24 hours in Velas, São Jorge

From the Vulcão dos Capelinhos I made my way back to Horta completing my trip around Faial Island. The next morning I took the earliest ferry over to Velas, São Jorge’s capital.

I spent 24 hours walking around the town, checking out the viewpoints and making photographs. My initial goal was to backpack São Jorge as I did with Faial, however I decided it would be best to postpone until the summer.

For now, I hope you enjoy looking through the photos I took on my day trip to São Jorge Island.

This set of photos is part of a larger collection named Por Caminho that I created during my backpacking trip around Faial Island.

I intend to continue adding onto this project when I make my way back to the Azores. Until I visit all nine islands Por Caminho is still in the works.

Photos taken towards the end of November, 2019.

A ferry ride from Faial to São Jorge cost around 15 Euros.
Disembarking at Velas, São Jorge
São Jorge is known for their absolutely delicious cheese.
Pico mountain in the distance
Theres a trail behind the church that leads to the “Miradouro do Morro Das Velas”
A peaceful sheep pasture situated at the end of the trail
Velas, São Jorge
Parque De Campismo, Velas, São Jorge
The building to the right is the auditorium and library. Lucky for me, the day I arrived they had a screening of the new Joker movie!
5/5

The next morning…

Sunrise walk back to the Marina

If you guys liked this photoblog, please check out the previous collections from my travel project Por Caminho.

Have you guys been to the Azores? Comment which Islands you’ve visited and any recommendations you have. Thanks!

Por Caminho: Vulcão dos Capelinhos

Vulcão dos Capelinhos was the most impressive site I visited on Faial Island.


I spent all day here walking up and down the volcanic landscape, checking out the museum and catching the end of day’s light from the highest point.

Walking from Horta to the lighthouse pictured below was a fantastic achievement. I celebrated by giving my complete and undivided attention to my surroundings and the Atlantic beyond.

Photos taken mid November, 2019.

Volcanic cone warping into the blue sky

The Capelinhos lighthouse withstood the eruption of 1957-58 and now stands as a landmark of the Island of Faial.

Farol do Vulcão dos Capelinhos
Most of the surrounding landscape is barren with the exception of shrubs and small flowers. Nature always finds a way.
Two birds prepare for flight
The last photo I took before hiking back

Check out the previous blog posts of my backpacking trip around Faial Island!

Por Caminho: Salão, Cedros, and The Road to Praia do Norte

From Praia Do Almoxarife I hiked 10.6km(6.5 miles) to Salão. If you plan on backpacking Faial I recommend stopping here. I stayed at the campsite which had fireplace cabana and a direct path to a natural swimming pool. This set of photos is part of a larger collection named Por Caminho that I created during my backpacking […]

Praia Do Norte & Capelo Photo Collection

The hike from Salão to Praia do Norte proved to be the hardest part of my week long trip around Faial Island. The road to Praia do Norte inclined steadily with each curve. Though it helped me in the long run, trekking uphill in the cold, grey hills was challenging. The worst part by far […]

Double Exposure Film Photography: Merging Two Homes Into One

“Double exposure is caused by taking two pictures on the same piece of film.” – Fujifilm Troubleshooting

That’s the notice I received when I opened the envelope to see my developed film.

Most cameras are designed to prevent double exposure, but my Nikon one-touch 100 was not.

Nikon One Touch 100 and my film selects

This past summer I brought two rolls of film with me to the Açores. It wasn’t until two weeks ago that I got them developed.

Before getting them developed, I had bought two new rolls of Fujicolor 200 that I planned on using to take pictures around Rhode Island.

At some point I mixed up the four rolls and loaded my Açores film a second time thinking it was a new roll of film.

The outcome of these photos were surprising to me. At first glance I didn’t even recognise what I was looking at.

I found an even light, turned the photos multiple ways, and looked closer to see which photos of mine merged during the development process.

Some of the images came out odd, the others I found intriguingly abstract and peculiar in a good way. I didn’t intentionally make these images, but overall I’m happy with how different they are than my normal digital photos.

After looking over the 76 photos or so, I selected these 10 Images that I want to share with you today!

Photos taken:

Pico, Azores in July, 2019

Rhode Island in February, 2020

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Although It would’ve been nice to see the original photos I took (especially from the Açores) I can’t complain with the outcome. These photos are unlike anything I’ve taken before and part of what makes me like them so much is how my two homes found a way to merge into one.

Cheers to that.

If anyones had a similar experience I’d love to hear about it! Tell me your story and whether you liked the outcome or not!

Check out some of my previous articles from New England and of course, the Açores.

Praia Do Norte & Capelo Photo Collection

The hike from Salão to Praia do Norte proved to be the hardest part of my week long trip around Faial Island.

