Month: March 2016

Terceira, Azores pt. 2!

Story of my life: I’m behind on posting something. But I’m just generally late doing anything and everything, really.

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I’ve been back from vacation for a week and three days. Eleven days ago, I was on an island in the mid-Atlantic caving in a lava tube and eating fresh octopus and drinking regional wine for 1,25euros a glass. Ten days ago, I was in the dead center of the state of Missouri. Today, I’m back at my desk. I’m still 97% unsure what time zone I’m in.

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The single dumbest, but greatest thing happened on the last night. We went to Quinta Dos Azores for dinner (their ice cream is the bomb, ps!) and during my directions acquisition, I came across a review by a girl (probably) my age, who was living there with her boyfriend temporarily while he played basketball, said they come there like three times a week. As we’re sitting there eating, this very girl whose life I had just stalked (way too hard) walked in and sat down right next to me! I felt like I was seeing a celebrity but not a celebrity and I couldn’t stop staring and feeling super creepy like I knew this girl but clearly I don’t know her.

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Is that weird? That’s super weird. I feel really weird over my level of excitement seeing this girl. It took every fiber of my being to not go up to her and be like “hi, I’m so creepy but I swear I’m friendly and harmless. I saw your review and it brought me here and now you’re here and I feel like that just makes us instant friends, ok have a great life, bye!” but my brother would have been mortified if I acted like my normal weirdly over friendly self.

F*cking creep.

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We also went caving in a lava tube in Praia da Vitoria, which was one of my favorite parts of the trip. We went with the same guys who took us rappelling, climbing and ziplining in the jungle. For the caving, we descended via rappel about 50ft underground and had nothing but little helmet lights to guide us around.

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We also rented a smart car to drive around the entire island on one of our last days. My favorite stop was in Biscoitos (translation: biscuits!) where the lava rock pools are. We wandered around the Calheta dos Biscoitos, which is the largest of the lava rock pools with clear blue waters that you can actually swim in. There’s also a wine museum in town, but we didn’t stop in. Kind of kicking myself for it – but I’m currently almost done drinking the bottle of red wine I brought back so it’s like I’m there. Kind of? We also drove up to the highest peak on the island, Serra de Santa Barbara (1,023m), but the clouds were really low that day and shielded the peak and the surrounding view. Bummer!

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Definite highlight was the “Tour de Azores” meal we had. It was a four course meal of regional cuisine made with local ingredients (cheese and beef from the nearby farms, fresh fish, etc.) and local wine pairings. I have dreams about the charred octopus and bread soup still. Sigh.

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Coming back, I scheduled myself yet another stressful marathon travel day. Another four airports later, it’s midnight when I land in Denver, I collect my wine stuffed suitcase and drive the 40 minutes home from the airport to shower, repack a backpack, love up on my cat and sleep for 3 hours before going BACK to the airport at 630a to head to Missouri.

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You know what state is the absolute f*cking worst? Missouri. Or Kansas. Honestly, I hate them both. Sorry not sorry, but driving in I-70 for 17 hours is not how I like to spend my life. It doesn’t usually take that long but a (semi-planned) pit stop it Wichita delayed the trip home.

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Note to self: never drive through Kansas or Missouri again.

Bom dia de Açores!

Four airports and nine hours later, I’m in Terceira, Azores Islands, Portugal. Yaaaass! The Azore Islands are a group of nine islands in the North Atlantic. Accessible via a 4.5 hour flight from Boston, 1 hour from Lisbon. Terceira is the third largest of the islands (terceira means the third in Portuguese), also known as the party island during high season.

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The island is 24 miles by 28 miles and it takes no longer than 30 minutes to drive around the entire island. Or like 16 minutes if you drive like the locals. About 56,000 people inhabit the island. Which is a f-ing miracle considering everyone here drives at least 200kph EVERY DAMN WHERE. The sidewalks are barely wide enough for one person to walk on without fear that they will be taken out by a side mirror from a passing car. The roads aren’t straight or anything, they’re sharp and curvy, so it’s a miracle there isn’t an accident around every corner. And that driving complaint is coming from a lead-footed American.

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Portuguese is the language buuuut you can get by with Spanish in a pinch. Plus, you don’t stick out so badly if you use that instead of English. Many people also speak English because they’re used to the British vacationers and now, the Americans since they are doubling incoming flight loads from Boston (from two flights a week to four).

