“There’s something magical about the Azores,” Phillip told me well before we stepped foot on Andanza to cross the Atlantic.
When the idea first started to flick like a candle flame in our minds that we might sail across an ocean this year, Phillip immediately started to overflow with what little he knew about the places we might see along the way: Bermuda, the Azores, Peter Sport Café. Now, this was long before we knew Yannick did not plan to stop at any of these places. Not a one. But it didn’t matter. While Phillip and I love to see new places and explore new shores, we also love the journey in between. Simply crossing the ocean was enough for us, but Phillip and I are both so grateful that things worked out the way they did and we had the opportunity to spend nine colorful, captivating days in that magical place known as the Azores during our voyage across the ocean.
Discovering new places, people and cultures by venturing off the main thoroughfare down obscured alleyways, in rumbling rickshaws lead by locals who have walked those roads barefoot since they were a child is why we travel. I expect to feel the same kind of wanderlust awe as we traverse Havana, watching old Chevies putter by, following puffs of smoke from women on a balcony, wandering around with my mouth hanging wide open because I’ve simply forgotten all about it in my wonderment. That sounds a little Alice in Wonderland but that is how I feel when we step onto a new shore: exuberantly overwhelmed and proud to be just mad enough to have embarked on the journey I did to get there.
Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.
“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.
“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”
Where do you want to wander to?
As Phillip and I spend these last days preparing for our voyage to Cuba, my mind for some reason keeps traveling back to the Azores. Probably because it, too, was a place where I could have never imagined myself because I simply could not imagine it. I couldn’t see the colors, the lushness, the curiosity of the birds that ate my bread crumbs until I had actually been there. It was even more magical than Phillip could convey and I thought I would take a moment to share it with you as I believe the culture and untouched parts of Cuba will strike us the same way.
Azorians wake every day to the sight of the Atlantic Ocean.
The peak of the Pico, basked in pastel looks upon us on the island of Failal.
Each day began at this colorful café over coffee,
and often ended with wine at the same table. I love the ever-changing view from my office.
Cobblestone streets and centuries-old buildings scale the steep hillsides.
I stumbled upon this while walking the streets one afternoon alone, a local wedding, held in the back patio of a home.
The sea wall, with its many ship’s badges and boats, is a nautical museum.
Yannick, chatting with a French family cruising on their Ultramar as the father added their emblem to the seawall.
There is a feeling of connection when you find badges from fellow sailors who have come before you, s/v Testarossa which won the ARC Europe 2016 race and the infamous Pam Wall’s Kandarik which came through in 2006.
I found beauty everywhere.
Final resting place overlooking the vast Atlantic. I don’t think I would mind ending up here.
En route to the farmer’s market where we brought fresh produce each Tuesday, fresh fish on Fridays and a fresh baguette every day.
Every meal was a delicacy.
But don’t get me started on the cheese. I could a do an entire post about cheese in the Azores. It was all made locally from the very cows you see roaming the hillsides. Each island made their own special breed and blend of cheese and cheese came to your table, no matter where you went, moments after you sat down. Ahhh … the cheese.
Voted, hands down, our favorite meal in the Azores: Octopus Salad drizzled in lemon, oil and fresh cilantro.
The best way to spend your day? Simply go for a walk. Explore. See. Soak it all in.
You see? Magical. I don’t know if I will ever find myself again, in a cloud.
This was a moment that stuck with me. We often stopped at this little cafe on Porto Pim and this man was there every time, nibbling on cheese and bread and just watching, everything, everyone, quietly. He was such a fixture at the place, the birds would come up and eat out of his hand.
Peter Sport Café. What can I say?
Peter Sport Café was a destination all its own. There is an energy in that place that fills your lungs when you walk in the door. You know you’re breathing the same air a thousand other sailors drew in before you having themselves just crossed an ocean to get there. Respect—for each other and for the ocean—resonates with every man’s eyes you meet. And when you and your crew come in to the Café for the first time, having just docked your boat on the historic seawall, pulling off hats, wiping salt from your brow, slapping each other’s shoulders, you make a bit of a scene because you’re energized by what you have just accomplished. The folks who come there every afternoon for a beer or the folks who have been in the Azores for weeks, likely having work done on their boat, can spot you instantly: the crew that just made it in. But, once you stay a few days and have a few beers there, you will start to blend into the regulars and you’ll smile when you see the next motley crew of sailors, walking in for the first, slapping shoulders and pulling off hats. Congratulating your crossing with a drink at Peter Sport Café is a memorable experience.
I hope the first drink Phillip and I have in Havana brings me the same air of comradrerie with people there who have rich stories and experiences to share.