Imagine islands at the end of the world with endless fields ocean forests volcanoes small towns and amazing views that’s what Azores are …I’m still learning) Welcome to the Big Episode from Azores Islands! Let’s go! Ladies and gentlemen, meet Azores! An extremely green and isolated place, with unique climate and ecstatic scenery. Azores are god knows where… so let’s kill the romance and touching views and discuss the prosaic stuff first. I mean, how do you get to this place? …and how much were the tickets? As for tickets, to get to Azores during off season is an adventure of its own, because it’s only large cities where you can get a direct flight from. I found a good ticket via Lisbon for $675, whilst the whole trip took 11 hours. …and here are some important IFs If you have a week to spare, first check the city of your connecting flight. Aviasales comes in very handy here. We can either go via Lisbon or check out Milan instead. …or maybe even Paris? Aviasales will show you the fastest routes and those that will spare some time so you could check out the connecting cities. So if you do like to visit new places, you can stop over at Porto for example, it’s a beautiful city that won’t burn a hole in your wallet, and then fly out to Azores the next day. Such tickets may be cheaper, plus it’s the new emotions that are priceless! Safe to say that I enjoyed getting to Azores, but let’s answer the main quetion… Where the hell is it? Locations like these are usually called end of the world, and Azores are right at the edge of it all, since they are 1500km away from Europe, and 2500km away from Canada! That’s all, plus the ocean. Azores are even hard to find on a map, but they are right in the middle of the Atlantic. It’s a very small archipelago, that is roughly like Luxembourg, surface wise. It’s 9 islands that are very far from the rest of the world. Still, Azores aren’t the most remote islands, overtaken by Tristan da Cunha, which is 2800km away from South Africa and 3300km from South America. Only difference, is that it’s population is 250 people, whilst Azores are home for 250,000. Azores boast a good infrastructure and a never ending tourism growth. But before we delve into the islands, it’s time for a history lesson! Archipelago was uninhabited, until Europeans set foot on it in year 14.. something thanks to Portuguese colonisers. Vasco Da Gama, the guy who opened the route to India and Christopher Columbus also paid a visit. The latter thought that he reached India, but we all know how that ended. Azores became an autonomous part of Portugal in 1976, but despite Portuguese language and EUR currency, they are quite different to Portugal. Culture, dialect and traditions are different because inhabitation took centuries. The main difference of course is the climate! It’s winter now, and weather would have been much better if it was summer, but again, during summer, there are many other places that are also warm, with no gale winds and are sunny. This is why Azores are very unique, located on the 38th latitude in deep North, it’s plus 15 celsius here. Just so you come to terms with it it’s the same latitude as Athens where winters are cold and Seoul, where temperatures may reach -15, followed by snow of course! Azores never had snow, nor frost, and although winters are chilly, the climate remains very soft. Moreover, when the sun comes out, it becomes just grand! Warm Gulf Stream current is the reason behind it, and however harsh the ocean may look, water temperature varies between 16c and 25c …depending on the season. Air temperature is also soft, whilst locals wear jackets only when if it rains. There is no central heating on Azores, and radiators are typically substituted by flowers, hence people in bars wear jackets, which is not a case of bad taste. The point of my trip is to figure out how good Azores are during winter… and whether you should postpone your visit till summer. Let’s get to it! Advantages of the off season become clear as soon as you rent a car, which is cheap, unless you are used to auto transmission, that will limit your options. In my case, its the available space that is limited. Our exploration starts on Sao Miguel island, which is the largest out of the bunch and it takes 1.5 hours to cross it, which is extremely far by local standards! Ponta Delgada is the island’s capital, and houses a fifth of archipelago’s population. The less people there are, the less problems there are too, especially for police. The town came across as very empty, with nothing much to do apart from discovering the variety of sidewalks. Portuguese seem to have a Ph. D. in this, and it’s more of an art here. Tiles form quite funky patterns and look pretty amazing. This is a local star alley for example. Tiles aren’t only on pavements but also walls, being part of a azulejo, traditional Portuguese tilework, they comprise street signs and mosaics on houses. It looks grand, but won’t be mind-blowing if you ever visited Portugal. As for the locals… I came across some city gathering that included army, kids, clergy and parishioners, but it seemed like they weren’t too happy to see me filming. Hence I decided to bail out of the city, because as it usually happens, that’s where