 1975..when we stayed in Horta, the capital, we were at Estalagem da Santa Cruz, a charming fortress turned hotel then owned by Perry Mason..(he gave a huge party for the locals each August when he vacationed there#and we missed it!). Fayal is the site for the cross Atlantic cable and a popular yachting stopover for cross Atlantic cruising.

Pico is visible from Fayal as its peak (Pico) stands majestically against the sky; you can get there via boat/ferry for a quick trip across#I was surprised to read of a recommended restaurant there since it is a small isle, relatively quiet - but things probably have changed since my last visit. My Mom spent time there with her aunts helping them make cheese which had to be transported for sale via foot to the opposite end of the isle.

I think we stayed at the Dom Pedro in Sao Miguel, the largest island which has to be toured in two parts but is doable in one day...one side with furnas/thermals,etc and I remember a tea or pineapple plantation too...and the other with a feature known as Sete Cidades (7 cities, which are the view from atop) 2 lagoons, one really blue and one really green...the story goes that two lovers (one royalty) were kept apart by families and cried their eyes out in the colors of the waters!!

Texeira is the locale for the US base where President Bush recently attended a summit hosted by little old Portugal. I was fortunate to meet people who had access to the Officers Club on base where we enjoyed a wonderful meal. And I recall having linguisa cooked at the table in one of those clay pots at a restaurant near the bullring.

Actually, I've been to all the islands..on my 1967 trip, I boarded a transport ship which stopped at each one until we reached Fayal, so we toured along the way. I recall large baskets of fresh figs # green, white, purple # being harvested in the fields on Graciosa. But, I don't recommend going waaaaaay out to the last two, Corvo and Flores, much to far and undeveloped in 1975 for a short stay.

Also stopped at Madeira on my RTW trip and remember it as really beautiful...be sure to take a ride down in one of the rattan buckets!! It is a popular destination over the New Year Holiday when fireworks light up the skies against beautiful mountain backdrops.

Re: Algarve..We spent some time at Hotel Tarik on Praia de Rocha back in the 80's and drove along the coast from Sagres on the west to the coast of Spain...again, it's a doable one- day, keep- moving drive if you want to rent a car for that time. With the heatwave they've been having, you may be lucky enuf to get into the ocean since my notes indicate that we did in September.

We had a great night in the Wine Cellar at the Torralta Complex amongst the barrels and with folklore singing and dancing and terrific food. Try to take one of those tours.

The Algarve Chimneys are a well-known spectacle! Homeowners try to outdo each other with the most unique design and many postcards feature Chimneys of the Algarve#great photo ops!

Happy Traveling.. Lucille M Gioello, West Hartford, Ct.