WELCOME TO Val's Alentejo -I write about my region of Alentejo. My art ,painting, my cottages, Family life, my animals -Travels And my love for Roses- and rural country life.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Hydrangeas!!! & Azores

 The Azores - Archipelago.. 
 Officially the first islands were discovered in the 15th century by Portuguese  explorer Gonçalo Velho Cabral.
  I am sure that you all know about these beautiful islands.   Magical islands indeed.   The islands are situated on the mid atlantic ridge.
The photos (all courtesy) I am showing you are of the Island of FIAL. (Ilha Azul- Blue Island)
Fial, was the first Island that we arrived at on our epic sail from South Africa to Europe.   We were there for a month.  Which gave us time to get to know some of the people near to the harbor and the old town.

The Fial of today, is nothing like the Fial of the 80's..   It now boasts a marina and lots of new shops and tourism has become prosperous.
A volcanic Island.  It is well documented about the 1 year eruption on the Island in Capelinhos(little chapel)  Erupting on september the 27th 1957  until October 24th 1958.   It lasted 13 months.

Walking up to Capelinhos.. one is just walking on dusty paths, but my gosh.  What an incredible sight to see .
 I can imagine  Mars, must look like this!  There is nothing there..nothing grows.  A very eerie experience, that one never forgets.
The eruption destroyed 300 homes.  During this period of eruption 2.000 people emigrated to the USA and Canada.   In the US.. There are many Azorean fishermen ,with their large fishing vessels that live and fish in Cape Cod.  Mr. M and myself, had the pleasure of meeting some of these lovely families, on one of our trips to the US.
 Their children now 2nd and 3rd Generation Americans.   The same in Canada.  During the summer months.. many of the children come and visit the Islands where their grandparents had once lived.
      My main reason for writing this post today.    I have been thinking about our magnificent hydrangeas that we grew in our garden in South Africa, they were gigantic and the pride of our garden.
 We lived about an hour away from the city of Durban 2000 miles above sea level.  High up the hydrangeas grew to enormous sizes.
This lead me to start thinking this week, about planting some hydrangeas here in my garden .
My D.I.L Heleen has some growing their  Alfange Estate., their heads dont get very big.. but still they seem to do well.  So, they will be my next flower that I hope to plant.  I do hope they take.. i will have to see. They for sure, will not be anything like the size of the ones we had in S.A or the ones growing in the Azores.

FIAL. is known world wide for the abundance of wild hydrangeas growing everywhere , especially so in the town of Horta.   Along the roadsides, up on the hills all over the island the flowers can be seen. A sight for sore eyes, especially in the summertime. I have never seen so many.
Mainly blue hydrangeas .- as  Gonçalo Velho Cabral named the island "Hortensia"  Hortense in English is Hydrangea! Hence the town of Horta.
                                           A map of the Island of FAIL..  we were moored in Horta.
                                            Breathtaking views. Great climate
                                                  Hydrangeas everywhere.  Horta's fields are just thriving and full of these magnificent flowers.
                                                  "Capelinhos" Is the town where the volcano erupted.
 The Azores Islands have some of the tallest mountains on the planet. Measured from their base at the bottom of the ocean , to their peaks. Which are high above the surface of the Atlantic ocean.

When sailing. and the islands come into view. It is a very dramatic view and a feeling that one cannot describe.   One's heart swells with excitement, happiness, lots of feelings all rolled into one.. after the screaming and shouting..  Out comes the rum to salute the captain on his fine  sailing abilities.  We never had any electronic equipment on board.. We sailed over 10.500 nautical miles.
                                                       So so beautiful,,,,,
The Azores Archipelago is made up of  10 Islands.
             Santa Maria
             Sao Jorge
             Sao Miguel
             Terçeira -  Terceira is the main Azores air zone command .  A detachment of the USA airforce have their planes there.  The Americans have always had planes on Terçeira.. NATO. forces.

                                       This is the "Yachties" wall at the harbor of Fial.    Passing sailors on their yachts paint whatever they feel they would like to paint -about your yacht , your crew whatever.  You can see the main church in the distance..  Manel painted his interpretation of "Scally" on this wall.

The Azorian's  , have their own dialect, that even for a native Portuguese speaker is hard to grasp until some time or  a few days ,until you get to understand the dialect.   They have their own cusine and traditions.  
Very lovely hospitable people.  We made good friends there.
My youngest son Filipe- plays his classic music  once or twice a month at Peter's sports cafe in Horta.. a very very well known cafe , with the sailing fraternity ... Peter We knew, died some years ago.  A world renown "Scrimshaw" artist.. His son also Peter, now runs the cafe.. He has opened one in Lisbon too.    Peter is very generous for Filipe's flight and two nights there. Let me say- he always wants Filipe back.