the interesting starts. Some roads here resemble park lanes, but it’s just normal intercity roads, whilst the island is like one large park. Sao Miguel’s unofficial name is Green Island, which is understandable, given these sceneries. These green hills at times resemble Farer Islands, and sometimes Switzerland… See? It’s thanks to the climate and mountains that Azores boast such greenery as mountains block the clouds, generating a massive load of humidity. Azores are very humid, whilst fog is never an occasion, allowing ideal pastures to stretch to the horizon. It is thanks to the warm climate that cows never leave the fields… They sleep here and get milked on the spot. Azores are a heaven for cows to be put simply. Farer Islands look very similar too, but as you remember they lack forests, which favourably distinguishes Azores, playing in as a strong advantage, that is both interesting and beautiful! Forests What puts me in awe here, is the abundance of flora and all its greenery. Air is unreal here, which may partly be due to the humidity, plus all this greenery that is just everywhere. Azores were comprised of forests only, prior to inhabitation by people who in turn cut most of it out, but then transported new trees from the mainland. Luckly, the relict forest that used to be here, remains untouched. Moreover it is protected by EU! Azores are one of the most eco places on earth, with no harmful manufacturing in the radius of 1500km, whilst thanks to humidity, it is a complete plants galore. It can’t be put through film, but this place is blooming even during winter! Utter blossom paradise, this! I feel like I am in Costa Rica jungle… there is sooo much greenery! Islands’ isolation makes it a perfect place to collect various trees and plants at, to save them from any possible epidemics on mainland. Azores became Noah Ark for plants, There is bamboo for example, palms that I don’t know the name of, and this ficus that was brought from Australia, that doesn’t look that big until you come close to it. Flora variety is insane here. In order to describe this variety more precisely, I’d like to introduce a special term… Endemic! (regularly found among certain area) This term is mainly applicable to flora and fauna, highlighting the specific region it belongs to. Kangaroos for example are exclusive to Australia, or the galapagos turtle, …can only be found on Galapagos Islands. Azores on the other hand, house 411 endemic types, that can only be seen here and nowhere else. This includes not only plants but also insects and animals, whilst I was lucky enough to see the Azores noctule that hunts in daylight and is endemic to Azores. Birds are also part of the gang, like the Azores bullfinch (not this one!). Birds typically use Azores as a stop over before crossing the Atlantic and hence there is lots of them here. As for other advantages, Azores don’t have mosquitos and venomous animals, plus archipelago is not subjected to epidemics. By now you may think that this place is heaven and question if there are disadvantages to it… First, houses are covered in mold due to humidity, secondly, there is tax on cats, who apart from being super cute, and somehow manage to accumulate lots of likes in IG, are counted as invasive animals! – You rude! …and several kinds of birds became extinct because of them. Another disadvantage, especially during winter, is a quick changing weather and strong winds. …Sun makes this place heavenly, both climate and temperature wise. Whilst a light breeze can quickly turn into a gale and the biggest problem is that weather changes very fast. Atlantic climate is unpredictable and both Farers and Azores suffer from quick changing weather. Just because it’s clear blue skies in the evening, doesn’t mean that wind won’t change it overnight, turning it all to worse. Resultantly, no one relies on weather forecast and instead use an app called SpotAzores, that shows actual weather via webcams located all over the islands. I on the other hand got lucky with the weather, packed up my car and drove into the island, to show you the interesting side of Sao Miguel. Just decades ago, there was nothing you could do here apart from farming and whaling. I mean you could literally die from boredom… Than, a series of interesting events happened. First, archipelago got connected to broadband, thanks to the cable that links US and Europe. Secondly, Portugal started investing money in infrastructure development and roads. Then low-cost airlines joined the party, and people started flocking in! As a result, tourism is expanding at great pace, although winters make this place empty. Nevertheless, Portuguese government heavily invest in roads and highways and the infrastructure is spotless. Today, Azores are comfortable to travel through and it is clear that infrastructure is well maintained. The plans to turn Azores into one big resort have existed for decades, but not many were successful in it. Monte Palace hotel is a good example of this, opened in 1989 and closed shortly after in 1990, all due to low tourist flow. It was a luxury 5 star hotel with 88 rooms, two restaurants and a night club. Today, the hotel is fully deserted, but to get inside of it is now a touristic