Drifting in the Atlantic Ocean, somewhere between Europe and America, the Azores is an archipelago comprised of nine islands. I spent eight days on São Miguel, the largest of these islands and a haven of natural beauty.
Daily trips started and finished in Lagoa, a charming town just 10 minutes' drive from the archipelago's economic capital of Ponta Delgada. From here I discovered a dramatic landscape. As I explored, scenic lagoons, rivers and waterfalls gave way to volcanic craters and hot springs. Of these, the most famous is Lagoa das Furnas, where the concentration of iron in the water has turned the pool into the colour of rust.
Weather on the island is unpredictable; it's no year-round sunny beach destination. Yet while it can be cold, gloomy and foggy, the island appears just as ethereal when swathed in mist. The beauty of the Azores is undeniable.
São Miguel is extremely self-sufficient, with strong alcohol, tobacco and dairy industries. The island is also home to Europe's oldest (and currently only) tea plantations. I visited Gorreana Tea, a family business that can be traced back to 1883.
The more I travelled across São Miguel, the more I felt its magic. I witnessed more shades of green than I could have ever imagined; heard more birds than I thought was possible - each natural phenomenon felt more acutely thanks to the Azores' slow pace of life.