Sunday, 21 July 2019

My very own personal photos from the Azores, 2007:

In my last post (The Azores, first and last charter holiday experience) I loosely told you guys about my experience as a charter tourist in the Azores and how much I ended up loving this Portuguese community, but at the same time, I did avoid to use any of my own photos. Instead, I did choose to use a few that I found on their Wikipedia page. I kinda felt that these photos represented the raw and natural beauty that you find as a tourist but at the same time, I had plans to do a follow up where I actually showcase from my own personal archives. The thing is that my photos are very old, 12 years to be precise and all of them captured on an old Nokia phone. Yes, I do love to use my phone to capture photos.
This time around I am not planning a lot of text, just a few paragraphs to fill out some space between some of the photos. Anyway, the truth when it comes to me and this European paradise is that there was serious love at first sight and long-lasting romance. My ex-wife is stilling returning to enjoy the experience with her new husband. Yes, I am a divorcee and has been that for many years now. No, we did not end on bad terms, we are still in contact and best of friends. The reality of adult life is that sometimes people are more connected as friends than life partners. It was the case for us, at the end of our marriage at least. We are better off as friends than partners now.
I kinda derailed myself here, but the fact is that if you first set foot on any of the islands that make up the Azores, you will leave part of you behind at the last day and you will keep on returning for many years to come. That is what happened to me and that is what has happened to most of the people I have spoken to who has been on a visit, usually through a travel agency of some sort. The only thing that has stopped me from returning now is the fact that I am living here in South America and its kinda unpractical to go on a short vacation to a destination like this, but I am strong in my faith that one day I will return, but when I do my son will be there with me to experience it.
The one thing that you have to keep in mind if you are considering the Azores as a holiday destination is a fact that fish and seafood plays a vital role in the food culture. If you have a thing about eating seafood you might want to reconsider your plans. Because of the hotels on the islands fish plays a big part of their menu. I didn't have any problems with it since I do love these types of dishes and I had the pleasure of trying some new ones while staying. Things like shark steak or meat, something I haven't tried before making the trip. Yes, I have had Chinese shark fin soup, but is there really any sharkfin in that type of soups back home in Norway? Highly doubtful.
There is one thing about the local Azorean people that I have to praise and that is the fact that they are genuine inclusive when it comes to strangers. They will invite you into their home if they get the chance to do so and they will fill up a bag with fruits if they have a garden of any size. The second time around, me and my ex-wife were overwhelmed by their extremely positive attitude towards strangers. This is something that might stem from the fact that there is no crime to speak of on any of the islands. At the time of my last visit to the Azores, they haven't had a murder in something like 20 years and this wasn't even committed by a local, but an American naval officer or something in that direction.
So you can with ease make the Azores your next holiday destination if you are travelling with kids. It's more likely they will be swarmed by some massively big flying ants than something bad happens to them done by the locals. I never noticed anything negative happening throughout both my stays there so, not that I was looking for it either. A fun detail is that we were actually thinking about moving there, that's why we made the second holiday happened, just to see how it would feel like. Sadly we did kinda change our mind and went to Canada for some time instead. I am kinda having regrets on the desition now. Because I felt like home there and by staying gave me such personal peace and quiet.
Anyway, I guess its time for me to start wrapping this post up and get it ready for my blog, I didn't intend for it to get this long and full of text, but this is just typical me. I set off just to showcase some photos and end up with a short story like this. That's life right, at least I hope you enjoyed my post and that you will check out the rest of the blog as well. If you want to, you can always check me out on social media. You will find me on Facebook through (Beyond theHorizon) and (Jack Bowler Sr), on Twitter (Beyond the Horizon) and on Instagram (Beyond our Horizon). You can also e-mail me for questions or comments through (Jack Bowler Sr). On Twitter and Facebook, I do my very best to update every single day.

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?