Saturday, 13 July 2019

The Azores, first and last charter holiday experience:

Map over the Azores islands
Yes, I am that type of a guy who always has found great joy and pleasure in travelling and exploring the world around him or as I have a tendency to say, mapping the exciting home we call earth. Even as a small child I really found excitement in travelling with my family. Not that we did it that often but when we did, I was in seventh heaven. For me, it didn't matter if it was up north, down south or just over the border to Sweden. For me, it was just one big adventure I even remember like it was just yesterday that I took my very first “solo-adventure” as a 13-year-old to participate in a football tournament. It didn't end as I had hoped for, but that is just part of the game. All good memories anyway.
Angra do Heroismo, the oldest continuously settled town of the Azores (Photo credit: Concierge.2C )
This is actually something that lines up kinda perfectly with today's topic and that is my very first (and only) experience with charter holiday and first time leaving Europe, in a way. This was back in 2007 and us as a family had made the desition to spend a week of the summer break in the Portuguese islands of the Azores. Just so we could get away from the everyday life back home and actually enjoying some lazy and quiet days by the pool with good temperatures. I have to be honest here and say that I didn't expect much. None of us had any idea about what to expect or had any prior knowledge about our chosen destination. One thing is for sure and that is the fact we would be positively surprised at arrival.
The grand cliffs of the island of São Jorge
There is one thing I have to point out and that is the reason why there have been no more chartered holidays for me after this vacation in the Azores. This has nothing to do with any bad experiences or anything, the fact is that I have nothing but warm memories from this trip. I loved the hotel, the service we received and everything around our week-long stay, but the thing about me is that I like to do things my way. I have a strong dislike for fixed schedules, time tables and things like this. For me its all about taking things in the tempo I want. So these types of fixed and pre-made vacations aren't anything for me, that's the only reason really. Who knows, maybe at one point in my life I will change my mind.
Fajã Grande, the westernmost village in the Azores (Photo credit: Martin Herbst )
The Azores, the very last European paradise is an autonomous region of Portugal, made up by a series of islands (9 in total). The main city is Ponta Delgada, but it has 3 capital cities (these are Ponta Delgada, Horta and Angra do Heroismo). These islands have been more or less under Portuguese rule since the discovery and prior to the discovery never had any native population, but its population mainly originate from the Portuguese mainland. Yes, it is part of the EU. No matter what you are looking for while on vacation you will find it on the Azores. You can also visit tobacco and grape producers, go fishing, whale safari, lazy city life, spending your days on the beach or by the poolside.
The northern coast of the island of São Miguel around Capelas and São Vicente
For me, it was the combination of city life and the lazy poolside slumber kinda thing or for me, it ended up with splashing in the pool together with my daughter. I found the food we got served as amazing and I had the pleasure of experiencing some a few new things like a shark, clownfish and so much more. We spent most of our vacation in and around the city of Ponta Delgada, but we also got to experience other parts of the island of Sao Miguel, like Furnas and the hot springs at the Terra Nostra Park. I would actually say that our experience at Furnas had to be the highlight of our trip. We spent more or less a whole day just walking around in the park itself and jumped into the spring at the end, for a few hours.
Horta was a waypoint in trans-Atlantic yachts and shipping
When I look back at our first trip to the Azores, the Furnas experience is the first thing that comes to mind and the trouble we had later with cleaning our swimwear. Actually, I don't think we ever managed to get the iron staining from the water out of it. When we got back to Norway all of it got trashed because of it. if you are looking for testimony on how amazing the Azores are, well you shouldn't look any further than the one we had because we returned the very next year for a whole month and loved it even more. The second time around we rented a cabin in a different part of Sao Miguel and had one amazing experience. That time around we really got to experience the local population to its fullest.
Mains street in Angra do Heroismo (Photo credit: Concierge.2C)
A dream that I have is that one time in the future me and my son will make this journey and of course do more or experience more of the true Azorian adventure. Go on these whale safaris, go island jumping and do some fishing. First I have to take him to Norway so he can experience and explore where I come from, this is also a big dream for him. Not that, we are making plans for such an adventure sometime in the future, but this is a topic for another day and a different post I guess. Anyway, if you are looking for a family-friendly holiday destination then you have to consider the Azores. It's safe, has a low crime rate and tons of things you can do to fill up your vacation.
Perspective of Mount Pico, the highest mountain/summit in the Azores
I would say that, out of all the adventures I have been on for the past 20 years or so, the Azores sticks out as a favourite. Actually, the only bad or negative experience I have had from my journeys to the Azores was the time when we got swarmed by something that reminded me of giant flying ants. These monsters got me up from the pool and into the hotel in a hurry, but then again I wasn't the only one. At the same time, I have to say that the weather was superb. Usually, it rains a lot, but during that first week, I don't think we experienced rain one single time and that is kinda unique since it usually rains every single day. The most important part is that we had a great time and I would recommend you to give it a go as well.
Flores,  Azores, Portugal
Anyway, I do think its time for me to wrap this post up and get it ready for my blog. The idea behind it was to walk down memory lane and share one amazing holiday memory that I keep near and dear to my heart. If I am lucky, maybe you make it your next destination as well? The photos that I am using for this post isn't mine, the ones that I have is too old and too low quality to be used in this context. I guess you know or do remember how mobile phone cameras were back in 2007 and 2008? Not like they are today, that is for sure. Today they are mini computers with really good cameras. Anyway, I hope you did enjoy my somewhat short post and if you did, why not check out my other travel and expat related posts while you are here.

