Town Tales – Sao Miguel
With our city guides, we're discovering the world in new locations, cafés, bars, restaurants or museums. This time, we talked with the team of Francis Stories, an ethically-made knitwear brand located on the Azores in Portugal and discovered the island Sao Miguel. This weeks' Town Tales are less about the hip new spot in your fast-paced city but about the relationship towards nature, discovering magical places in the woods, spending a day at the lake, leaning back and slowing down. A perfect fit for Francis Stories: The brand focuses on woolen garments that stand out for their extremely soft and comfortable touch, for the elegant and clean design but also their closeness to nature. Being in sync with the environment comes first for Francis Stories and the private lives of their team. This is why only all-natural fibers are used for their pieces, the design is timeless, the clothes are made to last, no animals are hurt, the production is local and the results are biodegradable. This approach mirrors in the Francis Stories recommendations for Sao Miguel:
This nice little café right in the city centre of Ponta Delgada, the largest town in Sao Miguel island, is located in an old department store. The historic building closed it's doors during the 2007 crisis and reopened a few years ago with a fresh face, an amazing remodelling and a great selection of food. Armazens Cogumbreiro was reinvented by two of the most important Portuguese architects – Aires Mateus. They kept the essence of the place by using the original and classical lines but adding a 21st-century vibe. The team of Francis Stories loves to come here, not only for the beautiful interior and lovely ambience but for freshly baked goods and a great selection of tea. If you're looking for something encompassing Sao Miguel's culinary spirit, you're right here!
Terra Verde Tea House
This is another very nice little place in Ponta Delgada dedicated to drinking tea while eating cookies, biscuits and other delicacies. This one if for everyone enjoying the occasional sugar bomb. Get some macarons, mini pavlovas with fresh fruit or the most insane birthday-cake for your celebration!
DISCOVERING THE LAKES
Furnas is a beautiful little town in Sao Miguel situated in the crater of an ancient volcano. Within the beautiful green lake, you can still find some geysers, a trace of volcanic activity that can be best described as a hot spring or fountain of steam and water. But no worries: The volcano is not active. Howver, the soils are still very rich in all the minerals, and the humid, almost tropical environment in the crater is great for the development of some of the most beautiful gardens and woodlands the island has.
The Francis Stories team loves to explore Garden D. Beatriz, Garden Jose do Canto and Parque Grená for their after-breakfast walk.
Cozido das Furnas
If you like to come a bit later or need some hearty food after your sweet breakfast, right at the lake there's a place where the geothermal heat from the ground is used to cook food. Cozido das Furnas is a very typical local dish you should try. The volcano-cooked stew consists of meat and vegetables that have been buried for six to height hours to be cooked by natural heat from the ground.
Lagoa do Fogo
This is Francis Stories' favourite lake in Sao Miguel. Like Furnas, it is located in the crater of an ancient volcano and sits 500 meter above sea level. From up here, you can see the lake, the north and south coasts of the island, as well as the villages down by the sea – the view is incredible. If you want to experience raw nature and love to hike, this is what you should do. It is where the locals go. The Francis Stories team climbs down to the lake and takes a stroll along the virgin beach.
This lake completes the trinity of the big lakes in Sao Miguel. Like the others, Sete Cidades is located in the crater of an old volcano. The lake is cut in half by an old arched, stone bridge: From certain perspectives, one half of the lake is green and the other is blue. Legend has it, that the two lakes emerged, when a King forbade the love between his blue-eyed daughter and a local shepherd, who had green eyes. Their cries of despair generated the blue and green lakes.
There are loads of waterfalls all around the island. On Sao Miguel, it rains a lot. Over the course of millions of years, rainwater has cut through the backs of the mountains and created countless streams. At each one of them, you can find several waterfalls. Discovering these waterfalls is one of Francis Stories' favourite activities – climbing up the rocky beds of the water streams, exploring the dense woods of the island and trying the fresh chilly waters on the ponds. A great wait of rejuvenating the skin and bones!
Santa Barbara Beach
For the less adventurous of us, or the one's who just want to read their book, Santa Barbara is the brands' favourite beach on the island. It has a great wild look to it. The waves here crash unusual hard, which makes the scenery sublime.
After exploring the wild of the island, a little bit of structure and symmetry can be a welcoming change of scenery. The tea plantation fields are not very large but transform the landscape into a harmonic picture.
North Coast Viewpoints
The north coast of the island is filled with viewpoints that provide all imaginable perspectives over the coastline cut by the winds and the waves, in capes and bays of all sorts and styles.
Vila Franca do Campo
This mid-sized town is a nice sun-kissed town situated on the south coast of the island. Its most beautiful feature is the little islet just off the shore, with – you guessed it – a natural sea-water lake inside, reminiscing from a small old volcano. In the summer, the locals go there with a boat-shuttle, and spend the afternoons on the islet bathing in the natural swimming pool.