International,Travel,Travel Diary

Traveling to the Azores on a Solo Travel Adventure

This is my daily travel diary of my first international solo trip to the Azores Islands in 2015. Scroll down to the bottom and work your way up to read each day’s adventures in chronological order. Enjoy!

Outdoorsy Diva Daily Diary #8:  Saying Goodbye to the Azores

On my last morning I was supposed to go on one last excursion.   I had a planned swim with wild dolphins scheduled first thing in the morning.  Alas, the winds were pretty bad so they cancelled.  I was disappointed but I certainly wouldn’t have wanted a bad experience.  Everything happens for a reason, and just another reason I have to come back!  Instead I enjoyed one more walk through Ponta Delgada.  The streets were relatively quiet.  I went in a bakery and sat down for a nice pot of hot Azorean black tea and people watched.

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I don’t yet have the words describe how I feel after this journey.   The best way I can put it is that I feel alive, really truly alive.  I feel more sure of myself and my purpose.  I’m more grounded and more aware of what really matters and what really doesn’t.  As I return to work this week let’s see how long I can continue to wear this look of relaxation and peace outwardly.   I’m hoping it’s going to last me for a really long time, or at least until my next trip in May.  I do miss my family and I know they can’t wait for me to get home, but it’s still bitter sweet to have to say goodbye, so instead I’ll say until the next time Azores.

Stay tuned for lots and lots of content and more details about specific experiences from this whole trip.   You’re either going to become tired of reading about the Azores (highly doubt that) or you’re going to start planning your own visit to this wonderous place (more likely outcome).

To see more pictures from the entire trip don’t forget to follow my Instagram  account:  http://instagram.com/outdoorsydiva

Lauren G. , Outdoorsy Diva™

ADVENTURE IS MY LIFESTYLE!!!”


Azores Islands

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Outdoorsy Diva Daily Diary #7:  Last Day of Wandering

 

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Today is my last full day here on the island.   I was supposed to have a tandem paraglide flight over the island today.  Alas, it wasn’t meant to be.  The winds were not in our favor this week.  I’m sad but perhaps on another visit…

This was probably the most comfortable I felt maneuvering around today. I left this morning with no real strategy.  I wanted to visit Ferraria on the north coast and anything else I found would be a bonus.  I’ll share details later, but if you can believe it I found even more beauty today.  The views just keep on giving.  At one point I had to force myself not to pull over to anymore look out points.   I had a snack on the lava rocks surrounded by tidal pools and just relaxed and become apart of my beautiful surroundings.

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I also can count myself as one of  the small population, relative to that of the world, who can say they took a bath in a natural ocean pool heated by volcanic rocks and vents under the surface. There’s no where else like this on the planet.  It’s called the natural thermal pool of Ferraria.

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It was an unforgettable experience and something that was on my bucket list when I started researching the Azores as a destination.  I visited countless villages.  I watched a whale watcher in his observatory.  I watched a fisherman go about his normal day catching and cleaning his fish on the lava rocks.  I was just a fly on the wall today, trying not to be noticed and wanting to observe day to day life of the people who live modestly in the small quaint coastal towns.  The more remote towns speak much less English so it was more challenging but I managed to communicate just the same. I got lost.  I found my way. Got lost again.  That’s how the day went along and it was everything I hoped it would be.  I have so much to write and share about this magical place.  It has certainly changed me for the better.

I mentioned in the first diary post that I would be procuring items from the island to give away!   Stay tuned and make sure you have subscribed so that you don’t miss out on the announcement when the giveaway goes live.  I found some pretty cool stuff if I do say so myself.

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Funny for today — I order 1/2 sangria thinking it’s half a glass…it means half a pitcher!!! It was 5 euros and about 4 glasses worth.   I’m good with that; I’m guaranteed a good night’s sleep.  I’m going to need it for my last hoorah in the morning!  No spoilers!  You’ll just have to wait and see.

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To see more pictures from today’s hike don’t forget to follow my Instagram  account:  http://instagram.com/outdoorsydiva

Lauren G. , Outdoorsy Diva™

ADVENTURE IS MY LIFESTYLE!!!”


