What to do in St. Croix

One word comes to mind when I think about St. Croix:  relaxing! 

I recently spent 5 days in St. Croix, USVI and wanted to share all of my recommendations – from things to do to places to eat.

We landed mid-afternoon, rented a car and drove about 45 minutes to our hotel – the Buccaneer Resort. I highly recommend this resort. They have beautiful and clean rooms, three beaches, a golf course, beach bar, and restaurant (including a breakfast buffet) all on site. Upon arrival you are welcomed with the choice of a fruit punch or rum punch – the three of us traveling together opted for a rum punch.

Since we had gotten to the hotel so late we went down to the beach right outside of our room and watched the sun set behind the mountain across the bay. We had dinner at the restaurant at the hotel. It was good but they have limited options.

Side note: we kept seeing these odd mammal running around the island. We had never seen them before so we looked it up and they are mongooses. They are actually super cute. 


Day 2:

We spent the entire day at Mermaid Beach on our resort. The views are beautiful, the water was warm and the relaxation was perfect. There is a hut on the beach where you can get noodles, paddleboards, sea kayaks and more for free.

We got dinner again at the hotel restaurant strictly out of being tired. Again, decent food but not many options to choose from.


Day 3:

We started our day in Christiansted, the largest town in St. Croix sitting a five minute drive from our resort. We walked along the boardwalk into the shops and had lunch at RumRunners. This restaurant was a popular spot for tourists and locals. We then went back to our resort and relaxed at the beach again – a theme that was prominent during this trip. We all needed some R&R!

We had heard so many good things about the restaurant You Are Here so we tried it out. They were right – it was really good and known for their pizza. There was a sweet cat that hung on the patio with us and we named him Harvey. We loved him. We actually liked the place so much we came back the next day.


Day 4:

We drove about 30 minutes to Cruzan Rum Distillery and took a tour. For $8 we took a 30 minute tour of the plantation and factory, got two mixed drinks and 4 shots of rum of our choice – you can’t really go wrong with the price. I’m not a rum drinker and even I thought the mixed drinks were delicious. We only had six people on our tour as we were on the first tour of the day at 10 a.m. but as the day went on each group grew in size. They also have a beautiful patio (all in the shade) with high top tables, couches and lounge chairs. We sat there and drank and talked for three hours!


Following Cruzan, we drove to Frederiksted (although we took an hour long detour because my GPS didn’t pick up the location correctly and we went to the Carambola Resort by accident). We arrived at Rhythms at Rainbow Beach and headed to the restaurant in desperate need of food. It was crowded with tourists and locals. After lunch we rented chairs and hung out on the beach and in the water for a while. We then drove 45 minutes back to our resort before heading to Christiansted for dinner. 


Day 5:

We lounged on the beach for a few hours, showered then headed back downtown to Christiansted before having to head to the airport.  We ate lunch again at RumRunners as it was one of the few restaurants open on a Sunday. 


We were told the tide pools were awesome but with 88 degree weather and high humidity, hiking in the woods for hours did not sound appealing. We also heard the “rain forest” is interesting but  there are no clear directions to get there so we didn’t try.
Overall, we loved St. Croix. It was so beautiful and relaxing. Just what we needed!

The Perfect Long Weekend Itinerary in Napa

I recently went to Napa Valley for the first time ever and loved it. Anyone who drinks and enjoys wine needs to go there.

I went over Labor Day – and I live on the East Coast – so yes, a long weekend is totally doable. We spent two days in the Valley and on our first day we visited three wineries and the second day we visited two.

Follow our itinerary for a fun and also relaxing trip to Napa:

Day 1

We stayed at the Hilton Doubletree about a twenty minute ride from the wineries. After eating breakfast we ordered an Uber and off we went to the wineries! 

10:00 am: Our first stop was Frank Family Vineyards. We walked inside and into a side room with two bars – perfect size for about 6 people to enjoy wine at each one. Our “guide” for lack of a better word, was easy going but also very knowledgeable. We started with a sparkling wine – which was delicious! Then we had a Chardonnay followed by three red wines. My favorite was the sparkling wine, the Pinot Noir and the Sangiovese. Give yourself about an hour and a half to two hours here. It is not rushed but we made our next appointment a little too close for comfort. We ordered our Uber and were off to the second winery!


