Porschist Magazine 64 - Azoren

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Magazine for Porsche enthusiasts • year 16 • quarterly • November/December 2020 • 64

PORSCHE UNSEEN Design Studies

PANAMERA HYBRID TRIO A380 PARIS - LOS ANGELES • PORSCHIST IN THE AZORES


TRAVEL PORSCHIST

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The Azores:

islands in infinite green and blue.

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text: kathleen van bremdt - photos: kathleen van bremdt & sven hoyaux


TRAVEL PORSCHIST

he Azores only evoke vague associations for most of us. Every now and then they appear in the news in the weather forecast. Apparently something is happening there that affects the weather in Belgium. Sailors know them as an important stopover during their transatlantic journeys and the islands must also have “something” to do with Flanders, because here and there they are sometimes called the “Flemish Islands”. Enough food for research. We travel there and have an appointment with two passionate Porsche owners.

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WHERE ARE THE AZORES?

A LA GRECQUE

Literally in the middle of the Atlantic. Draw a horizontal line from Lisbon to the west and you'll find them somewhere halfway, about 1360 km from Lisbon. The nearest mainland on the other side is the Canadian island of Newfoundland at 1925 km. The archipelago consists of nine inhabited and eight uninhabited islands - nutshells in an immense pool of water - and is an autonomous region of Portugal. The islands are all volcanic in origin, rising six thousand metres from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean millions of years ago as a result of the friction between different tectonic plates. This primordial volcanic activity has left its mark all over the archipelago. The islands are mountainous and you will find caves here sculpted by nature, beautiful crater lakes, steaming fumaroles and explosive geysers.

The White Hotel has its name for a reason. White is the predominant colour in this sublime boutique hotel: from the limed façade, the interior walls to the polished concrete floors. The hotel is located on top of a steep cliff, which makes the view of the ocean phenomenal. The decor inside the hotel is refined and minimalist with greyish and azure blue accents. The owner, João Reis, has a strong affinity with the Greek island of Santorini, which is clearly reflected in the look and feel of his hotel. Where that passion comes from, he tells us later. First we go out for a trip with him in his other passion: a bright red Targa. (Interview on page 34.)

BEM VINDO AOS AÇORES After a flight of barely four hours we land on San Miguel, the largest island in the archipelago. Although we have proof of a negative Covid test in our pocket, the time since the administration of the test is now longer than the imposed 72 hours. With the current long waiting times of the labs, it is almost impossible to stay within schedule. Without mercy, another swab tip is shoved in our noses. The Azores have a strict Covid policy, which proves its effectiveness because the pandemic is well under control. When the medical tests are completed, we immediately drive to the White Hotel in Lagoa, 15 minutes from the airport. It will be our base for the first few days.


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White Hotel, Lagoa, San Miguel.


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The island seems to be reinventing itself behind every turn in the road.

A CROSSROADS OF MANY COUNTRIES Cruising through San Miguel in a Porsche is a dream. The island itself too. We drive along winding roads lined by lush hydrangea hedges, past rolling hills and through green valleys. The ocean is never far away and we can see it from metres-high cliffs or dramatic black sand beaches. The island seems to be reinventing itself behind every turn in the road. It feels as if we are on a mini world trip. The steep cliffs and the abundance of greenery remind us of Ireland, the rainforest with its exotic vegetation has something of Costa Rica and the jagged volcanic beach could also have been in Iceland. On the other hand, the language, culture and architecture are all Portuguese. To be fair: we did not expect such diversity. In a sleepy village, a farmer raises his thumb approvingly when he hears the satisfied roar of the Porsche engine.


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The steep cliffs and the abundance of greenery remind us of Ireland.


