The Azores: Daily Life in This Remote Archipelago!

Welcome to our front door!

Notice the volcanic rock left showing around the doors and the windows. Our now-85-year-old landlady told us this whole building we’re now living in) used to be used for storing food. She was born here (and has been so lovely, speaking a mix of English and Portuguese with me so that between the two of us, we always get there! πŸ™‚ ). Her grandfather bought the property originally, so it goes back to the 1800s.

Many of the homes here in the Azores are constructed of this volcanic rock (there’s so much of it everywhere), but when they modernize or remodel the homes, this is what you see. White plaster over the volcanic rock on the outside (with parts of the original rock showing), and either plaster or drywall on the interiors.

PS: Want to Language Nerd-out with me? They pronounce “Azores” like β€œah-ssohr-aysh” (many of their Portuguese words that end in S actually sound like the “SH” sound instead). Most English-speakers we’ve heard pronounce it like “ay-zohrs” but out of love for languages, I talked with several native Azoreans how they pronounce their home name, and this is it. πŸ™‚ I even got our landlady to let me record her saying it, but I have no idea how to share that voice memo with you so you’ll have to settle for my typewritten pronunciation explanation for now.😊

I’ll need an entire post to show you all the house, so let’s hit “pause” on that for now and let me give you a glimpse into other areas of daily life here other than the house structure itself.

LIFE IN THE AZORES

Packed Up For a Year…Probably Two…

Welcome to our Azorean car. Why am I showing you the trunk? Because…

Can you believe we fit everything we need for a family of 4 people for 1-2 years in this?

(Yes, we have enough clothes packed to live on for 2 years, should we choose to!)

Compared to our big California house…talk about downsizing!πŸ˜„

LIFE IN THE AZORES

Working From Home

I recently shared a quick video here of our ocean view from the upstairs. This is the table I’ve been working from…

…and yes, Matt and I will often be sipping and nibbling on Azorean foods and drinks these afternoons while we work, which brings me to my next photo…

LIFE IN THE AZORES

Enjoying Local Azorean Foods!

We learned in New Zealand how important local food is when you’re a remote island, and that’s certainly the case for the Azores!

Ponta Delgada is the main town on the island of Sao Miguel and has a market (which has to move inside/down below the ground when raining, as it often is in winter!).

We’ve had the best time as a family walking through and seeing what unique fruits and vegetables we can find (I can create an ENTIRE ADDITIONAL POST on food alone with more pics, which I will do for you guys if I have time later on!).

Some of the people have been extra kind to us and our daughters. We’ve gotten free fruits that we just asked about, samples of things we’d never had before, little extras thrown in…so sweet!

Everywhere we go, we find local Azorean products. The Azores are known for their meat, dairy, tea (I’ll talk more about this later bc it’s important!), and we’ve noticed a lot of different sweet spreads as well made from the local fruits.

You already know Matt and I like our tea, and honestly, we LOVE the Azorean teas! The OLDEST tea plantation in all of Europe is actually right here on Sao Miguel Island, in the middle of the Atlantic, hours from mainland Europe…isn’t that fascinating?! (And still, the only two tea plantations in all of Europe are here on this island! The people I’ve mentioned this to seem to almost not believe me when I mention this, so go ahead and look it up! πŸ™‚ I’ll share more about our visit to the tea plantation later.)

I can’t move on without sharing a photo of my FAVORITE food of the Azores: the butter! (I’m turning into a butter aficionado and until now my favorite butter was a German one. I’ll have to do a side-by-side comparison taste test one day…)🀣😍

When the market is closed, this is our “big-time” grocery store: Continente!

I’m only including this photo because I get the biggest kicks out of their pricing here. Wouldn’t the typical endings in 49 and 99 cents suffice?

No siree! Let’s try some € ending with

,44

,09

,53

,49

,79

,14

Six different end-cent variations in just one quick phone shot…and there are so many more throughout the store, I just laugh to myself every time and derive inexplicable enjoyment over seeing the mess they use. (And sometimes with no rhyme or reason…like 4 cents more for a different flavor of the exact same jam…cracks me up!πŸ€£πŸ€·β€β™€οΈπŸ˜)

I haven’t even begun to delve into all the Azorean foods (not just sold in markets or stores but served as meals), but I will leave you with a pic of one of their wines. Every single Azorean wine we’ve bought, whether for family dinners at home or out in a restaurant, has been really nice!