Outdoorsy Diva Daily Diary #6:  Today’s Adventure Equals Workouts for All of 2015

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Today was a long day.  I’m pooped so this will be short and sweet.  I decided to rent a car so that I could venture out and explore more things on the island on my own schedule.  I’m driving the cutest little VW Golf, which I’ve named “Dobby”.   Me and Dobby headed back to Lagoa do Fogos again today.  When I went with the tour it was cold and very cloudy.  Hiking to the bottom of the lake wasn’t on the tour agenda but it’s an experience I read about as one of the hikes you should take in your lifetime.  I really wanted to accomplish this hike today.

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I drove safely up the mountain and made it to the lookout point to start descending to the bottom of the volcano crater.  I just can’t describe how beautiful and stunning this place is.  I’ve taken hundreds of pictures today but none of them seem to translate what I saw with my own eyes.  It was amazing to know this all happened as a result of a volcanic eruption.  I will detail my hike in a later post, but I made it to the bottom! See that stretch of white sand beach at the tip of those trees?  I sat right there and had a lunch picnic for one.

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I spent some time with myself and I even made a friend. Then I made the arduous climb back up to the top.  I was hating life but I made it!

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It was tiring to say the least, so I decided I would go find the famous mineral baths of Terra Nostra. Terra Nostra is a beautiful botanical garden in a town called Furnas with a large bathing pool of hot steamy iron rich mineral water from the surrounding hot water vents in this town of bubbling waters and volcanic steam vents.  It was just what the doctor ordered!  I relaxed and rested my tired muscles and mind. I know the water doesn’t look very inviting but it’s just from all the iron that has been deposited over the many years of this bath.   It was very therapeutic.

This is a day that I will never forget!  I’m so happy I was able to see one of the truly most beautiful places in the world that many don’t even know exists.

Until tomorrow….Fingers crossed that the winds will allow for my bucket list plans to be fulfilled!  Stay tuned!

To see more pictures from today’s hike don’t forget to follow my Instagram  account:  http://instagram.com/outdoorsydiva

Lauren G. , Outdoorsy Diva™

ADVENTURE IS MY LIFESTYLE!!!”


Outdoorsy Diva Daily Diary #5:  Whale Watching Fail
striped dolphin cliffs

It’s my 4th day here on Sao Miguel and technically my 5th day of traveling all by my lonesome.  It has been really interesting to see myself adapting to my surroundings and to the culture here.  I set out today without even glancing at my map.  I have my bearings of N,S,E,W so I didn’t really think I needed it.  I didn’t have a particular destination.  I just wandered down narrow streets and mosaic tiled corridors exploring and taking it all in.

1. I found the all important super market! I like visiting markets in other countries.  I get a kick out of seeing the difference in branding for products that we have in the States too.  I purchased a few items I needed and I didn’t have to use English one time.  I felt like Kevin from Home Alone when he first went to the store by himself.

2. Today for the first time in my life, I considered that I could do this. I could survive and adapt to a completely different culture, language and way of life in another country. I often marvel at immigrants to the USA and think that must be very difficult to do.   With just a few days under my belt, I was doing really well.  Go me!

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3. I decided I would take my chances and go out on the whale and dolphin watching tour today. It’s just the beginning of the migration season for the whales that pass through these deep Atlantic waters off the coast of the Azores. I had heard that a boat this morning did spot a few whales so I was hopeful. As I was preparing to head out to grab lunch before going to the marina, I discovered that I had misplaced my motion sickness medicine.  This was not good!  The waters out there are much rougher than what I’m used to so I was nervous about getting sick.  I had a few moments of panic and stress.  Then I remembered…I can probably just by some.  Duh! I remembered seeing what I thought translated to pharmacy on a sign on my random walk.  I managed to find it again on my way down to the marina! They had what I needed and for a cheap price.

4. Sadly there were no whale sightings during the afternoon tour. I really wanted to see these beautiful creatures in their natural element. I have another reason to come back! I did however, see striped dolphins that I had never seen in the wild before.    They were beautiful creatures.  We saw bottle nosed dolphins like the ones we have in Florida waters too.  However, these oceanic dolphins were massive in size!

