Friday, October 20, 2017

Trekking Around the City





Today was a lot of fun as we ventured out to check out the city.  Fortunately, the city center wasn't too far away.  I took lots of pictures of streets.  I guess that's because I love the colors, the architecture, the little shops and so much more.  I can't even fathom how long it took to make all these cobblestone streets and sidewalks.  They really add to the charm of the city.  On top of this, everything is surrounded by the green of the island and the ocean.





 The Streets of the City

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We also took the opportunity to visit the Botanical Gardens and hike to a local monument.  Both were beautiful.  The hike was up some fairly steep switchbacks but the view from the top was well worth the climb. 











After climbing down the hill we headed to the marina and beach.  Both were spectacular.  We enjoyed walking to the end of the pier.  It was such a beautiful day.  I can totally picture these scenes as puzzles. 






The Catholic Church is very prominent on the island. 
Inside the cathedral. The cost to build this church in man 
hours alone tells you how powerful the church is. 

The city at night...





Barely enough room to drive down between cars.

I'm so grateful Matt and I have been able to come and see more of God's gorgeous creations.  This island literally takes your breath away with it's beauty.  I'm amazed that more people don't know about it.

Dining In The Azores

We've only been here a day but have had the opportunity to eat twice at the hotel and twice out and about.  The vacation package we purchased to come to the Azores included our hotel for seven nights and breakfast each morning.  In the past this hotel breakfast has ranged from "do you really call that breakfast" to pretty nice.  I'd have to say the breakfast at our hotel is definitely in the pretty nice category if nothing else but for the view alone.  This is a picture of the hotel dining room and buffet.  It's so nice to sit and enjoy breakfast and take in the beautiful view.

Last night because we were so tired from the travel to get here we chose to eat in the dining room.  For being such a nice hotel we thought the price would be pretty steep.  It turns out it wasn't, just 17 € or 23 € with alcohol, beer and wine.  We chose the $17 option.  It was a full buffet with lots of choices including fish heads which we DIDN'T choose - gross! Great food for a great price!
 

Midway through dinner a large tour came through.  It was made up of older Americans for the most part.  They were so loud!  I've had people say how loud Americans are but I'd never seen it first hand till now.



On Thursday we ventured out to see the city.  There were tons of places to eat.  We chose this little cafe, Bistro do Beto.  You could eat inside or out.  We were amazed again how inexpensive it was.  

The view from the outside was so nice we couldn't pass it up. 




Great lunch for only 5.5€
No drinking out the can here.  Now if you could only get ice. 
Tonight we again ventured out this time to a tiny little restaurant called Marcelino's.  It was a tiny place upstairs with a pub down below.  The chef Marcelino himself has been working for the last 36 years.  His wife works in the kitchen.  The unique part about this restaurant is Marcelino cooks your food right at your table.  It was delicious!  Matt had pepper steak (it came with potatoes and vegetables also), I had pepper chicken.  As an American, who is used to getting food quickly, I had to keep reminding myself that eating out in countries out of the US is an experience.  You go out for the night, not just an hour or so.  Marcelino promptly took our order then cooked the couple's food who ordered before us, then our and so on down the list.  You just patiently wait till it's your turn.  The wait was definitely worth it!




I'm grateful the hotel has two pools and a health club.  I'm definitely going to need to make use of these!

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Terceira Island, Azores

I made the mistake of not blogging Matt and my adventure to Europe last summer.  I didn't want to make this same mistake this year with our visit to the Azores. So even though we aren't in Australia, I want to preserve the memories of our latest adventure.

We left Salt Lake about 10:30 on Tuesday night.  We flew to Boston via New York (gotta love sky miles!)  It wasn't bad despite the late hours.  We arrived in Boston about 6:00 am.  We had booked our trip from Boston to the Azores through a company so we unfortunately had to pick up our luggage.  Due to the early hour, when we walked over to the international area there was no one there.   It was deserted with the exception of a handful of janitorial workers coming and going.  This area was to be our home for the next 16 hours.  16 hours! What a long day!  It's so hard to sit for that long.  It was unfortunate too because it would have been nice to go out and see a site or two in Boston.  We couldn't though because we were stuck though with our large suitcases.  We made the best of it.  I think I watched about a dozen episodes of Heartland and Matt read and played a lifetime's worth of solitaire.

Finally about 7:00 pm we were able to line up to check in for the flight to the Azores.  The line was huge.  I couldn't believe there were this many people heading to an island that 6 months earlier I had never even heard of.  We managed to get through the line and were finally free of our suitcases.  It was such a relief and a huge weight to not have to drag around.  Three and a half hours later we boarded our flight to go to Terceira.