8 Lagoa das Sete Cidades, San Miguel.

SPECTACULAR CRATER LAKES The big attractions of San Miguel are the many beautiful crater lakes. The Lagoa do Fogo is such a gem. It lies between steep mountain slopes and is the most rugged lake in the Azores. It got its name - literally translated: lake of fire - from a volcanic eruption in 1563 that started a massive fire. The lake is right in the middle of the island. When the sun shines, the water turns almost fluorescent green. In combination with the light-coloured pumice beach and the deep green of the surrounding hills, the panorama is a true delight to the eye. We take plenty of time for a brisk walk around the lake so that we can take in all the beauty. Not far from there is Lagoa das Furnas, another lake nestled in the caldera of a volcano. In our opinion, the prize for the most beautiful lake goes to the Lagoa das Sete Cidades. This lake consists of two parts that are connected to each other, but seem to be separated from each other by the bridge of Sete Cidades with the seven arches. The surprising thing about the twin lakes is that the colour differs: the water in one lake is blue, in the other green. Of course, something like that is an excellent foundation for countless legends and stories. The most common is that of the

forbidden love between a princess and a shepherd. At their last secret meeting, their grief was so intense that the tears from the princess's blue eyes formed the blue lake and those from the shepherd boy's green eyes - you guessed it - the green lake. Of course reality is less poetic. The green lake owes its colour to the excessive growth of algae, a problem for which a solution is still being sought. The best view of both lakes is from the roof of the Monte Palacio Hotel, once built to become the very best hotel in the Azores, now reduced to a ghost hotel.


PORSCHIST TRAVEL NATURAL JACUZZIS In San Miguel, hot water flows everywhere through a network of volcanic veins. Where possible it rises to the surface, such as in the hot springs of Caldeira Velha, deep in the mountainous centre. A narrow path leads us to the natural thermal basins. We make our way through an exuberant tropical rainforest with gigantic palms, wide ferns and an overwhelming treasure of exotic flowers. Left and right, side roads lead to one of the many thermal swimming pools. Although you have to be careful which one you take a dip in, because in some, the water is scalding hot. We set course for the highest basin where a splashing waterfall completes the picture of paradise. Here, the iron-rich water has the perfect temperature. We wallow in this wonderful open-air bath until our skin is completely rosy. On the west coast of the island you can also immerse yourself in naturally heated water, although the setting there is completely different. At Ponta da Ferraria, lava rocks form a sheltered bowl in the ocean. Geothermal water flows into this from a hot spring. In this way the hot water mixes with the cold of the ocean. We are there shortly after low tide - the best time, we were told, because then the water has the ideal temperature. And indeed, it is blissfully warm. It is a unique experience to float in a naturally sheltered sea pool, while choppy waves crash on the rocks on the outside. The safety cords are therefore not an unnecessary luxury. We hold on tight so we don't get sucked in by the ocean current. A unique wellness experience.

At Ponta da Ferraria, lava rocks form a sheltered bowl in the ocean.

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CAULDRONS IN THE GROUND The underground volcanic highways on San Miguel also provide another natural phenomenon: fumaroles, openings in the earth's crust from which warm to very hot gases and vapours escape. In the valley of Furnas, near the village of the same name, they are abundant. People with a highly developed sense of smell are advised to bring a clothes peg, because the scent of sulphur is overwhelming. The inhabitants of the village make use of the hot earth in a very special way. Cozido, the local specialty par excellence, has been prepared here for generations. In heavy pots, the home-prepared stew, consisting of various meats and sausages, cabbage, carrots and tubers, is lowered into the pits where it continues to cook for six to eight hours. The slow cooking process pays off, because the Azorean dish tastes delicious. Hearty food, yes, but not to be sneezed at. Restaurant chefs also use the underground ovens to prepare the traditional dish. Each gravel heap features a post with the user's name on it.

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Anyone who pays attention during the daily weather forecast knows: the Azores also determine weather in Belgium to a large extent. Above the archipelago lies a subtropical high pressure area, the so-called Azores high. It arises from the exchange of heat between the tropics and the polar regions. If this area moves towards the European mainland, then that is good news for us because with it, it brings calm and stable weather. In the summer we are even treated to those warm sunny days that we always long for. However, if the Azores high does not deviate from its position or rather bends towards the other side, then the low-pressure areas are given free rein and we are bound to have rain and wind.