The road to Praia do Norte inclined steadily with each curve. Though it helped me in the long run, trekking uphill in the cold, grey hills was challenging. The worst part by far was feeling water in the soles of my boots soak into my socks.

As the sky cleared towards the end of the day the sun reached out to the surrounding landscape. By then I had reached Praia do Norte and my goal for the day was complete. My reward was a complete sunset overview of the youngest part of Faial.

This set of photos is part of a larger collection named Por Caminho that I created during my backpacking trip around Faial Island.

Photos taken mid November, 2019

Miradouro da Ribeira Funda
Miradouro da Ribeira das Cabras

“The Ribeira das Cabras Viewpoint shows the complete landscape of the youngest area of Faial Island, the peninsula of Capelo being 10,000 years old. In here are the most recent volcanic cones of the island. On the right, it’s possible to see the Fajã, a portion of land created by lava flow that cooled down on contact with the water. The two historic eruptions of Faial happened in here: Cabeço do Fogo in 1672 who’s lava flows formed the Misteiros and finished the formation of the Fajã causing a great destruction in the parishes of Praia do Norte and Capelo and the emigration of several families to Brazil. The Capelinhos Volcano eruption in 1958 devastated and caused a large emigration flow of almost all the population of Praia do Norte parish to the United States.”

-Tourism board


Capelo

The next morning I packed up camp and headed to Capelo where I planned to spend the entire afternoon at the famous Vulcão dos Capelinhos (Capelinhos Volcano.)

I enjoyed every step of the way through the little town of Capelo. There were numerous traditional-styled homes (pictured below) and the view of the ocean was always to my left.

Along the way I noticed how far I had already come. I was more than halfway around the Island of Faial and I was about to gaze upon what all the Azores travel magazines advertised as the “Mars-like landscape of the Azores.”

Green field farm house and Cabeço do Fogo in the background.
Boa tarde!
Ponta de Castelo Branco
Traditional Azorean home
Backpacking grants you the time to think about life in symbolic terms.
Casal do Vulcão- Hostel
Sign to Vulcão dos Capelinhos: a natural reserve and Azores GeoPark
The lighthouse at Vulcão Dos Capelinhos now acts as an interactive science museum. You can walk around the exhibit or climb to the top for a 360 view of the surrounding landscape. More on this in the next blog post.

Previous:

  1. Horta
  2. Horta’s Marina
  3. Praia Do Almoxarife
  4. Salão, Cedros, and The Road to Praia do Norte

Next: Vulcão dos Capelinhos

Por Caminho: Salão, Cedros, and The Road to Praia do Norte

From Praia Do Almoxarife I hiked 10.6km(6.5 miles) to Salão.

If you plan on backpacking Faial I recommend stopping here. I stayed at the campsite which had fireplace cabana and a direct path to a natural swimming pool.

This set of photos is part of a larger collection named Por Caminho that I created during my backpacking trip around Faial Island.

Photos taken mid November, 2019

I reached Ribeirinha mid-day with enough sunlight and energy to continue hiking towards Salão
The Islands in the distance from left to right are São Jorge and Pico
One thing I noted on my backpacking trip were how colourful and vibrant some of the houses were.
From Horta to Salão- 15.7 km or 9.7 miles
Parque de Campismo (campsite)
Fireplace Cabana at Salão’s camp site (parque de campismo.) Although I was here alone in November, I could imagine sitting around the fire with friends during the summer. It’s a perfect location day and night.
The boardwalk leading down to the natural swimming pool
São Jorge in the distance.

I woke up the next morning to wind dashing against my tent. Water droplets dotted the roof and one by one scurried off the side. After a few minutes more laying there watching the raindrops race each other, a warm glow cloaked the tent. I unzipped the door, flung my feet onto the wet grass, and laid there a while longer.

Nothing ever lasts. Grey clouds were gathering in the distance. I packed up camp and headed out. As soon as I turned onto the main road it started to rain. Luckily, there was a Casa do Povo which is a sort of gathering hall/cafe for locals. I waited out the rain there, having breakfast and making small talk with the older gentleman behind the bar. When the clouds cleared, I took my chances.

Xavier Cafe- Modern restaurant and cafe in Cedros where I stopped for a meia de leite
I took this photo right outside Ribeira Funda, 9.7 km (6miles) away from Salão. Fortunately for me, it didn’t end up raining even though the entire day was dark and cold. What was challenging however, was the slight incline of the roads. Each turn seemed to be steeper than the last This actually worked in my favour since it increased my body temperature.
3 miles out
From Horta to Praia do Norte: 29 km (18 miles)

There wasn’t much to look at as I passed Ribeira Funda and not three miles away was the next major town: Praia Do Norte.

That’s where I would set up camp.

I was determined to make it there.

