Azores Islands Story
I took a lot more time planning this trip out. I researched each island to see what places would be good to visit. I made a list for each island and created big maps so I could figure out where each thing was. Then I created itineraries for each island. I packed quite a few things on each list, so I may not get to all of them, as some things are going to chew up time, such as the caves and the lava tubes. The islands are not that big, maybe 45 minutes to an hour to go from one side to the other. I contacted Kaylie again to watch Apache. I’m packing light. Just necessary clothes and clean-up supplies. I am taking the smaller suitcase I bought when I went to Bali. I’m not looking forward to flying economy. I have gotten used to flying First Class, and with my hip getting sore when I sit for a while, it probably is not going to be too fun. We will see.
Flight Day Sept. 6th
The flight leaves at 10pm, so I packed up during the day and ran errands. I wanted to mail Steven’s birthday present before I left because I won’t be back until the 16th, which would be too late to get it there on time. I called for an Uber at 7:00pm. Guy came and picked me up. I had gone out through the garage to wait so neighbors would not see me with suitcase leaving. Loaded up the bags and headed to the airport. About ¾ of the way there I began thinking about the garage door and whether I hit the button to close it. I wasn’t sure and the driver thought I didn’t. He said he thought someone was home that was going to get it. So, I had him turn around and head back to the house. Sure enough, it wasn’t closed. Good thing I thought about it, and a good thing I had called for an Uber earlier then I had planned. We headed back to the airport. I checked my bag and then had to wait in a longer line for security, but it ended up moving along pretty descent. I got to board first because I was on my cane. My fractured hip still had not healed all the way from being thrown by my horse.
First leg of trip to San Francisco
I chose window seats for all the flights. Had two guys in my row. Cramped, cramped, cramped. Should have paid the extra money for at least Business Class. I brought an airplane pillow and blanket and tried to sleep, but it was not happening. Constantly in and out. Noisy people in the row in front of mine, laughing loudly off and on until they fell asleep. Landed and found my next gate. I walked around a little bit to find a food place and settled on getting a couple of donuts and a water in an aluminum bottle. First time I have seen anything like it. Only a 2-hour layover, so the wait went fast.
Second leg of trip to New York
Boarded 1st again. Was further back in the plane this time. Had two girls sit next to me so it was not as crowded as the first leg. Tried to sleep, but same luck. In and out. Woke up with 2 hours and 39 minutes left of the flight. Decided to just stay awake and watch a movie. I started watching Jurassic World:Dominion. Plne landed on time, but a little walk to my next gate. Found it and then walked around to find food places. Found a little food court that had custom burgers, and that was the name “Custom Burgers”. Not too bad, but of course, overpriced. Just hung out at the gate waiting to board. Decided to see if there might be a better seat available. The universe was looking out for me again, and there was a window seat in the exit door row near the front of the plane. Those are the ones that have no seats in front of you, so tons of leg room. It cost me some money to switch but decided it would be well worth it.
Last leg of the trip to the Azores (Sao Miguel Island)
Well, best laid plans. It was just me on the window seat and an older teenage kid in the aisle seat with no one between us. When the flight was almost loaded, there was some mix up with double seats assigned. It happened to be two different sets of newlyweds. The stewardess was hunting around for places to put the two. She came up with a solution with some seats further back in the plane. Then the kid had to go and volunteer to give up his seat and move so they could sit next to each other. The wife was on the small side, so it wasn’t crowded. I took 3 Benadryl before I boarded and tried to go to sleep. I did fall asleep, waking momentarily when they were going around with the drink cart, and my brain was confused, and I kept thinking we were sitting on the runway waiting to take off. I woke up with 2hrs left of the flight. Just kept trying to fall back asleep.
