Flores Viradas do Avesso - Azores Lovers
Flores Turned Inside Out
There are those who call her the "Azorean Switzerland" because of its hills and valleys, but there are also those who call her the "Island of the water" because of its numerous streams and cascades. It has also been designated as the most cabalistic island of the Azores for its 7 lagoons, 7 bays, and 7 valleys... It is true that despite its small size, its lush its beauty and its landscape, between great contrasts of different shades of green, blue and black, composes an adventure for the soul and for the eyes of those who visit it. At Flores, the time passes slowly and the days are big, and this is how the island should be visited, calmly and with time to better discover and appreciate all that this little paradise on the western edge of the European continent has to offer, whether by land or by sea.
IN THE ROUTE OF PEOPLE...
It is a secluded spot which deserves a visit because it was the first place where the settlers of the island landed in the 15th century and where they also brought the Modena whaling vessel in 1873 with Captain Lang and 11 men whose testimony is engraved on a famous stone in the Fajã do Conde, a little higher up. In Ribeira da Cruz (1) you can enjoy the silence of the small bay, located where the river flows - where many years ago several watermills worked - adorned by a pebble beach where you can bath yourself. To get there, it is necessary to cross Ribeira dos Barqueiros, on the surroundings of Santa Cruz, to descend towards the cozy Fajã do Conde (2) and follow the path that then descends to the sea...
Morro Alto (3) is the highest point of the island and its 914 meters, it gives you a privileged and superb 360º view. A panoramic view from the central part of the island to lagoons, hills, and valleys full of endemic plants, meandered by roads, stone walls and hedges of hydrangeas.
Sea all around, sea in which you can lose sight of, and the nearby island of Corvo on the horizon. At night it is, by excellence, a natural astronomical observatory, with an infinite sky full of stars and constellations to discover and learn, at Flores island, the milky way gains other colors and dimensions...
SUN AND MOON BAY
Lovely bay situated on the east coast. The Alagoa (4) is a privileged place to watch the sunrise - or at night to enjoy the moonlight and, in the summer, listen to the sound of Cory's shearwater (or as we call it "cagarros") - in front of a series of islets with different formats that adorn the bay and the beach of pebbles, being able to catch a glimpse of the Corvo island. It is also possible to observe common and pink Sandwich tern (or as we called it "garajau") since it is a nesting zone of this species and an integral part of the Protected Area for the Management of Habitats or Species of the Natural Park of the Island.
In addition to the sea baths, you can have a picnic in the leisure park next to the 'Casa do Guarda' or even go for a walk at the trail that connects Santa Cruz to the north area of the island.
The climb to the Watchtower of the Baleia da Fajã Grande (5) is a walk full of adventure, that covers an extension of 280 meters, with entrance at the beginning of the house of the parish. The lofty view allows you to see a series of waterfalls until you reach the sea, with the isle of Monchique in the background announcing that there begins or ends Europe... On the way down, the more adventurous can choose to go to the Aldeia da Cuada or to the Fajãzinha, wandering in its alleys and feeling all its rurality and ancestrality.TIME TRAVEL
This Traditional Pepper called "Pimenta da Terra" Whale Factory of Boqueirão (6), a building that is now reconstructed, is a place that deserves an attentive and interested visit because of the different spaces that carefully portray the various phases of the work and memory of the whaling activity at the island. It is an old whale factory, built in the 1940s in Santa Cruz, which stopped working in 1981. After being closed for several years, was properly rehabilitated to reopen to the public as a museum space, being one of the largest and best preserved at the archipelago.
With a taste of the sea, the grasshopper herb or pebble grass that is harvested in the months of January/February, are made delicious pies and pastels. Fresh fish, limpets, and barnacles are also on the list. The sausage is something very characteristic from the island too because at Flores the sausage assumes a peculiar flavor and must be eaten with yams and greaves of meat or bacon. During the summer months, you can taste the traditional soups of Holy Spirit, all over the island and at the main parties (the Emigrant Festival in Lajes or Holy Spirit Festival in Santa Cruz, both in July), as well as a delicious fish broth that is offered to the population and outsiders at the parties of the Cais das Poças, in early August. On the other hand, the varied cheeses, butter, and yogurts are also flavors to taste and products to carry in your suitcase or backpack on the way home.
BETWEEN A TAVERN AND DANCERS
In the summer months, the festivals multiply at all the parishes of the island, where almost every weekend there is a party and a tavern full of traditional snacks to taste. In the bigger parties (of Lajes and Santa Cruz) it is possible to see and attend ethnographic processions that offer a glimpse at ancient times, making sure that the costumes and traditions are remembered. At some parties, where folk groups dance, at the end of their performance some people from the crowd are usually invited to join the dancers and dance a little with them the traditional dance of the Azores.
SMALL DETAILS MADE FROM HYDRANGEAS
Flores is the only island at the Azores where they make crafts with hydrangea kernels, and currently, only two artisans still do it. It is a delicate handmade work, which begins by collecting the stems of the hydrangeas, which after drying in an open air for a few weeks are pressed to extract their core. This is followed by cutting the material into thin slices with the help of a razor, then composing the arrangements with small tools such as tweezers and scissors. From her hands come miniature floral compositions and even baskets of flowers but also other objects of feminine adornments and other decorative objects.