11:15 a.m.: We drove up a windy road to Schramsberg Vineyards nestled on the mountainside. We walked in and our tour began at 10:30. We followed our tour guide into a tunnel lined with thousands of bottles of wine! This vineyard specializes in sparkling wine so our tour guide explained the riddler (he turns each bottle of wine throughout the day to ensure sediment deposits move down to the neck of the bottle). I asked our guide about the caves and he said they meander about 2 miles throughout the mountainside and were hand-carved by picks decades ago. After learning about the wine process and history of the location and owners, we got to taste the wine while in the cave! With the backdrop of thousands of bottles of wine and a dozen candles, we were able to taste 5 different wines – 4 sparkling and 1 red wine. I loved all of the sparkling wines, but my favorite two were the Blanc to Blanc and the Brut Rose.


1:30 pm: After this vineyard, we requested another Uber and traveled to Rutherford Grill – request to sit on the patio – there are excellent views of the mountains.


4 p.m.: We drove a short distance to Salvestrin Vineyard. This vineyard was so relaxing. We sat out on the patio with the sunshine and views of the rows of grapes and mountains as a backdrop. We tried 5 wines here. My personal favorite was the Sangiovese.


6:00 pm: We had dinner at Cook St. Helena – a cozy Italian restaurant. 


Day 2:

After breakfast we were on our way to our first winery – Nickel & Nickel. When we first pulled up we were blown away at the beauty of the property. It’s a farmhouse surrounded by gardens, a horse stable, a barn, and mountains in the background. We took a tour of the grounds – walking into each building and learning the process of making wine. We even went down to the wine cellar and took pictures by the barrels.

We then enter the farmhouse again and moved to a private dining room where 5 wines were waiting for us with 3 different types of cheeses. We tasted each one individually and then were told to mix and match the wine with different cheeses to see how the taste changes. I loved the first cheese with the first wine. This winery is very sophisticated and classy and it was really cool to see how each winery has their own personality.


12:30 p.m.: Mustards Grill – this place was so busy! The food was also delicious.

3:00 p.m.: Del Dotto Vineyards – we pull up to this European looking home which seems quite small, however as we continue walking towards it, it gets bigger – because the first floor is actually below ground. We enter and the entire place is filled with marble, colorful walls, and what looks like an Italian mansion. We then enter the caves for our wine tasting and learn about oak barrels and how the wood taken from specific woods can change the wine. We tried about six wines – all red and mainly cabernet. We then head back out of the caves and stand at a bar where we drink more wine and they provide cheese, prosciutto, and homemade pizza. So fun!


6:00 p.m.: Brasswood Bar + Kitchen – we started off outside but then a bee took a real interest in me so we went inside. Their food was also delicious. I highly recommend getting the arancinis as an appetizer.

We then drove to San Francisco and stayed there for the night so we didn’t have a long trip to the airport in the morning – our flight was at 7:45 am!

We hope to go back soon! We loved it and with more than 500 vineyards, we can go back hundreds of times and always visit a new one!

Stockbridge MA: Pictures

I went to Stockbridge recently and it was adorable! I highly recommend going there if you like being outdoors, quaint general stores, restaurants and coffee shops. The downtown area is small, but packed with character. Every store is home to local artisans’ crafts. 

We stayed at the Cranwell Resort and went to Furnace Brook Winery and walked through every store down town. We had brunch at the Red Lion Inn, a famous hotel that is often pictured in Norman Rockwell’s paintings of the town. 

See more pictures below! 

Red Lion Inn 

Cranwell Resort

Cranwell resort 

Red Lion Inn 
Furnace Brook Winery 

Best Towns to Visit in Massachusetts

If you are visiting Massachusetts for a vacation, I bet your first two thoughts are the city of Boston and Cape Cod. However, there are many other beautiful towns that you should visit while in this fabulous state. 
Best Towns to Visit in Massachusetts:

1. Rockport. This town is quintessential New England with beautiful harbors and marinas and rocky coast lines. While here go to Bearskin Neck, a stretch of old fishermen and lobstermen shacks that have been turned into restaurants, shops and galleries.

