The second place I got to visit in the Azores was the island of São Miguel… we flew in to photograph a wedding and spent a few days on the island, exploring. One thing you need to be prepared for on these islands is rain… lots of it, and always when you least expect it. We were lucky in Terceira and only got rain on the last day. São Miguel, unfortunately, wasn’t so kind to us (or our wedding couple!) but in spite of the weather (or maybe because of it… ) this place is incredible. Black rocky beaches, clear blue sea… and mountains that rise dramatically from the ocean and climb up into the clouds, and then plunge suddenly back down again into volcanic valleys with terrifyingly steep and narrow roads winding through forests so dense and tall that it feels like night-time when you’re inside… and just when you’re convinced that your brakes are actually about to fail, you burst out of the trees back into the sun in front of a tranquil lake… a scene so calm and pastoral that it completely defies the terror you experienced to get there.
We spent the afternoon at the Lagoa das Sete Cidades and explored the little town that gives the lake its name. While driving out of town in the evening we got stuck behind the marching band that was practicing up and down the main street… we finally managed to get past them and made our way up to the top of the mountain again, to take a panoramic shot of the lakes from above. The tourist buses had left, we were the only people at the look-out point that late in the day and in the calm of the evening light we could faintly hear the marching band miles away, down in the valley we had just left. That kind of quiet is hard to find in this over-crowded world of ours. These islands are special… magic, even… and we hope to make it back here again someday.