Ehh on the Azores

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Visiting another island right after Madeira would be tough for any island to live up to, especially when it is another autonomous island of Portugal and has similar roots, origins and location. I have been comparing this to visiting Guadeloupe after visiting fabulous Martinique as it just can’t compare where on its own it would be fine. To the credit of the Azores, in particular Sao Miguel Island and Ponta Delgada where I am staying, there are 9 islands in the Azores Archipelago and I am only seeing one, albeit the biggest and supposedly the best, and it is a very pleasant place to be. It’s just not Madeira although I hate to compare like that.

Sao Miguel Island is nicknamed the Green Island or Ilha Verde because it is very green and mostly covered with fields and rolling green hills. It is really a nice place and again, very pleasant-just boring. The island also contains several lagoons and lakes that I got a great view of on the plane ride in here this morning.
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The city, if you want to call it that is OK to be honest. It’s really nothing special. It’s very quiet, there’s not too much to see and do and it almost seems as if they are trying too hard by not trying at all-if that makes sense. For instance, the streets aren’t really aligned in any sort of pattern and there is no real rhyme or reason for anything in the town. The buildings are not really charming and they don’t really reflect their Portuguese heritage at all. The harbor is crap to be honest, especially when compared to the gorgeous harbor in Madeira. People are laying out on cement on the main promenade with one of those pools that they make from the sea itself. It’s just not the most appealing place aesthetically.
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However, it does of course have its virtues. I just had an exceptional steak at a little café on the promenade with the traditional fried egg and avaio sauce with garlic cloves which was killer. Second, there are some nice little churches and a nice square and the people seem very nice. Third, there is a marginally cool military fort and museum which features OK views but some pretty cool guns as you can see.
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However, for some reason it is quite expensive here, especially for hotels and there are several top end hotels here which were charging exorbitant amounts for crappy rooms. I ended up staying at a little residencial which is OK. It is very musty smelling and has a very tempermental toilet but clean and the lady at the desk speaks good Spanish and has been very helpful to me. I am really glad I only have one night here to be honest because I think I would be pretty bored with more than that. The good news is that there appears to be a music and beer festival of sorts in the main square that they were setting up for. Saturday night in the Azores, can it get any wilder? Haha. I am flying to London tomorrow for two nights and a seriously busy Monday doing a million errands and taking care of several details before taking off for India. I am staying with my friend Mike and we are seeing a movie called “Hangover”, which is supposed to be really funny although I’ve never heard of it as I’ve been out of the country for seemingly forever!
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Comments

  1. A quick addendum to this post as I feel bad about being so negative about the Azores, although I’m still ehh on them even after the night here.

    First, I had a killer steak dinner last night at a place called Adega Regional that highly recommend for food-not for service. In the Azores they give you a block of this white brava cheese along with some really spicy sauce and great Portuguese rolls with each meal and its very good.

    Second, the festival I wrote about in the post is called Summerfest apparently and its being headlined by three goth/death metal bands called Paradise Lost, Morbid Death and Cinemuerte (which loosely translates to death movie). Haha, I mean this is what the young people in the Azores are listening to!? I stopped by after dinner as they were playing outside on the harbor. There must’ve been 3000 people there listening to the death rockers and doing the devil sign fist pump thing like a bunch of psycho satan worshippers. It was pretty amusing and not at all what I would’ve expected from the seemingly conservative Azores.

    What makes it best is the five guys from Paradise Lost are at the airport with me right now and are on my plane to London. They all look like they’re straight out of jail and probably still belong there, although I am chatting with them and they are all really nice. Its hard to take goth death metal artists with proper British accents serious as devil worshipping maniacs, hahaha!!!!

  2. William says:

    LOL I googled the band and ya they look like convicts…I’ve heard the Azores are nice but sounds relatively lame based on your post. Take care and safe travels.

  3. Kimberly says:

    Pity, the Azores are a lovely place to spend a few days. Quiet and peaceful, but that’s why you go…

  4. Hey Lee, I know you are going for the record on the TCC list, you may want to consider going to Wake Island (also hitting Guam) on the charter tour in Dec. I have heard it might be the last one for several years, and it’s always been a very hard place to get to.
    [email protected]
    Also, I don’t know if you are aware but they are now running regular trips over to Midway Atoll (several a year) for about $5k from Hawaii. It’s funny to think just a few years ago that place was virtually inaccessible and some hardcore TCC guys had to wait decades and spend a fortune to get there, now it’s as easy as paying for an organized tour.
    http://www.oceanicsociety.org/nhexp_midway_atoll

  5. Thx for the info…ya I knew about the Wake trip, not the Midway…I may look into Wake but Midway doesn’t so much interest me right now, I mean its just a rock right!? I will keep an eye out though, ill be hitting Guam on this trip in July I think if all goes according to plan. I just landed in Mumbai and am waiting for connection to Kochi to hit Lakshadweep tomorrow.