In the distance I could see large mountains hiding behind a screen of mist. I knew I just had to keep walking and I’d eventually make it there.

Horta, Faial, Azores Travel Index

The first time I went to Horta I met a man with heavy-callused hands who told me stories about master mariners from Faial Island.

The hardships those sea-men endured are what make this place so enjoyable, he told me. It’s through their sacrifice Horta now strives.

Today Horta stands as a metropolitan-port city that people visit from all over the world and it’s literally written on the marina walls.

A Brief History Lesson About Horta

The history of Horta began when the first migrants from southern Portugal discovered the central group of the Azores.

Although most of the settlers were from mainland Portugal, a Flemish aristocrat in the late 1400’s, named Josse van Huerter, brought in merchants, tradesmen, and artisans to help develop Horta’s economy and culture.

Fun fact: The name “Horta” comes from a transliteration of Jose van Huerter’s name.

Before gaining international importance through transatlantic trading routes, the people of Horta faced many challenges and setbacks that you can read about here. Over time, commerce in the whaling industry boomed and exports on oranges and local wine stabilised the economy.

In more recent history, Horta’s harbour has become a popular destination not only for sailors and yachtsmen, but also travellers from all over the world seeking adventure, culture, and history.

What To Do in Horta

Nowadays if you’re traveling in the Azores, Horta is a must see destination. Besides the metropolitan feel of the town’s centre, there’s some great places to check out while you’re there.

1. The Historical Marina

Check out my photo blog to get a closer look at the creative murals sailors paint in Horta!

If you’re going to Horta it’s well worth strolling through the colourful and historical marina.

Today it’s internationally recognised and acts as a linking point for yachtsmen and regattas.

For decades sailors have painted their murals on the marina’s breakwater.

According to old-sailor superstition, painting your mural or logo on the breakwater gives divine protection from harsh conditions at sea!

2. Peter’s Sport Cafe & Scrimshaw Museum

The Scrimshaw Museum is located above the restaurant and bar

After strolling through the marina check out Peter’s Sport Cafe.

This place is ideal for a light lunch and sunset drinks. The best part about it is the atmosphere inside. All the memorabilia gives a nostalgic, yet hip vibe.

During the summer you’ll hear Portuguese, English, French, German and Spanish all being spoken over a cold glass of gin & tonic.

Above the restaurant the Scrimshaw Museum is one of a kind. If you appreciate artwork and history, you’ll thoroughly enjoy the small but exceptional exhibit.

A guide works to tell the local history and answer any questions you have!

The entrance fee is around 3.00 euros.

3. Porto Pim Beach & Cafe

I took this photo in November when tourism is slow

Porto Pim Beach, or locally known as Praia do Porto Pim, is one of the few beaches on Faial Island.

There are various cafes and restaurants nearby at your convenience.

This is an awesome spot to wind down at the end of the day with family and friends. The sunsets here are incredible!

4. Miradouro de Nossa Senhora da Conceição

The word “miradouro” literally translates to “golden sight.” These golden sights are scattered throughout the Azores by the hundreds.

Check out one of my favorites: Miradouro do Cabeço do Geraldo

Miradouro de Senhora da Conceição is located above Horta with a spectacular view of the entire city.

On clear days you can view ships crossing the channel between Faial and Pico with Portugals highest point, Pico Mountain, rising tall into the blue sky.

For religious reference, locals come here to pray and give thanks. “Nossa Senhora da Conceição” translates to “Our lady of conception” referring to the Virgin Marry.

5. Botanical Gardens

The botanical gardens (Jardin Botânico do Faial) are located a few kilometres away in the neighbouring town of Flamengos.

These gardens are for nature lovers and anyone interested in learning more about the endemic species of the Azores.

Here you’ll find evergreen bushes filled with Azorean hollies and blueberries, orange trees and blooming heathers. During the summer you’ll be surprised how vibrant the colours appear under the sunlight.

All across the Azores the mission of conservation groups are to protect the natural flora and promote scientific research and environmental awareness.

“When visiting this Garden, the visitors can get to know the rarest plants in the Azores, the traditional crops, a beautiful orchidarium, a collection of medicinal and aromatic plants, as well as the main invasive plants.”

6. Semana Do Mar

Semana do Mar or, “Sea week” is a music & arts festival set on the first week of August in Horta, Faial. People from the eight other islands gather here to enjoy concerts, art displays, traditional dances, and local food.

Island of Faial in the distance/ Photo taken at the Madalena marina

Everyone who lives in the Azores looks forward to the summer festivals since the winter season is terribly long and slow. It’s their time to have fun and let loose!

July and August are the ideal months for you to visit the Azores and if you’re here during the Festival weeks you must check it out!

See here for my photo blog of Semana Dos Baleeiros.

The Semana do Mar 2020 festival is already being organised. Check it out here if you have plans on visiting the Azores this summer!