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I love the brightly painted houses and shops that line the streets. One of the locals told me that they are re-painted every year when festival time is coming. They told me about when the bulls run the streets during these festivals. Four are tied to one rope to run the streets and a fifth one is the “surprise bull” that you really have to watch out for… the one that is called “too much alcohol”. Advice of the day: don’t get too trapped by the fifth bull.

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Apparently Americans are usually the ones run down by bulls most often because they are clueless, which is sadly not surprising. Americans: stop being dumb, please. Thanks! It’s also commonplace to get drunk and jump a rock “fence” into a bullpen and antagonize the bull and hope you aren’t the most drunk of your friends and catch the horns. There’s an American military base on Terceira and there is a specific rule banning the soldiers from partaking in the above shenanigans. Talk about fun-sucking.

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Monte Brasil, an inactive volcano, is not only an active military area… there’s also a small zoo at the top. What? Why? Who knows. But there’s deer and a parrot and peacocks – all of your typical zoo (least) favorites. Once you get to the top, there’s stunning views of Angra do Heroismo and the Atlantic.

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After a day of rappelling, we stopped with our four guides and two amigos from Spain to have a beer. Super Bock is the beer of choice, made in neighboring Portugal. It’s like Bud Light so it’s awful, but when in Azores, drink shitty local beer! They also ordered some “shrimp of Azores” …green and black olives… and I detest, despise and loathe olives. They’re like salty little assholes. But I felt bad saying “nah, I fucking hate those disgusting things”… so I ate two.

Four hours, three beers and a cheeseburger later (how very American of me) – I can still taste salty little olive assholes in my mouth and it makes me want to die.

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To pack it or not to pack it?

I am a serial overpacker.

Who doesn’t need four swim suits and thirteen tank tops to choose from on a one week trip?! Oh… right, no one. I’m (ridiculously) that person who thinks “what if I don’t like the clothes I brought when I get there?” ha, well… then maybe you shouldn’t own those clothes in the first place and should donate them. Who keeps clothes they don’t like? Friggin’ idiots.

I’m trying to get better about it. But seriously… it’s just a compulsive overthinking problem I have (throughout my entire life, really). I’m also always frantic about not packing enough socks. SOCKS! If I don’t have enough socks, my life is in shambles.

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Luckily this trip I’m packing for does not need to be glamorous or fashionable. I’m heading to an island in the North Atlantic for a week of hiking and exploring with my brother (more on that later!). I’ve convinced myself to bring JUST enough clothes and clothes I CAN re-wear and take from land to sea. Translation: 3 pair workout tights, 1 pair hiking pants, 1 pair hiking shorts, 1 lightweight rain jacket, 3 sweaters, 1 long sleeve layer, 3 dri-fit t-shirts, 5 tank tops, 2 swim suits, 7 metric tons of socks, 3 pairs of shoes. Yes, everything I own is always covered in a nice layer of cat hair.

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I’m wearing a super comfortable pair of Nike running tights right now. They were RB’s. Now they’re mine. What kind of girl can fit in the same running tights as their 6’3”, Army S.O.? Eat a sandwich boo, lawwwwd. I might feel bad about myself if I didn’t have a great gigantic butt. Thanks CrossFit, u da real MVP. #Flawless.

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I know what you’re thinking – “CBrown, you’re talking about not taking a lot of shit and you’re bringing three pairs of shoes, you fucking clown”. Accurate assessment, young Padawan. However I need a pair to run in, because running on the beach is the only time I enjoy running and I’m decently fast when I’m at sea level and not suffocating at my normal Mile High elevation. One pair of hiking boots for the volcanos/rougher terrain, one pair of quick dry hiking shoes for when we rappel and go into the caves. See? Logical. Kind of. Whatever.

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Best thing I ever learned about packing? ROLL ALL THE THINGS. Seriously. Trust me. This is magical.

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My backpack is stuffed with all of my digitals and goodies. Mac, GoPro, Nikon w/ tripod, iPhone and books. Seriously, I guard this thing with my life when traveling because if I lose this thing… my entire social connection is gone. Plus, $$$$. Should I tell the internet where I carry all my valuables? Probably not. I trust you guys though. Also, snacks. Because I’m always hungry and I’m not nice when I’m hungry. Why do kid’s Clif bars come in the good flavors like chocolate brownie and iced oatmeal cookie? Do adults not like these things? I always buy the kid’s ones, mostly because I’m an overgrown kid.

Only thing that didn’t make it in my suitcase? This creature.

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