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5. I had grilled green mussels today. Drool and be very jealous! Who needs grilled oysters?! These were excellent and to top it off the garlic bread comes with bacon on it.  Foodie win!

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garlic bread with bacon

 

Another great day is in the books.  Tomorrow….I get my rental car and do some more exploring! Oh boy!

Lauren G. , Outdoorsy Diva™

ADVENTURE IS MY LIFESTYLE!!!”


Outdoorsy Diva Daily Diary #4: A Volcano Cooked My Lunch

Today was another fantastic day.  We went to the center of the island today to visit a village called Furnas. This place is like the Land Before Time.  There are vents of hot steam bubbling up from deep inside the earth and boiling pools of water all over the place in this area.   The earth is truly alive and still forming and changing.  It was so green and lush in the area.   I’m convinced the dinosaurs might be hiding out somewhere on this island.  Major kudos to my guide today, Eduardo, for taking this awesome airborn picture of me!

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Here are the highlights from today:

Treated my skin to a dip in the mineral baths that are heated by the surrounding steam vents and hot water. This water felt amazing!  I needed a nap after this.

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Locals of long ago built faucets to tap into the mineral rich water in the area.  I tried one that was like a sparkling water.  My face gives away what I thought of the taste.

drinking mineral water

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From the top of the crater rim, I saw Lake Furnas in all of its eerie greenish yellow glory!  In the back drop the clouds cleared and we could see the neighboring island of Santa Maria!

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I was getting my Andrew Zimmerman on today! The locals have dug holes in the earth where it is warmed from the volcanic activity in the surrounding area.  They fill pots with vegetables and meats and slow cook it down in the holes for 6 hours to make “coizido”.  It was a foodie adventure for sure!

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The great part of a tour group is that you don’t have to think about your next move or plan anything.  The semi sucky part is that you are on a schedule.  There were some areas I would certainly like to explore a bit longer.  There are also some areas on the island that I can’t get to via a tour because I’m a party of one.  Soooooo I’m going to put on my big girl panties and rent a car at some point and go do some more exploring.  After 2 days of riding around on the island and observing the roads and the drivers, I think I’ll be ok.  Stay tuned…..

To see more pictures don’t forget to follow my Instagram  account:  http://instagram.com/outdoorsydiva

Lauren G. , Outdoorsy Diva™

ADVENTURE IS MY LIFESTYLE!!!

 


Outdoorsy Diva Daily Diary #3: Off Road Jeep tour

It’s my 2nd day on the island. Today Sao Miguel showed me exactly why I planned this trip.  I saw some of the most spectacular views I’ve ever seen in my life.  The volcanic history of the island has created  a canvas of geological awesomeness!  I’m pooped and after you read the highlights of today you will understand why!

1. On today’s tour:

  • Went through the center of the island in an off road Jeep
  • Stood on the edge of the crater rim of one of the 50+ volcanoes on the island.
  • Explored the Setes das Cidades village and the famous volcanic lakes of the same name.  One is blue and one is green.  It was cloudy but the pictures just don’t do it justice!
  • Had a fantastic lunch at  local restaurant that grows their own fruits and vegetables on site!
  • A cow tried to race our jeep…that was pretty funny.  We also passed another cow and her farmer on the side of the road waiting for a vet because she was about to give birth.  Good luck Bessie!!
  • Saw the famous Lagoa do Fogo, or fire lake.  I didn’t get to make the hike to the bottom but I really really hope I do before I leave the island.  This was one was actually even more beautiful than the Lagoas Sete das Cidades!
  • Visited a volcanic beach and saw authentic volcanic black sand for the 1st time
  • Bathed in a mineral hot spring and waterfall warmed by the volcano.

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2. It was a fantastic day and the craziest part is that none of it was planned.  When you travel solo the tour companies have a minimum so I had to hope that I could be fit into a tour. I called this morning and it all worked out! Thanks to my German tour mates and my awesome guide Francisco!

3. Ok, this isn’t nice but it’s honest. The lady who shared travel tips on the Azores who said the food wasn’t anything special and that you should expect frozen fish and a lack of vegetables is either a bold faced liar or has the taste buds of a turnip.   I have enjoyed so many delicious things and the Azoreans definitely have their own spin on many dishes! I also want to send a special kudos to the Azorean cows!  Their milk is of such high quality that it makes the cheeses, butters, and ice cream outstanding.   I have enjoyed so much delicious food since my visit so I’m not sure what the lady who gave that sage warning ate on her trip but she clearly missed out.