We arrived on the island about 6:00 am.  It was pitch black.  The airport was much bigger than I would have guessed.  I think we taxied back to the terminal area for a good ten minutes.  When it came time to get off the plane the rear door was opened and we exited using a ramp.  I was just a tad disappointed it wasn't a slide like they show you in the emergency information.  This is the only thing I've seen coming off of the back of the plane.  Since it was so different and something we had never done before, I wanted to take a picture but wasn't able to due to the rush of people trying to get off (Darn!)

We managed to get through the process of renting a car and then on to the hotel.  Sadly, when we arrived we were told that we couldn't check in for another 5 hours or so.  What?  We hadn't really slept in about 24 hours and were feeling the need to not only sleep but take a shower and brush our teeth.  Five more hours seemed like an eternity.  Being positive thinkers we took this opportunity to go exploring.  

The first place we went was the local grocery store.  It was really nice and a lot cheaper than we would have guessed given this island is literally in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean and everything has to be shipped in.  
This store is like the Walmart of the Azores.


Milk in a bag.  I haven't seen that in a while. 
Oreos...one of the many comforts of home. 
An entire aisle devoted to yogurt in every form you can imagine.


From the grocery store we went for a short drive to a local park which turned out to the town's swimming pool as well. The park and much of the area around have these amazing stone walls and fences.  Some are small, 3-4 feet tall and others 12-15 feet tall.  I can't help but wonder what keeps them standing.  There doesn't seem to be any mortar connecting the rocks.  Why do they not tip over especially after all the years they've been up?  Did the builder have the patience to find rocks that fit this well together or did someone shape them?  I find these walls fascinating.  I can't even imagine the amount of hours it took to build them and they're everywhere!







The day was pretty windy although very nice as far as temperature goes.  The pool was very interesting as well as creative. An area right off the ocean was cemented in with walls, and a nice gentle slope allowing for varying water depths. It even has several sets of stairs and handrails for easy access.  When the tides is in its very deep (as in the pictures).  I'm sure on a less windy day this place would have been packed!







These aren't great pictures.  The tide had come in so the pool was really full.  We'll take some better ones tomorrow.

The island itself is beautiful.  It's very green and lush with all kinds of interesting plants and trees.  I don't remember seeing either of these types of trees before.

This tree seemed almost rubbery. 

Is this a variation of a palm tree? 
Terceira Island was the third of the Azores islands to be discovered (thus it's name).  It's  what you might picture a European village to look like, very narrow streets, many of them cobblestone, little shops and houses.  Today, in addition to the wind, it was a bit overcast with low misty clouds on the hills.  We were warned that the weather changes quickly and to always have a rain jacket with us.



We were finally able to check into our room at the Terceira Mar Hotel.  It's a beautiful hotel right on the ocean.  Our room is a little fancier than were used to, but we'll enjoy it.  It's going to be a great week fun and exploration!




Friday, December 14, 2012

Napier

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After Rotorua we headed further south to Napier.  On the way we stopped at Lake Taupo.  It’s hard to pick out but Mt. Doom from Lord of the Rings ins in the background. 

 

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Heading southeast to Napier we drove through some beautiful farm land.  Here’s just one picture. 

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This city was devastated in 1931 when it was struck by an earthquake. It was pretty much destroyed. When the rebuilding process started they selected an art deco theme. Many of the buildings in town are designed this way. It was neat to see. We also lucked out when we visited because they were having a antique car show so not IMG_5041only did we IMG_5042get to see the cool buildings we also got to see these neat cars with the drivers dressed in 1920-30 attire. It was cool. Here’s a few picturesIMG_5076

 

 

 

 

 

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They actually had Christmas decorations!! 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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While walking around the stores in town Hannah and I came across this sign. 

 

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Not sure who they were calling but both Nich and Hannah needed to use the phone. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The beach was as beautiful as others in the country.The interesting thing about this beach is that it had black rocks and sand.  Matt and Nicholas held a rock skipping contest.

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After walking around the city for a while we went up to bluff street where you could get a good look at the city and also the port.  Just our luck we ran into the same cruise ship we had seen previously in two other cities. 

 

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Part of the beach and the city from the overlook. 

 

 

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The next town south of Napier is Hastings.  This little town actually had two wards and a branch.  This is the biggest church we’ve seen since leaving the States.