Sao Miguel Island
Thursday Itinerary Sept. 8th
After the plane Landed. I waited for my luggage. I didn’t see my bag for quite a while, and started to get concerned that someone grabbed it, but of course, it finally came out. I tried to get some Euros from a machine at the airport, but my card got denied, so I don’t know what’s going on there. Got a taxi to take me to the Hostel. I dropped off my bag in their staff room as they agreed, and had the taxi take me to the scooter rental place. The weather was not the best and it was raining a little. After I picked up the scooter, I headed out to visit my list of places. First stop is Gruta do Carvao Cave complex arriving at 10:00am. Pretty close to the hostel. It started raining again so I stopped under a bridge and put my parka on. Arrived at the complex. Needed a reservation and of course, Euros. My card got denied again, WTF. I called Wells Fargo before I left to make sure it was active overseas. I will have to call them later. The girl said she could fit me in at 10:30am, but I needed to get Euros. So, she fit me in on Saturday at 2:30pm. She was very nice. I have the ATV Ride starting at 10:00am, and I am not sure if I will be back in time to make it. So I headed to town of Furnas which is about 40 minutes away. I wanted to get that visit out of the way because it is one of the furthest locations from the hostel. There are several things in that area to see. After arriving in Furnas, I went to the next stop on the list, Caldeiras Vulcanicas. I arrived there and parked up the street. Pretty cool little area with sulfurous water and boiling mud pools. Walked around and took pictures. Boy you could smell the sulfur. There might have been more to the area but my leg was bothering me a little, so I decided to move on. Next, I headed to Terra Nostra Garden and Pool. I arrived and paid the admittance with AMEX luckily. There was this huge pool of thick tan colored water that was supposed to be great to bathe in. There were quite a few people in it. The info said to bring an old bathing suit as it would get stained. I didn’t go in the water. Walked around part of the garden, but it was a huge area to walk around in, and my leg was still bothering me. I was also still a little frustrated about the cave thing. I tried to find directions to the next two things on the list, Caldeiras da Agoa das Furnas and Our ladies of Victories Chapel. Maps kept screwing up and got me more frustrated, plus the fact the weather was colder, windy and ugly. The wet roads were making me nervous being on a scooter. I put in directions for the Salto do Rosal Waterfall, and again map was not being precise. Decided enough was enough and headed back to the hostel. Got into town and maps was giving weird directions and I drove around for what seemed like an hour or more with maps taking me the wrong direction and constantly re-routing. Finally, I just happened to stumble across where the hostel was. The problem is that it used to be a street and now it is a walkway, so you are not supposed to drive on it. Hence Googles confusion. I did anyway and parked in front. Contacted people to come show me my room. Waited about ten minutes. Nice gal showed up. She put me on the second floor. A room with two twin beds. She even carried my suitcase up the stairs for me. Room had only a small fan. No A/C. There were common areas for kitchen, living room, bathroom, and showers. Good enough for what I needed. The only downfall was parking. Had to park in a public parking lot a 5-minute walk away. Uugghh. More walking for my leg, and of course it took me a little more than 5 minutes. Good thing I brought the cane. I was super tired from the whole plane ride and lack of sleep. I laid down on the bed and started falling asleep, and I was going back and forth in my mind about finding a place to eat. I decided to try and find an ATM and get some Euros again. First one right near the hostel was broken. I walked down the street a little more and asked a lady in a store if she knew of another one. She said just a couple more blocks. I walked past it because it was on the other side of the street. They are not marked very well. Just stuck into sides of buildings. I tried my card again and again, it got declined. I called Wells Fargo, and someone didn’t authorize it for International Travel like they were supposed to. The guy fixed it, so I tried again, and yes, EURO’s. I walked back to the pathway in front of the hostel and walked further down it and checked out a restaurant close by. It looked okay, and of course, everything was listed in Portuguese. I asked the guy at the counter if they had hamburgers and fries. He said yes. Then he asked me if I wanted a bun with my hamburger. I guess people order without buns? It was a pretty good burger and good helping of fries. Two older couples showed up, and the woman was taking a picture of the other three at the table. I offered to take a picture of all four of them. One of the guys recognized me from the flight from Newark. They asked me how I got hurt and I told them how my hip was fractured in three places from being thrown from my horse. They were surprised I was getting around, since it was only 6 weeks ago. After I finished eating, I went and grabbed my camera to take pictures of nearby objects to check off my list. There was a cool church right across from the restaurant. The Portas da Cidade, (city gates), was right there also. Took some pictures of the streets and the buildings and then I walked across the street to take pictures of the harbor where the boats were. I headed back to the hostel. I sat in the living room and typed in my journal and watched part of a 007 movie, actually in English, with Portuguese subtitles. I finished and took a much-needed shower. I laid down on the bed, watching the rest of the movie, yes, there was a TV in the room, about the size of a computer monitor lol. I was starting to feel tired and it was almost 9pm, so I decided to go to sleep.