2. Lexington and Concord. These two towns were very important in history. Most of their buildings date back to Revolutionary and Colonial times. They also host battle reenactments and are home to beautiful state parks and nature reserves. 

3. Brookline – Coolidge Corner is both quaint and bustling. With plenty of shops and restaurants, this town just miles from downtown Boston is a perfect place to visit for those overwhelmed by big cities. 

4. Stockbridge – located in Western Mass, this town hosts many resorts and wealthy New Yorkers’ summer homes. However, it is most known for the Norman Rockwell Museum. Imagine picturesque store fronts and a skyline of steeples. 

5. Salem – this unique town is famous for its 1692 witch trials, during which a few locals were executed for allegedly practicing witchcraft. They have harbour tours, haunted tours, museums and much more. 

6. Newburyport – this coastal town is a historical sea port and old fishing village. With brick-covered storefronts and new restaurants, this town is a beautiful escape from the city. 

   
(Rockport)

 

Budget Travel: How to Do It

Budget travel is something everyone wants, but not everyone masters it. I take 4-5 trips a year – two of which are usually a week long and two trips are 3-4 days long. In between those, I take weekends away too. How do I do it? Keep reading…
The entire internet is filled with these types of articles. However, many of these articles say “use your travel points” but what they forget to mention is that to get points you have to spend money. If you are interested in budget travel, that tip doesn’t really work. Here is how I travel on a budget:

1. Travel in off-season. It’s always cheaper, there are less tourists and if you go mere weeks before busy season begins you will still get great weather! 

For example, Europe is a very popular summer and fall destination. I went to Madrid last Spring and it was hundreds of dollars cheaper than if I went a few weeks later. It wasn’t beach weather, but it was in the 60s which is perfect for exploring and walking around a city. The same goes for the Caribbean – their busy season is December – March. I tend to go in April, June or early August. Each country or destination has their own busy season (which you can find through some research) so try to go right before it starts or right after it ends. 

2. Avoid school vacation weeks. This seems like a given, but if you don’t have kids and don’t want to pay an arm and a leg for your trip, research when local schools have off and book around it. 

3. Research! Before booking, I compare numerous airline and hotel prices. I first choose a few date ranges that I am available. Then I research hotel and airline prices for all of those weekends on numerous airlines (or via Expedia) and find the cheapest (but also 4-5 star Tripadvisor rated) hotel and the cheapest flight. It takes a lot of time – usually a few hours – but it’s worth it knowing I got the best deal for my budget without sacrificing for low quality accommodations. 

4. Use a AAA agent. If you are already a member, use them to help! I have provided them the dates I can travel and my budget and they do the research for you. 

At times, I’ve even given them a list of places I want to go. They send back a list of the average cost for each destination. I then choose one and go from there.  

5. For weekends away, sometimes I peruse TravelZoo for great deals.

Do you have any other tips? Leave them in the comments!

  

Curacao Vacation

I just got back from a week in Curacao and it was fantastic! Imagine turquoise blue waters, coral reefs, colorful houses, scuba diving and a beautiful desert landscape with cactus everywhere.

I highly recommend going to this Dutch island in the Caribbean. It is about 40 miles off the shore of Venezuela. The locals are so nice and willing to help.

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(overlooking Punda)

We stayed at the Acoya Suites & Villas and it was great. It is situated in a residential part of the island but within a short drive to downtown ($15 cab ride). If you do stay here, we recommend having a car – although I recommend a car no matter what since this island is huge. Unfortunately, all cars were booked and gone the week we were there so we relied on taxis. Luckily, our hotel had a shuttle that took us to the grocery store, Mambo Beach and downtown.

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(Acoya Pool)

We stayed over New Years Eve and Day and boy does this island know how to celebrate! They had Pagara’s going off all day and night (they are only legally allowed to do it for 4 days out of the year) and it was so cool! They believe the more fireworks you set off the better your new year will be. New Years Eve was also fantastic – we sat at the Iguana Cafe and had a few drinks while we watched live music and then went to the Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge for the fireworks at midnight. It was so cool to see all the families bring their kids downtown and set up picnics.

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Instead of going day by day and describing what we did I’m going to provide lists of what I recommend.