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4.  When we ventured down to the shores of the crater lakes and I realized what it took to form this awesome sight, I became really overwhelmed.  Sometimes it’s good to just sit and be still and allow your energy to connect with nature.   It was so therapeutic.  Well done God…well done.

Lagoas Sete das Cidades

Francisco has already set up a tour for me tomorrow on the other side of the island!  Until the next adventure…..

Lauren G. , Outdoorsy Diva™

ADVENTURE IS MY LIFESTYLE!!!


Outdoorsy Diva Daily Diary #2: First day in the Azores

 

Hello from the beautiful seaside city of Ponta Delgada, Sao Miguel!   It’s been such a fantastic day.  I think I’m already in love!!!   I’ve had so much good food already and it’s just the first day!  I have to pace myself or I’m going to gain 50lbs this week.  Here are the highlights of the first day in the Azores.

Views…Ponta Delgada Saõ Miguel. #traveler #travelgram #hiking #takeahike #portugal

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1. I arrived around 7 am local time and caught a taxi from the airport.  All of the taxis here are Mercedes Benz…great 1st impression.  Thankfully they had a room ready for me even though check in was technically 11am.   All I wanted was to get some sleep! I slept on the plane but it was very cramped on the plane and not restful.  I needed some rest before I could do anything today.  When I checked in they said oooh you are Lauren; we received your email last week.  I was informed that this was just my resting room, and they would be moving me tomorrow to a better room because I had let them know that I was blogging about my experience.   Saweet! Sao Miguel Park Hotel is taking real good care of me.

2. I explored the city center today.  It reminds me a lot of Old San Juan, Puerto Rico. It has the old world feel with narrow streets and cobblestone paths.  Everywhere you turn there is a cafe with seats and tables outside.  It is very relaxing and no one is in a hurry. I love the old architecture of the churches and government buildings.

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3. I ate so much great food today!  Lunch was swordfish,green mussels, shrimp, clams and rice.   I tried the Sao Jorge cheese as everyone told me to.  All the yesses!!! I loved it.  I also had a traditional Azorean Beef Alcides which was recommended by Jose, my airport buddy.  I had traditional cheesecake as well as wine from the Azorean island of Pico.    I enjoyed every bit of every meal and snack I have had today!

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4. I forgot a few things, including my toothbrush which I know I put in the case and must have left on my counter at home.  I also wasn’t prepared for the weird electrical outlets. They didn’t have enough converters so I had to go and buy one for my phone and laptop.   He sent me to the “Super China” store.   I saw several of these China stores throughout the day.   It’s pretty much a baby Walmart.  I found everything I needed and it was super cheap!

5. Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!  When I returned from exploring, the hotel manager, Mario alerted me that he had another room ready for me.  The new room, kicks the old room’s booty by leaps and bounds.  It’s larger, has a flat screen tv, it has a balcony and a panoramic view of the city center and the ocean.  The other room did have mountains in the backdrop but that’s about it.   There was also a fruit tray and mineral water with a welcome note as well as chocolate  (which I ate before I remembered to take a picture of it). Nice gesture.  The new room has a much larger bathroom and something the other bathroom didn’t have — a bidet!  Winning! I’ve always wanted to try one.  Hehe :-).  Without giving you too much info, let’s just say I’m a fan.

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5.  I ventured back out tonight for dinner and then on down to the marina.   The marina comes to life at night.  There are clubs and bars and restaurants everywhere.  I lucked up tonight because one of the docked yachts had a free concert.  I don’t know who this band was but I had a prime spot sitting on the edge of the water right in front of the boat.  They were actually very good, not what I expected.  They were a fusion of pop,rock, blues, soul, and funk.  I really enjoyed their performance.

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To see more pictures don’t forget to follow my Instagram  account:  http://instagram.com/outdoorsydiva

Lauren G. , Outdoorsy Diva™

ADVENTURE IS MY LIFESTYLE!!!