LIFE IN THE AZORES

Home Life: Laundry Time!

While we have ocean views, we do not have a laundry room in our house!

I have to go outside (and wait until it stops raining to do so)…

And our laundry machines are in Portuguese, so…there’s that. πŸ€£πŸ˜πŸ˜‹

LIFE IN THE AZORES

A Traditional Azorean Kitchen!

I said I’d show you our house in another post, but I did want to give you a peek into our landlady’s traditional Azorean kitchen! (Remember, this house goes back to the 1800s. Has had improvements since then, but I still find it all fascinating!)

LIFE IN THE AZORES

Our Hills!

This is a road we’ve driven on a lot, and I just wanted to share with you how beautiful it is!

LIFE IN THE AZORES

Speaking of the Roads…

Speaking of the roads, THIS is a much more typical view when you’re in a town or village here on Sao Miguel.

Lots of ONE WAYS, and you gotta pay attention.

My daughter took the below picture of me driving us girls to our horseback riding lessons one day. (We wanted to keep us our horseback riding from California as much as we could, and found a place where we could ride…and for a fraction of what it costs in CA!)

Even on rainy days, here’s what’s super cool about this old horseback riding area: it’s indoors!

(And we get to lead our horses through this old curved, narrow tunnel to get inside.)

Once you’re in, it’s perfectly dry!

The weather changes SO FAST here. One day we did a trail ride for several hours through the surrounding farms and countryside, and went from sun to thunderstorms and back again. All part of the adventure!

Here’s one section showing you the super-high walls some of these farms had because of the big winds (and profitable citrus business from centuries ago, but that’s another story).

LIFE IN THE AZORES

A Few More Peeks at Real Daily Life…

We’ve become veeeeery familiar with Decathlon while living here, from replacing one daughter’s lost jacket to picking up any inexpensive little things we realized we needed. Thanks, Decathlon!

Here’s a view from our living room on a sunny day!

This is the 4th cat that has adopted my children. We let one in once but then started the rule that the girls need to be outside if they want to play with them. My youngest still manages to play with this particular one through the glass window.

One of the reasons I chose this home was for the huge outdoor spaces where my children could play and run off energy. Here’s what they named “The Meadow” and have spent hours playing in!

Also, we’ve learned that they are very particular here when it comes to dividing up your recycling. (In the U.S., you can throw it all in one bin and they sort through it for you later.)

LIFE IN THE AZORES

Working From Home

We’re not typically “city” people, although we do have some exceptions in different countries. One of them added to our list is Ponta Delgada! We didn’t expect to enjoy this city as much as we have, but it’s not too big and is full of good quality food!

And of course we found the most amazing tea shop ever, the owner was fantastic about speaking Portuguese with me so I could practice in real life situations (and she would like to adopt our children forever)…we would like to carry this tea shop around with us forever!

One thing the prior photo reminded me of that I want to draw your attention to in Ponta Delgada: the streets! So many of them are decorated–and all uniquely! No design is repeated! We’ve appreciated the creativity of this, and I have about 187 pictures of all the beautiful designs, but will just show you two quick ones. (I can’t find the one I took where they did designs of different animals all along the sidewalk! It was so interesting! Stay tuned if I ever find it and put it below!)

Whether it’s on the sidewalks or pedestrian streets, mostly white or mostly black, doesn’t matter. They’re always done well and add so much character to this little city we’ve grown to love!

LIFE IN THE AZORES

“When In Rome…”

Back in our “hometown,” one evening we went out for a family pizza night and the town was packed. No parking in sight.

Except we noticed on one super-narrow residential street, people were parked halfway up on the curb. No signs telling us anything. Matt and I looked and each other and knew what we’d be doing.

(Although I had to get out of the car first because I wouldn’t have been able to later :), which enabled me to document his parking. We never got a ticket and everything was fine.)

