Destination inspiration: Sete Cidades

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A new year means 365 new opportunities to explore our breathtakingly beautiful world!

Whether it’s for your honeymoon, a milestone anniversary, or another trip, what destination ranks no. 1 on your list in 2018?

While the top spot on mine seems to rotate weekly, I recently added Portugal’s Sete Cidades of Sao Miguel to it. In honor of LOVE, which is what makes my world (and Smitten Honeymoons) go round, I couldn’t resist starting the year off by sharing the sweet origin legend that makes me adore this romantically rugged destination for even more than its striking landscapes.

The Lagoa das Sete Cidades (Lagoon of the Seven Cities) sits in a volcanic caldera on the island of Sao Miguel in the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores. While technically one lake, to the eye it appears to be twin bodies of water—one blue and one green—connected by a narrow strait. (Visitors can cross between them via a bridge.)

According to legend, hundreds of years ago a blue-eyed princess regularly roamed the mountains, rivers, and lakes of the Sete Cidades region, preferring the plants and animals to her father’s palace. In true fairytale fashion, one day the princess encountered a green-eyed shepherd tending to his flock of sheep. Over the course of the next several months, the two continued to meet and eventually fell in love.

Perhaps not surprisingly, when the shepherd got down on bended knee and asked the princess to spend forever together, she wholeheartedly said “YES!”

Her father, however, strongly disapproved of the marriage. The king forbade the wedding—and the princess from ever seeing the shepherd again. Unfortunately for all hopeless romantics, she heeded her father, but not before sneaking out one last time to say goodbye to the love of her life.

At their final meeting, the lovers’ tears ran down the mountainside—the princess’s blue eyes shedding enough to fill Lagoa Azul and the shepherd’s green eyes shedding enough to create Lagoa Verde, the bi-colored lakes forever connected as the Sete Cidades.

The story ends sadly, but I can’t help but marvel at how deeply the princess and shepherd would have had to have loved one another to inspire such a creation tale for a place so otherworldly and surreal as part of the Azores.

May we all love as deeply in 2018 as the princess and the shepherd.

Happy New Year!

Travel tip: If possible, when visiting the Sete Cidades, go on a day when the sun is shining. This will ensure the greatest contrast in color between Lago Azul and Lago Verde.