It has been quite a while since the last Photographic Monday. Thankfully, I recently went through the photos I took on my holidays last year, and found I had quite a few shots to share with you. (Yes, I can take some time to actually see the photos I took. It’s not good.)
Those holidays were spent in two of the nine islands of the Azores, Faial and Pico. I’ll only be showing you photos of Pico for the time being – otherwise, this blog post would be very lengthy. Ready? Set… go!
For those of you who don’t know, the Azores are Portuguese islands that are located in the very middle of the Atlantic Ocean (and I do mean the very middle, some of them are on an “European” tectonic plate and others in an “American” plate, and as the Atlantic is ever growing due to geological processes, the islands are growing further and further apart every year). Due to their geographic location, they are volcanic islands. No, that does not mean they are like Hawaii. If you’re expecting to see lava, it’s extremely unlikely you’ll have that chance in the Azores. But there is a lot more that you can see…
Like the volcanic mountain in the first picture, Pico (the island is named after it). It’s the highest mountain in Portugal, standing at 2351 meters. And it’s absolutely beautiful. Most days, the top of it is covered by a circle of clouds, so seeing the top of it is an absolute treat. Unless, of course, you’re standing on one of the islands close-by instead, in which case, you might see the bottom and the top but not the middle, just the bottom or nothing at all. It all depends on the weather.
It’s such a majestic sight that, no matter where you are, you’ll automatically look for it, and relish on whatever you see. I’ve heard that the view from the top (you can hike there!) is breath-taking, but I sadly didn’t have the chance to check. There was too much rain and fog to do the climb safely.
But there is more to Pico than the mountain.
Wherever you go, there will be birds fluttering about, of all types and sizes. And at the end of the day, by the roadside, you’ll see rabbits hopping away and hiding in the bushes. Not enough? Just take a walk or a drive by the seaside at midday and you’ll see swarms of bats flying happily about. The Azorean noctule is the only bat species known to do this.
If you’re more into volcanos, you can walk in a lava tube with brilliant guides who will explain everything to you, from the microbial life glittering on the walls to the formation of the rock underneath your feet. Just make sure to hold on tight to your flashlight!
And, of course, there are lakes, lakes, lakes and even more lakes. The Azores are very well known for their lakes, and with good reason. They’re prettier than pretty.
And there’s the sea. From whale watching (and dolphins! and turtles! and jellyfish! and sharks! aah! so many marine species!) to diving to swimming to sunbathing to fishing, there are so many ways to have fun in the water. My personal favourite (from the few I’ve tried – sadly diving isn’t one of them) is whale-watching, of course, but hey, I am a biologist. What did you expect?
Ah, now I feel like going to the Azores again. Three islands down, six to go!
Have you ever been to the Azores? What’s your favourite holiday destination? Is there somewhere you always wanted to go to?
“We are like islands in the sea,
separate on the surface but connected in the deep.”