specialty. …despite the dangers. People try to get in mostly because of great views that open upon the rooms’ balconies. This used to be an amazing view… I mean it still is, it’s just that there are no visitors. I actually looked up that some Chinese investors decided to buy this place out, so who knows… Maybe this hotel will open its doors once again. Oh and by the way, hotel views open up to Sete Cidades lake, situated in the crater of a humongous stratovolcano. See how fast the cloud are moving? That’s how strong the wind is… I even struggled to make my drone fly. There are a bunch of other calders nearby, with beautiful volcanic lakes in them, only visible from the sky unfortunately. But if you want to behold of this view personally, you’ll have to go up to a peak, poetically called: A viewpoint on Hell! View Point Unfortunately i don’t have long hair, that would curl in the wind right now, courtesy of a wind so strong that I physically struggle to withstand it! In return though, you get a great view on the lakes and Sete Cidades town. Yep, you heard me right… Azoreans have built a city in the volcano crater that is 400m deep and 5km in diameter, home to 800 people. Try to kill the thought that it’s a volcano, and doesn’t it now look like Switzerland? As you may have noticed, locals try to make full use of location’s specifics, by for example developing fully operational geothermal powerplants on several islands of Azores. They aren’t developing as quickly as Icelandic ones, but are pretty substantial still. Secondly, the hot springs serve as a perfect tourist attraction. There are of course man made pools for it, but it’s best to go up the Fogo Volcano to witness a hot waterfall with high iron consistency. There are only three pools here, but this place is incredibly picturesque, and literally drowns in greenery, which makes it just perfect! Entrance costs 5EUR (Hi Iceland!) Hot springs are perfect in cold weather, and although it is +17c now, I still reckon it would be amazing to dive in right now. Volcanoes are the main architects here, sometimes creating unreal masterpieces, and I am keen to show you one. This place is just outside Vila Franco do Campo town, half a kilometre away from the beach. It is very unusual! It is an uninhabited volcanic island, formed as a product of underground eruption. As a result, it acquired a caldera 150m in diameter, and when you look at it from above it’s hard to believe that it is not man made, as the circle is near perfect. Best part about it is that in summer this place serves as a beach, secluded from oceanic waves. It’s depth is 20m. Volcanoes tie in many things on the island, including black sand beaches, and a shoreline full of black rocks. Hotels of course, also try to bite a piece of it. Volcanic House hotel is fully made out of the volcanic stones and I stayed there for a night. As gets dark fast here, most of my time was spent at the hotels. …and this is what I was generally up to: I charge all my batteries and as I have so many of them, it does take a while! I would then back up all my files and plan my route for the next morning. To be honest this is just for show, I don’t usually use paper maps. Main point is that even during trips, there is time for useful stuff. I’ve always been amazed by Regina Todorenko, who would always learn new languages in the breaks during her trips. I can’t comprehend how tough it must have been, but the fact remains. So why don’t you try the same on Cambly, where you can learn new languages from English natives on any device you have! You don’t have to wait for a dedicated lesson time, just go on Cambly and browse available tutors. Filters allow you to even specify accent, if you aren’t happy with British) Try practicing your English twice a week, and you will see how much easier it will be to converse with foreigners, discover new things, and generally feel more comfortable abroad! As for motivation, Cambly prepped a promo with a discount for you! The code will be in the description below! Back to volcanoes for now… They’ve done quite enough damage which will be evident on the next island, but volcanoes are also the reason behind such rich greenery. Volcanic soil is full of sulphate, and sulphate is a great fertilizer! Add lack of winter and you get near ideal farm environment. …and yes we’ll now talk about farming! I haven’t gone crazy, don’t worry, but owing to such climate you can practically grow any kind of fruits. Pineapples for example. Azores is the only place on earth where pineapples are cultivated in greenhouses, Pineapple by the way grow like grass, not on palm trees. They get exported at an early growth stage since they don’t have long shelf life. …and here is how they ended up here… A couple of centuries ago, Azores were supplying whole Europe with oranges. and as you can imagine there were lots of plantations here. But then climate change happened and all orange plantations were lost to it. It brought a great deal of trouble because it takes 10 years for an orange tree to fruit. Pineapples on the other hand only need 2 years! Azores’ supply most low acidity pineapples on the planet, and hence they are quite sweet. Azores are also home to a tea plantation, that is the only tea