It's the perfect time for cactus pears. We packed our blow torch and tongs and got on our way.
A hiking holiday in the Azores rewards with postcard vistas of mountains and sea, lush, almost Jurassic forests.
THE FEBRUARY CHILL of the Azores mountains vanished as we started ascending the rim of the dormant Furnas volcano. Sweat drained out of our pores. We could feel our own breath, hear our hearts beat. We slowed down. The silence of the walk gave to meditation amidst the lush foliage of the subtropical cloud forest.
Number one question: Is it warm there?
Post by João
We know that the Azores are fairly unknown and as your local experts on the ground we are eager to provide the answers, which you can also find neatly packaged in our Resources page.
So, the (as-if-I-was-in-front-of-you-tongue-and-cheek) answers...
How warm... Look, with a yearly average temp of 63 to 64F (17 to 18c), yes it's a fairly warm place. But Puerto Rico's yearly average is about 75F (23 to 24c). So, we are not a tropical island paradise. But we do have plenty of guavas, bananas and palm trees. We aren't fully temperate (say like in Boston) either. We are somewhere in between. Imagine San Diego-like temperatures with Seattle-like amounts of rain.
But that's only half the story. São Miguel is known as the "green island" aptly named for its lush evergreen look. There's little change in temperature between seasons. In summer the warmest month has highs of 79F (26c) and lows of about 66F (19c). In the coldest month highs average 63F (17c) and lows 54F (12c). Summer-like temps can occur from June through September. Winter-like temps can occur the rest of the year. October and November are transition months, as are April and May. Summer tends to be drier (10 days with rain on average) and winter wetter (20 days with rain). Today is a beautiful sunny skies day with a 66F temp. Yesterday it rained.
It's always pretty humid -- as in 84 percent average year-round. Yes, mold-will-grow-on-your-shoes humid. So, it can feel colder (or warmer) in winter. When the sun is out, like today, it can feel like 80F (27c). When it's windy, it can feel like 40F (4c). It can also feel raw in unheated homes. We have a cozy fireplace and in-room heat Enough of this one.
Driving around in a car... Ok, we get it. Many, many people are reluctant to rent a car during their vacation. They either don't drive at home or don't want the added expense. But the freedom you'll get by renting a car is priceless. The island is not huge, but it's very hilly and public transport is not thorough, although it's getting better. Also, this is not a resort-like place with all the attractions centered around, say, downtown Ponta Delgada. To truly experience everything the island has to offer, you really need to be able to get around. So, you either spend a lot of time on buses or get to experience more by driving yourself. Or, you can sign up for tours, but that can also get expensive and is often impersonal. Luckily, we have solved the problem with our minuvida experience packages, where we include an airport pickup and assist in arranging an affordable rental a car delivered right to quinta minuvida
Two-or-three islands... To which I reply: Do you prefer shoving junk food down your throat during your half-hour lunch while sitting at your desk or would you rather have a nice sit-down dinner at a fine establishment at a leisurely pace? I know which one I would pick. To get a full experience, don't plan to visit other islands during a one-week vacation. S. Miguel is the main island with the most things to do and places to go. One week is not enough. It's also more than 60 miles from the nearest island, Santa Maria. So, getting around to other islands is not that easy. If coming more than a week, I'd reccomend a second week in the closely clustered central group of Pico, Faial and S. Jorge. Those are easy to get around, each apart by boat about a half-hour to an hour only. Or take a 3- to 4-hour ferry in summer months to Santa Maria. Just don't try to squeeze in multiple islands on week-long stay.
I can hear a drumroll in the distance... We have completed renovations and welcomed our first guests (a full house!) just two weeks ago. We are incredibly grateful for all the people, business partners and friends who have made this endeavor possible and it is here that we are first announcing some very exciting grand opening specials. But first, a few of our favorite photos...
A full photo album is on our Facebook PageCheck it out!
Specials + promotions
Guests who choose to stay longer than 3 days can add additional days at our lodging only rates or opt for the 5-night package. Dinner subject to availbility of Quinta dos Sabores.
Experiences offered will be based on guest responses to our curated trip planning survey. We will be sure to offer something special for the whole family!
Details are forthcoming! Book now to make sure you're here in the Azores during this exciting weekend!
For those of you in the Boston area: there is a special airline promo right now that ends on Dec. 15 for flights between Jan. 8 and March 31. Full details on the Azores Airlines website.
The 8 a.m. buzzing of jack-hammers and greeting workers in pajamas half-asleep is something we've accepted as natural during our construction over the last six-moths.
But we're getting ready to make our own buzz now.
In our last construction update we had (finally) started the long-awaited transformation of quinta minuvida from a traditional manor home to a full-fledged lodging facility, including building our new home. It has been incredible to witness the daily happenings and we are so lucky to have a fantastic architect construction manager and team who are helping us realize this dream. It hasn't been all peaches, of course.
We have moved in and out of the property about a half-a-dozen times, and even camped in the back to accommodate a few early reservations. We were lucky to have them but João and I nearly killed each other trying to serve gourmet meals while eating our own out of a microwave (since we had no real kitchen...). We even lived with João's mom for a few weeks.
We are SO looking forward to finally having our own home! So, without further ado...
Before and nows!
Note that on the "now" photos the landscaping and manicuring will be the last part;-)
Here are shots of the living room expansion, new reception and corridor to our future home (formerly the four-car garage). First the team built foundations and then put in iron framing for earthquake-resistant columns. Insulated cement brick walls went up. Inside the living room is a new fireplace and reception area.
This is the view from on the other side, showing the living room expansion and also the second floor private balcony and bathroom for the Dragon Tree Suite. Now that double-pane windows and volcanic stone detail are in it's time for paint!
