Marooned in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, roughly 1,500km west of Lisbon, Portugal’s Azores Islands are among the world’s most remote destinations. But thanks to their steaming natural hot springs, three Unesco biosphere reserves and world-class whale watching, these far-flung islands are experiencing a tourism boom – the nine-island archipelago received almost two million visitors in 2019.
One of Azores’ main seaports, Horta is located on the 15,000-person island of Faial. Though not nearly as popular with travellers as the islands of São Miguel or Pico, Faial is home to perhaps the world’s most famous pub and post office among yachtsmen: Peter Café Sport.
Established in 1918 by Henrique Azevedo, who loved football, rowing and billiards (hence, the “sport” part of the name) and who named the bar after a nickname for his son ("Peter"), the pub quickly became a mandatory stop for sailors stopping at the Azores from the Americas on their way to Europe. The Azevedo family soon built a reputation of hospitality among sailors by rowing out to the yachts to check if the “adventurers”, as they called the seamen, needed anything.
People eventually started asking if they could have their mail forwarded to Peter Café Sport so it could be retrieved when they arrived in Horta. Over the last few decades, the bar has received so much mail that, in 2004, it was awarded a Golden Post Office honour by the Portuguese postal service, which also released a special set of stamps to celebrate Peter Café Sport’s 100th anniversary in 2018. One of them features a photo of the current owner of the family business: Azevedo’s grandson, José Henrique.
Today, sailors who visit the island are encouraged to leave a painting on the harbour’s dock for good luck, and tradition has it that those visiting the bar should leave a flag of their yacht or club and sign their visitor’s book, which dates to the 1960s.
(Video by Fernando Teixeira & Izabela Cardoso; text by Luana Harumi)
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