FOUR SEASONS IN ONE DAY The weather in the Azores is as capricious as an adolescent teenager. Sun, clouds, rain and wind constantly alternate. While the sun promises a radiant day in the morning, it may pour with rain after lunch. If the mountain peaks are invisible due to a heavy fog, it may have dissolved after half an hour. Weather changes can occur so quickly on the archipelago that you can easily speak of four seasons in one day. The temperatures are always mild and pleasant, thanks to the Gulf Stream. In summer, the mercury can easily reach 24 to 27°C and in winter the temperature seldom drops below 14°C. The humidity is quite high in the summer, but that also has its advantages, because that makes the islands so beautifully green.

Cozido, a typical regional dish, is prepared in the underground ovens.


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Fumaroles, openings in the earth's crust from which warm to very hot gases and vapours escape.


12 A surreal, sparse, moon-like landscape at the Capelinhos volcano.

FAIAL: THE BLUE ISLAND

MEETING AN ISLAND RESIDENT

An hour's flight from San Miguel is Faial, another island belonging to the Azores archipelago. It is called the Blue Island, Ilha Azul, because of the kilometre-long hydrangea hedges that grow there. Their lush flowers colour the island bright blue in the summer months. Geographically, the tiny island (only 173 km2) means little. You can easily walk around it in a day. It does play an important role on a political and social level. The regional parliament is located in Horta - the capital of the island.

At eight in the morning we have an appointment with Paulo Silva, the second Porsche owner we meet in the Azores. A first meeting like this is, and will always be, an exciting moment. After all, we have only been in touch from a distance and only through others. Paulo is a sympathetic fifty-something man, relaxed and calm, a real islander to whom stress is unknown. The big surprise is his Porsche. He arrives in an old-timer Targa in Ruby Red Metallic, a colour that shines like a gem in the morning sun. We are already anticipating the enjoyment of taking beautiful pictures of it.

The Capelinhos is the only volcano in the world that has been observed and documented from eruption to dormancy.


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VULCÃO DOS CAPELINHOS: ONE OF THE YOUNGEST VOLCANOES IN THE WORLD Paulo takes us to Capelo, one of the most remarkable places on the island. We follow the coastal road, flanked by green mountains and a bright blue ocean, a peaceful, idyllic landscape. This changes abruptly as we approach the western tip of Faial. From one moment to the next, all vegetation disappears and a surreal, sparse, moon-like landscape appears, interrupted only by a lonely lighthouse half buried under volcanic dust. In 1957, it started to rumble in the earth one kilometre from the coast. Violent underwater explosions caused unstoppable magma outbreaks, lava flows and ash showers. The volcanic uproar lasted no less than thirteen months. In the end, a new volcano was born: the Capelinhos volcano that added an extra kilometre of land to Faial. The waves of the Atlantic Ocean pound the lava rocks, revealing traces of red, ochre and black minerals. The Capelinhos is the only volcano in the world that has been observed and documented from eruption to dormancy. The museum of volcanology built at the bottom of the lighthouse explains the devastating but at the same time fascinating process from A to Z.


14 Horta, Faial.

FAIAL: A STAGING POST IN THE MIDDLE OF THE ATLANTIC FOR MANY CENTURIES During the great exploratory and trading voyages between the Old and the New World, the Azores were the most important hub in the Atlantic Ocean. Here, the crews were able to stock up on provisions and carry out repairs. From the 19th century, North American whalers also used the facilities on the island. When the first submarine cables were laid between Europe and America at the end of the 19th century and German, British and American telegraph companies established themselves on Faial, Horta became the most international place in the Atlantic Ocean region. Until the 1960s, aircraft on transatlantic flights had to make a stopover in the Azores to refuel. Today, sailors on their way from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean or vice versa look forward to a drink at the legendary Peter's Café Sport in the harbour of Horta. No fewer than 1,700 ships anchor in the harbour every year.