Remember that, if you like my blog and the job that I am doing with it you can support my work by sharing it with friends on social media, support me financially through buying me a coffee on Ko-fi (Jack Bowler Sr) and leave some nice words in the comment section. At the same time, I do hope to see you back for my next post.

Wednesday, 10 July 2019

I am now in the middle of an extremely hectic period:

Greetings to all you lovely people out there, today I do feel like the need to start this post with an apology for my absence and lack of updates the past few weeks (last 2,5 weeks or so). There has been plenty of factors playing a part here, but the main one has been work and how things have more or less blown up in my face with an increased workload. An unexpected increase as well, but I shouldn't really complain. With more work comes more of that lovely silver as well. So it hasn't been all that doom and gloom, just that I have ended up in squeeze time-wise. I have really tried to work on a few posts, but I haven't really had the energy or been in the mood, has that simple really.
From what I have heard, it's not a very healthy strategy to apologize or even admit the fact that you have had a dry period, its like admitting a minor defeat. For me its all about being honest. At the same time, it's a way for me to get back on the saddle. There was also one episode that really took the wind out of my sail, and this was my very first negative comment or feedback. It manages to get me to doubt myself for a few days but at the same time its important to trust the people that read your blog and leave nice comments. At the moment I choose to ignore it and continue working on future posts, especially since I am not doing it for fame or acknowledgement, but for pure fun and entertainment.
The weird or strange part of this dry period is that I have had more than enough time and energy to get into verbal fights on Twitter and even been served with a few timeouts as well, but things have stopped for me when it came to my blog. The good thing in all of this is that it has been brought on by an unexpected increase in work-load. For the past two or three weeks, I have had at least 60% or more increase and that in itself is a good thing, at least for the family as a whole. More work means more of that shiny silver. I have also had time to ponder on what to do next, both here on my blog and out in the real world. There is one thing that is closer to become a reality and that is our family trip to Arequipa.
We have actually been talking about visiting Arequipa this month since our son is having a week off from school and all. Peru is celebrating their independence and with that follows a whole week off school for the kids, great tradition right? I bet that most kids around the world would love a copy of this for themselves. For me, I see this as an opportunity to get some new material for my blog and maybe even get my Youtube channel off the ground. To actually start producing new content for the channel, it has been “dead” for about two months or so now. We are also back on track talking about having a week on the road in California, but this has to wait until summer break comes around. Yes, I do miss travelling, a lot.
When it comes to my blog, there will also be a few changes coming. One of the changes is the schedule that I have been following. Truth be told it has to go. There are many reasons for this, but the one that is the most important is the fact that it has played a huge role in my absence the past 2,5 weeks. It's counterproductive in many ways. From now on I am going to publish when a post is ready, that's it. Another thing that has to go is the way I open a post or introduce it. Because more or less every single post that I have published since the beginning has the same introduction, with very minor variations. I guess it gets old and very boring after a while, something I haven't taken that seriously in the past.
There is a third and much bigger change that is coming in a short while. This has to do with the look of or the layout of the blog. I have up to now been using a standard Blogger template, but it doesn't look good and I am kinda bored of it. So I am in dialogue with a friend of the family about it. Yes, she does web designs and such. This is actually one change that I am really excited about, to make the blog look more personal. Having a look that fits more to the topic of hand and to my own personality. This is anyway a change that is going to be a part of a much bigger plan, but this won't be revealed just yet. Anyway, I am super excited about this, I do feel re-energized and boiling over with ideas for future posts.
Anyway, I guess its time for me to wrap this post up. All I really wanted to do was to give a sign of life and tell you guys that everything is great, just extremely busy at the moment. To update you guys on what's going on and near future plans. At the same time, I would recommend that you follow me on Twitter (Beyond the Horizon), on Instagram (Beyond our Horizon), on Facebook (Beyond the Horizon) and (Jack Bowler Sr). This way you will be updated on a daily bases, especially when it comes to Twitter and my personal Facebook page. I am also working my way back to post daily on Instagram. Had a really long break, a natural break since I have been taking a few photos lately. So have a great day guys.

P.S: I am sorry for the photos, I know that they are bad, even for my standards. At the same time, all I want to do with my included photos is to show the uncensored version of my life or at least that's what I am aiming to do if you get my point?

