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waiting in the isles

it’s the middle of nowhere, and its closer than you might think. the splendid remoteness of the azores is just over two hours by air from lisbon, about three from london, a little more than four from boston.

the nine islands were discovered in stages in the mid-15th century by a sucession of portuguese explorers. today, the azores are an autonomous region of portugal, home to about 250 000 souls – and possibly the single most under-value under-exploited asset in the world.

the admittedly unscientific sample of taxi drivers, shopkeepers and bartenders consulted while visiting são miguel, the largest and most populated of the islands, confirms that the azores are a nice place to live: temperature, friendly, safe, peaceful, inexpensive, offering ready access to beaches, countryside and mountains.

however, it is not necessary to spend much time to begin wondering why portugal doesn’t do more with the azores, especially given the presently cobwebbed state of national coffers. it seems a bit like going out panhandling when you have an attic full of rembrants.

andrew mueller, monocle issue 57 – october 2012

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