Dear friends.. I could of course go on and on about my travels.  Today its about beautiful Fial.. and if you are thinking of an exotic place to visit and have a holiday..  Keep Fial in mind.

(all photos -courtesy of wikipedia)-

I would like to thank all my kind blogging friends for your comments on my last post.
I have been a little behind with comments and posting.

I hope you enjoyed a little journey to Horta Fial.. !

Wishing you all a wonderful week.   val


  1. what adventures you have had! the volcano eruption must have been so heartbreaking for families! forced to leave and embark on new lives in strange places.

    i hope your hydrangeas will grow well and bring you smiles and memories.

    1. Thanks Tex.
      The families that left, I think are living a life now of a different quality. better I believe.

  2. What a fascinating and adventurous life you have had! How interesting to learn about the Azores of which I knew very little. It must be the perfect place to grow hydrangeas. They are so pretty in the photos of this lovely island of Faial.
    I wonder if you will go there again one day. Perhaps you could visit with Filipe!
    Make sure you grow your hydrangeas in a shaded spot. Good luck!
    Hope the rain has eased.

    1. Thanks for you comments Betty. The island is indeed beautiful.
      I would love to return. Would love to go with Filipe.
      Thanks for the tip with the hydrangeas..

  3. It makes me want to get the world atlas out and see exactly where it is. I've never traveled to any place like this! How amazing! Thanks for taking the time to tell us so much about it, too! Enjoy your week my friend. Sweet hugs, Diane

    1. pleased you enjoyed my post Diane,
      You would love a holiday at the islands.. I dont know them all.

  4. Val--this was so interesting. I knew nothing about the Azores--and love hearing about your journey. I hope one day you will tell us about your time in South Africa. I love hydrangeas!

    1. Pleased you liked my post Jen.. The history of the Azores is interesting.
      I write now and again about s.a.

  5. A wonderful post, Val, and a very special look at the Azores. They are magnificent - the volcanic landscape, and the gorgeous hydrangeas: I have never seen them grow in such abundance. It must have been the most wonderful adventure on the yacht! My husband has a connection to the island of Flores, one set of his great-grandparents came from there. He has some information from Ancestry.com. One day we would like to visit. Thank you so much for showing it to us - we have never known what the Azores look like!

  6. So pleased Patricia , that you enjoyed my post.
    A little of something different.
    Oh.. how interesting that your husband has Azorean roots. You must take a trip to the island. I would love to visit all the islands.
    thanks for coming over Patricia..

  7. I didn't know about these islands so I learned a great deal from your post! Thanks! You have indeed had an exciting life. What good memories you made. I'm with you on hydrangeas; they are so, so beautiful. Love them and have planted many in my garden. Blues are my favorites, but the whites are quite stunning as well. Good luck with growing yours. Have a great week, Val.

  8. Dear Val,what an interesting post!!I do'nt know nothing about Azores,but your pictures are fantastic!!Amazind landscapes!!I like hydrangeas ,but the grow here,only on the mountains !!Wish you a happy week!!

  9. It would be so interesting to see the volcano island, Val. The hydrangeas covering the fields are so pretty. You are always visiting the most wonderful places and seeing unique things.

    Have a happy week.


  10. Aboslutely amazing Val, it looks like heaven unearth with my favourite flowers growing everywhere.

    Thanks for sharing your past adventures. Shell - A Darlings Nest

  11. I enjoyed this trip with you and the description of the view you saw as you arrived by boat. It must be amazing to see the hydrangeas growing in the wild and with such enormous heads too! Thank you for this visit. Sarah x

  12. Oh Val, thank you for your comment on the fundraiser. My family started the fund, along with the support of many good people in the community.

    Have a lovely evening.


  13. Val, what a beautiful place to visit. I would love to some day. Hydrangeas are one of my favorite flowers and I have a few bushes. One is a little older than the rest so it produces quite a pretty crop each year. I pick them at the end of summer and dry them. Beautiful arrangements that last a long time. I remember my grandmother had a bush that must have been really old. It was huge and never trimmed and covered her back porch so that it could not be used to enter the house. It was a great hiding place for all of the grandkids and we had fun there which I always remember..Judy

  14. Super photos, Val, and I do admire you and your family for undertaking what was indeed an epic sailing journey. The Azores look gorgeous with such dramatic scenery and wonderful flowers and I can see why they are a popular holiday destination.


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