THE MOST FAMOUS BAR IN THE ATLANTIC The Peter's Café Sport on the quay in Horta has been around for a hundred years and is a household name in the sailing world. Everyone who makes the big crossing calls in here. The harbour pub has been owned by the same family for four generations. Now José Henrique, the founder's great-grandson, runs the bar. Peter's Café is the place where sailors come to collect their mail and fraternise with each other. Here while enjoying a gin and tonic - the cult drink of sailors all over the world - impressive sailing stories are told and many hours are spent socialising. The walls of the café are full of names of ships and passers-by and everywhere there are colourful flags and attributes


related to the sailing world. We are avid sailors ourselves and immediately feel at home there. Upstairs, you will find a small scrimshaw museum with a beautiful collection of engraved whale teeth. When there was little to do on board, whalers worked whale teeth and bones to pass the time. They carved drawings - usually nautical motifs into the ivory with a paring knife or nail. They were often real works of art. The men called it scrimshaw. Where this name comes from is unknown. Dutchman John van Opstal lives in Horta and is one of the last practitioners of this special art form.

15 Peter's Café Sport, Horta, Faial.

The Peter's Café Sport on the quay in Horta has been around for a hundred years and is a household name in the sailing world.


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THE MOST COLOURFUL HARBOUR BOULEVARD IN THE WORLD Just as a visit to Peter's Café is a must, tradition has it that every seafarer leaves a painting on the quay wall as a memento of his or her visit and as a token offering for a safe journey. The entire harbour quay is an open-air museum with hundreds of drawings in a rainbow of colours. We see flags from all over the world, routes, messages through to the most creative outbursts. You can spend hours here. We drive Paulo’s Targa to the pier. A girl in an appropriately maritime blue and white striped T-shirt is putting the finishing touches to a cheerful drawing.

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Tradition has it that every seafarer leaves a painting on the quay wall of Horta as a memento of his or her visit and as a token offering for a safe voyage.

The harbour quay with hundreds of colourful drawings from all over the world in Horta.


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TRAVEL PORSCHIST 'THE WORLD AS I SAW IT' In Porto Pim - Horta's original, natural harbour - we satisfy our appetite at the well-known Restaurante Genuíno with the best tuna we have ever eaten. Although the tasty fish is not our main point of interest, but rather the owner of the restaurant: Genuíno Madruga. Twice, this man sailed around the world: solo, in his eleven-metre-long yacht Hemingway, named after the famous writer. We ask about his life story. “I am a man of the sea”, he begins. “Water has been my daily companion since I was twelve. Like many here on the island, I am a fisherman. In 2002, I sailed around the world for the first time. An unbelievably intense adventure. The confrontation with the natural elements is an experience that purifies your soul. I was gone for nineteen months. I thought it would stay with that one world trip, but five years later the urge was too strong once more. That time I left for a twenty-two month trip. On this trip, I sailed from the Atlantic to the Pacific via the treacherous Cape Horn. My trusty “Hemingway” was badly damaged when I got back to Faial, but it was another unparalleled experience”.

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Genuíno Madruga sailed twice around the world.

Genuíno has created a beautiful book with many photos about his second world tour. “When I was on my journey, I felt like an ambassador for the Azores. I brought the Azores to the world, as it were. Now I am taking the world to the Azores with my book. Hence the title: “The World as I saw it”. Genuíno's restaurant is full of souvenirs he brought back from his long journeys. Among all the memorabilia is a newspaper article about Jacques Brel. “I met Jacques here in the port of Horta in 1974. He was then on his way to the Marquises. A great man and a great artist. I know all his songs.”


CHRONOMAT Demerstraat 51-53 • 3500 Hasselt +32 (0) 11 22 42 58


TRAVEL PORSCHIST

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Isabel, an avid diver, Horta, Faial.