Beaches: Unlike most beach locations, Curacao had many beaches, but they are not situated in a row like some islands with major hotels on the coast. The island is made up of coral so there are many inlets for beaches all over the island.

  1. Go to Mambo Beach at least once. Known as the party beach it is more subdued during the day. Surprisingly it had great food for lunch and it was nice to have people bringing drinks right to your chairs. It is great for families too with an inflatable water park on the ocean (there is a lifeguard).
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  2. Kenepa beach – we were lucky to stop by this beach while on a tour. It is on the farthest western point of the island so it can take a while to get to – possibly an hour – but totally worth it. Pack a lunch as this beach doesn’t have any beach bars.
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  3. Cas Abou – We loved this beach. With a beach bar for food and drinks, scuba gear and sea kayaking, this is a low key way to spend a day.
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Restaurants:

  1. Kome – we loved it here. Amazing food, drinks and setting.
  2. Chapter – we sat on the patio and had a bottle of wine. it has a limited menu but the food is very well prepared. It is close to downtown so we walked downtown afterwards.
  3. Steak n Ribs – a man who had been coming to the island every year for 15 years recommended this to us and we loved it. It is in Riffort Village and on the third floor outside so we were able to watch many ships coming through the channel.
  4. Bistro le Clochard – we had dinner here New Years Eve and it was delicious. We sat at the bar while waves crashed behind us and fireworks lit up the sky.
  5. Iguana Cafe – for drinks only! This is situated right on the channel that connects Punda to Otrobanda and you have stunning views of colorful buildings, Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge and passing ships. Get a drink here!

Take this sunset tour! We cruised around Spanish Waters (a harbor with people windsurfing, boats, and million dollar homes) then out into the open ocean for the sunset. It was beautiful.

Take the Shete Boka tour on Viator – so worth it! We absolutely loved it and raved about it all day. He took us to the most off-the-beaten-path destinations on the island. We didn’t pass another car, we were off-roading the entire time. We saw waves crashing, a blowhole, inlets, turtles, etc. Amazing. Below are pictures.

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More pictures:

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(Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge)

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(Tabletop Mountain – the view from our sunset cruise!)

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(Sunset cruise)

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(Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge opening)

 

Where to Travel to in 2016

As 2016 begins, people of all walks of life make their yearly resolutions. Some choose to lose weight, some want to save money, while others (and myself) want to travel even more than they already do. If you are in this last group of people, here are a few places I recommend visiting in 2016.

  1. The Azores – these hidden gems will allow you to soak in the local culture and amazing scenery.
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  2. New Orleans, LA – a foodie hotspot with plenty of fun things to do.
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  3. Charleston, SC – a historic city that is beautiful all year round.
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  4. Madrid, Spain – a thriving city with delicious food and amazing sights.
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  5. Bermuda – beach lovers can soak up the sun and beauty of this island.
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  6. Oahu – There is much more than beaches to see on this bustling island.
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  7. Maui – Perfect for laid back folks looking to explore, hike, zipline, and hit the beach.

Madrid, Spain – What You MUST Do

Recently, I went to Madrid and loved it. I know there is a huge rivalry between Barcelona and Madrid, but honestly I think they were both equally amazing. They were too different to compare. While we were there we took day trips to Avila, Segovia and Toledo which I highly recommend. 
We stayed at the Hotel Mercure Madrid. It was great! It was in an amazing location. 

There was so much to do and see that I just made a list below of what I recommend doing while you are there:

Temple of Debod – this was really cool. It is an Egyptian temple that was relocated to Madrid.

Chocolateria San Gines – this churro place is famous but we only went here once. We preferred Churreria Chocolateria. 

Churreria Chocolateria – we went here daily. It was super clean and the staff was friendly. Their churros were delicious!

Wine tour – read my blog post to learn more: http://www.kristinagemella.wordpress.com/2015/11/13/Madrid-wine-tour/

Jardin de Sabatini – we walked through here daily on our way to the Palacio Real. Very beautiful.

Plaza Major – this plaza had plenty of outdoor patios with sangria and food and a lot of street performers. 

Palacio Real – take a tour of this palace!!! It was so beautiful. From the moment I saw it I found it captivating and we would sit across from it and just watch it for hours while we drank wine and ate tapas. 

