Sao Miguel Azores: White Ocean Festival
The adventures of Chili III
Peter & Belinda Vernon
Thu 4 Aug 2022 10:34
As we sailed along the south coast of Sao Miguel on arrival in the Azores we were struck but the green pastoral hillsides, copses of trees and thick cloud shrouding the high volcanic rims at each end of the Island. After so long in the med. and southern Iberian Peninsula this emerald-green landscape was a dramatic and refreshing change. Soon whale watching boats were speeding out from the shore, bouncing over the waves with their passengers hanging on to the boat, each other, and their cameras in their fluorescent orange life jackets. We were soon tied up in the Marina at Ponta Delgada and very pleased to have completed our longest passage so far - hugs and congrats all round with big thanks to Richard.
Ponta Delgada and the White Ocean Festival
Once moored in Ponta Delgada Marina we went ashore to take in our surroundings. The architecture is distinctive. Yes, there are some indifferent blocks of apartments and hotels around the bay but the old part of town is very attractive indeed. The streets are beautifully paved in pattens of black and white marble cobbles and many Portuguese colonial buildings painted in white stucco with volcanic black stone trim. The small squares and gardens are full of colour and the whole composition is distinctively different and delightful.
We were puzzled by white carpets laid out down some streets, music stages and street decorations of delicate blue and white jellyfish hanging from the street lamps and massive, inflated jellyfish and whales. We returned to the boat to find out from our Aussi neighbours that tonight was the White Ocean Festival, the biggest festival of the year in Ponta Delgada with 20 stages for local and visiting bands and an expected 60,000 people. We couldn't believe our luck.
It was a night we'll never forget. We found a table in the narrow street outside the National Restaurant and before long, as we tucked into our fish, the whole street filled with people all dressed in white and clearly out to party. A very good female singer attracted a crowd just down the street, all joining in with what were clearly famous Azorean folk songs. We wandered the packed streets for hours, listening to music admiring the mermaids, enjoying a beer from the many bars and so enjoying seeing Azoreans of all ages from babies to grannies all in white celebrating their Island. It was a spectacular evening.