The Azores – Setting Foot on European Ground

Schüler Josef

written by Josef

Europe – The continent where all of us were born and raised. But for the last weeks and months we have traded our home for a sailing vessel and left Europe for the longest time in our lives so far. It has been quite an adventure. We have visited completely different countries and cultures of which some, only share few with our home country. The native tribes in Panama that seemed to live with almost nothing or the completely different society in Cuba make you see your own continent from another point of view.

Visiting the Island Flores, the western edge of Europe, was the first time we set foot on European ground. Even though the Azores are far away from the mainland of Portugal, we realized immediately that we were in Europe. Not only because the shops had Milka chocolate and one had to pay in Euro. The streets, the shops, the buildings, the people and their Lifestyle are different form Middle America. I recall buying tickets for a bus and I was surprised that I could not bargain with the driver.

During our stay on the Azores, a group of Islands of volcanic origin, we visited Flores and Faial. Our first stop was Flores. This little island was an extra stop because we made the route from Bermuda quite fast. Small, with only a few inhabitants, this non touristic island was very beautiful. With some Spanish skills we also managed to share a few words with the Portuguese speaking people there.

On one of the two days we spent on this island we explored the island in four groups. On different hiking trips we visited rivers, crater lakes, cliffs or forests with breathtaking untouched nature.

We spent another six days in Faial where we stayed in the marina of Horta. There, we took part in cleaning up different parts of the island on one day, organized by a local environment group, it was very shocking how much trash people dump in the nearest river. One group even found a whole refrigerator. On another day we took the first ferry in the morning to the island Pico. On this island is the highest mountain of Portugal. The way up was surprisingly easy. After our 16 hour trip to the Baru in Panama, the 3 hours up and 2 down seemed like a relaxing walk. The volcano was filled with little plants and the path was very steep. The weather was very good and on top we had a sunny view over the surrounding islands.

One day we also worked on the ship and went on a whale-watching trip on another afternoon, where we saw a lue whale, a humpback and a finwhale. Our guide Pedro was a very funny guy who knew a lot about whales and kept making jokes, but still did a serious job. On our free afternoons we explored Horta and went to a catholic service on a Sunday. The Peter Cafe Sport, which is a world famous sailing Bar/Cafe was just next to the marina were we stayed. Whenever you walked in, you could see a „Kusi“ in there.

The time went by quickly and soon we already had to leave. Actually we wanted to buy some Diesel and stack up on our food supplies, but the wind was so strong that we could not stay in the marina and had to anchor. In favor of spending more time in England we wanted to leave right on time. We took our food supplies with our Dinghi from the marina where they were delivered and drove them to the place we anchored. Unfortunately we had to leave without new Diesel, so hopefully we will not need that much until Falmouth. Afterall, everyone has enjoyed the stay in the Azores and the beautiful untouched nature. But like always, a Sailor cannot stand on land for long, and so we are all looking forward for the North Atlantic and the next 10 days of sailing.