Friday Itinerary Sept. 9th
I woke up a little after midnight and felt like I had been sleeping a long time, but it was just over 3 hours. I laid there and tried to go back to sleep. It wasn’t happening. Probably from the jet lag and international date line. I got out of bed around 2:30am and decided to try and figure out a taxi to the airport for the next day and other stuff. I called the taxi place and of course, the lady didn’t speak English much at all. She said to call back later in the day. I need to make sure I get a taxi tomorrow morning to the airport around 6:00am. The plane leaves for Terceira Island at 8:25am. I decided to type more in my journal. Before I left home, I thought I would try and type in the computer each day, instead of hand written notes, to save time later. I was also trying to figure out if I could do anything for my 7 hour layover in Newark on the way back. The AirTrain seems like the most viable option. Go see the 9/11 monument and head back. 40-60 minutes each way, so it still leaves me 3 hours to be in that area. First stop, ATV Adventure. I have to be there at 9:00am. The meeting place is about 20 minutes away. It 5:24am, so I think I will go take my shower and get ready. I figured I would try to find breakfast nearby. That same restaurant made omelets, but I don’t know if it will be open before I need to leave. I checked google and found a café close by, that opened at 8am. Walked down there at 7:45am and waited for them to be ready. I didn’t have much time for breakfast so I wanted to try and be first. They opened and I told them I wanted the American Breakfast. Only one I saw with eggs. It came with scrambled eggs, bacon, toast with no butter, 2 hot dogs and a little bowl of beans. Strange combo. Walked to the scooter and headed out to the ATV place. There were 5 people in the group. 2 girls from New York and a couple from North Carolina. We headed out down the streets for a little while and then headed up into the mountain on a dirt road. The whole mountain was fogged in and it was very windy and a little rain in places. It was still fun, but it would have been great if it was sunny for the views. Stopped to look at an aqueduct that was built in the 17th century. We went all the way up over the peak of the mountain and down around the 2 lakes at the bottom. One of them is called Blue Lake and the other Green Lake. The water is not blue, btw. The names came from a story that there was a princess that fell in love with a servant. The king, of course, didn’t approve. The princess had blue eyes and the servant green eyes, so it is said that the lakes were formed from all their tears. We drove along the street by the ocean and stopped for pictures. I saw one of the things on my list, Elephants Trunk, which is a rock formation formed by the waves. Our guide said he was going to take us a different way back. I’m sure he felt bad because of the weather. Nice guy though. We got back around 12:30pm. I didn’t have much time until I needed to be at the Gruta do Carvao Cave complex, so I headed over to where it was at. They were closing for lunch until 2:00pm, so I decided to try and find a place nearby. Rode around a little bit and found a place called “Toku”. It was a combo small grocery story, deli and “fast food” place. I ordered a hamburger and fries. Nice size and pretty good. Headed back over to the cave when I was done. There were a few of us were waiting outside the cave office, waiting for it to open back up, and it started raining on us. This old guy started banging on the door and yelling frantically. What part of “closed for lunch” did he not understand haha. Luckily they came and opened the door in a couple minutes. Quite a few people showed up. They broke us all up into two groups, Portuguese and English guides. The tour was pretty good. Very interesting lava tube and how it was formed. I was disgusted with the rain and wind, so I rode back slowly towards the hostel. I decided to just turn in the bike a little early. The guy gave me a ride to the hostel. I got my suitcase ready for the next morning and took a shower. There was a music festival starting at 9:00pm right close by the city gates, so I walked over there. It was an older group of guys playing “classical” music on old style string instruments. I watched for a while and then went back to the hostel, watched some tv, and went to sleep.
