The island's tourada a corda (bullfight with a rope) is unique. A bull is released in the street while tied to a rope held by men. Macho young men taunt the bull and move within its reach. As the bull charges, they rush to safety. At our first tourada, the animal moved faster and farther than we expected. With a shiver of fear, we fled when it barreled in our direction.
The night before our flight home, we were back on Sao Miguel, dining at a Ponta Delgada restaurant we had patronized several times. Throughout our trip we had gorged on excellent and unusual fish, grilled squid, octopus and limpets, a shellfish I hadn't tasted before. For dessert we chose locally grown pineapple, unfailingly sweet and juicy. When we told Pedro, the waiter, that our vacation was over, he replied with a sigh, "The good things finish quickly."
So true. But in our minds, the Azores are not finished. We returned to the States knowing that four other islands await for next time.
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Azores, A to Z
Getting there: US Airways flies from LAX to Boston, with a connecting flight on TAP Air Portugal direct to Terceira, the Azores. Or fly any carrier to Newark, N.J., and connect on TAP to Terceira, with a stop in Lisbon. Round trips start at $722.
Where to stay: I liked the Residencial America in Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel. A double room was $35, including continental breakfast; telephone 011-351-296-284351. The Portuguese National Tourist Office, tel. (800) PORTUGAL (767-8842), has leaflets listing other lodgings.
When to go: Weather is temperate all year but warmest May through September.
For more information: Internet http://www.multi.pt/ azores.