WATCHING WHALES AND DOLPHINS The sparkling azure waters of the Azores attract more than a third of the world's whale and dolphin species. Majestic sperm whales, common dolphins and bottlenose dolphins roam the waters around the archipelago all year round, while numerous other migratory species pass by at different times of the year. Even the blue whale, the world's largest animal, passes through the Azores on its migration route. Many biologists and oceanologists come to the islands to expand their knowledge about the animals. We book a Whale Watching Trip and set off. The skipper receives information about the location of the marine animals from spotters. We are at sea for about three hours and see dolphins frolicking, flying fish that skim over the surface of the water

at lightning speed and we even manage to photograph the sweeping tail of a whale, an image that is always synonymous with grace and freedom. Back in port we meet Isabel, an avid diver, who has just returned from a diving trip. While she sorts out her equipment, we start chatting. Norberto - nicknamed the “Sea Wolf” – also joins in. Norberto is, to say the least, a colourful figure with his weathered face, wild hair and red bandana. Everyone seems to know him. He knows everything about life above and under the sea. If you want to swim with dolphins or - for the daredevils - with blue sharks, then he’s the man to talk to.

The Azores attracts more than a third of the world's whale and dolphin species.

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Norbert, nicknamed the “Sea Wolf” and Isabel.


TRAVEL PORSCHIST FLAMENGOS: WHERE THE FLEMISH FEEL AT HOME Flemish people contributed greatly to the colonisation of the Azores. In the 15th century they settled in Faial with Joost de Hurtere, from Torhout, as the great pioneer. De Hurtere was an adventurer and left in 1466 in the service of the Portuguese King Henry the Navigator to populate the archipelago. He took some prominent Flemish families with him and was soon devoted to the island. In 1468, he was even appointed administrator of Faial. In the wake of the first Flemish settlers, more came to the archipelago in the years that followed. Due to the large Flemish share in the population of the Azores, these were for a long time called the “Flemish Islands”. The first settlement of the Flemish was in a town just above Horta. It was located in a fertile valley that could not be seen from the sea and was therefore safe. It was appropriately named Flamengos. The village still exists, but

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there is not much left to see. Yet we feel a touch of pride when we walk the streets. Proud that some of our ancestors were brave enough to leave behind what we love and to go out into the wide world. The settlers also left some “lowland” heritage: family names (de Hutra and Dutra are common in the Azores and are a corruption of de Hurtere), words in the language and ... windmills. The coats of arms of the wealthy Flemish families who were the first to set foot on land at the time, still adorn the ceiling of the Nossa Senhora das Angustias church in Horta.

Due to the large Flemish share in the colonisation of the Azores, these were for a long time called the “Flemish Islands”.

The coats of arms of Flemish families still adorn the ceiling of the Nossa Senhora das Angustias church in Horta.


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Nossa Senhora das Angustias church, Horta, Faial.


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SANTA BARBARA AS THE FINALE

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Back on Sao Miguel, we take up residence in the Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort, a gem of a guest residence, wonderfully quietly situated on the sandy beach of Santa Barbara with a view of the mountains around Lagoa do Fogo. The resort, which focuses on sustainability, is completely different from the White Hotel, but belongs to the same owner: João Reis - you know - the man with the red Targa. As the last activity on our trip, we visit Ponta Delgada, the capital of the archipelago. With its 40,000 inhabitants, Ponta Delgada is the most densely populated place in the Azores, although it is far from busy by our standards. It is an attractive town with a rich architectural heritage dating from the 17th to 19th century. We stroll through the historic centre with its narrow streets and elegant mansions, admire the old, baroque city gates and at dusk we descend to the cosy marina for a hearty pint in one of the local bars with a view of the sea.


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Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort, Faial.

The Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort focuses on sustainability.


