Thursday, July 26, 2007

Pico Island in Azores, Portugal

While searching for a place for holidays I discovered Pico Island in Panoramio and I was completely amazed by the place. Pico Island or Ilha do Pico is an island of the Azores (Portugal) archipelago (pico means peak in Portuguese). Take a look here if you wonder about the name. Ponta de Pico (Pico Alto) is the highest mountain of Portugal. The Azores are actually the tops of some of the tallest mountains on the planet, as measured from their base at the bottom of the ocean.

The island is 42 km long and has a maximum width of 15 km and an area of 447 km², making it the second largest of the Azores islands. The main settlements are the capital Madalena, São Roque do Pico and Lajes do Pico, the total population is around 15,000 innhabitants. Tourism is the main industry in Pico Island, but it doesn't seem very crowded.

The volcano is a basaltic stratovolcano with steep sides. The last eruption on the island was in 1963 and the paths of the lava flows are still visible. You can climb up to the top of Ponta do Pico in few hours if you are in good shape.

The island has a notable wine, the Pico Wine (Vinho do Pico) and the landscape of the Pico Island Vineyard Culture has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004. The vineyards surrounded by small walls made of volcanic black stones make this wine very special. The island is plenty of old Adegas (Wine cellars) that are nowadays available for renting. Adegas are built with the same kind of black stones in very nice style. Everything is black and green at this island. The beaches are rocky, but still there are some nice places for swimming. Since Pico island in the route of whales migrations, whale watching tours are also very popular.

My favourite shots from Panoramio: top of the volcano, the exuberant vegetation and the vineyard landscape. More information in Wikipedia.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Bad news and good news. The forum is back

The bad news is that I expected that on July 20th new photos from Panoramio were going to be added to Google Earth, but I was wrong. I am deeply sorry for that. The next update will be around August 15th.

The good news. The forum is finally back. Yes, it has been a too long delay, almost two months. The forum was disabled until we could update to a more secure version. It was supposed to be something very fast, but because the forum was integrated with Panoramio accounts it was not that fast. Then some other urgent issues appeared and delayed the work in the forum. In this wonderful world you know when you start something, but not when you can finish it. Anyway, now the forum is back with more forums and some changes.

As you can imagine moving to Zurich and working in a new place delays some things, but the acquisition by Google already brought some very good things:

- Now we can know the date of the next update to Google Earth in advance. Thus we can tell to you when your photos will be included in Google Earth and the status of each photo in Google Earth (selected, rejected or in waiting list). Those were the very frequent asked questions by the people and I am very happy that I can finally answer them. We have also re-written some parts of the help page.

- Now everyone can see your photos inside Google Maps. In Google (.com only) go to "My Maps" tab, check "Photos from Panoramio" and enjoy!

- Panoramio infrastructure is more robust now. The upload system is working much better and the number of people having trouble uploading photos dropped dramatically. You can also explore the World with Panoramio's map more smoothly.

Welcome back to the forum!