Friday, 21 June 2019

I have recieved some amazing photos from home #2:

A black cat in the gras
Greetings to all you lovely ladies and gentlemen out here on this world wide web. Wow, its Friday again already and its both scary and amazing how fast time seems to fly these days. I am actually starting to lose track of time at the moment. Anyway, the weekend is just around the corner and for most of you, that means a two-day break from everyday stress and obligations. So, do you have any plans for the weekend or are you going to wing it like a champ? When it comes to me, it will be more of the usual. All work and very little play. Closing up to the end of the month and that means more work that needs to be handled as usual, at the same time I have a few posts that need to be worked on as well.
A duckling sleeping in the pond
So I guess its time for me to move on and get started on today's topic. As you can see from the headline, this is post number two who are focusing on the series of photos that I managed to get my hands on, back home from Norway. In total it was about 70 photos, but I have only plans for one more post after this one. Just to have it said, this friend of mine has some amazing photographer skills and this is one of the reasons why I want to showcase them here on my blog and I do hope that you take some time to check her out on Instagram and Twitter. I will include links to her profiles at the end of this post. To be honest, I do feel she deserve the attention and my gratitude for letting me use them on my blog.
A duckling and their mom by the shore
On to something else and some rambling from my part. Because lately, I have been thinking a lot about the progress that my blog is having or in many ways lack of it. Okay, I am not creating my content purely for the views or the clicks, but because I find it interesting and love sharing my experience as an expat and adventurer. At the same time, I do enjoy the fact that people visit my blog and check out my content, but it happens in a much slower rate than what I would like it to happen. Then again I shouldn't really complain either, but one thing is for sure. I have kinda managed to stray out from where I had imagined the direction would be and this might be the reason for the slow progress, or maybe it purely hangs on the content itself?
Duck and her duckling swimming in the pond
Birds playing in the pond
I did start this blog over the fact that I love to create and wants to tell my own story as an expat. I am doing that in many ways, but at the same time, I do feel that there is a lot of running in circles as well. So what I am thinking about right now is to go back to start and work my way in a much better direction. Focus on the topics that were intended from the beginning. Yes, I will continue to write personal posts, but at the same time produce on larger rate posts that are relevant to the main topic. As I see it maybe publish two personal posts a week and one either related to travel or expat facts once a week, while I am doing this maybe work harder on reaching daily updates at some point.
A funny animal looking stupid
At the same time, there are a few other topics I want to focus on, but with a different blog. I am a person who is very interested in history, horror movies, politics and for that matter religion. Yes, I am a semi-religious person. Politics and religion are in many ways excluded since these are some really hot potatoes and that's not me. On the other hand, horror movies are more up my alley or movies in general and the idea I am kinda working on is starting a movie blog where I focus on upcoming releases and reviews on new and old movies. I feel that this might be something that I can work on without it crashing with my main blog or am I now about to walk into a minefield?
A squirle eating chips in a tree
At least this is a project that I really do want to embark on and if not for anything else but to check out the potential. Just to have it mentioned, horror movies are my favourite genre and has been so for as long as I can remember. I remember when I and my cousin were watching Friday the 13th in secret and how it both scared me and fascinated me. To such a degree that I even tried to write my own version of the storyline. No, I do not have the script anymore, got trashed many years ago, but I still do enjoy the art of writing as you can see. Anyway, when it comes to this new idea that I am having, I do need to think it through and not just jump into it and end up totally losing focus on what's important.
A duck flapping its wings
A bird landing to feed its kids
At the same time, there are a few other topics I want to focus on, but with a different blog. I am a person who is very interested in history, horror movies, politics and for that matter religion. Yes, I am a semi-religious person. Politics and religion are in many ways excluded since these are some really hot potatoes and that's not me. On the other hand, horror movies are more up my alley or movies in general and the idea I am kinda working on is starting a movie blog where I focus on upcoming releases and reviews on new and old movies. I feel that this might be something that I can work on without it crashing with my main blog or am I now about to walk into a minefield?
A spider in the gras
A duck and ducklings swimming in the pond
Well, these are some of the things that have kept me busy and occupied my line of thoughts in the past few days. I am a guy that can have a lot of ideas up in the air at the same time, but very few of them really lands in the end. When it comes to the movie blog, this is something I will play more within the weeks ahead. Because it seems like a project that fits me perfectly if you know what I mean? What do you think, would a blog like this be of any interest or should I just drop it in the planning stages? More or less as I am finishing off this post, I do have a brand new one in post-production. This one is more of the travel story type. I want to call it, my first date with a tropical destination.

Now I wish to thank you for taking time out of your busy schedule and checking out my blog, I hope you enjoyed your stay. If you enjoyed the photos I have included, please do check out the photographer on Instagram (Lena Andreassen) and Twitter (Lena Andreassen). Just remember to stay safe and enjoy your weekend guys!