Saturday Itinerary Sept. 10th
Slept soundly and woke up just before 5:00am to get ready. I had scheduled a taxi when we stopped for one of the breaks on the ATV ride. I heard some music and realized that the festival went on all night until 5:00am. It evidently had multiple groups and turned into an outside “Rave” by the sound of the music. That would have been cool to watch if I didn’t need the sleep. Taxi showed up right at 6:00am as I requested. I checked my baggage and got a couple donuts and orange juice right by my gate. Fresh squeezed orange juice, which was different. I waited by the check-in desk until time to board. It was a small plane. Two seats on each side. Maybe 100 seats… I’m just guessing. We took off and half hour later, landed in Terceira. I got my suitcase and then walked around a little bit trying to see where the scooter rental place was. They said walk outside and look to the left for their building. They didn’t say it was across the highway. I got a taxi and told the driver I needed to go to the hostel, drop my bag and head back to the rental place. He said OKAY. Got to the hostel and they had my room ready for me early which was nice. Check-in was normally at 2pm. I dropped my bag and went to get the scooter. The scooter they gave me had a broken right mirror, literally hanging off as I started to go. I asked them if they had another one and they said no but they would check their other shop 20 minutes away. They had one there, so I rode over to the hostel, grabbed my backpack and headed out. Some freeway driving most of the way there and it started to rain on the way. Luckily, I had my rain parka with me, so I stopped and put it on. I arrived at the other place. It had stopped raining. The girl got me another scooter. This one was much nicer. As I was preparing to leave, it started pouring again. I walked back to the shop and stood inside to wait for it to stop. I decided enough was enough. I asked the girl if she had any cars available and she did not. She called over to the original shop and they had one. I told her I would pick it up in a couple hours. First stop was at the Port. Nice little area. Took some pictures and then went to go grab a bite to eat. I had seen a billboard that they had a McDonalds, so I found it and had lunch. I was thinking about going to the two caves, but maps said it was over an hour away, and it was already after 1pm. It opened at 2pm. I wasn’t sure if you had to have a reservation, and with the rain, I decided to do it tomorrow. After eating, I went to Jardim Duque de Terceira which is a big garden area. It was still raining off and on, and my leg was bothering me, so I didn’t walk through the whole thing. I had some time to kill, before getting the car, so I headed to another place on the way back, called Furnas do Enoxfre, which was listed as a cave. Arrived and they had a neat little walkway that went all around this cave. You could not go in the cave, which was a flat opening on the ground, as it was actively giving off Sulphur from the volcano. The rain was tamping down the smoke, so there was not much to see. It started to rain again, so I finished the walk and headed back, fighting the rain off and on. The weather has been crappy here the whole time. No sun at all. I always feel bad for the tourists that come to Hawaii and it turns out to be bad weather. Now I am on the other end of that. I got back to town, gassed up the scooter and picked up the car, a cute little 5 speed, around 3:30pm, and decided to actually go see some of the things on my list. It turns out my scooter rental idea for the islands turned out to be a dud. I headed out up a road into the hills to some viewpoints up high. One was called Miradouros da Serra do Cume. Beautiful panoramic view. After I finished the drive, it was getting late so I decided to call it a day and head out early tomorrow. I booked a car for Pico Island and contacted the people back on Sao Miguel Island to see if they could change my last day there to a car instead of a scooter. They did thankfully.
Sunday Sept. 11th
I woke up early determined to get in a full day of sightseeing now that I had a car. First stop is over to Biscoitos Pools, which is a complex right at the ocean with hot water due to the volcanic activity. On the way, I saw a sign for what I thought was the place. Drove down this thin road towards the ocean and it turned out to be a cool lookout point at the end. Took some pictures and headed back out. I arrived at the complex a few minutes later. Of course, the weather was still miserable and windy. It was a cool place. There were segregated areas out of the existing volcanic rock made into pools with steps. Near the ocean, you can see a lot of foam from the interaction between the sulfur in the water and the sea water I assume. Probably a nice place when it is sunny out. Headed out from there to the next stop, Sao Joao Baptista, which is a 16th century fort. I arrived and took some pictures of it. Pretty massive fort. I admit I was a little confused as to if there was an entrance somewhere, and I had read that there would be a guy to give you a tour. I didn’t see anyone, so I left and headed to McDonalds for an early lunch. After eating, I drove around town for some picture places that I looked up on google while eating. I stopped at the first place, Palacio dos Capitas (capitol building) and realized I had already taken pictures of it before, because I had thought it looked like a cool building. After that, I headed over to Sao Joao Baptista, which is an old fort. I took a few pictures. I thought there was a place you could get a tour, but I didn’t see it anywhere, so I left. Then I went to a museum called Museu de Angra do Herosimo. A pretty good museum with a lot of old displays, including old weapons from wars, old cars, old carriages, etc.. Interesting. Drove around a little bit and decided to head to the first cave, Algar do Cavao, a little early. It was less than 20 minutes away. It said 2:30pm on the web site, but I arrived at 2:00pm and they were already letting people in. I bought a combo ticket for the other lava tube 10 minutes away. They gave me a helmet and map and explained the layout. It is a self-guided tour, so you can take your time. I went down some stairs to inside the cavern, which is actually a huge lava cave. Multiple levels to visit. It was very spacious and quite interesting. Left there to the other place, Gruta do Natal. Same setup. It was more of a lava tube, but larger in size. Pretty cool. Near the end, there was one part you had to get really low, and I was wondering if I would be okay doing it with my hip, but they were smart enough to put a handrail about a foot off the ground. I had enough for the day and the crappy weather, so I went back to the hostel and got a hold of the taxi guy that gave me a ride from the airport. He agreed to meet me to bring the car back and drop me back at the hostel. I also confirmed he would pick me up at 6:30am tomorrow for the airport. All was good. Back at the hostel, I got my suitcase ready, took a shower and laid down on the bed and watched a movie on TV. I fell asleep quite quickly and woke up about 9pm. Brushed teeth and called it a night. Obviously, I was tired.
