When I first said yes to joining my friend on her Italian adventure my mind went into overdrive. Not an uncommon experience, especially when it comes to traveling. I’m a first believer that if you’re going to cross an ocean, you should go to more than one place, preferably more than one country. Have I always held myself to that? Of course not! Sometimes it’s great to settle in one place and just really feel like you live there for a hot second. More on that later.
I’m obsessed with finding the best deal on travel. That’s how I ended up in the Azores and Portugal on my way to Italy. TAP Portugal: 10/10 would recommend for their added extra long layover options built into their booking platform. OMG Am I glad I stopped in Ponta Delgada and Lisbon! Seriously, I need to go back to the Azores, and I need to spend SERIOUS time in Portugal, like, all tf over Portugal.
In Ponta Delgada I literally got off the plane at like, 5 am, slept on a staircase landing in the airport until a decent hour when things would be actually open, stored my bag (that’s right, I traveled for 3 weeks with a carry-on. Bitches.) and hopped the downtown bus to the Jardim botanical garden. When it doubt, I start with a botanical garden. Because nature.
Nothing like interspersing time-travel with deep breaths of green-filled air to really keep you going you know? Not only did I finally understand what Monstera plants were supposed to look like when they really get to growing, I got to see a paperbark tree, (the park peels off like paper and is so soft I was obsessed!) AND two Moreton Bay Fig trees which, like, are the Tree of Life trees in my mind. Trees are spiritual beings, but these trees are like the goddess trees I swear. This one in particular really invited reverence; tucked up against this heavily moss covered wall, its branches dwarfing even the next biggest tree nearby. She was just incredible.
She invites me to sit in contemplation even now. I know one day I’ll be back to see her again. Until then, I’m a pretty big fan of these photos I took. I’ma get them each printed individually in a generous size, but also print them in these combos, cause I just can’t get enough!
From there I made my way down to the water. Always find water. I meandered through narrow streets and tiled houses. I found the main square with all the beautiful black basalt and white buildings, including the main gate of the city, all built in the late 1700s. Although the city had been used as a main port and pit stop for traders for centuries before that. (This blog has some detailed history for those interested.) I wonder what pre-European colonizer life was like in these archipelagos? Then again, I’m always thinking about what places looked like before Colonization.
This island is also famous for pineapples with several huge plantations, and while I only had this quick layover, that definitely is on my list for when I get to come back and spend more time here. Which I absolutely will do at some point in my life. While I didn’t have time for pineapples I did have time to climb the bell tower of the town hall, (always find something to climb), and was rewarded with the most gorgeous view of the red-tiled rooftops framed by rolling green hills on one side, and the expansive Atlantic on the other, all the boats lined up at their moorings along the quay. It was a breathtaking welcome to the other side of that ocean.
After I satisfied my craving for fresh seafood (all trip long baby), and relaxed in the sun along the seaside walk, I hopped the airport bus and got ready for my next quick flight. On to Lisbon!