  6. I saw you are looking for good deals to the Maldives, a great tool to use to know who fly’s where and the best routes for any destination in the world, is http://www.optifly.com. I looked out of curiosity for flights from Delhi to Male – with no advance purchase – and the third one down on the list (if you search Delhi to Male) is a fare flying with Jetlite & SriLankan Airlines, via Colombo, for $301, and you can buy it direct from the site once you click on the link. It’s a good tool to use for planning trips when you are on the road or finding different flights on a whim. Charles Veley’s friend created it.

  7. Cool your going to Guam on this trip. Are you going to hit some surrounding islands? No better place in the Pacific then Guam to spring off cheaply to the Micronesian islands of Yap, Chuuk, Kosrae and Pohnpei, as well as the Northern Mariana’s, and then Marshall Islands, and Palau if you haven’t been.

  8. Ya I’m going to try to get to a bunch of those you mentioned polus PNG and then head to the Aussie Islands after BorneoN Laos and hopefully Myanmar if they approve me a visa-well see. Playing by ear as I may stay longer in places and have friends along the way I’d like to hang out with.

  9. I have two American friends that got their Myanmar visa EASILY in BKK. I assume you will at least be making a pit stop there so look around Khao San Road and you will find the right place at the right price. This link may be helpful too. http://travelhappy.info/thailand/myanmar-visa-in-bangkok-how-to-get-it/

  10. Michael says:

    Lee, I’m sure you know that PNG has two entries on the TCC list, the main island and the Bismarck Archipelago. Its a long trip to have to return to visit Bouganville.

    I was in Guam last December — its easiest to see the entire island by rental car, which is how I got around. Otherwise, you may be confined to Tumon Bay. Saipan was actually very interesting (again, you’ll need a rental car). Palau and Yap were the highlights of my trip last December, much more iteresting (in my opinion) than Guam or Saipan.

  11. I do know that. Have you been to Bismarck? If so, how did you get there, ie easiest way? I haven’t decided my routing exactly, can you fly from Port Moresby? a town in the north? Jayapura? Can you get to the SOlomons easily from there etc. Thx.

  12. I’m pretty sure you can only fly to Honiara (the only international airport in the Solomons) from Port Moresby. I know some who have done the illegal overland run from the Bismarck Archipelago to the Solomon Islands, but that takes time and its not a legal entry point.

    You can definitely fly to several airports in the Bismarck Archipelage from Port Moresby — you just need to pick where you want to visit.

    I haven’t been yet since there’s a lot I want to see in PNG, especially getting out to the birding areas and seeing all of the island groups (its broken into six items on the MTP list and I would hope to visit them all on a trip), so I need to wait until I have at least two weeks, better three, to devote to PNG.

    If you to to wikipedia and plug in an airport, you can see all airlines that service that airport, and see all destinations from where, and to which, you can fly. It may not be 100% current or accurate, but its a pretty good reference.

  13. Gracias…I don’t go by the MTP list, only TCC and will have to research which seems like the best one or two to go to but will look into that closer to when I get there as I never know dates bc I may spend more time in one place than I thought etc. I am interested in the beaches and diving mainly of PNG and the archipelago.

  14. Jordan Hargrave says:

    There’s a flight POM-Honaira in the Solomons a few times a week (currently Friday & Sunday). For the Bismark Archipelago, Rabaul (RAB) is easiest to get to from POM, there should be daily flights.
    If you can try to make it for one of the singsings in PNG.. I’ve been wanting to go to the Goroka or Mt. Hagen shows for years now.
    An interesting routing you could do would be POM-HIR-VLI-NOU-WLS-NAN.

  15. Rebekah says:

    I think you all have too much time and money…maybe you should try to help instead of insulting someones country. Or how about you try and build a country yourself…my ancestry is from Azores and I have never been…so just cherish your experience rather than S**ting on everything that doesnt fit into your realm

  16. Hi Rebekah, nobody was insulting anything, especially the Azores or any other country. Read it again, I just talked about my thoughts and experiences in the Azores. I liked it there as you mustve read but in context I compared it to Madeira which I thought was incredible. It has nothing to do with time or money. Take care and you should go there sometime and see your roots.

  17. Hi Lee,

    Just wanted to say a few things about your post on Sao Miguel being so boring….lol. My mom was born there and now have been living in Toronto, Canada for over 35 years or something like that but anyway point is….don’t feel so bad. For the last 7 years my mom and her boyfriend have been going back to Portugal for a month in Lisbon where they have a sweet bungalow and only 2 hour drive to Algarve. Just the other day I had asked my mom why she hasn’t gone back to her home town Sao Miguel and my mom is now 57 years old and she even said it’s boring lol. My mom loves the Algarve and the outer skirts of Algarve more. Although, she has mentioned how BEAUTIFUL Madeira is! I have yet to still travel to Portugal myself which is a shame that I come from a Portuguese background and haven’t even been there yet, hopefully next year!!

    Happy Traveling :)

  18. My apologies on the “lol” read your post on that after.

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