Best Restaurants in Horta

No travel guide is complete without a food section. Here are some of my favourite restaurants in Horta that I know you’ll enjoy as well.

Restaurante Atletico

Restaurante Atletico was recommended to me various times during my stay in Horta. Now, I’m extending that recommendation to you.

To see photos of their food, checkout their Facebook page and Yelp

The menu has a wide variety of fresh seafood, barbecue and local cuisine with a European-mediterranean touch.

I ordered the grilled limpets ( lapas grehladas) with garlic-butter sauce. It was scrumptious.

For my main meal I ordered the filet mignon that was cooked to culinary perfection. Besides one other restaurant here on Pico Island I haven’t had a steak that comes close.

Once you eat here, you’ll probably end up coming back at least one more time before your vacation ends.

Pizzaria California

This is the pizza joint to go to if you’re staying in Horta.

It’s simple, the pizza is delicious.

Do you know how back home you have that one favourite pizza place you go to anytime you crave pizza? Well among Horta’s locals, this is it.

They also serve hamburgers, sandwiches and vegetarian alternatives.

Cafe Volga

Cafe Volga is an awesome little place where you can get good food at a low price.

It’s located right in the centre of town and alot of people come here to socialise, watch futebol, and dink café.

I ordered the bistec, A fried egg atop a reasonable-sized steak with a side of french fries, rice, and vegetables for only 6 euros.

This place is perfect if you’re on a budget and still want to eat good like the locals do.

Padaria Popular

Padaria Popular is a bakery and cafe located in the busiest part of Horta. This place is celebrating 40 years as an establishment.

No business stays around that long without doing something right. The environment alone is inviting with a white and blue color scheme representative of Faial island’s nick name “Ilha Azul” or “Blue island.”

The bakers work morning and night to prepare and serve fresh bread, pastries and sandwiches to their customers. I stumbled upon them on my last visit to Horta and I thoroughly enjoyed sitting down drinking a “meia de leite” (an expresso with milk in a larger mug) and a chocolate croissant.

Padaria Popular is a perfect place to grab a quick breakfast, an afternoon coffee or pick up a cake for the celebration.

Where to Stay?

When you come to Horta there are many options for you to choose from.

Your stay in Horta depends on three things:

  1. Your budget.
  2. Your comfort preferences.
  3. What you want in a travel experience.

If you’re traveling to Horta on a budget, no worries.

If I were you, I would check out Booking.com for the best prices. However, I stayed at Hotel São Francisco for like 25 euros which included breakfast. The staff were friendly and I met some nice people who were staying there as well.

If comfort is the deciding factor and you don’t need to worry so much about your budget, I would check out some of Horta’s finest hotels like Azores Faial Garden Resort Hotel. You’ll be treated to the great views of Horta, the ocean, and Pico Island in the distance. It has a good-sized pool, a work-out room, and sauna for those of you wanting to keep In shape while you’re eating all the delicious food.

For an optimal travel experience I always recommend to my friends to either stay at a local’s home or the nearest hostel.

Unless your accustomed to hostel life, I think it’s a great option to save money, meet like-minded travellers and stay in the heart of the city. On the other hand, if you’ve been there done that, I would tell you to stay at a local resident’s home. This mode of traveling allows for complete immersion and, if you connect well with your host, you get the added benefit of that person’s knowledge and recommendations.

So, Are you ready?

I hope this travel guide helped you out!

Get an inside look at Horta

Let me know in the comments, or shoot me an email if you have any further comments and questions about Horta, or the Azores in general. I’m happy to help!

Adventure on.

-Ryan Q

Horta, Faial, Summer 2017

A Brief History Lesson on the Azores: Portugal’s Mid-Atlantic Archipelago

Did you know the father of American Literature, Mark Twain, visited the Azores on an expedition back in the year 1867? In chapter six of his widely acclaimed travelogue, The Innocents Abroad, he documented his experiences on the island of Faial. He wrote my favourite quote on anything I’ve read about the Azores. He writes at the end of the chapter,

The mountains on some of the islands are very high. We sailed along the shore of the island of Pico, under a stately green pyramid that rose up with one unbroken sweep from our very feet to an altitude of 7,613 feet, and thrust its summit above the white clouds like an island adrift in a fog!

From the descriptions he wrote about his brief visit in the Azores I got the sense that the Azores was a much different place than they are today. A century and a half of evolution changes all aspects of a place’s society and economy. It got me thinking how much has changed in the Azores since the 1800’s and then I thought about even further back to its origins.

So here we are: A brief history lesson on the Azores: Portugal’s mid Atlantic Achepelago.


