The Azores is a cluster of nine islands located in the North Atlantic Ocean, about two thirds of the way from Canada to Portugal. The islands are fairly unknown to most people, which is something the locals are rather proud of. It’s “the Hawaii of Portugal” where it never gets too cold or too hot, scenic views present themselves whichever way you choose to look, and cows are 2 to 1 for every island inhabitant. With the tourist season starting at the end of May, April doesn’t get to see many traveling visitors, the locals seem to hide in their homes and churches, so it really felt like the Islands were our own.
As in any place that’s not your hometown some things appear strange. In the Azores, people drive predominantly standard transmission cars, almost all streets are uphill/downhill extremes, people seem to park wherever they want, birds run across the streets when seeing an oncoming car, and there is pretty frequent cow traffic on the roads.
The landscape and the nature are astonishingly beautiful. For all you know, looking at the photos, it could be Ireland but the bright greenery and volcanic rock walls are the Azores’ signature. Since the Islands are volcanic everything is made of volcanic rock: from the sand on the few beaches to houses and jewelry.
We ate cheese, drank beer out of tiny bottles and large pints, drove through a storm cloud with zero visibility (on several separate occasions), descended into the depths of an empty volcano, ate limpets, got lost, drank hot milk, jumped off of waterfalls, and hiked, well, everywhere we weren’t sure the car would be able to take us. As the weather was mostly cold and dreary the prospect of spending several hours on a boat exposing ourselves to even greater amount of elements didn’t appeal to us, hence we didn’t get to see the whales. But that’s just one of the many reasons to go back.
For a detailed trip guide have a look at the series of the City girl’s guide to the Azores posts.