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