plantation in Europe! Tea was brought here by Portuguese sailors who were returning on their ships from India. What’s interesting is that Azoreans hired two tea specialists from Macao, which is also a Portuguese colony, to oversee the plantations. Hence, we can state that this Portuguese tea, is very close to authentic Chinese tea. This is the tea manufacturing facility, that apart from machinery has a tea room where a sommelier test the product. These facilities are packed during summer allowing tourists to see how tea is made, which can’t be said about winter, as it is off season even for tea. The shop though is never empty and you get treated to a free tea, which is very nice of them. Best thing is that excursion is free and you aren’t expected to buy tea afterwards either, but you still do it out of courtesy) A whole pack of tea is less than 3EUR. The real discovery for me on Sao Miguel became the parks… I never thought that I would love the parks on Azores as it is not the islands’ praised trait. You can’t even call them parks, they are more of some Zen places and I think it’s one of the strong advantages of the island. It would be weird to come here for parks only, but they are actually amazing! Let me show you the best one that I have managed to find… It’s called Terra Nostra It would be shameful to call this place a park, it was empty and seemed like one large forest with thousands of plants, attacking your eyes with green colour!) It’s hard to communicate the smells, its calmness and how beautiful it is. The park houses a well known thermal pool, built more than 200 years ago. …and of course you can swim in it. There are other hot springs too and people do come specifically for them, but as for myself, I just loved to stroll around, resting my soul. Guys I haven’t gone old overnight, no but I never enjoyed parks, as much as now! Do visit them if you are around. Second discovery of mine, were the viewpoints. Beautiful views are one of the main products of Sao Miguel, as thanks to geography, there are many cliffs, ocean and more… Basically wherever you look, will prove to be beautiful! Locals of course do utilise it in full, setting up lots of viewpoints that basically come one after another. They are well equipped, with gazebos, bbq equipment including firewood, basically it’s top notch! I’ve stopped at every one of them and never did I regret it! Just as I was warming up views per se, the island has ended… I’ve reached the island’s Eastern end, the town of Nardeste, home to the uttermost lighthouse on the island. After it, it’s the ocean and Europe, far after the horizon. It actually took me less than a tank to drive the island through and through. Sao Miguel is like a tester island of Azores, comprising the general palette of the archipelago. Most people don’t travel out of it, but as for me, it took me 3 days to see everything here in turbo mode, and I am keen to see the nearby islands now. …and to show them to you! Let’s go then people! There is ferry line between the islands but number of islands it serves is small during winter, hence plane becomes your best bet. Completely forgot to mention, that planes are like busses here. People get off, some get on, and we are back in the skies. Second Stop Bathrobe in plus 11 celcius isn’t the best idea, but hey, we are on the islands… This one is called Faial, whilst the one next to it is Pico. I plan to spend couple of days here and look around since these islands aren’t huge. We’ll begin with the capital of this island, called Horta. As you remember, we are between Europe and America, and this island boasts the best bay, on the Azores archipelago. It is well protected from big waves, and used to serve as an airfield for aviation. Planes, back in the middle of last century weren’t capable of crossing the Atlantic and required a re-fuelling point like Faial. Today, it’s one of the most visited marinas in the world, a place where all yachtsmen meet, before their Atlantic crossing. You can store your boat here, hide from storms, or just rest for couple of days, stock up on food, and dry your clothes. There aren’t many yachts here during winter, but I did see this one, a British yacht Challenger, returning from Caribbean. This guy from Belorussia turned out to be pat of the crew. – I am Alexey Matrosov – [Anton] Is it your real surname? – [Alex] Yes indeed! According to the Horta customs, Alexey is one of the first Belorussians to visit Horta. – We arrived yesterday, – and the captain went off to register us. – She came back and said that border control – never saw a passport like mine.) – They even had to google whether it’s a real country. – [Anton] Belorussia?) Throughout the existence of this marina, a couple of unique customs popped up. One of these traditions is that every yacht that stops over, must leave a drawing to commemorate its visit. As you can imagine, there are thousands of them…) There are more than 10000 drawings and they are just everywhere! On walls, ground and even benches. It would probably take you a couple of days to see all of them and every pier is also filled with them to the brink. I actually got tired filming it all) Every art piece includes the yacht’s name, crew names, country of origin