Monday Itinerary Sept. 12th
I woke up at 3am to a text from Melissa. She forgot about the time difference. I laid there for a while and decided I wasn’t going to fall back asleep, so I got up and took my shower. I wanted to get caught up on my journal anyway so I wouldn’t get too far behind. I headed downstairs to catch my ride at 6:30am. I arrived at the airport and there wasn’t anyone in line. Oops. I thought it was going to be like Sao Miguel, but then I realized Sao Miguel is basically a main hub, so there were a lot more people in it. There are only 5 gates in this airport. I got some breakfast, an omelet, or “omelete” as they call it, but it was more like a big cold McMuffin without the ham. I sat and ate and then went down to my gate, which I swore she said gate 5. Typed on my laptop for a while, and then started feeling I was not at the right gate. Went and looked at the board and there was no gate listing for my flight yet. I asked one of the agents, and she told me gate 1, so went there and here I sit finishing my journal for this morning 😊. Boarded no problem and landed on-time. I grabbed my suitcase and found the car rental place. The girl went outside with me and showed me a couple cars. She pointed out a red 5 speed, which she said was new, so I took that one. It was partly sunny outside. OMG. There is a sun! I headed out to my first stop, the Forte de Santa Catarina. It was a 16th century fort right at the sea. It had been redone a little bit. I would have liked to see it when it was originally built. I left there and went to a whaling museum, which was converted from an old whaling factory, called Centro de Artese e deciencias do Mar. It had all the original boilers and wenches that were used in the old days for the whales that were killed. They showed a 10-minute video with old footage of the hunt. As a scuba diver, it bothered me to see them killing those beautiful whales. She told me no part of the whale was wasted, so I guess that is good. They used parts of the whale for medicines, perfumes, food for the animals, etc. Next stop down the road just a little bit was the first windmill, Moinho da Ponta Rosa. Evidently there are several on Pico. Great view of the vineyards from on top of the stairs. Next, down the road, was another windmill, Moinho do Frade. Great view of the ocean from on top of the stairs. I headed back towards Madalena to go to a Burger King for lunch. After eating, from there, I went over to a wine museum, called Museu do Vinho. It had the original buildings with the old equipment they used to process the grapes and make the wine.
After I finished there, I headed back to the hostel to end the day.
Tuesday itinerary Sept. 13th
I took a drive this morning to find the Cochorro, which means dog. It is a rock formation shaped like, you guessed it, a dog’s head. Walked all over through this area, which had nice walkways, and great views of the ocean and rock formations. I never did see the formation but I have included pictures of it to show what I couldn’t find. My next stop was Gruta das Torres which is lava tunnel with a big opening up at the top. Pretty deep cavern and interesting inside. After I finished the tour, it was mid-afternoon, so I decided to head back to the hotel. I was kind of tired from all the terrible sleep I have been having. I wanted to mail something back to the states and found out where the post office was nearby. I decided to take a walk and found a store with some postcards. The nice lady at the counter, asked if I needed stamps also. I paid for the stuff and then asked if I could borrow a pen to fill them out. I opened the package of stamps and realized there were a lot of stamps in there, all $1.75 each. I asked her if I needed all of these, and she blushed and said oh goodness (paraphrasing) and just handed me what she charged me for. She thanked me for bringing it to her attention. She turned out to be the store owner, and we made small talk for quite some time. She was very good looking, but I saw a ring on her finger, so I assumed she was married. I headed back to the hotel and got my suitcase organized for tomorrow’s flight back to Sao Miguel. I laid on the bed watching the TV and fell asleep in and out the rest of the night.