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THE AZORES: A REAL REVELATION The Azores are perhaps the best kept secret in Europe. Despite its dazzling natural beauty, lovely villages, largest whale colony in the world and wide range of activities, this wonderful corner of our continent still lies off the beaten tourist path. Maybe it's the unpredictable weather or lack of sandy beaches that put visitors off, but they are mistakenly ignoring the islands. Maybe a destination for you for your next trip? Close by and corona safe! ♦

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AZORES GENERAL INFORMATION Area: 2.346 sq km Population: 250.000 inhabitants Capital: Ponta Delgada Government: Autonomous region of Portugal Official languages: Portuguese Travel documents: International passport Thanks to:

Romain Libet, créateur d'aventures, www.sealadventures.com Francisco Sant’Anna, director of Sales & Marketing www.whiteazores.com, www.santabarbaraazores.com João Reis en Paulo Silva: two proud Porsche-owners

Credits:

Bertrand Grimm, Lisa Steiner/Whale Watch Azores


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INTERVIEW PORSCHIST

Interview Paulo Silva In the picturesque marina of Faial, we settle down on a terrace for a conversation with Paulo Silva. This gentleman is the proud owner of a beautiful classic Targa in stunning Ruby Red Metallic, a sparkling deep red that changes hue time and time again depending on the incidence of light. We have just returned from a trip in the Porsche to the lighthouse of Ponta dos Capelinhos, a special trip through a grey moonscape created after the eruption of the Capelinhos volcano.

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The passion for cars radiates from you. I've always been a car fanatic. As a child I played endlessly with Matchbox cars. When I was 28, I dreamed of having a 911. I am not rich at all, but I had worked hard and saved a lot. So I went to Stuttgart to buy my dream car. That was in 1997. In the same street where the Porsche factory was located, there was also a large second-hand car showroom. There I saw a beautiful 3.2 litre Targa. I thought it was a beautiful car, but it cost around 22,000 euros and that was above my budget. So I looked around further, but I just couldn’t get that Targa out of my mind. In the end I gave in and bought it. "An excellent choice," said the salesman, "just put some petrol in it and you will enjoy it for years to come." And he was right, because I have had it for 23 years now and it is still doing great. When I bought it, it had 103,000 kilometres on the clock, now 118,000. Faial is not a big island, so I only do short journeys with it. I also have two other cars and keep the Targa mostly for pleasure trips. We have noticed that the roads in Faial are very good. That's right, there is nothing to complain about. But you can't really drive at speed here. When I had just bought the Porsche, I decided to take advantage of getting everything I could out of it, and I pushed the accelerator to the floor on the Autobahn. I drove from Stuttgart to Grenoble through the mountains, then to Andorra and from there to Lisbon from where the car was shipped here. I have only beautiful memories from that long trip. By the way, you have made a good investment with the Targa. Yes, that seems to be so in hindsight. The 3.2 litre version has only received favourable comments in the trade press and is considered one of the most reliable Porsche models. According to experts, it is the last real Porsche 911 and I agree. The line is beautiful and the chassis well designed with a front suspension with torsion bars and four ventilated and power-assisted disc brakes. The car only has a capacity of 231 hp, which doesn't seem like much for a sports car, but it also weighs only 1.2 tons. This makes it look like it has wings when you drive it.


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Sven Hoyaux (Porschist) meets with Paulo Silva.

“The Targa was a good investment. According to experts it is the last real Porsche 911 and I agree.”