Plaza de Oriente – also near the Palacio Real. It had amazing restaurants and views of the Palace.

Puerta Del Sol – the busiest part of the city with a beautiful center fountain and surrounded by stores and restaurants.

Walk down Calle Mayor and Gran Via – the two main streets with shopping and dining.

Go to a Flamenco Show at Torres Bermejas – beautiful decor and talented dancers

Do the hop on hop off bus- great way to see the entire city

Plaza de Cibeles – beautiful marble sculptures and architecture. 

  
Flamenco show! 

 
Calle Major  
 
Puerto Del Sol

   
Segovia and Roman Aqueduct 

 
Segovia

   
Toledo

    
Toledo

 
Toledo

   
Churros! 

Toledo    
Our favorite churro place 🙂 

Palacio Real  

Madrid Wine Tour

Imagine sitting at a picnic table in the Madrid countryside that is covered with homemade olive oil, bread and delicious wine. That is exactly what I got to experience a few weeks ago. To convince you to also go on this tour I will share this short anecdote: I asked our guide, “how does this compare to the wine we drink back in the States?” and he responded “it doesn’t.” If that’s not convincing enough, I don’t know what else is. In all seriousness, the wine tour was fabulous and I want to share a little more about my experience.
Days before the wine tour, we had lunch and dinner at numerous restaurants in the city and in neighboring towns such as Avila and Segovia. On each menu we found that there wasn’t a long list of wines. There were two choices: red wine or white wine. There were usually only two white or two reds to choose from, but if you only wanted a glass – versus a bottle – you didn’t have a choice between them. Whatever bottle was open was the one you drank. Coming from the States, we weren’t used to it, but it didn’t bother us. 

I mean, how can you be mad while drinking wine? Anyways, we found this to relay over into our wine tour experience as well.
For example, throughout the entire tour they never mentioned “this is a Cabernet you are drinking” they never mentioned the grapes at all. In fact, they never even labeled the wines with that information. They were either red wine or white wine and they only called it the name the wine makers did – which was usually named after family members. 
For example, if they made two different red wines they would have the name of the winery on the label and then the name “Antonio” or “Maria”.

If you are picky when it comes to wine, please don’t let this fact sway you! Every single drop of wine I had was the most refreshing and delicious wine I’ve ever tasted.

Now, onto the fun part: the wine tour! We started in the heart of Madrid and worked our way out into the countryside. We stopped at a beautiful palace and then continued on to the first stop on our tour.
This modern winery was high on a hill and overlooked the valleys surrounding it. The manager of the winery and the man who supervised the entire process was originally from Chile. We drank wine directly from the barrel and he taught us about the process as well as the wines we were drinking.

   
   
From there we kept on driving to a very small town that only housed about one hundred people. The center of town was designated by a huge church and after pulling up to what looked like a house with white walls and a red thatched roof, we walked inside and met the man who owns the winery. We then went up into an attic and saw the tops of these huge clay pots that held dozens of gallons of wine. They had the attic designed it in such a way that even when it was more than 100 degrees outside it would be in the mid 50s inside the room. From there, we walked down into a basement, passing by an inside-out skinned sheep – our guide told us that wine makers used to make them into sacks to get wine up and out of the cellar to bottle it. We continued down the stairs to see even more clay pots that were about 10 feet tall. On a small table there were more bottles of wine. 

   
   
Our guide allowed us to take our time drinking it while he explained each one. Once we had a few sips (more like a full glass) of wine we were allowed to finish off every bottle!

On the way to our next winery, we stopped in another beautiful town in the countryside and they were setting up for the bull fights. We took pictures and headed on to the third and final winery.
The last winery was run by a very sweet woman who told us about the process of how they make wine. There were more clay pots here as well. We then sat outside, eating cheese, bread and olive oil while we drank more bottles of wine.
   
    
    
 After the wineries, we stopped at a quaint little restaurant where we had lunch and drank more wine! Needless to say the car ride back to the city was quiet…everyone was sleeping with a smile on their face.