Sao Miguel Island
Wednesday Sept. 14th
I woke up early again, around 4:30am. I got up and packed my suitcase and backpack. I went down at 7:00am to get breakfast. I headed to the airport at 8:15am to return the car and get checked in. There was a line of about 8 people waiting at the car rental place booth inside the airport. The booth was not open yet, so I waited for a while. It was dragging on and on, so finally I decided to see if the back door to the booth was unlocked. The lady had come out that door to help me pick a car. It was unlocked, so I put the key on her desk by her monitor. I hope she figures it out. The people were still waiting as I was in line to check my bag. The flight seemed to be a little delayed, but we boarded finally. It was a short flight. Only 25 minutes. After landing, I got my checked back and was trying to figure out how to get to the car rental place. I was a little confused as to where I was at the terminal. In hindsight, I was thinking of the Terceira car rental place. Duh! I was outside going to get a taxi and then the phone kept ringing with the same long-distance number popping up. I finally answered it, and it turned out to be the lady from the rental place. She was waiting at the hostel to give me a ride. I told her I just landed, so she said her person would come get me. A nice gal picked me up and took me to the rental place to sign for car. After getting all that taken care of, I headed out to my first stop, Parque Natural da Ribiera dos Caldeiros. It is a park that supposedly has 3 waterfalls. I arrived there after a little drive and found it was not what I assumed. It was a paved pathway in and around in a circle. It had two waterwalls. One about 50 feet high and the other about 100 feet high. They had some water mills you could walk in and a place to eat and a souvenir shop. It was a tourist stop and not a waterfall hike, but was still nice. From there, I headed to Farol Ponta do Arnel, which is the oldest lighthouse in the Azores. It was a steep paved street all the way down to the lighthouse. You had to park at the top and walk all the way down. The lighthouse was closed, and I found a sign that showed viewing times. Next one was in 15 minutes, so I hung out and took pictures. A very nice navy guy was the guide. He is the keeper of the lighthouse and has been caring for it since 2013. Told us all about how the lighthouse started and gave a tour to the top. It was interesting. I thought about going over to the abandoned hotel, the Hotel Monte Palace. It was around 5pm and it was over an hour away. I looked it up on the internet and it was just an old building that people were not allowed to go in, but of course, a lot of people did. Although it would have cool in a creepy way to walk around the old hotel, I decided it wasn’t worth the drive. I had one more thing I didn’t do the first time I was here, and that was one of the hikes to the Salto do Cabrito Waterfall. It was 28 minutes away, so I thought I would try it. I arrived and it was a little damp due to the off and on rain. I had my sandals on and didn’t feel like switching to my Van’s and getting them all muddy. I forgot to pack my hiking shoes. So, I figured I would see how it went. It started out being a gradual incline which wasn’t bad, although muddy in places. After a while it turned into steep uphill, and then steep uphill switchbacks. At one point after slipping a little, I decided to go barefoot. I didn’t want to fall. It was a little slippery, but I figured I was about halfway according to AllTrails, so go big or go home. It was getting even steeper in places and of course, more slippery, and I came upon a sign that said Waterfall 600 meters. That meant another 656 yards or so of trying not to fall down. My gut told me it was not worth it, so I headed back down. I had to go slow due to the slip factor and not wanting to fall on my newly healed hip. After what seemed like forever, I finally made it back to the car. I headed back to turn in the car. Maps was going crazy of course and kept having me go different ways. Finally maps got it figured out and it said a little over an hour away. I was about 18 kilometers from the rental place and the lady called saying they were closing in 20 minutes at 8pm. I told her I was close and apologized for running late. She said she would wait for me. When I got into town, maps led me to the wrong place. I kept stopping Maps and restarting, but it kept bringing me to the wrong area. I called the lady and told her the problem. I could hardly understand her with the accent and phone connection. After a few phone calls back and forth, it finally came to light from the lady that I had put in the wrong rental company name. I put in the name of the one from Terceira. OMG, so, after the right directions, I finally made it to the place, gassed up at the station next door, and returned the car. She was very nice about having to wait an extra half hour. She did charge me 20 Euros for after-hour return which was fine. It was my screw up! She drove me to the hostel, and I got to my room. The guy that met me there was very nice and he offered to schedule a taxi for tomorrow morning. I was low on Euros, so I walked over to the nearby ATM and got a little bit. I took my shower and went to sleep.