and year. Some don’t bother too much with creativity, whilst others put their soul into it. It’s an amazing ritual that allows you to study the history of this place. Big thanks to municipality that supports this tradition in full. Some art is over 20 years old and when paint starts to degrade, it gets covered in wax. Top life hack though, is to use the tiles. This one is over 10 years old, but still looks like new! Hence if you plan to leave your mark here, better use the tiles, and just to relieve your worries, there is still lots of space around. We are not done with customs yet, as Horta is home to the most famous yacht cafe in the world, that is over 100 years old. It’s called Peter’s Cafe Sport. Many yachting celebrities were here, and as tradition, everyone that sails in must stop by this cafe. It’s not big, but it’s a place where you spend first 15min studying all the artefacts that were gathered throughout the 100 years of cafe’ existence. Cafe is managed by 3rd generation of the same family, and the kid on the picture is Hose, who manages the cafe for over 40 years. He is quite famous here. It was possible to exchange cash in the cafe, and it served as a post office, where sailors’ relatives would send post to. …and plus they feed you) Not sure what food was like before, but it’s pretty good now too. Second floor is dedicated to scrimshaw museum, the art of engraving on bones and it’s one of the largest private collections. Each painting is a precise engraving that is then filled with ink. Such process usually takes months, but in the end you get a real masterpiece. …especially porterts wise. Here’s Hose, Cousteau, and this portret is over 100 years old. All these drawings were made on sperm whale’ teeth, and since whaling is banned, this collection is most likely not to be updated. Still, you should definitely pay a visit to this place! I forgot to tell you yesterday that I rented this Fiat Panda for 60EUR, and best part about it, is the built in phone holder, which is just perfect for rent cars, so you don’t have to carry one with you. I guess you expect me to indulge in the sights of Faial, but to be frank it’s tiny and I didn’t even realise how quickly I reached the middle of it. Here is a winter perk for you, all parking spaces at touristic spots are absolutely empty! I came to the highest point of the island, which is 1000m above the sea level, and since Azores are volcanic islands, I guess you can imagine what was waiting on top. A massive advantage to this caldera is the hiking trail that takes you around the crater …if weather allows of course. I got very lucky in this regard… First clouds parted above Faial, and then despite the weather forecast the skies became clear above Pico, baring the peak, usually hidden in thick clouds. I swear guys, moments like these make me happy like a child! I came to terms that I won’t see the peak but here it is…) (don’t worry, I’ll fix my eye sight for next time) The plan was to tell you about Pico whilst on it, but given the weather, there is no point to delay it! Let me explain why am I so happy… The Pico mount isn’t that high, rising only 2351m above sea level. But what if I tell you, that it is one of the most highest mountains in the world! We only see what’s above the sea level, and it’s largest part is actually underwater, so if there was no ocean here, it would have been part of that list, reaching 8400+ metres. …which is only 400m lower than Everest! Darlings, just in case you also get lucky with the weather, I guarantee you an unforgettable experience! It’s a Portuguese Mount Fuji, I tell you. I mean Pico doesn’t look like Fuji, but is very similar by emotions count. We on the other hand, are on route to another iconic place, that is also connected to volcanoes. This time though, in a sad way. Faial is home to the strongest volcano eruption in the recent history of Azores. It’s traces can be witnessed near a small village of Capello, in the Western part of the island. The lighthouse that you see now, looks pretty average at first glance, but it plays a critical role in understanding of what happened. As you know, lighthouses are positioned to be noticeable, and this is why they are usually placed close to the shoreline, so to be seen from all angles. This lighthouse was also built with that in mind, and it used to be right on the edge of the island. …used to be until 1957! That’s when eruption of Capelinhos started, which altered the scenery of Faial. As a result, this is what the shoreline looks like today. Some eruptions die quickly, some volcanoes erupt smoke long after, but Capelinhos is differrent… It erupted not for days, nor weeks, but 13 months in a row! This, added more terrain to the island, 2.5sq km in size. It’s on your screens now, whilst the lighthouse is hidden far behind it. Aftermath of such eruption became critical for Faial! A third of island’s population fled, whilst government started to provide free housing, which didn’t stop people from leaving, scared of the unknowns that the future holds. Interestingly, US provided Azoreans visas, and in turn 1500 people moved there, now forming a large community of Azoreans in US, size of which greatly prevails the original number of Azorean’ immigrants. Nearby villages suffered the most, especially village Capello, that bursts with traces of the catastrophe. It was quite difficult to find witnesses of the tragedy, but I found some in this cafe. It is there where I also found a picture with the lighthouse we saw earlier. Meet Thomas, who told me that the eruption was preceded by earthquake that lasted for over a week! People were very scared, some hid in the nearby villages, whilst others left forever. This indeed is a beautiful place, as for the village… it never managed to recover, now serving as home to only 500 people, which is 5 times less than before the eruption. Faial isn’t big and it takes maximum 30min to get anywhere. Locals are used to such compactness, and see it as an advantage! Ferry to Pico This is my third rental during my trip and at such pace I’ll soon become a car blogger.) Now, let’s delve into Pico Island. It doesn’t come as picturesque at first glance, looking slightly apocalyptic instead. The shoreline is full of kwels and trees, looking just like in the Stalker game. …plus lots of black volcanic stones. Pretty sad at first glance… But Pico turned out to be incredibly interesting! Although it mainly consists of black stone, locals learnt to build houses out of it, that look quite stylish if you ask me. How about this? Book sharing between not more than 50 houses.) This island is basically a mount, a mount with no beaches of course, but even here locals managed to make natural pools that are secluded from waves and boast all the necessities. Some villages have standard pools instead making them municipal, which also is a great idea. Being a volcanic island, I was expecting nothing but black ashes here, instead, locals grow bananas, oranges, lemons, plus the island is quite green. Grape cultivation nevertheless, overshadows the rest by size. It’s not your typical vines either, protected by UNESCO. First colonisers of Azores, were met by stones and climate suitable for grape cultivation. They then got to work to make these basalt labyrinths… and this is the result! The point of these walls was to protect vines from strong wind, plus black stones accumulate heat from the sun, which in turn adds warmth to the vines. Resultantly, Azores became home for vines as of 15th century, which continues even in our days. It is exactly this unique landscape of Pico, that is protected by UNESCO. In winter it looks like a basalt tetris game, but I reckon that it all changes during summer, becoming very scenic! Interestingly, the wine from these fields was spotted in the cellars of Russian Tsar family. These locals have more to say on this… – Nikolay the Second! So I went on a search for this wine, visited a bunch of wine shops but only managed to find it in this very cool cafe. The wine is called Czar, which sounds similar to Tsar. A glass of it is only 5EUR, but the owner has more expensive wine too. …that looks like this! Then, this friendly cafe owner called Rui gave me directions to the winery that produces the aforementioned wine. His name is Fortunado Garcia, and this is his small family winery, wine from which was supplied to Vatican and Tsars. This wine is not strengthened with alcohol, and still reaches 18+ degrees. According to Fortunado, it is the only wine in the world that reaches such numbers by natural fermentation! Of course it is not easy to grow such grapes. Here is an example of it… 2008 production of 2009 but there was nothing in year 2010, because the grapes weren’t sweet enough. Good years do exist though, like year 2009, when wine reached unthinkable 20 degrees! It is the exact wine that the cafe owner told us about, and there are only 6 bottles left! …I mean right here, there may be more in private collections though. It’s price is 1500EUR. I was treated to wine that is not on sale yet, from season of 2013 and according to Fortunado, it is the best wine from the last 20 years. There is roughly 80EUR in this glass right now! I’d love to tell you about its taste but I can’t. Although I have many friends who understand wine, I am absolute zero in this, and I can only say whether it is nice or not… This one is nice!) Attentive viewers will probably say, that this whole scenery resembles Canary Islands to a great extent. Especially the island of Lanzarote… I do agree that the landscape looks similar, with its lava fields and stones, but Pico has one difference to its advantage! Pico, compared to Lanzarote is very green, with beautiful landscapes and palette full of colour. What’s super cool is that you can fly in, rent a car and explore the island from top to bottom. There is hardly any traffic (Hi Bali), very interesting people and places, and I truly enjoy exploring it! What else do you need? Pico’s population is similar to Faial, but the island is three times bigger, meaning that there are hardly any tourists in winter, making for a very peaceful commute. Best part of it, was the trip to volcano. The clouds at the peak of the mount constantly change form, making it seem as if the mount changes hats. Sometimes, clouds embrace it all, which is a very hypnotic sight! The slopes of the mountain boast ideal pastures, lots of greenery and look opposite to apocaliptic. Azores really know how