INTERVIEW PORSCHIST Who takes care of the maintenance of the Porsche? My father knows a lot about cars and there is also a car mechanic on the island who knows exactly what the car needs. I like to keep my Porsche in tip-top condition. What do you do for a living? I have a driving school. You see: cars are the common thread in my life. I started the business when I was 19. That was 32 years ago, but I still enjoy my job very much. My job gives me a lot of satisfaction. I've taught so many people how to drive on Faial. And now the second generation is already being taught by me: the sons and daughters of fathers and mothers whom I learned to ride at the time. That is also special. Actually I am a simple man with a simple life, but I like it that way. How many Porsches are there on the island? Oh, they are quickly counted: four. There is a blue Boxster 944, a very nice old-timer. There is also a red Boxster and a Porsche 996. On a small island you know everything about each other. (laughs)

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Most Azoreans really love their island. Is that also the case with you? Absolutely. I was born and raised in Faial and of all the islands of the Azores it will always be my favourite. I like the mountain Pico, which looks like the Japanese Fuji. At the top, you have a fantastic panorama. In clear weather you can also see the surrounding islands. That's nice. You don't have that in San Miguel, for example. The island is also blessed with wonderful nature. If, as a local, you still see the beauty of the place where you live, it must be very special. Because that's how it normally goes: what you see every day, you no longer see, you get too used to it. But the Azores never cease to amaze me. Life is peaceful here too. We don’t suffer from stress, we live in a very relaxed way. The people are friendly. There is no crime. If you are still on the street at four o'clock at night, you’re not in any danger whatsoever. Every now and then we have a heavy storm, yes. But they are part of nature's wild character.

“My Targa still has that classic Porsche soundtrack, that heavy, deep growl of a powerful engine.”

And if you had to live somewhere else, where would you go? Somewhere to a location on the Mediterranean. Nice or Monaco or something. Now you have just picked out two places where life is completely different to the life you lead here in Faial. Yes, but I would not live in the busy centre, but look for a nice house in the outlying hills. And then in the afternoon go to the marina to have a coffee and watch the beautiful cars drive by. When I go on holiday, I also go to Nice, Cannes or Monaco. Just because I am surrounded by so much tranquillity all year round, I enjoy soaking up some hustle and bustle for a few weeks. I don't have to be part of the sophisticated life in those mundane cities, but just to look at it and enjoy it from a distance, that makes me happy. What is your opinion of the Taycan? Of course it is necessary to evolve, but for a real petrolhead it is not easy to accept that. I especially miss the sound. My Targa still has that classic Porsche soundtrack, that heavy, deep growl of a powerful engine. You don't get that sensation with electric cars and I think that's a shame. But they are pretty damn fast. I have to give them that. (laughs) ♦ Continue to enjoy your Targa, Paulo!



INTERVIEW PORSCHIST

Interview João Reis 34

Our man-with-the-Porsche owns perhaps the two most exclusive hotels on São Miguel: White Exclusive Suites & Villas and the Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort. The man, in his early forties, is passionate about his homeland and Greece, about the freedom of the sea and the joys of luxury, about surfing in the surf and cruising in his red Targa. How all these pieces of the puzzle come together in his life, we learn in an interesting conversation.

Two hotels that receive the best reviews all around: that's quite an achievement. I am quite proud of it. I am an entrepreneur and love to set up projects. The tourism sector has always interested me. Two elements were paramount to me when establishing the hotels: authenticity and exclusivity. I just love special things in special places.

First, let's talk about the hotel we are in now. Its name 'White' was clearly not chosen haphazardly. Does it show? (laughs) My wife and I both really love Greece, especially Santorini. Whenever I am on that island I always feel a sense of freedom. Those little white houses against the background of an azure blue sea have something disarming, something pure. I wanted to evoke that atmosphere in this hotel too. Originally, this building was a holiday home that was part of an immense wine estate in the 18th century. The setting, so dramatically high on a cliff, is breathtaking. I transformed the former country house into a sleek and understated design hotel with white as the predominant colour, as in Santorini. This contrasts beautifully with the blue of the sea and the green of the interior. I thought 'White' was the ideal name. By the way, its full name is White Exclusive Suites & Villas, referring to the ten suites and two villas.


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João Reis in front of his beautiful White Hotel.