Geological Formation

The Azores platform is estimated to have formed 20-30 million years ago due to a volcanic hotspot. Beneath the Northern Atlantic Ocean sits the Azores Triple Junction, a point where the edges of three tectonic plates: North American Plate, Eurasian Plate, and African Plate intersect. Millions of years of volcanic eruption and solidification brought about the Azores archipelago which consists of nine islands spanning over 340 miles.

The geology of the Azores is volcanic in origin. The land is rugged and the soil is fertile. The formations you find on the islands consist of volcanos, calderas, fumaroles, thermal springs, caves, lakes and marine fossil deposits. Mount Pico, the stratovolcano that tourists climb every year, that “stately green pyramid” Mark Twain wrote about, is the highest point in Portugal and remains active to this day. The last major eruption took place in 1720.

Portolan Charts: Medici Atlas, Majorcan Maps

More than a century before Europeans officially discovered the Azores, ancient nautical maps identified them. Portolan charts were considered reliable and cartographically accurate. The first map to chart the Azores was made by an Italian cartographer (who remains unknown) called the Medici Atlas.

It charted the Azores on a north-to-south axis rather than aligned diagonally from northwest to southeast. Although the Islands weren’t named individually, they were named by grouping. For example, one group consisting of three islands situated to the west of what would be modern day Terceira was called insule de Ventura Sive de Columbis (islands of venture/winds or the pigeons) which more than likely were São Jorge, Faial, and Pico.

The Azores also appear in two other medieval maps called Majorcan maps which date back to 1375-1385.

European Re-Discovery and Colonisation

These nine islands remained “undiscovered” until European explorers missioned by Diogo de Silves claimed it as territory of Portugal in 1427. Sheep and cattle were released into the islands of Santa Maria and São Miguel, the first two islands discovered in the Azores, before settlement began. São Miguel was officially colonised in the 1440’s by settlers from mainland Portugal. With them, the settlers brought grain, grape vines, sugar-cane and domesticated animals such as chickens, rabbits, goats and pigs.

The Portuguese colonised along coastal inlets and the production of simple agricultural goods like wheat and sugar-cane became the main staples of the economy. The volcanic soil made agriculture sustainable and within a brief time period there was an export market which included plants used in the dye industry.

Ponta Delgada Railway,1861

The Azorean people faced hardship during the colonisation period. In one regard, awaiting shipments and supplies could take months and they didn’t have a way to communicate to Mainland Portugal if something were to go wrong. Colonists had to solely rely on themselves to build homes and establish villages.

Whale Hunting

Museu dos Baleeiros, Lajes Do Pico

The Azorean people resorted to whale hunting somewhere in the late 18th century due to how versatile whale parts proved to be. A single blue whale, for example, could yield up to 120 barrels of oil! The meat was valuable because not only was it rich in protein, but it was also a high source of iron and zinc which protected the immune system. Whale bones were used to craft a wide variety of products like baskets, fishing rods, utensils, knives, handles, ect. Other uses included soaps, perfumes, lubrications, and candles.

The whaling industry proved to be a reliable stream of income and material goods that vastly improve the society’s livelihood. It also became a great source of pride for Azorean heritage and whalers themselves were venerated. One of the most popular whale museums in the Azores, and arguably in the world, is located in Lajes Do Pico. The museum commemorates this tradition in an awesome fashion by not only archiving traditional equipment like boats, lances and cutting tools, but also by educating visitors on how the culture’s overall perception on whaling has evolved over the years.

Every street in Horta is handsomely paved with the heavy Russ blocks, and the surface is neat and true as a floor — not marred by holes like Broadway. And every road is fenced in by tall, solid lava walls, which will last a thousand years in this land where frost is unknown. They are very thick, and are often plastered and whitewashed and capped with projecting slabs of cut stone. Trees from gardens above hang their swaying tendrils down, and contrast their bright green with the whitewash or the black lava of the walls and make them beautiful. The trees and vines stretch across these narrow roadways sometimes and so shut out the sun that you seem to be riding through a tunnel.”

Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad

Thoughts on visiting the Azores?

Tell me yours.

Thoughts on Visiting the Azores

Imagine you’re sitting on a stone wall at the edge of a cliff letting your feet dangle below. Accompanying you are your closest friends and loved ones sharing the spectacular view of the Atlantic Ocean. The waves roll onto the obsidian shoreline in the distance and you’re all there with a cup of freshly brewed coffee to warm your hands. It’s sunrise. And right behind the mountainous landscape the sun rises into the opulent sky.

When you come to the Azores for the first time it isn’t difficult to see why these nine islands have risen to the top in tourism destinations. People all over the world come here to experience the sensation of adventure- outdoor, rural tourism activities surrounded by vast green landscapes and the constant meditative sound of the ocean. From June to the last few weeks of September the small aldeias of the Azores are swarmed with curious travelers.