to suprise you! It feels like I am in New Zealand right now, but it’s the middle of Atlantic… Crazy! The road to the top at times becomes quite foggy, and visibility turns down to zero. That’s what the mount looked like… Nevertheless, the scenery was extremely picturesque, and the best part about it, is that you can always drive back to the ocean and its good weather, spend some time by the water and if you are lucky, see the sunset develop before you. This trip helped me to reset, as if I visited a psychotherapist, and Pico in winter is something I truly enjoyed! Pico turned out to be a revelation, most likely thanks to off season and lack of tourists, which is very nice. Secondly, I got very lucky with weather, as I was mainly expecting rain, but instead, as you see, it’s just perfect. To me, Pico right now is the best thing I discovered on Azores, but since we have one more island to explore, let’s refrain from final remarks. I definitely should have kept quiet about the weather, as from then on it only got worse. The wind was so strong that my luggage decided to travel on its own, plus my flight got cancelled. This is quite typical for local winters, so the airline changed my flight, booked a hotel for me and next morning after a ferry trip to Faial, I was on a plane to my final destination. Nothing can describe local weather better, than taking off in the rain and landing in clear blue skies. Flores is the smallest and most Western island of the archipelago. It is home for 3700 people, plus as of late, locals can’t give birth here and must fly to Faial or Sao Miguel. To give you a better understanding of how compact this island is, the runway here goes through the streets of the town, splitting it into two parts, and in order to get from one side to another, you practically have to go around the airport. The town’s name is derived from lush vegetation, that blossom all over it. I’d love to continue the story, but sun is out which is rare here, and I must absolutely go now. I haven’t seen a single car on my way to the next point. Flores is quite distant from archipelago, and tourists leave it deserted in winters. …which is a shame! This island is like a Jurassic Park, with fantastic landscapes and untouched nature. Main attraction here is the cascade of waterfalls called Ribeira do Ferreiro, that can be accessed by a trail paved with stones. No idea when and who made it, but it looks like it came out of fairytale! It feels like I am one of those Portuguese colonisers who just arrived to discover something utterly new! This is just insane… …like a pandora of sorts. There are no people here apart from myself, local warden and just wild nature, these waterfalls, this lake… It’s just wow!!! Turned out it’s not even a warden, but a local who cuts grass here, hence it’s safe to say that I was there all alone! …it was absolutely unreal! In case you haven’t noticed, I have a new drone… Meet Kamikaze! It’s a racing drone that reaches 150km/h in less than 2 seconds. This thing is wild and hard to control! It’s my third month of training with it and I’ve only touched the surface of it. Everyone who flies these fpv drones dreams to do a dive with it, where you go up and then dive down vertically. I will now attempt this for the first time near those waterfalls… I am very worried, but hope it turns out well. Best of luck to me! Don’t know if you see this… …my hands are shaking! It’s super scary but I hope it turned out well. Whilst exploring Flores, I constantly wondered that if it’s so beautiful in winter, what must it be like during summer… I haven’t seen all Azores islands, but Flores is definitely my type of an island. It is hard to reach, there aren’t many people on it, local sights are shockingly beautiful, plus I can’t get rid of a feeling that I am at the end of the world! As for the island’s end, I found that also… During 9 days of this trip I managed to visit 4 out of 9 islands. The plan was to visit 5 but the weather put a lid on it. Maybe it’s for the best, so I could come back again… Azores’ greenery is astonishing! …actually I’ve left already and am now at the airport of Lisbon. This is what it looks like… The reason for this is because weather turned to worse, and I had to change my flight to be able to leave Azores while I could. As a result, I am filming this feedback at the airport, next to these plastic flowers… Sorry! Not a single time did I regret visiting Azores in winter, as the islands are very green, beautiful and practically empty. Weather on the other hand is unpredictable but I can’t complain since I was still lucky with it. Luck though has a tendency to end, so it’s up to you whether to choose winter or summer. Summers on Azores must be beautiful, but winters are also perfect! I truly enjoyed this trip, having a chance to finally rest my soul, enjoying the beautiful scenery, left, right and centre! Fantastic place! It’s slightly sad that there are less and less unexplored places left on my list of visited countries, that are so remarkably beautiful, whilst discovering them is my favourite part of travelling! This is why I wish you to explore more and find your own places, as it is just unbelievable! Do travel guys, it is still worth it!!! See ya!