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!

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!

Obtaining Dual Citizenship: How to Become a Portuguese Citizen through Parent(s)

One of my main goals of 2020 was to become a Portuguese citizen. Now that I am, I want to take you step by step through the process of obtaining your citizenship.

This article is directed towards children of Portuguese parent(s). If you have a different situation, go to the Portuguese consulate’s website that’s nearest to you to find out what you need.

I’m here to say that if you have Portuguese parents (both or just one) obtaining your dual citizenship should not be difficult. It took me two weeks to get everything and if you’re better prepared than I was you’ll be able to do it within a week’s time.

Now, before I go any further I should warn you that the laws may be different state to state so documentation requirements may change depending on where you live. Also, if you currently live in a state that you weren’t born in it’s possible you may run into unforeseen obstacles, but don’t let that stop you!

A quick phone call to the Portuguese consulate will sort everything out.

Since I was born in Rhode Island I went to the Portuguese consulate in Providence.

Documents you need to present at the Portuguese consulate:

  1. A long-form copy of your birth certificate– This document can be issued at the Vital Records office in the state you were born or at the City Clerk’s office. It’s called a long-form birth certificate because it’s the “official version” which doesn’t omit certain information for convenience sake. Time and place of birth, parent’s names, address, signatures of those present at birth etc.
  2. An Apostille– This document can be issued at the secretary of state’s office. It’s a lot less intimidating than it sounds. Basically it certifies documents being used in multiple countries. In this case, the Apostille will be attached to the front of your long-form birth certificate.
  3. Your Passport and a valid ID document such as your Driver’s license.
  4. Copy of both of your parent’s passports
  5. Copy of both of your parent’s birth certificates ( I didn’t need to bring my dad’s because he’s Portuguese and already on file. Check with your consulate in case.)
  6. Copy of your parent’s marriage certificate– The consulate will have to legitimise your parent’s marriage in Portugal. There will be a fee of around $150.

Additional Information:

Along with these documents you’ll also need to bring $250. This fee is for the citizen card itself.

After you present the documents and fees to the Portuguese consulate theres a 2-3 month waiting period. During this time the Portuguese government processes your information and implements you into the system. Afterwards you’re officially a Portuguese citizen!

Total cost: $432

Long form birth certificate- $22

Apostille- $10

Marriage certificate fee- $150

Citizenship fee- $250

I hope this article helped you along in the process of becoming a dual-citizen. I wish you luck!

If you have any questions or concerns please drop them in the comments so I can get back to you, thanks.

-Ryan Q

Por Caminho: Horta, Faial, Azores Photo Collection

Horta is Europe’s westernmost city located on the island of Faial, Azores.

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

Horta Marina

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.

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!

Photo Collection: Lajes At Dusk

By the time the sun starts to dip behind Pico mountain, the town of Lajes quietens and the soft glow of lamps cast their orange light over the cobblestone streets.

I always enjoyed going for a walk at dusk here. There’s something special about watching the day’s light dampen while the street lamps generate an inviting ambiance late into the night.

In this photo collection I take you on a walk with me around Lajes do Pico to show you the charming views that extend past daylight hours.

I hope you enjoy!

Look at these awesome photos from Pico, Azores!

Hey guys,

I just passed the one month mark since arriving in Lajes do Pico, a small village on the south coast of Pico Island in Portugal’s archipelago. The last four weeks have been great. I picked up a job at a local restaurant, reconnected with friends, and on my free time I take photos.

Down below are a collection of photos I took on my second and third week. If you like these photos and are interested in seeing more, you can check out the photo collection from my first week and stay tuned for what’s to come!

Pico Island, Azores, Portugal

Day 1

I arrived in Lajes do Pico last night around nine.

I was here two summers ago with my family and before that I lived here for a little more than six months after I graduated . Coming back to this island for the third time feels normal now.

My first visit was unlike anything I experienced in the past. When I stepped outside the airport doors I felt a profound sense of adventure. I heard stories about this island growing up but now that I was here in the flesh it was completely surreal.

Everything was a subject to my curiosity those first few weeks. The simplest of things were fascinating to me. For one, I couldn’t get enough of the fact I was on an island and at anytime of my choosing I could look out and view the seemingly infinite sea. I spent a large portion of my time walking along the wall (the locals here call it ”o muro”) listening to the ocean and watching the sunset behind mount Pico.

A montanha do Pico at sunset
Lajes Do Pico

At first I was totally enveloped by the natural beauty and as time passed I eventually became conditioned to routinely sight seeing. It wasn’t that my surroundings were any less beautiful, no, definitely not. It was more so that I was familiar and less intrigued with them.

When I stepped out of the airport doors last night I wasn’t filled with the same profound sense of adventure I experienced say, the first time I arrived more than three years ago, or when I arrived in Cartagena, Colombia last summer. Instead I just felt normal ,which isn’t a bad thing but it isn’t as exciting.

This time around I know the landmarks, I know the town names, the bakeries, the restaurants, the architecture, the roads, the street names, the people, the language. I know this because I’ve spent close to a year here and after awhile an unknown place becomes home.

As a traveler I seek that sense of adventure or “wanderlust” but I also understand that constantly seeking adventure elsewhere greatly limits our ability to notice it right here. With that said, there’s an abundance of opportunities here for me that I can’t wait to experience and share with you!