This past summer I spent the majority of my time working at a local restaurant serving tables. Besides the locals, the majority of customers were from European countries (mostly France, Germany, and Spain) on vacation visiting as many islands as they could within a week’s or two time.

I wonder how many tourists passed by, came and went, as I stood in the entry way of the restaurant. Hundreds, thousands?

I wonder more so what all those people made of this place. Was it everything they expected after doing their proper research, scrolling through instagram, watching YouTube videos, reading blog articles? What did they feel on the ride from the airport to their hotel? Did they feel what I felt the first time?

Towards the end of August, after Semana Dos Baleeiros ended there was a noticeable difference in the number of tourists. Everyone seemed to pack up and leave as soon as the festivals were over. The town grew quiet through the month of September and on my daily walks back home from work I didn’t see any intrigued tourists taking photographs of the ivory-covered, abandoned building or the palm trees infront of Lajes’s church.

Instead I noticed the orange hues in the trees and how the wind carried all the fallen, dried leaves into the road’s corners.

The tables outside the popular bakery “Sabores e Aromas” remained vacant of pastry- munching, cappuccino sipping Europeans.

The only people who roamed the streets were the locals on their daily rounds.

Two years ago was my first time visiting the Azores during the summer. I spent the months of July and August experiencing the Azores as a tourist. I went swimming most days, I went sight-seeing, I ate at the best restaurants, took the ferry to other islands and finally climbed and summited Mount Pico.

I felt like an explorer charting new territory, discovering the unknown.

For my last two weeks I backpacked around São Miguel Island and visited all the top attractions: Ponta Delgada, Sete Cidades, Vista do Rei, Furnas, Lagoa do Fogo, Vila Franca do Campo ect. That trip gave me a strong sense of what Azores tourism is all about and I understand clearly why every year the visitation numbers steadily increase.

When I arrived on Pico Island this past June I experienced the Azores more as a resident than a tourist. I served tourists and locals alike. I gave people recommendations and directions. There were times where I wanted to be in their position, navigating around the island for the first time astonished with the surrounding countryside.

I envied their wanderlust. As beautiful as this place is, I became adjusted to it.

Now that it’s late October and winter is approaching the dust has settled, so to speak. Theres less people, less movement, less happening and this grants a certain flow to time that feels slower, steadier. The days get darker earlier and the sun doesn’t shine as bright. The ocean water is colder and less appealing without the aqua-blue surface dazzling under the summer light.

Yet with with that, I’m discovering my appreciation for this island again. The empty streets call attention to space and time. I look around at the old, stone buildings lined along the sloping roads, I hear the cagarros in flight, I smell fresh bread wafting through the air, I feel present and hungry, I taste the salt of the Atlantic Ocean on my lips. Is this what it means to be Azorean?

Living in the Azores is much different than visiting and I guess you could say that about any place, however here, in the middle of the Atlantic, theres a certain novelty I can’t quite put into words. At any moment during the day whether I’m working, driving, having a conversation I can stop what I’m doing and tune into the ocean. There it is if you pay attention, that meditative sound which pervades everything here.

Although autumn and winter aren’t necessarily the prime time to visit the Azores, I think they’re actually the best representation. Sure the festivals are over, tourism is at it’s lowest and it’s too cold to swim everyday, but this allows one to wander at their own accord and to observe the local life-style and culture without it being inflated by tourism companies.

Miradouro do Cabeço do Geraldo

The Portuguese word “miradouro” literally translates to “golden sight.” 

There are hundreds of these golden sights located across the Azores. Some of them are right alongside the road and others at the end of long, worn-down farming paths. Usually the harder they are to find the better the view, but maybe that’s just been my experience. 

 I found the miradouro “Cabeço do Geraldo” by accident. It was four years ago when I first arrived in the Azores. I just wanted to climb as high up as I could without having to summit Mount Pico. I went up the main road in Lajes towards Terras and turned onto a secondary street that the more I traversed the less houses and people there were. Eventually I came to a steep slope of loose rocks and I thought If I climbed it I would be able to find another incline to take me even higher. 

So up I went.

 At the top, red gravel paths lead left and right. I went left until I found another slope. At the top of that slope I found a marker that read “Miradouro do Geraldo.” I followed the sign through the farm gates, past the two tall antennas and found myself in the clouds overlooking the Island. The best part about it wasn’t the view, as tremendous as it was, the noise was what attracted me most. Everything grew quiet. I was sweating and breathing hard, my legs hurt, I could hear my heart beating, the sound against my chest. The wind blew, the crickets sang, the cows moo’d from ways down the mountainside but I was there in solitary. All the external noise was gone. My mind cleared without outside distraction. It was quite a beautiful moment if I may say.

