March 2020: We were a group of friends between 25 and 30 years old. Vacations scheduled for a beach destination and that's when we realized that the COVID-19 pandemic was going to play a trick on us. This was indeed the case and we had to cancel our summer 2020 holidays.
We were always attentive and looking for an opportunity to reschedule this friends' trips, but with the evolution of the pandemic, the idea remained dormant until better days. My sister Joana and I at the end of 2020 saw our Parents already retired and after almost 6 months of isolation in need of “life”, a breath of fresh air. Joana started looking for destinations that had started to implement measures to control and mitigate the pandemic, that had a low population density and that were not a mass destination. We searched on Google and found a campaign from the Azores: “Açores, Seguro por Natureza” safe-to.visitazores.com which immediately convinced us to book a trip with our Parents to the unique Azores Islands.
A trip with friends turned up to be a family weekend with retired Parents. It would be a moment of sharing and adventure in nature with the family. October 2020 we left Lisbon with Azores Airlines to the island of São Miguel, but before leaving we left nothing to be taken care of. We wanted to stay in a charming holiday home, in a rural area where you could feel the Nature, preferably with a garden and ample space. We discovered the Charming Villas, an exclusive accommodation on the island of São Miguel, in Livramento in a very central location close to all the hotspots to visit. There are two local accommodation units available, Casa Villa Cottage and Casa Villa Garden. We choose Casa Villa Garden with a large picturesque garden and 3 bedrooms for privacy.
We arrived late on the island of São Miguel but late check-in was no problem with our host Ana who was always available and very friendly. We soon received a set of tips for getting to know the island. She was always available at Whatsapp!
On the first day we went with Picos de Aventura looking for whales! We left at 09:00 heading south of the island shore, but before that we read the Whale Watching Guide that you can find here. It was an extraordinary experience and one to be repeated.
The comfort and tranquility of Casa Villa Garden could not be better after a day at sea where tiredness invited us to enjoy a family dinner in the accommodation's garden.
On the second day we still had a lot to see and do on the island. We decided to go on a trail of the many that are available. This time we stay on land and head towards the Lomba da Fazenda trail in the Northeast (6 km long circular trail), with a stop at the Lagoa do Fogo viewpoint and then at the Gorreana Tea Factory, the only one in production in Europe . On the way back from the trail, we stop at Cantinho do Cais in São Brás: a local restaurant, not very sophisticated but with a friendly welcome and a fish broth not to be missed.
Third and final day: Today is time to enjoy the last day of this short vacation! Right after the quick check-out in the morning, bags in the car, we hit the road to Ferraria, for a thermal bath in the sea at unforgettable temperatures, located on the southwest coast of the island, next to the town of Mosteiros, followed by a walk through the idyllic landscape of Lagoa das Sete Cidades (Vista do Rei viewpoint not to be missed).
On the way back and even before saying goodbye, we had dinner at the Saca Rolhas restaurant, close to the airport, with a fantastic menu. Excellent restaurant.
We left on Azores Airlines bound for Lisbon already longing to return to the comfort of the Charming Villas – Casa Villa Garden and the unspoiled nature of the Azores. See you soon, we'll be back soon!
Joana, Manuel and Parents.