As we round the bend of the Lake of Seven Cities, the Porshe picks up speed. Only this Porshe is not a German manufactured sports car. I’m riding in a top-of-the-line, five person carriage made in Poland and pulled by a magnificent purebred Lusitano horse named Safira. The owner of the horse and carriage company, João Gouvêa, sits regally behind the Lusitano mare, speaking softly to her in Portuguese. We trot along smartly, waving at the onlookers as they snap photos of us riding in this fine carriage.
The legend behind the Lake of Seven Cities
As we circle the lip of the blue lake at Sete Cidades (Seven Cities), the groom, João Branco, explains the legend of how the lake of two colors got its name. There once was a princess who liked on the island of São Miguel. She came from a very wealthy and well-respected Portuguese family. Unfortunately, the princess fell in love with a common farm boy. Of course, his blood lines were not of royalty, so the princess was not allowed to be associated with the farm boy. At night, they meet in secret in the Azores forest. They discussed their fate and cried and cried; her blue tears filling one part of the lake and his green tears filling the other part of the lake.
Carriage ride in São Miguel, Azores
How fitting that I am riding in a cart, pulled by a pure-blood Lusitano horse. This versatile sport horse from Portugal is mild tempered, jumps, rides calmly on trails, shows in dressage and pulls a carriage with ease.
“The Queen of England rides a Lusitano,” notes Equiazores owner João Gouvêa. “To ride a Lusitano around São Miguel is the best way to see the island.”
Quinta do Vento Equiazores
João Gouvêa and his wife Angela own and operate Quinta do Vento Equiazores. They have 40 horses at their stables on São Miguel, giving lessons in the covered arena and offering dinner and equestrian horse shows to guests. The company is able to meet cruise ship passengers in downtown Ponta Delgada and tour them around the island by horse-drawn carriage or lakeside with a picnic lunch at Sete Cidades (Lake of Seven Cities.) Of course, Equiazores offers horseback riding holidays from one to seven days.
The family has four vacation homes available to rent on the island of São Miguel for a unique horse riding vacation or for the non-horse riders looking for an Azores holiday in Portugal with views of the Atlantic Ocean.
Need to know
Equiazores offers horse rides, carriage rides and riding lessons on the island of São Miguel, Azores, Portugal.
For additional insider tips follow Luxury Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown on Twitter.
If You Go:
Direita do Ramalho nº 118A Street
São Miguel, Azores, Portugal
Article written by, video and photos courtesy of Travel Writer Nancy D. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. I was a guest of Equiazores Visit Azores, Tourism Portugal and SATA Airlines.