Your other hotel, the Santa Barbara Eco-Beach Resort, has a completely different look and feel. That's right. Santa Barbara is also a completely different story. For me it is a dream come true. I wanted to build the first eco-resort in the Azores. A guesthouse completely at one with nature, fully integrated into the surroundings and with as little impact on the environment as possible. And I actually succeeded. The resort opened its doors in 2015. It is located on Santa Barbara Beach, a fantastic location with unobstructed views of the ocean and the mountains surrounding Lagoa do Fogo. Local materials have been used as much as possible, we are virtually self-sufficient in terms of energy and there is an organic farm where everything we grow finds its way straight to the resort restaurants. There are fourteen studios, seven one-bedroom villas and nine two-bedroom villas. In total we can accommodate 140 guests. That may seem like a lot, but you never have the feeling that the grounds are busy. Rest continues to dominate.

Were you actually born and raised in the Azores? No, my wife is, but I am originally from the mainland, from Lisbon. However, I think the Azores is one of the most amazing places in the world and I never want to leave. The sea plays an important role in this. I couldn't live without the sea. I surf a lot and I like to fish. Today I caught a beautiful tuna. A whopper weighing 100kg. A fantastic experience.


INTERVIEW PORSCHIST

What does luxury mean to you? For me, luxury is a place where you feel good, where you are well surrounded, where you are well served and where you can be yourself at all times. I hope my guests experience that feeling when they stay in one of my hotels. Where does your passion for Porsche come from? It must have started when I was about sixteen years old. My neighbour owned a Speedster 356 at the time and I absolutely loved that car. I, too, had to own a Porsche someday. That was just engraved in my mind. When I was eighteen, I thought I had saved enough and went to see what I could get with my hard-earned savings. A Speedster was not an option, but I did find a goodlooking 926 Turbo and I soon had the key in my pocket. I was really proud. I felt like a king when I drove around in the Porsche. But what I had not realised in my enthusiasm was that a car still costs money after purchase. Not only the petrol, but also maintenance and so on and with a Porsche, all of that is not cheap. So, reluctantly, I often had to knock on my father's door to lend me some money. Ah yes, the naivety of the youth. (laughs)

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Meanwhile, you have another Porsche. I have had the Targa I drive now for two years. I saw the car in a showroom in Lisbon and fell in love with it instantly. When I had the car’s papers in my hands and it turned out that the car was produced in December 1977, I knew that the Targa was meant for me. December is the month in which I was born and 1977 is the year. After some negotiation, I bought the car and had it overhauled by one of the best classic car garages in Lisbon. I told them: check everything to down to the last detail because this car is for daily use. Some parts had to be replaced for safety, but I maintained all the original The Azores are not far from the European pieces. That car is my soul mate. At the moment, it has mainland and are easy to reach, yet the archi145,000 km on the clock. pelago is not at all as well known as the Canary Islands and Madeira, for example. What is the maximum speed limit on the roads? Thank God, I say to that. On the islands you On country roads and in the cities it is usually 50 km/h. just mentioned it is packed in the high season. On the motorway it is 120 km/h. But that does not apply I hate that. Here tourism is still small-scale. to a Porsche. (laughs) I just always hope there aren't any No large hotel chains, no high-rise buildings, police around. but excellent, characterful, smaller hotels in harmony with the environment. And I don't see The Azores are beautiful, but where do you go on holiday that changing any time soon. It wouldn't make yourself? sense, so much hustle and bustle here. How I know some incredibly beautiful places in the Algarve can you really get in touch with nature when region that my wife and I like to go to when we need a 200 people on the same summit are gazing at break. And of course Santorini is also an island that I like a panorama, for example. You should be able to visit a lot. Actually we always combine Santorini with to discover our islands in peace and quiet. And Mykonos. We party on Mykonos and rest on Santorini. fortunately you can still do that. Just let it stay An ideal formula. (laughs) But to be honest, for me the as it is. ♦ ultimate paradise is here, in the Azores. Thanks for the warm welcome, João.


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Cruising along winding roads lined by lush hydrangea hedges.


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