Some of the main work inside involved creating suites out of the several smaller rooms, and creating in-suite bathrooms. Shown below is the opening in the 3-foot stone wall to create the two-room Kentia Suite bedroom and living room.
And here's the Kentia bathroom; just needs the fixtures and finishing touches.
Meanwhile, other exciting stuff is going on in the inside, including a revamped electrical system (oh the dust that created with cutting into stone walls!) and newly stained wood floors and ceilings really bring the original elements into their former glory.
And now for our home! It was the first part of the project, mostly to create a staging area while the main house was being worked on. We intended to build our home in the back (where the new yoga studio will be), but zoning regulations dictated only one main "residence" and so our home had to be built connected to the main house. It looks very much like our first home together in Somerville, Mass.!
And this is the back of our new house (former garage) and where we created an additional bedroom. There is also a brand new three-chamber septic tank, holy shit!
Stay tuned for some exciting finished photos! – although we are learning that with a property this big and visions so grand, we'll really never be "done"!
quinta minuvida orchard lodge celebrates our orchards, the essence of our thoughtful Azorean accommodation and experience offerings. We bought a property with mature fruit trees, but they were mostly unkept. One of many tasks over the past year has been learning about, caring for and nurturing our orchards, without the use of chemicals or harsh fertilizers.
It has taken some blood, sweat and tears (and a good set of pruning shears!) and presto – our orchards are producing! We transplanted several banana trees and João has learned some secrets about these incredible plants. Here, he shares a little about the lifecycle of the banana. If you're lucky you'll get to enjoy our homemade banana liqueur from this batch!
Check out what else is growing in our orchards! Can you guess what these are? We'll be incorporating this all into our food at the orchard lodge, as well as experiences in making jams, liqueurs and cooking classes.
We'll launch our booking platform in just a few weeks, where you will be able to make your reservation to stay and Feel the Azores with us! Make sure you're on our newsletter to get our special Grand Opening promotions!
While it took quite a bit longer than we originally anticipated, our renovation project is finally underway! So what the heck are we doing anyway?
We are essentially going from a three-bedroom basic lodging establishment to a five-suite orchard lodge chock full of awesome amenities, plus our own new house. We are adding amenities like the Observation Tower with 360 degree views of the mountains, ocean, volcanoes and our one acre orchards. We are also building new covered porch and grill area, perfect for our minuvida dinners having breakfast outdoors, or to do some grilling during your stay. We are also building a yoga studio/multipurpose room for yoga, quiet space to relax and read, or for group gathering events like movie nights and board games.
The above shows the living room expansion, which will have a wood-burning fireplace as well as the Observation Tower. Further to the left is a glass corridor connection to our future home.
Some of the exciting things going on now are pictured above. First on the list, having to move everything out of the main house. We spent this time last year getting everything ready for our first guests during Beta-Testing season It was reflective to now be spending time taking it all apart, right back to how we found the house when we bought it last February Then came the destructive stage of the construction; breaking down VERY thick walls to create connections between rooms; opening up walls to lay the groundwork for a brand new electrical system in the main house.
At the same time a LOT is going on outside; foundations are dug to support the expansion of the main house and new reception area. Pictured above is the progression to reinforce the soil and build earthquake resistant walls. Very cool stuff! Pictured below is the brand new three-chamber septic tank and associated ditches dug throughout the property.
We're gearing up for a busy summer leading experiences with hikes, cooking classes, and helping visitors Feel the Azores! Know anyone heading to São Miguel this summer? Put them in touch with us! Have any construction advice? Send us some love, let us know what you think of the construction! Leave us a comment:-)
While construction is underway João and I have been busy launching minuvida azores experiences which allows us to offer our signature experiences a la carte. We received an overwhelmingly positive response to our small group, curated experiences that enable guests to truly Feel the Azores and connect with it's nature, culture and food. Below are a few examples of what we're doing!
We started a small farm on one of the back quartéis of the property earlier this Spring. Since we use only local ingredients in our gourmet minuvida dinners we want to grow as much organic and local food as we can. From a plot of dirt to a blossoming garden, we are looking good to have delicious local fruits and veggies for our opening later this summer/early fall! We also discovered a wild strawberry patch where we've been able to forage for half-a-dozen evenings of strawberry-yogurt-mint bowl desserts! Yum:-)
We've planted taro (inhame), which is a delicious root vegetable similar to a potato but far richer in nutrients. We also have piri-piri and malaguetachilly peppers to make our own hot sauce; sweet potato, zucchini, cucumbers, watermelon, different types of tomatoes, husk cherries, tomatillo, surinam cherries, fig tree, mango tree, and passion fruit plants!
And finally, our herb garden with 12 different types of herbs (so far!) We have lavender, chocolate mint, oregano, pineapple sage, rosemary, fine mint basil, cinnamon basil, lemongrass, rue, cilantro, parsley and regular basil. Fresh herbs anyone?!
Have a suggestion on something else we should be growing? Leave us a comment! And make sure you're on our newsletter to get exciting updates and promotions on our upcoming GRAND OPENING!
We are thrilled to announce that we are now offering our signature experiences a la carte! While construction is going on at the quinta, we've secured all the licensing and even got a badass offroad vehicle to accept guests for our unique experiences! We help guests to Feel the Azores through hiking, food, and yoga!
Authentic experiences in the Azores
We help our guests feel the Azores. We provide context, immersion and insight. We limit our experiences to small groups (no more than 6 guests), and focus on what we know and do best: hiking, food and yoga. More on our experiences here
Our signature experience: the volcano cozido hike