Four years have passed since my first visit and when a co worker showed me photos of sunset at the miradouro I knew I had to make another trip. I knew more or less how to get there; so again I went up the main road towards Terras, turned onto the secondary street and walked until I came by a few farmers harvesting a cornfield. I asked them if they knew the best way to get there. We shared a few words and one of the guys offered to give me a ride. 

By the time we made it to Cabeço do Geraldo the sun was beginning to set. The green hills were tinted with sunset hues, Mount Pico appeared as brilliant as ever with the blazing sun to the left of its peak. And the sound-There I was in solitary again.

The wind was soft this time,

the cows yawned,

the crickets creaked.

It was just as beautiful, just as peaceful as I remembered it; except this time the light shifted from a warm spectrum of colours to a tranquil, cool blend of blues and purples. There I was witnessing it, experiencing it as if it were for the first time.

Photos taken on September 9, 2019
Pico, Azores
Cabeço do Geraldo

-Ryan Q

Sunset Rowing in the Açores: Os Mercenários!

Hey guys, I’m happy to share this collection of photographs with you!

Os Mercenários, a rowing team here in the Azores, invited me to come along with them on their afternoon practice!

I was beyond excited to accept the opportunity. The entire summer I would see them practice on the outskirts of Lajes’ port wondering what it must feel like to row with a coordinated team.

Fortunately, a week before the races that took place during Semana dos Baleeiros we drove out to the neighbouring vila Ribeiras, and I experienced the answer to my question.

I had so much fun taking the photos thanks to Os Mercenários being cool people!

I hope you enjoy these images as much as I enjoyed taking them. Cheers!

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I sat at the bow of the boat feeling as if I was slicing through the ocean’s waves. 

As one we row

Three guys on the right, three on the left with the conductor in the middle working together to row in unison. 

The bow rises and drops with the sea

Row after row, row, the boat gains momentum. And after an eventful duration we slow down and stop. 

Stillness in the Atlantic

I felt the oceans power as our vessel rose and fell with the tide. 

We drifted for a few moments and then pointed the boat towards the colors in the sky

Rowing until day became night.


Travel Anecdotes from July

Hey guys,

The entries you’re going to read in this article were taken from my journal’s pages I wrote through the month of July. Naturally they’re more personal and encompass a wide array of topics. I wanted to share these entries with you in a separate blog post solely devoted to that purpose since I found mixing my photography and personal anecdotes didn’t always work together.

Furthermore, I want to make it clear to you guys, my readers, viewers, and friends, that my goal with this blog is to be as real, as raw, as… I hate to use this word in the current vocabulary climate, but as authentic as I can possibly be. The last thing I want is for my blog to be distant, indirect, and impersonal.

My promise to you guys is to be myself- no more, no less.

I think it’s important I make these types of posts considering the majority of travel blogs adhere to the impersonal, professional travel- influencer, “this is where you should go and what you should see and eat” narrative. There’s an abundance of blogs you can go to for recommendations and a scarcity of blogs that give their personal accounts of the places they go.

If my photographs are the external landscapes in which I visit and see, then my anecdotes are the internal landscape in which I interpret and make meaning from my experiences.

With that said, the following entries are my thoughts and observations, my point of view, my perspective.

Thank you for sticking with me.


-When I passed by cafe Lajense I saw Frankie’s long white beard and recognised his wife Cathy by his side. I stopped in to say hello and we got to catch up for a while. I reminded them that I still keep the card they gave me four years ago which when read in Hebrew from right to left: ” Hay kof men” means ” Rising from depression.” I expressed how appreciative I was of them for inviting me to their home and sharing their time and food with me.

Frankie and Cathy introduced me to their friend Amanda who told me she moved from England to Pico Island on a whim. Pico was the place to be and apparently when she she arrived sometime in the late winter season she had the intuitive, gut feeling that she came to the right place. Although we only shared a small conversation, it left me curious in what more she had to say about her travels. I’m sure we’ll cross paths again and talk more about how she ended up here.

Which brings me to this question:

How does one accurately describe how they ended up where they are?

Is it possible to acredit a certain series of events as to why you are where you are, or do you have to take everything into account before those said events as well? I once listened to a lecture by Alan Watts about how it’s almost impossible to state in absolute terms when an event begins and ends since prior to the events there is an accumulation of “pre events” which are the cause and afterwards there the effects which ripple far past the actual occurrence.

Are we not products of the decisions we made in the past? And don’t the decisions we make today change who we are tomorrow?


-When it comes to traveling, you’ll meet people from all over the world who are there for various reasons. The reason is one thing and the reason behind the reason is a whole different story. I could say I’m in the Azores right now because my plan is to travel throughout Portugal, throughout Europe once my family migrates and settles here in Lajes. The reason is a means to travel more.

