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General information

Access

Please see the Venue & access page for details.

Accommodation

Please see the Accommodation page for details.

Allergies

The Azores have a very rich vegetation and during the conference many plants will be in bloom (the Macaronesian flora is peculiar). Since it takes place at the end of the dry season, the pollen count should still be low. If you suffer from allergies, please talk to a specialist and inform the course organizers. Also, inform us about any food allergies on the registration sheet.

Banks

There are several banks and savings banks. As an example, there is a branch of Santander Totta on the main road (R. Dr. Frederico Moñiz Pereira 28). Banks usually open Mon–Fri 08:30–15:30. Also, a cash machine can be found at this bank.

Climate

The climate in the Azores is one of the most balanced in the world. In September, however, hot and damp days are possible. The high pressure area above the Azores does not always guarantee fine weather; orogenetic clouds and afternoon showers are common. The Atlantic has a cooling influence, so very hot days are rare. In September, the average temperature on São Miguel reaches up to a high of 20°C during the day and dips no lower than 15°C (about 65°F in the evenings). During this month, the average monthly rain is only around 47 mm and there are about 7.5 hours of average daily sunshine. Bring your umbrella and a light raincoat in case of occasional showers that can be quite heavy.

Clothing and equipment

For the excursion good shoes (no flip-flops or high heels) are necessary, walking boots for the after-conference outing are a good idea. Trainers work but are not optimal. Furthermore, the air is usually clear on fine days and the sun is VERY intense and sun protection is a must. Please make sure that you have the following items with you:

  • Walking boots covering your ankles if you join the after-conference outing. Trainers with a good profile are OK, but not the best choice.
  • Sunhat and sunglasses.
  • Strong sunscreen.
  • Umbrella and/or light rain coat (usually the weather is fine in September, but there might be the odd short, but intense, afternoon shower).
  • Tablets against motion sickness (if you get it easily). Roads on the Azores can be curvy in places.

Criminality

Generally Furnas is a very safe place. On the island of Corvo the prison cell was once hired out to backpackers due to lack of criminals. Nevertheless, it is not wise to leave your property unattended on the island. Fortunately, annoying time-sharing salesmen and street peddlers, which can be a nuisance on Madeira, are fairly uncommon there. However, pick-pockets operate in touristy places, and Furnas is one of them.

Customs

The Azores are part of the EU (no off-shore status). Different rules apply if you travel from inside the EU or from outside it. Infos about the max. amounts of articles brought from and to the Azores can be found here.

Please note that the import of Azorean scrimshaw products to many other countries is illegal.

Do's and dont's

In general, Azorean people (especially those of the older generation) tend to be a bit more formal than other Europeans. Several special things are worth remembering:

Do's

  • Always treat older people respectfully. Relinquish your seat immediately for older persons in public transport vehicles.
  • Accept a more relaxed attitude towards time.
  • Expect red tape to take some time. This includes visa applications.
  • Accept hierarchies.
  • Carry some change with you for using the bathrooms.
  • Be modest in your conversations.
  • Tip generously for good service. Wages of personnel are not that high.

Don'ts

  • Wear swimwear outside beach or pool areas (especially not in high streets).
  • Wear shorts in restaurants.
  • Complain about people smoking in your presence (unless you have strong medical reasons to do so).
  • Wear light clothes in churches. Also, dirty T-shirts, shorts, and flip-flops in city centres will mark you as an unsophisticated tourist.
  • Start conversations about family issues. One does not discuss those with strangers on the Azores.
  • Do not address people with forenames until being asked to do so or someone presents himself with her/his forenames only. Women are addressed with "Senhora" and the surnames, men with "Senhor" and the surname. People with academic titles are addressed with them. Young people, as everywhere, are much more relaxed concerning this issue.
  • Yawn, blow your nose, or stretch in public (considered rude).
  • Be impatient.

