The Herald Magazine - - CONTENTS -

THE Azores, a clus­ter of is­lands, tech­ni­cally part of Por­tu­gal but 1000 miles off its coast, are in the same time zone as Ice­land and sim­i­larly formed from vol­ca­noes to the ex­tent that they’re some­times re­ferred to as Europe’s Hawaii.

They wouldn’t be most peo­ple’s first thought for a driv­ing hol­i­day, par­tic­u­larly as not too many driv­ers could even point to them on a map. In­deed, speak­ing with some of the lo­cals, they noted that some maps don’t even in­clude the ar­chi­pel­ago of nine small is­lands.

How­ever, if you’re look­ing for a cou­ple of days away driv­ing on per­fect roads and tak­ing in as­tound­ing views, then the Azores re­ally should be on your radar.

We flew to the largest and most pop­u­lous is­land in the chain, Sao Miguel, which is still so small it would fit twice in­side London. From there, tourists can eas­ily hire a car and set off.

Our route would be un­der­taken in a Mazda 2, nav­i­gat­ing the en­tire is­land, along coastal roads, across in­ac­tive vol­ca­noes and via in­cred­i­ble moun­tain passes.

Even this is man­age­able in one day, with plenty of time for sight­see­ing.

With some tight wind­ing roads ahead, the Mazda 2 was the per­fect com­bi­na­tion of small and ma­noeu­vrable but with enough space for our lug­gage.

This SE-L had five doors, rea­son­able boot space for two peo­ple, and easy to use sat­nav and in­fo­tain­ment.

There are some strange rules on the is­land’s roads, such as: Al­ways as­sume there will be an­other car parked just be­yond a blind corner, or some­one stood in the road with a wheel­bar­row, and other

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