All posts by Jen D

Azores Adventure

In an effort to try to continue to document some of the places we have been, I thought I would include a couple of thoughts about the Azores.

We had been planning this trip for a while.  By planning, I mean me fantasizing.  I am again gainfully employed by an airline, so I refused to purchase tickets even though they were ridiculously cheap.  To all, buy tickets to the Azores. Worth it.

We flew on Sata Airlines from Toronto to Ponta Delgada and then on to Pico.  Plan was to stay on Pico for a couple of days with a day trip to Horta, Faial.  I desperately wanted to climb the tallest mountain in Portugal.

First, the Azores are beautiful. Stunning. Absolutely. This can not be overstated.

Dani looking from the Madalena harbor
The two islets at the entrance to Madalena harbor, formed from a submerged crater

Another reason that I wanted to visit Pico was the wine!  I had read about Unesco Heritage site, Pico Vineyards and was curious to see these vineyards made of volcanic rock.  This is how we spent our first day trying to stay awake from the early morning arrival.


This was a short walk from where we were staying. Obviously, I wanted to wander through the maze of the lava rock.  Dani did her best to seem excited about it.


As we were spending only three days on Pico, the following day was my hike.  The weather certainly did not cooperate. It was raining unbelievably hard and the mist on the mountain was so thick that it was difficult to see the trail markers.  The lava rock was slippery and it was cold.  I went with a group of about 8 people, a couple of Germans, a few people from Porto and a few others from Spain. The group of 8 turned into a group of 4 with the Spaniards turning back after our guide suggested that it might be a good idea.  The rest of us carried on in the awful rain hoping that it would eventually clear up.  We made it to the top with a few moments of sun breaks.  The tallest mountain in Portugal (2,341-metres)! Done!

I wanted to celebrate this triumph with Dani with dinner at Cella Bar which I was extremely excited about visiting after reading about it.  Sadly, it was closed for the week we were there.  We still managed to admire the building and the sunset!

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After a short day trip to Horta where we did some lovely walks, we headed back to Ponta Delgada.

We drove our tiny little car (so tiny it only had one windshield wiper) to Furnas.  Here we were going to stay for five days thanks to SPG Points at the Furnas Boutique Hotel. We were excited about this hotel because it has thermal water pools to enjoy which we took advantage of!

Again, it can not be overstated how beautiful the Azores is.  The drive, although Dani found it a bit stressful and long, for much of it I felt like we were driving through a storybook.  We spent the next 4 days exploring including the Gorreana Tea Plantation, Vila Franca do Campo, Ribeira Grande.  We had some beautiful lovely walks thanks to the wonderfully marked trails.  This is more easily shared in photos.

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A day trip was also planned to Lagoa das Sete Cidades.  After seeing this in my Instagram posts for so many months, I was so excited to finally do this hike. Unfortunately, it rained.

One minor hiccup occurred in our travels. Fly standby is not always as amazing as it seems.  When checking the flight loads, I saw that all flights leaving back to Canada on our anticipated departure date were full. In fact, all flights to North America were full. In fact, all flights from Lisbon to North America were full.  We had to resort to a new back up plan.  Flying out a couple days early, to Porto, to Amsterdam, home.  Long journey and overnights in each spot.  Fortunate for us, we actually had some friends vacationing in Porto that were able to let us stay with them!

Unexpected day in Porto

Amsterdam, again thank you SPG points program for allowing us to stay in Schiphol for FREE!



We both have gotten quite lazy with posts which is unfortunate. I have been spending more time writing in a personal journal to keep track of things. We are in the final week before heading back to Canada. I can not believe it.

Vietnam was added to our destination list for obvious reasons…the food! Of all the things I was missing from home it was Vietnamese food (now after three weeks of indulgence, I am missing hamburgers)

Our first stop was Hanoi. The city has an amazing hustle and bustle and people really perform all activities on the street. The sidewalk is a parking lot for motorbikes, a restaurant, a grocery store, a garbage collection site, a sewing room, a laundromat. Everything but a sidewalk.



While in Hanoi, we visited some museums, had a street food tour and wandered around the lake every morning.


I was also introduced to cà phê trứng – egg coffee which is basically a dessert in coffee form.


All in all – we loved our time in Hanoi and could have easily spent some more time there.

OMG! Where has the time gone

It is April now. APRIL! I have failed to write anything about the places we have visited for the past month. My excuse will be that we have been visiting friends and family.

Brief breakdown:
New Zealand – had the pleasure of sharing this travel experience with my dad and sister who met up with us on the North Island. We spent time in Rotorua, Auckland, 90 mile beach. Highlight was definitely 90 mile beach where we had the best beach house with an enormous deck. Another highlight was the skyswing in Rotorua. Video posted in previous post.
Dani and I then went on a campervan adventure on the south island which was amazing. Highlights include Milford Sound and really just the entire camping experience. I am inspired to get a tear drop trailer on returning home.

Australia – a quick stop to visit friends in Melbourne and then Perth.  After visiting Melbourne, it is easy to see why it tops the most liveable cities lists constantly. It is a city that reminded me of Vancouver but with the right amount of Toronto mixed in. It was also amazing to catch up with friends who took us down to Port Campbell via great ocean road. Beautiful scenery. Perth was also an amazing city! So much green space! Many lovely beautiful parks and hot hot hot weather surrounded by ocean. Sharks are a problem though. On more than one occasion while talking with locals (and our friends who live there) sharks are a real problem. This is very foreign to me. Also, we loved Fremantle! So many cute shops, restaurants and a general great vibe!

It was also interesting to be in these two countries while the world cricket championship was going on. NZ and Australia making it to the final game is akin to a Canada-USA gold medal hockey match.

**No photos from either of these since I had to reset my phone..only in Flickr to be included later***

Bali, Indonesia – We have now spent a week in Bali. Well, kinda. The day we arrived we did a significant amount of touring around with a driver including but not limited to seeing some traditional dancing, viewing a waterfall, hugging a luwak, seeing a temple, getting in a minor car accident, eating satay and buying mangosteens at every fruit stall we passed (total consumption – no joke – nearly 12 kilos). After that day we were interested in catching up with our gay boyfriend from Calgary and have spent the entire week at the Sheraton Kuta Resort by the pool or getting massages(mostly for free!! Thank you points!!) We have ventured out to see some things and eat. Highlight meal being the Indonesian feast where our food was preceded by a drumming procession to announce its arrival. We should have known it was too much when they provided us with an additional table for all the food.








See. Boring. Adventure begins Sunday again when we start our Filipino adventures!!!