Driving on the Azores

Road hogs and Sunday drivers are luckily absent, but driving in the Azores can be more challenging. Roads are curvy, streets in villages often narrow, and road rules sometimes not adhered to too well. Visitors riding or driving in Portugal must have reached the minimum ages laid down for residents of Portugal even if they are qualified to drive at a lower age in their country of residence. Driving licenses issued in EU and EEA countries are accepted. International driving permits are recognized but not required. Overall, Portuguese road rules apply. Speed limits outside built-up areas are 120 km/h on dual carriageway motorways, and 90 km/h on ordinary roads. Inside built-up areas the limit is 50 km/h.

DO NOT drink alcohol before and during driving. The legal limit of alcohol in the blood is 0.05% and drunk driving is punished by heavy fines, confiscation of the license and/or imprisonment. All passengers must wear seat belts and children under 12 years of age are not allowed to sit in the front. Carry a photo ID with you when driving. If you rent a car, you usually have to have had your license for 1 year. There can be a surcharge for people under the age of 25.

Emergency

112 is the general emergency line throughout the European Union (similar to 911 in the US). The number can be dialed from any phone, and the call is free.

Food and drink

The cuisine is very special and in some ways different from the mainland Portuguese one. Not surprisingly, fish is an important ingredient in the diet, beef is widely eaten, also chicken is popular. Generally, food, and especially seafood, is of high quality. The Azores are also the only place in Europe where tea and pineapples are grown (the latter ones in conservatories though).

Some typical Azorean dishes are the following:

  • Caldo verde (Cabbage soup)
  • Alcatra (beef stew with onions, wine cabbage and ham)
  • Caldeir de Peixe (fish stew)
  • Linguiça con inhames (pork sausage with yams)
  • Lapas (limpets)

In restaurants often a small plate with cheese, olives, and bread (couvert) is served (which has to be paid for). One can (apart from luxury restaurants) decline that. This is not a good idea since they usually are very tasty.

One great feature of the Azores is their tasty cheeses. The most famous ones come from the island of São Jorge, but all islands produce cheese. In Furnas, there is a small cheese factory close to the hotel, producing cheese with hot spring water.

The traditional Vinho de Cheiro is forbiddden outside the Azores due to its high methanol content. Some good white and red Azorean wines exist, especially recommendable is the wine from cellar Brum in Biscoitos on the Island of Terceira. There is a local brewery Melo Abreu producing a light Especial and a dark beer. Imported wines and beers from the mainland are common.

Immigration

Portugal is an associate member of the Schengen agreement which exempts travelers from regular personal border controls between 13 European Union (EU) countries (Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden) and two European Economic Area (EEA) countries (Norway and Iceland). People living in Great Britain and Ireland are subject to personal border controls upon entry to the Schengen area. Border controls can, however be imposed on travelers from all states (especially because of the present situation). So, if you are a citizen of the EU, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland, or Liechtenstein, you will just need a valid passport or ID card.

A list of countries whose citizens DO NOT need a visa to visit Portugal can be found under list II here. This includes the US, New Zealand, and Australia. If you need a visa, please start the paperwork AS SOON AS POSSIBLE and contact the Portuguese embassy in your home town. Please note that the organizers only issue invitation letters to accepted oral and poster presenters.

Internet

The hotel offers free wireless internet connection. Internet connections generally can be slow due to the isolated location of the Azores.

Lectures

Lectures are held in the Casino building opposite the hotel.

Language

There are strong local dialects in the Azores that can be difficult for Portuguese mainlanders and Brazilians. The command of English varies: some people are very fluent (former emigrants to the Americas) and can have even strong Boston or Toronto accents. You will find that it easy to pick up some important basic phrases. Sometimes tourists slip off into Spanish, something that is not always appreciated.

Laundry facilities

There are no coin-operated self-service launderettes in Furnas. The hotel has a (not cheap) laundry service. A good self-service laundry is, however, found at Ponta Delgada, “wash now”, at the Solmar shopping centre.

Meals

Breakfasts will be served at your places. Coffee breaks will take place at the Casino close to the lecture hall. Participants are kindly asked to communicate any dietary requirements to the conference organizers.

