Rental Home on Faial

Our preferred way of spending the holidays is to rent a whole house for our family. This time we found our holiday home at azoreshigh which offers self-catering rental homes on Faial (among other related items).

The home we had rented, Casa do Vale, in Almoxarife is a beautiful traditional house, was modernised, extended, and lies in a sheltered valley. Walking to the black sand beach only took two minutes!!

In the morning we would wake up with lots of bird singing and farm animal greetings. The house stands at the far end of one of the village roads. After Casa do Vale, the road turns into a dirt road…


Welcome to Casa Do Vale!

The front area with more garden extending to the left

living room

azoreshigh has a good selection of rental opportunities.

Edited 23 March 2013: Our former rental home is no longer on the list. But I hope you find something you like.

Horta’s Port Extension

Work on Horta’s port extension started this summer and we got to see some of it while we were there. At the present the port looks like this:

Port of Horta in 2009

Port of Horta in 2009

Horta’s historical port is 120 years old and undergoing a big change by adding a new 393m L-shaped wall at the northern part of the city (right around the end of the houses/where the green area starts). This construction will complement the existing outer quay in handling the increasing number of cruise ships visiting the island during the spring and summer as well as the regular inter-island ferries.

This extension will provide 316 m of extra docking space as well as a second wall on the inside with a 100 m quay for smaller passenger ferries. The cost of this construction is estimated at 35.5 million euros.

The island is getting ready for more visitors as they are also planning a new passenger terminal and planning 20,000 qm for esplanade, parking, and gardens. The entrance to the new quay will be situated right next to the courthouse. Of course, all surrounding areas will also get a face lift, including a new access road and traffic circle.

Currently the depth of the water on this side of town is 8 meters and it needs to be dredged to a minimum of 11 meters. It takes 33 companies to do this job in 36 months and disruptions of business and traffic are expected during this time.

We passed the construction every day, watching a big crane moving its head up and down. I suppose Faial is expecting an influx in tourism versus the exodus they experienced in 1958.


The Azores most famous handicraft is Scrimshaw and Peter Sport Cafe in Horta on Faial contains one of the best collections in the world. The museum entrance is in the back of the restaurant.

Peter Sport Café in Horta

Peter Sport Café in Horta

Next to the café there is a gift shop where the merchandise ranges from kitsch to expensive Scrimshaw pocket knives.

In the quayside cabins (in front of Peter Sport Café) I found a gift shop selling patchwork bags, wall hangings, t-shirts, pot holders, etc., but nothing that would be unique to the Azores.

These were the only two gift shops I saw in Horta indicating the souvenir industry on the Azores is still underdeveloped!

The best souvenir shop we found in the country side near Capelo (western coastline). There we found a market with some handcrafted merchandise contributed by the locals. It was run like a village co-op which we had already seen in villages on Crete and in the Provence. In these kind of markets one can find some unusual or very traditional handmade gifts such as this one:

Hand-crocheted toilet paper hat

... a hand-crocheted toilet paper hat!

I could not believe my eyes when I saw local artisans still crocheted these toilet paper hats! I bought one right away and knew I would have to give this lovely present to my brother, who would surely remember the days of swaying dog heads (in German: Wackeldackel) and toilet paper hats decorating the car’s rear view area. I believe the Wackeldackel fashion started in the mid- or late sixties whereas the fashionable portable decorative toilet paper roll found its way into the German heart and car by the early seventies. This present was a true find on the Azores!!! It is hard to imagine they are still being made.

Back in the sixties, all we had was an out house on the farm, and only the printed newspaper was available to us. When I was a child, this little thing in other people’s cars looked like pure luxury and smelled of French sophistication… I think it was meant as a symbol for showing off in-door plumbing at home.

And yes, my brother got a big kick out of his present.

Wi-Fi Zones on Faial

Internet broadband access is extensive on the island. Of course, getting into the net was fastest at the internet café in Horta near the marina.

The cafe is housed in a pastel green wedding cake of a building, wrought-iron balconies and Art Deco interior.

The cafe is housed in a pastel green wedding cake of a building, with wrought-iron balconies and Art Deco interior.

At first we used this café, but its food is served cold and with tuna (both quiche and pizza slices…). I like tuna, but my family doesn’t.

Later we realized that the city of Horta is well equipped with internet broadband access – in almost every restaurant or bar, residents and visitors can access the the net free of charge.

Faial and wi-fi zones

Island of Faial and wi-fi zones

Other Wi-Fi zones included the playground at the beach in Almoxarife.

The port city of Horta, aware of its significant role in history regarding transcontinental communications, still intends to be the center of information technology despite its far-flung geographical location.

Azores Tour Guide by Bradt

Before we embarked on our journey to the Azores (Frankfurt – Lisbon – Horta/Faial), we got ourselves a tour guide book by Bradt.

This third edition not only has a lot of practical information, but it also has some interesting personal tidbits injected by its author.

I enjoyed reading this book before, during, and after our trip to these lush isles in the mid Atlantic.

Click Azores: The Bradt Travel Guide (Bradt Travel Guide Azores) for more information on the book.

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