Yet someone could ask me further, why I come to the Azores in the first place and the answer to that includes numerous aspects of my story/past. Those stories- those memories are just as important, if not more important than the reason I’m here right now, but at the same time all of it is just one collective reason as to why I’m here.

Some people travel solely for business purposes and spend their time in other countries simply because those are the requirements/ job description.

Other people travel for vacation; spending their time in resorts, cruise ships, and perfect getaways from their busy lives.

We all travel for different reasons. What interests me are the people in search for existential answers to questions regarding mortality, self, and what composes a meaningful life.

I remember asking the Australian guy on the chiva bus tour in Cartagena why he was in Colombia. He kinda just laughed at the question and responded, “the same reason you’re here.” The truth, as I’ve wrote in another article, is that there wasn’t a specific reason besides getting out of the complicated, stressful muddle in Florida.

My friend and I wanted a break and an adventure we’d never forget. We got both those things and more.

Although my reason wasn’t solid, I don’t think it really matters since by the end of that South America trip I learned so much about myself in a matter of two months. A strong part me of thinks the reason for traveling anywhere can only be revealed once you return home from the trip and are able to form meaning out of your experiences.

Now that I’m thinking about it, you don’t really need a logical reason to go anywhere. Like Amanda, you just need a feeling inside of you.


This place I know so well used to be my childhood curiosity.

Now that I’m here, here again, my days spent living, learning, knowing seem like a chestnut dream.

I wake up in Lajes do Pico, here I am in summer’s flare recalling memories back when I only imagined so.


If you’re in a haze, snap out of it!

Walk looking forward, not downward.

The haze meaning a sense of frustration, sadness, confusion, anger, self-pity, jealousy. These are all normal to experience and feel, but if you live your life in a haze you’re wasting time. Feel what you feel but don’t allow yourself to perpetuate it any longer than its natural duration. Feel the emotion and then let it pass. Don’t let it linger.

Walk looking forward with purpose, you have somewhere to be. Don’t drag yourself around and fake a smile. Pick yourself up, breathe, come back to your senses and if it helps; count to ten. By the end of those ten seconds know that when you snap your fingers you’re out of the haze and into the clear.


June passed as quick as it could’ve. Last night I was taking in the view from the terrace atop Avo’s house. The grape vines completely cover the spaces between each faded post and the grapes themselves, although not fully ripe, are already plump and in abundance. Sitting down on a cement filled flower pot I was admiring how the sun struck the leaves in such a way that made them appear more gold than green. The pointed edges flapping like a flag.

I kept returning to my breath trying to prevent any senseless thinking. Minutes passed. A few more. More still, and with the last moments of daylight I sipped my last bit of coffee, placed it on the floor, stood up resting my hands on the bars above where the grapes grew, and stretched my arms, shoulders, and back. I felt slightly more relaxed before heading in for the night.

An Afternoon Getaway to Madalena: Ilha do Pico’s Main Port Town and Home of the Cella Bar

Madalena, located north-west of Lajes do Pico, is home to the main port which connects the neighbouring islands. The town acts as a centre for tourism, commercial shopping, communications, trading and basically everything else the smaller villas lack. For example, I wanted to buy a tripod for my camera but I couldn’t find one in Lajes so I asked around. Where did everyone tell me to go? Madalena.

If you’re arriving on Pico Island the chances are you’ll want to stay in Madalena for at least a night considering it’s the closest town to the airport and has the best options for lodging, food, and touristic activities like hiking, sailing, cave exploring, scuba diving, snorkelling, wine tasting, or if you just want to chill by the ocean. Whatever you want just name it, Madalena has it.

It was my day off from work when I looked through a travel guide magazine and came across the “Where to eat” section. The top pick was an architectural award- winning bar/restaurant called the “Cella Bar.” The front image was enough for me to decide to go.

Image taken from Cella Bar’s Facebook page

An hour bus ride later, I arrived in Madalena. I didn’t have a plan except to find the Cella Bar, nor much time to spend before the last bus left back to Lajes so I walked around snapping photos along the way to my destination.

The following images are from my afternoon getaway to Madalena. I hope you enjoy them.

Running away from Karma
I ordered a gin and tonic for my afternoon relaxation
caixa de pão/biscoito tradicional + degustação de azeite + gin and tonic = muito bom!

Photoshoot Collection, Lajes Do Pico Azores

Location: Aldia da Fonte

Barbara and I have been good friends since we first met four years ago! She’s always been super helpful when it comes to learning Portuguese. Not only is she patient, understanding, and unapologeticely herself, Barbara also has an act for modeling and composure which made this set that much more enjoyable!

For this photoshoot we headed down to Silveira’s Aldeia da Fonte and walked along the sea trail until we found a nice area to take a few shots. Afterwards, we headed back to Lajes do Pico to finish taking photos along the island’s rocky shoreline.

I hope you enjoy what we created!