Medical services

In case of emergency, call 112 (general emergency). There is a hospital in Ponta Delgada.

European residents who are covered by a social security scheme in their country of residence are entitled to a European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). The card simplifies the procedure when receiving unforeseen medical assistance during their visit to a member state. It should be carried when travelling within the European Economic Area (i.e. the European Union, Norway, Iceland, and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland. The EHIC entitles the holder to the same treatment at the same cost as a national of that country. Presentation of the EHIC guarantees reimbursement of the medical costs on the spot, or soon after returning home. The card is only valid for state-provided services and not private hospitals or treatments. Please obtain your the EHIC card in good time before the summer school. General information about EHIC can be found here. In case you have to pay, keep a receipt for refund.

Attendees from non-EU countries who are not EU residents are STRONGLY advised to get adequate travel insurance. Otherwise, illnesses and injuries can get very expensive.

Money

Portugal has had the Euro since 2002. Also, Euro coins from other countries are valid (there is a special set of coins for every country, but is only one kind of bill in the Eurozone). There are two cash machines in Furnas, one at the Santander bank at Rua Dr. Frederico Moniz Pereira and at the Rua P. Botelho (on the left side if you come from the hotel, a bit hidden). Fees for the withdrawal depend on the respective credit card and amount on average to 2%. Credit cards are widely accepted, but it is wise to carry cash with you. In small shops and restaurants cash is still king.

Pharmacies

There is a pharmacy (Farmacia da Misericórdia) on Rua Nova 5 (on the corner of the main road). Opening times Mon–Wed 09:00–12:00 and 14:00–18:30, Thu–Fri 09:30–12:00 and 14:00–18:30, Sat 09:30–12:00. Please note that Portuguese laws are more strict on prescriptions than e.g. U.S. ones. If you need medication, take it with you together with a doctor's statement. Take the red line at customs if you bring medication with you.

Post office

Post offices, Correios, are generally open during normal shopping hours. There is a post office in Furnas (Avenida M. Rodrigues, opposite the bus terminal). It is open from 09:00 to 17:00 hours on weekdays. The Azores have their own (beautiful) stamps.

Public transport

There is a good public transport in Sao Miguel, but to more remote locations services operate sporadically. There are usually 2–3 connections per day. You can buy tickets from the driver.

Public holidays

There are no public holidays during the conference period. There are however, local "festas" (celebrated with great enthusiasm).

Sightseeing

The nine islands of the Azores all have their unique character, so it is well worth spending some time there; highlights are the following:

  • The beach Praia Formosa and the fishing village Anjos (visited by Columbus) at Santa Maria
  • The Furnas do Enxofre lava caves, the windmills and sleepy villages of Graciosa
  • The city of Angra do Heroísmo (Unesco World Heritage), the lava caves and the vineyards of the island of Terceira
  • The recent Capelinhos lava field of the island of Faial, the Caldeira and the cosmopolitian atmosphere of the island’s capital Horta
  • The island of Pico with its whaling villages, prized wines and the possibility to climb Portugal's highest mountains
  • The coastal plains (Fajas), rugged terrains of São Jorge which is also famous for its cheeses
  • The lush vegetation of the island of Flores with plenty of walking possibilities
  • The island of Corvo with its caldera
  • And last, but not least the many treasures to be explored at the island of São Miguel

Tourist information about the Azores can be found at the Official Azores Tourist Information. Please note that you will not have time for a lot of sightseeing during the conference. For accompanying persons it is a wise thing to consider renting a car from the airport already, which saves you also the transfer to the hotel.

Shopping

Opening hours are handled individually in the Azores – in smaller places according to the mood and availability of the owner. Shops usually open Mon–Fri 09:00–12:00 and 14:00–18:00, Saturday 09:00–12:00. Supermarkets often have longer opening times. Street markets only open in the morning. There is a Meu supermarket on the main road (Rua Dr. Frederico Moniz Pereira 44) that opens daily from 08:30 to 20:00. A smaller supermarket, Casa Cheia, is closer to the hotel (Rua Padre José Tavares, 12) and opens Mon–Sat 09:00–18:00.