Outdoorsy Diva Daily Diary #1: Stopping through Boston

1. My travel itinerary dictated that I travel first to Boston and then onto my final destination via Sata Airlines.  This is my very first visit to Boston and I completely underestimated the weather.  I never expected to welcome spring with snowfall!

 

2. I haven’t even left the country yet and I have already made friends.  I’ve met airport workers who call the Azores home that shared tips and recommendations with me.  I also met a very sweet couple, Jose and Laura, who are also traveling to Ponta Delgada as well.   We ventured into the city just as the snowfall started to move in.   It was totally worth the hike in the snow to have clam chowder from Legal Seafood.

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3. Jose is a native Azorean from the island of Pico.  I knew they had a different Portuguese dialect…but it’s very different.  Apparently the Portuguese language lessons I’ve been getting from an app I downloaded were teaching me the Brazilian dialect and it’s very very very different.  Whoops. I guess I will be gesturing and pointing at things all week. LOL  Jose said not worry.  There is an abundance of English-speaking people on the island so I should be ok.

4. I’m sitting in the terminal as I type this just waiting for the time to board!  I’m feeling more and more confident by the minute.  If today’s encounter is the barometer for how my trip will go, then it’s going to be life changing.

Talk to you soon — next time from the Azores!

Ready for the next part of this journey! Wheels up! #adventureisalifestyle #travelgram #igtravel

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Lauren G. , Outdoorsy Diva™

ADVENTURE IS MY LIFESTYLE!!!”


Solo Trip Announcement

I’ve got some big news friends!  On Saturday morning, I will be welcoming this new season of spring time from THE AZORES ISLANDS!!!  One of two things should have happened when you read that statement.  Either the crowd went wild and you’re ecstatic or there were crickets because you have no freakin’ idea where the Azores islands are.   Trust me that’s ok!  Of everyone who I’ve told about this trip, I think less than 5 people knew where the islands were although a few had heard of them.

For those who have never heard of them and don’t know where the Azores islands are located, they are a cluster of islands roughly 900 miles off the western coast of Portugal and 2,391 miles to the east of Boston.   They are an autonomous region of Portugal and they do speak Portuguese but have their own dialect. The dialect isn’t much of a big deal for me since I don’t speak Portuguese anyway.  I will be stumbling my way through it but I have been told that enough people on the islands speak English; I should be ok.  I’m flying into Ponta Delgada on Sao Miguel, the largest of the islands.  I have yet to decide if I will try to island hop with just 6 days to explore. I will just play it by ear and see how it goes.  No pressure.

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Why am I traveling to this remote string of islands on a solo travel adventure, smack in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, that seemingly no one this side of the Atlantic has heard of or seems to know exist?   I can sum that up in one word — Beauty.  I found this deal on Groupon Getaways and the pictures in the ad were spectacular.   The more I googled and researched on Pinterest, the more I was convinced that I had to get there. They are simply beyond words.  Volcanic craters filled with bright blue lakes, mountains, hot springs, waterfalls, the ocean, farms, and unique architecture were enough to make me click ‘Buy’.   I’ve been plotting and planning since November and I can’t believe the time is already here.

Sao Miguel, Azores

Sao Miguel, Azores

This is one of the biggest trips of my life as I am traveling as a solo international traveler for the very first time.   Solo travel was one of my life goals and I’m excited and blessed that I finally have the opportunity to make this happen, especially in such a beautiful place.

I’m going to try something new for the blog that I haven’t done before.  I plan to do short daily check-in posts on the blog.  They won’t be my usual detailed narratives but just a bit of an insight into what I’m doing each day and a way to help my friends and family be at ease with my trip.  I also think it will help me stay connected to everyone as well.   I do have wi-fi in my hotel but I have plans to venture out for a couple of nights into other less sophisticated locations on the island so I’m not certain what type of connectivity I will have in those spots.  I will do my best!

So, please follow along with me on this fantastic milestone journey.  The easiest way is to sign up as an email subscriber which you can do below or to follow along via my socials and look out for the link but as you know, Facebook has a way of sharing what it wants to and I would hate for you to miss out.


