in azores in portugal traveling

hiking calheta do nesquim

we’ve taken the boat to pico, where we’ll be staying for some time, half-working and half-exploring the island. the small town we’re staying at is called calheta do nesquim (after a dog named nesquim, who is said to have saved some shipwrecked people, many years ago). right by our house, there’s a circular trail (PR11PIC) that goes around the town and up to the whale watching hut, so of course we had to give it a go!

halfway through the hike, we found a friendly dog that decided to follow us around for a few kms… and then eventually got more interested in a local mechanic and left.

i love these rural paths, bordered with black stones and covered in moss. tiny volcanic stones crunching underneath our boots, the ominous sky, the cows munching on grass with a sea view. now and then, the sun shines through the clouds and the whole island looks green green green, as if we were on drugs or watching color for the first time.

i don’t know what it is about the azores… we come, and i always feel silly that we haven’t come sooner.

in azores in portugal

hiking caldeira

azores priorities are always about 2 things for us: hiking, and volcanoes. so putting these two together to hike around the ridge of an old volcano’s crater seemed like the right thing to do on our first day in the island of faial. :) the weather here is always changing, so it’s no use wasting much time planning — we just went for it!

i love how these paths disappear into the fog, so different from the weather we get in the south of portugal! we didn’t get a good view of the whole crater, grabbing just glimpses of it here and there as the clouds shifted, but it was magical nonetheless. we ended the 8km circular trail soaked through and with our feet swimming in the boots, but really happy! :D


weeknotes, 14/21

it feels like a few weeks have passed in the last 7 days, and all because we took a few days off… we should probably do that more often! :D

– seeing a sea hare! at first, we thought it was a plastic bag just floating around, but then it kept moving in a strange way… and when we looked closely, we found out it was a gigantic sea slug. often we see something interesting and then are disappointed to discover it’s just plastic, but this was the other way around and it felt brilliant.

kestrels, little owls, whimbrels, rare red-billed choughs, the ellusive (though exceedingly loud) corn bunting… it’s been a good week for birdwatching.

– the highlight of the week was definitely the return of the long hikes: three days walking from lagos to sagres, up and down aaaaaall the cliffs. i’ll probably write more about it at some point, but it was sublime to be outside in open air. just us and the birds and the waves crashing the shore for miles and miles, nothing to do but walk all day. if that isn’t nice, i don’t know what is.

– a visit to the chinese shop on the way back to stock the pantry with the essentials was ridiculously exciting for me, who had been listing ingredients and anticipating it for weeks. the nearest proper asian supermarket we have is all the way in albufeira and it isn’t even very good… but no matter — i got what i could find and i can’t wait to cook some stuff from chinese cooking demystified and work on improving my tolerance to spiciness.


abetardas trail

last year, we did a little trip on a campervan for the first time — it sounded like the safest way to go out and explore a little, while technically not leaving home. we enjoyed the experience, and used the opportunity to visit some of our favorite places in alentejo. at the time, we were just starting our birdwatching hobby, so it seemed fitting that we would try to see the biggest bird in europe, the bustard

alas, it wasn’t meant to be. despite being big birds, bustards are shy and not easy to spot in the vast steppe-like prairies of alentejo. no matter — we still enjoyed the trail in the vicinity of castro verde, with its never-ending open skies, soft rolling hills and almost dry river beds.

we’ve since acquired a pair of binoculars, and plan to go back to re-do this walk and hopefully spot some bustards at last! :)


PR12 – curral da pedra

following j’s lead, i’m going to start posting a little bit about the hikes we do now and then, mostly so that i don’t forget them so quickly. we often find ourselves looking at hiking trails in the south, puzzled as to whether we’ve already done them or not… so this seems like a good idea! :)

first up, tavira’s own PR12, a small 6,9km circular path we did last weekend since we couldn’t get out of the area.

the day was sunny and warm, but the trail didn’t get off to a good start. we discovered early on that the signs for it were scarce and faded, and ended up taking a wrong turn right at the beginning. as we considered backtracking, a big dog watched over us in the path ahead. so, me being a huge chicken, decided to just detour and climb a steep wall of gravel to shortcut it instead… which wasn’t terribly smart, but we’ve made it. when my heart stopped beating so fast, we were finally able to get on the right path and enjoy the day.

the goal was to find the hidden village of curral da pedra, deep in the middle of barrocal.

on the way there, we saw all the colors of autumn in algarve, which are not the same as autumn in other places.

we also saw iberian magpies, one of our favorite birds with their magnificent blue wings, but my little phone is not good enough to capture them.

this was an easy route, maybe a bit boring even as it takes place mostly on country roads with just a bit of elevation towards the end. we were done in 3 hours at a very slow pace, and back home safe and sound.