Nice souvenirs are

  • Jams, marmalade, and honey (from Quinta dos Acores);
  • Sweet wines from Brum in Terceira;
  • Pineapples from S. Miguel, wine from Pico;
  • Queijadas de Furnas (small almond cakes);
  • Fruit liquors;
  • Baskets and wood products;
  • Cheese from S. Jorge, there is also a small cheese factory in Furnas very close to the hotel; and
  • Tea from Cha Gorreana.

There are several shops in Furnas, but also very good souvenir shops can also be found at the airport.

Taxis

Taxi cost just over €1 per km plus the basic fee (several Euros). In the night and on weekends they can be more expensive (around 20% surcharge). Although most taxis have meters, it is wise to ask for the price in advance. A 5% tip is usual. Taxis are available in Furnas. Taxi transfer to Furnas from João Paulo Airport costs around €40. Although taxis are equipped with taximeters, it is wise to ask the driver in advance for the approximate fare to avoid surprises.

Telephone

The country code for Portugal is 351 and the area code for São Miguel  is 296. To telephone out from the Azores, dial 00 and the country code, so 0032 for Belgium and 001 for the US.

Usually mobile phones from Europe work well on the Azores. People from outside Europe can also bring their own cell phone out to the Azores, assuming their cell phone can work properly out in Europe. Based on experience, AT&T and T-Mobile phones work out there, Verizon and Sprint not so much. There are two major cell phone companies, Vodafone and TMN, and they have stores located throughout the major islands of the Azores.

There are still pay phones available throughout the major towns and cities in the Azores. They are located near towns, city centres, and near public transportation stops. Pay phones accept calling cards as well as Euros. Calling cards are available at most cafés, corner grocery stores, and magazine stands. They are available at a cost of 3, 5, and 10 Euros per card. Pay phones also accept coins in 2, 1 Euros and 50, 20,  and 10 cents; they are more expensive then the calling card option.

Time

Azorean daylight saving time (GMT/UTC) will be in force during the meeting. There is a two-hour time shift between Germany, France, and the Azores and a one-hour time shift between London and the Azores. If it is 2 o'clock in London and 3 o'clock in Frankfurt it is 1 o'clock on the Azores.

Tipping

Tipping is common in the Azores. It is usual to tip around 5% in restaurants, for good service. This is in addition to any service charge that may appear on the bill. Tip in cash. In cafés, you do not need to tip but can leave the small change behind. Leave the tip on the table in the tray your bill came in, or give it directly to the waiter. In case of bad service it is OK to give nothing.

Toilets

The gentlemen's room is marked with "H" or "Homens", while the ladies' room is marked with "S" or "Senhoras". In some places there is a small fee for toilet usage; it is thus wise to keep some change.

Tourist information

For tourist information check the Azores Tourist Office Website. The Furnas Tourist Office is located on the main road, R. Dr. Frederico Moniz Pereira, 9675-055 Furnas, phone: +351 296 584 525, e-mail: pt.f.smg@azores.gov.pt. The tourist information at Ponta Delgade is close to the sea, Av. Infante D. Henrique, 9500 Ponta Delgada, phone: +351 296 308 610, +351 296 308 620, e-mail: info.turismo@azores.gov.pt. There is also a tourist office at Ponta Delgada Airport, situated at the eastern end of the terminal hall. Phone: +351 296 284 569, e-mail: pt.ae.smg@azores.gov.pt.

Venue

Please see the Venue & access page for details.

Voltage

The electricity supply in Portugal is 220 volts AC, 50 Hz. European-style two-pin security plugs are in use.

Weights and measures

Portugal uses the metric system.

DISCLAIMER

All the information given above is to the best of our knowledge. However, we cannot accept any liability for inadvertently false or incomplete information on this site.

Bem-vindos à São Miguel!