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Azores Islands

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20 Comments

  • Reply
    Nadeen
    March 19, 2015 at 7:00 pm

    So excited for you! I have heard of the Azores but didn’t know the Portugal connection. The pic looks amazing! And good for venturing out on your first international solo trip! Have fun and be safe!

    • Reply
      Lauren
      March 19, 2015 at 7:32 pm

      Thanks Nadeen! Hopefully all fo the advice I have gotten from travel writers like you and others pays off!

  • Reply
    Jessica spivey
    March 19, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    Sounds like an awesome adventure! Can’t wait to follow you on it!

    • Reply
      Lauren
      March 19, 2015 at 7:32 pm

      Thanks Jessica! I’m so excited I can hardly contain myself. I still have to work tomorrow so I have to reel it in.

  • Reply
    Monique
    March 20, 2015 at 7:17 am

    Omg Lauren you are crazy! But I am so excited to hear all about this trip. I love your blog;) Happy Travels!!

    • Reply
      Lauren
      March 20, 2015 at 9:39 pm

      Thank you so much Monique for the support!

  • Reply
    Katrina
    March 24, 2015 at 8:02 am

    GOOD FOR YOU! I Love being the type of person who GOES and SEES instead of having things at home – there’s so much to see! I still travel solo sometimes away from hubby and smetimes we travel together LOL

  • Reply
    Alexandria @ Al2getherfit
    March 24, 2015 at 10:27 am

    Everything looks absolutely amazing!!! So glad you are enjoying everything!

  • Reply
    Jenny
    March 27, 2015 at 9:22 am

    This looks like an AMAZING trip! Wow. I need to travel by myself more often. Haven’t been alone on a trip since 2012. Stopping by from the #FridaySharefest

  • Reply
    Beth Blacker
    March 29, 2015 at 4:06 pm

    So jealous…what an adventure you are having! Enjoy every moment…take it all in. Thanks for sharing via #TBB #FridayShareFest

  • Reply
    Danielle
    July 28, 2015 at 9:33 pm

    I can’t believe you did this. And by yourself! You are the real deal. The Azores are an unspoiled paradise, combining the rugged beauty of Hawaii and the wine and cheese of Europe… with far fewer tourists (until everyone starts reading this and catches on).

    • Reply
      Lauren
      July 28, 2015 at 10:47 pm

      Danielle it really is such a wonderful place. You described it perfectly!

  • Reply
    Ruth
    September 19, 2015 at 10:27 am

    I’ve been battling over where to go on a solo trip in a couple of weeks, and I now know! I love your writing- thanks for the inspiration 🙂

    • Reply
      Lauren
      September 19, 2015 at 10:53 am

      That’s fantastic Ruth!!! I’m so happy you found the blog. I think you will love the Azores. I’m working on a full guide to Sao Miguel so please subscribe so that you don’t miss that info when it gets released!! Thank you for reading.

  • Reply
    tdez
    December 14, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    I’m thinking of traveling to Portugal alone next year so I googled “Azores female alone,” a link to your blog popped up, and I’m so happy it did. You are an inspiration. Hope you had a truly amazing time on your adventure, and I hope you have many more.

    • Reply
      Lauren
      December 17, 2015 at 1:28 pm

      I’m so happy you found my site! Thank you for the kind words. Feel free to send me an email via my contact page if you have any questions at all! I’m more than happy to help. Wishing you an amazing adventure.

  • Reply
    Gaby
    February 3, 2016 at 4:03 pm

    Hi! Similar to a previous comment, I googled “traveling alone in the Azores”, and stumbled across your blog! Your pictures and daily updates really say it all 🙂 I was hoping you wouldn’t mind sharing how you booked your guides..? I’m hoping to go there this spring. Thanks for your page, I’m glad I magically found it!

  • Reply
    Kyomi (Wading Wade)
    February 18, 2017 at 7:35 am

    I am so sold! Those mussels look so divine! I love this diary style you’ve done with the solo trip. I think sometimes it can be so daunting, so it’s amazing you’ve broken it down like this. Better than telling someone, you should just do it! Anyway, I can’t wait to visit the Azores!

    • Reply
      Lauren
      February 18, 2017 at 9:27 pm

      I really do hope you get a chance to visit. It’s such a beautiful place.

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