We went back to the Azores a second time, and I wonder aloud how many more times we’ll find ourselves going over the course of our lives. It’s a getaway that’s easier for us to get to than California (and certainly Hawaii), and affordable too. It’s more authentic and non-commercialized than resort-style destinations, even though the islands are major European tourist destinations. And it’s endlessly amazing; Earth is beautiful. (If you want to read more about our first trip to the Azores, go directly to this post, which is longer and features many more photos.)
Hands down, the best part of our second trip was that we were able to take photos of our family in the places we remembered most fondly. We took fewer landscape photos for this time around, and kept the emphasis on photographing each other. I pulled photos of our last trip for this post to display on the left throughout this post, for the sake of comparing our experiences and viewpoints. It was totally, completely wonderful to be back and show the girls this awesome place.
Like with the last trip, we spent 6 nights and 7 days in Ponta Delgada on the island of Sao Miguel, made possible by a Groupon deal that I still highly recommend to adventurous travelers. Same hotel. Same bartender. Kids under 12 traveled without the purchase of an additional Groupon; we had a small airfare charge to accommodate Julia, but Hattie was a complete freebie, even though we had a bassinet seat on the plane.
I received a whole bunch of emails from people around the time the Groupon was for sale; people who found my last post and vacation review, writing to see if the trip was all that I said it was, and asking assorted questions. On the flights, I wondered if any of those people were sitting with us, preparing for their own adventure (we were the ones with the inconsolable bebe in row 14, sorry guys). If you were one of them and made the trek, I hope it was everything you hoped for.
We did the rental car thing again this trip – with car seats in tow. Driving around the island is the easiest way to see it, and it allowed us the freedom to explore every last scenic overview (miradouro), and touch our toes into as many black sand beaches as we could find. We poked jellyfish and saved Man-O-Wars, admired Azaleas so lush and well maintained that they formed fenced on properties, moo’ed a lot because we do very little better than personify animals, and drank so many cappuccinos that I’m surprised I slept at all. Our wardrobes have not evolved since last year.
We kept ourselves on our east coast (EST) clock, mostly because we were arriving home on Easter and Julia needed to be on her normal schedule for school the next morning. We woke up at 10-11am, and went to sleep around 1am, Azorean time. In the end, functioning 4 hours behind the locals served us really well. We are breakfast at noon, lunch around 4, and because we were able to eat dinner out each night at 9-10pm, it ended up feeling a little more like we were “staying up late” on vacation. We also got loads sleep, since the girls were going to bed at what was actually their normal bedtime, and then we would crash too. We take relaxing vacations very seriously.
We dined at our favorite restaurant twice by reservation–Rotas da Ilha Verde–and indulged in other local specialties like octopus on a tile, fresh barracuda, and shrimp and squid at other restaurants. Our favorite breakfast spot specialized in “toasts,” or little breakfast-style paninis with cheese and hard boiled eggs. My favorite breakfast of all was waffles with gelato, and why did I never think of that? We began to identify with some cafes more than others–friendlier folk, better service, yummier pastries–and over the course of the week, developed a nice daytime routine that revolved around food.
We doubled our Azorean beach glass and tile collection while we were there too. When you go for yourself, dig around on the rocky end of the Mosteiros beach and be amazed at what you can discover.
Comparing photos from last year with this years also go on to prove how different the beach can be on a sunny day – that photo on the left is not black + white.
This time, we discovered a new beach that was coated with pumice stones. We brought back a lot of those, because they weigh almost nothing. The beaches in general were much different this time, as experienced through the eyes of a kid. We followed ducks (we can do that at home), watched sticks float through a stream current (we can do that at home), jumped and outran waves (we can do that at home), collected bamboo and rocks (why do kids collect all of the rocks they can find? Also, we can do that at home).
We spent a day in Furnas, where we explored around the lake and swam in the hot springs. My favorite forest in Furnas was a great photo backdrop.
I’m still sorting through 5 cameras worth of photos, but these were some of my favorite family shots. I hope you have a chance to go here too. Remember – next winter – look for the Groupon ;)