Thursday, Flight Day Sept. 15th
I slept soundly thankfully and woke up a little after 7am. Good thing, as I fell asleep before setting an alarm. The taxi was coming at 8:50am. I packed up and went downstairs to wait. He was right on time. I arrived at the airport, checked in and waited for my flight.
First Leg of trip to Newark
Last night, I decided to upgrade my seat to one that had no seat in front of it, so more leg room. It was still a window seat on the right side of the plane this time. Have a nice couple sitting next to me. They were from Chicago. They gave us a meal and drink. I had the chicken, rice, and salad. After eating, I typed in the journal, but now the battery is going dead and I will have to continue this later. I’m either going to try and sleep or watch a movie.
I ended up watching the first Jurassic World, and part of Bad Boys. The plane landed with a perfect smooth touchdown. Even the pilot joked about it when he gave his welcome to Newark speech. He goes, “Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Newark with that perfect landing”. So, coming back from an international flight into the states, I had to go through customs to show my passport. They asked me if I have anything to declare, like cigarettes, alcohol, etc. and how much money I was carrying. Then I had to collect my suitcase and go to another part of the airport and check it back in again. Then I went over to the AirTrain to take it over to Concourse C. I found where my gate was and then I went to the food court I went to last time and got a pizza and soda. The pizza was actually pretty good. I found a charging table and finished watching the movie “The Host”. I had started watching it at the hostel. I just got notified the next plane was delayed. Looks like only a 20-minute delay. I need to go get a water in a little while, as I am going to take 3 Advil PM so I hopefully fall asleep on the way to LA.
Second Leg of Trip to LA
Well, it ended up being over an hour delay. We finally boarded and I had a nice lady sitting on the aisle seat. We ended up having an empty seat between us, so I was able to sleep quite a bit on the flight. The plane arrived at the airport a little after midnight. Of course, nothing open so I tried sleeping in the chairs at the gate. You can guess how that went.
Final leg to Honolulu. Home Sweet Home!
The plane was on time, so we boarded with a full aircraft. Had a window seat again with no window, lol. A very cramped flight with not so friendly people next to me. I had screaming kids behind and in front to the right. This is the only flight that has had it, so not too bad overall. 5 out of 6 isn’t bad. I tried sleeping off and on. Got a tomato juice and was reaching for something in my backpack and the cup fell between my legs. Luckily, I had a blanket on and it caught it instead of soaking my shorts. A little over halfway back. The trip was okay, but I can’t wait to get back home and get some rest. My sleep has sucked because of the international date line and time change.
Final thoughts about the trip
The U.S. dollar is worth about the same there. I believe it was 1.17 Euros. Things were a little cheaper but not by much. The average worker makes between 6 – 8 dollars an hour which is at least much better than Bali at 8 dollars a day. Gas seemed expensive there, but I forgot to figure out the price. The internet was touting The Azores as the next Hawaii. Although interesting, it is a far second place to home. The weather did put a damper on enjoying the islands. I think out of the 8 days on the ground, only 2 of them, one on Terceira and one on Pico, had partly cloudy skies for part of the day.
I didn’t have too much interaction with the locals this time. The people I did talk to seemed polite. The people drive there as crazy as the people in Indonesia. Not many scooters, but a bunch of smaller cars and they all drove like they were in a cross-country race on the thin streets. Super impatient drivers. The towns were all laid out similar and they had some strange color combinations on some of the houses. A lot of cows there. One guy joked there were more cows than people on the island. Drove down many roads where I was the only car for quite a while. Drove through a lot of villages and saw no one outside. Kind of strange. Most, if not all, properties were separated by “fences” made of volcanic rock piled up. I guess why waste money on wood when you have an abundance of rock. As far as American restaurants go, I only saw a McDonalds and Burger King on Sao Miguel, and a Burger King on Pico. There were numerous volcanoes on the island, some dormant and some still able to be active. The roads were paved in between towns and most towns, the roads were cobblestone. Would I visit there again? Probably not. There are a few more islands to see but it just didn’t feed my adventurous side.