We had a fairly messy schedule – to reach the Azores islands and come back, we had to use three different airlines, seven different flights, three different countries (I am counting the autonomous zone of the Azores as the same as Portugal) and five different airports. Not a single flight was delayed or had any other issues. Every single flight was early in landing at its destination. That is some real good airline karma.
Also, we had some great luck in getting local spirits this time – we got a gin and an anis liqueur made in the Azores Islands, another anis liqueur from Porto area in Portugal and of course, some Port wine. Even the TSA folks had become suspicious. Every one of our suitcases had the note from TSA that they had to open the suitcase for inspection. But each of the bottles and the ceramic pieces made it without any damage!!
Finally, the weather Gods were super cooperative this time. The whole week was supposed to be raining in the Azores and Portugal. For some reason, for every day of the week, the weather forecast would change the previous night to no rain and full sunshine. That followed us the whole trip!!!
We can do with some luck like that. Of course, if not, we had some spirits with us to keep our errrr… spirits up!
Mauricio and I worked long time back. I think I have met him twice – once in Buenos Aires and once probably in London during our office meetings. He was working in El Salvador (where he is from) and I was in our Atlanta office. He is one of those persons who I have kept up with after meeting once or twice thru birthdays and Facebook.
Last month, I had called him up to wish him for his birthday and realized that he now lives in Lisbon. (moved from El Salvador to Portugal via Peru). Turns out he was going to be in the Azores too. However, we missed each other there by a few days. On the other hand, we did meet up in Lisbon!
We went thru at least twenty of our old friends and updated each other on their thereabouts. Also, learnt a lot about El Salvador and a particular beach on the Pacific Ocean that might be a a great target for us to visit some day!
Thank you for taking the efforts, Maurcio! It was great seeing you!
2004: at this bar in Lisbon on a Saturday evening, I was all by myself. The bartender had introduced me to a liqueur – Licor Beirao. Fell in love with it. Bought a couple of bottles from the airport and took them home.
Sharmila and I love this aniseed based drink (less sweeter and less kick than a Sambuca)
2009: Sharmila’s 40th birthday! We came to this bar again in Lisbon and started the evening with a Licor Beirao!
2019: Today, 10 years and a few wrinkles later, Sharmila and I came back yet again to the same bar. To kick off her 50th birthday, I started with the same drink. She started with a vodka. (We had way too much of Licor Beirao in the Azores).
From the air thru a hole in the cloud cover
We had a fantastic experience in the Azores. We had no idea what to expect and had not met anybody who had come here. Based on a Conde Nast article, we had chosen this place for Sharmila’s birthday.
The island is beautiful – with lovely water, mountains, volcanoes, lakes, thermal spas – all condensed within a small island. People are extra nice and very English friendly, food is very flavorful, everything is inexpensive and the island is a very safe and secure place. You can easily rent a car and go around but we prefer to take a local driver always since they tend to know a lot of details and unknown places. Henrique was fantastic that way.
You will not get a lot of beaches – especially with white sand and shallow waters. This is a volcano that was thrust itself thru the ocean. So the water is very deep, the waves are huge and the beaches that are there have black sand.
We give two thumbs up to Sao Miguel Island in the Azores!! You might want to visit here before it gets too popular and overrun by tourists.