As far as playing with other kids, our girls honestly make friends everywhere they go! Whether it’s adults in tea shops, at the market, or kids at the park, they have no end to interactions with people of all ages.

One day we were at a cafe in Sete Cidades, which had a lovely outside deck area opening up onto a park alongside the crater lake. There was a local Azorean family there (we learned that he worked as a tour guide) with two little girls, and so our two joined them and they played for so long and so well that we had to force them apart when it was time to leave.

What was extra cool about this “playdate” to me was that, because my oldest daughter was learning Portuguese along with me (in preparation for this part of our year), she was able to fill in some of the blanks in communicating with the other older girl. I’ve been SO proud of her using Portuguese in various situations, and we all agree this girl has an ear for languages.

LIFE IN THE AZORES

“What Is There to DO in the Azores?”

So, while I’ve chosen to focus on a few pics from daily life here (and goodness knows I had to cut out 200 others I wanted to show you of our daily Azorean life!πŸ₯°)…

…there are a bunch of “out and about” fun things we’ve done as well!

I’ll have to do another post showing everything we’ve explored ALL over, but for now I’ll just show a few peeks…

Hiking around Lagoa do Fogo

Above: Hiking around Lagoa do Fogo! (volcanic crater)

Below: Soaking in the hot springs!

Soaking in the hot springs!
Double waterfall!

Above: One day we went exploring with no idea of what we’d find (and our kids though we were INSANE when we started driving down crazy muddy roads that weren’t even on the maps)…then we hiked for a bit and found this double waterfall! (I’ll share pics in another post where you can see the interior falls even better!)

Below: After we’d played in the waterfall and river for awhile, we discovered some steps that went up back behind the waterfall and led to a series of catwalks over pipes…followed them back for miles along the river and to a hydraulic station…it was one of the most fun discoveries we made as a family while on the island!

Catwalk over the waterfall: actually SCARILY far down, and I’m not at all afraid of heights! (Until my 5-year-old steps across this rickety thing.)
Calderas

Above: I’ll share more about this when a do an “Azorean food” post, but on this volcanic island there are lots of calderas…and the holes you see are where some restaurants come to cook a special Azorean stew!

Below: One of our favorite things we’ve done is gone ATVing for the day from Ponta Delgada all the way to Sete Cidades and around the other major crater lake on the island. (I have so many beautiful pictures of this later in the day when we took a break from riding.)

The Azores is the FIRST INTERNATIONAL SPOT our daughters have ever been to! Between the people, the food, the house, the landscape, and the overall vibe, it’s been pretty perfect for their first experience outside their home country!

Next…

βž” I’d love to have time to share more of what we’ve been doing around the island (with tips for your own trips!), as well as the food, the house, and a couple other subjects.πŸ˜‰ In the meantime, see WHY we’re doing this (including costs!).

βž” UPDATE: We took a 19-day trip to Madeira! Then we moved from this autonomous Portuguese archipelago to this autonomous Spanish archipelago. πŸ™‚

βž” Get more time, energy and other resources to do the things you love (like travel!) using our Plans & Design Guides!

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Larissa

    Love the photos. Such a stunning place! Sounds like it must rain there a lot in winter? I must confess I hadn’t heard of the Azores before so now it’s forever Asoraysh in my head πŸ˜€

    1. Jess

      πŸ˜‚ That’s awesome! We don’t usually pronounce it exactly the local way at home amongst ourselves (another postπŸ˜‚) but I’m a nerd who thinks it’s FASCINATING to hear how natives pronounce their home countries in their language! And yes, it does rain a fair bit in winter. Thanks Larissa! Hope you guys can make a stop there someday!

      πŸ’›
      Jess

  2. V. S.

    Azores is one of my very favorite places to vacation! Everything about the islands (I’ve visited 4 of the 9) is unique and quaint. The people are so friendly. I would go vacation there is a heartbeat! πŸ™‚

    1. Jess

      Awesome! We hear it gets crazy here in summer, so we’ve enjoyed the chillaxedness of living here over the winter!🀣

      πŸ’›
      – Jess

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