Hi everyone! This post in continuation of my full coverage of my trip to the Açores, the group of Portuguese islands in the middle of the Atlantic. Check out my other posts about the Açores here.
Thus far, when it comes to the Açores, I’ve written about the best beaches on the island of São Miguel, bathing in orange waters at both Poça da Bona Beija and Terra Nostra Park, as well as in the town of Furnas. I’ve also written about Azorean tea plantations and the beautiful countryside in Povoação. What I have yet to present is the glimpse of city life existing on São Miguel.
Ponta Delgada is a small city, yet is still the largest in the Açores. It has the typical things you would find in a capital city, like government buildings, monuments, theatres, markets, and all sorts of cafes and restaurants. The city also has many historical markers, including the old city gates.
Ponta Delgada is blooming with numerous shops and restaurants. They are all quirky and unique, like the Açores itself. One my cousin’s good friends dreams of being a chef and though he has not reached his full potential yet, he works at a wonderful new cafe right in the centre of Ponta Delgada: Louvre Michaelense. It is a beautiful concept combining unusual products to sell and delicious coffee and treats. Is it a shop with a cafe or a cafe with a shop? You be the judge.
There are also some great markets in Ponta Delgada where you can get anything to your heart’s content. One of my favorite things to do in watch locals scurry away through markets. I like to see what people buy and what people are interested in. I also like to see how people interact with others. A little creepy, I know, but hey I am best friends with an anthropologist.
But some of the more interesting and unique places in Ponta Delgada include some churches. There is one in the main square of Ponta Delgada, Igreja Matriz de Sao Sebastiao. My parents married in this very church. There is also Igreja de Sao Jose, which also displays typical Azorean architecture. Igreja do Santo Cristo is a small covent/church and has some beautiful tile work. These blue tiles are typical of Portugal, and also typical of the Açores. The church also has a pretty chapel that is highly ornate with lots of gold leaf decoration.
However, another unique characteristic of Ponta Delgada is the harbor. It runs along the entire front of the city. The city actually used to be built right up to the sea, but the government decided to expand the harbor inland to make a large boardwalk and make room for more restaurants and shops. While this means restaurants no longer sit right on the edge by the sea, the boardwalk is a great place to walk around and enjoy all year round because the weather is absolutely fabulous.
During the day, Ponta Delgada is a bustling city with lots of sights and things to do. And then during the evening, the city is also a hub for fun, laughter, and party time. The island of São Miguel may not be party central, but that does not mean Azoreans do not know how to have fun. We’re not talking the flashing clubs of Ibiza, but there’s something about islanders that makes them enjoy the good life. The Azorean islands enjoy several festivities and parties throughout the year, especially in the summertime. If you have ever gone a summer vacation to an island, you’ll know that work slows down and the fun truly begins. A very popular annual festival on the Açores is the Festa Branca (White Party). As the name suggests, everyone dresses in white and the scenery is decked out all in white. The tradition has been going on for years, being held at various locations through São Miguel. Back in 2012, the White Party was at Ribeira Grande.
However, in 2015, a joint initiative called White Ocean PDL announced its intentions to host the great summer festival in Ponta Delgada each year. Being the capital of the Açores, this makes a lot of sense. Not only will tourists be able to enjoy the party, but so will the businesses participating. Many businesses including restaurants and bars offer discounts to encourage customers to take a break with them.
The amazing effect of having the festival in the city is that all of Ponta Delgado is covered in white. The streets are decorated with sea motifs of white and blue. Several tissue paper animals float along the streets, blending with the many black lights all over. The White Party brings in 130 artists, 20 performance, 19 stages, and a city dressed in white.
Ponta Delgada has so much to offer, and I can’t wait to explore more this beautiful charming seaside city. Click here to read more about the Açores, this time about Mosteiros — one of my favourite places.