Check out the tour here: http://www.gourmetmadrid.com

The Azores: The Hidden Gem of the Atlantic

  
I recently went to the Azores and loved it. It was possibly one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been…and I’ve been to a lot of places. If you are a nature lover these islands owned by Portugal are perfect for you. With the untouched nature of Hawaii, the rolling hills of Ireland and the architecture of Portugal, these islands are a hidden gem.
Although the Azores are made up of nine islands, we only had time to go to two of them. We chose Sao Miguel and Terceira. Before I get into the things we did (and what you should do while you are there) I want to provide a few tips for visiting:

1. Rent a car. There is absolutely no way you can get around the island without one. Yes, they have cabs but everything is so spread out that you will spend more money on cabs than a rental car. Make sure you know how to drive a standard car. They have very few  automatic cars on the islands and the ones they do have are very expensive.

2. All over the island they have signs showing lookout points – always stop at them. Each one had an amazing view!

3. Drink Kima – a grapefruit soda they make on the island. You literally can’t find it anywhere else on earth so it’s truly one of a kind.

4. Pack for all different kinds of weather. If you are from New England you will understand this. Depending on if you are in the sun or shade you can go from sweating to shivering in one location. The Azores are prone to rain (although it only rained once in the time we were there) so pack an umbrella or rain jacket.

5. If you are from the U.S., bring Euros. Only one place on the island took credit cards.

6. Pack comfortable shoes.

Now to the fun part, what to do while you are there. If you want, you can follow our itinerary to the the T. Everything we did I recommend.
Sao Miguel – Day 1

We stayed in Hotel Talisman in Ponta Delgada. It was a beautiful hotel with very nice and helpful staff. It was in the heart of the city and close walk to local restaurants and the ocean. They had a continental breakfast every morning too. 

When we arrived we explored Ponta Delgada and went into a few shops. We then hopped into the car and drove to Cha Porto Formosso (a tea plantation) that had beautiful views of the ocean and cliffs and small village below. We went inside and drank tea while eating biscuits made by locals. We loved it here so much we ended up going back two days in a row. From here we went a few miles down the road to a second tea plantation – Cha Gorreana. This was also interesting but we enjoyed the quaintness of Cha Porto Formosso more.

   
   
After more tea, we were off again to the Lagao das Furnas (the Furnas Lake). This lake was green! When we arrived, we parked and walked on a path around the lake. We went by an abandoned cathedral which was beautiful and eerie at the same time. Here, you can opt to go paddle boarding, canoeing or kayaking too. 

We then drove to the other side of the lake and the Furnas which is an area where the lava underground heats up the earth so much that there is bubbling water, steam and sulfer. A local restaurant actually puts a tin full of meat and vegetables into the ground and lets the steam heat it up for hours before serving it for dinner.

   
    
   
At this point we had gone all day without stopping, had spent several hours at each site and driving that we were very tired so we had dinner at the hotel and it was very good.

Day 2

We woke up had breakfast and started the drive to Lagao dos Canario. This is a steep 15 minute hike up a hill but trust me the views are worth it. We had fog around us the entire time and we still thought it was an amazing experience. You feel like your on the edge of the world. With steep cliffs on either side and a narrow path across the top of a mountain, you can see for miles. On our way down we stopped at another Lagao just a 5 minute walk away. 
   
   
From here, we continued on to Sete Cidades. We stopped at the overlook point and had beautiful views of the two lakes and the village below. We then drove around looking for a lunch spot and came across Green Love. It was good and packed! So many people were there.

   
    
 After lunch, we continued on to Mosterios, a town on the west side of the island. We drove around, got out of the car and watched the waves crash into shore. We then stopped into a tiny pastry shop and had tea, coffee, Kima and pastries.

  At this point it was late in the afternoon and with about an hour drive back we headed on our way to the hotel. We then had dinner at Calcada do Cais – it was delicious!

Day 3

Everyone told us to go to Nordeste so off we went! On the way, we stopped in many lookout points and got beautiful views of the island. We stopped off and got pictures of Lagao do Fogo too. Once in Nordeste, we walked around exploring and got lunch at Restaurante Tronqueira. We were a little skeptical at first since it was a buffet but it was one of the best meals on the island. We went up to get more food at least 3 times. The waitress was so sweet too and there were great views of the ocean and palm trees.

   
   
 
 On our way out of town we stopped and got pictures of the lighthouse in Nordeste and continued on to Ribeira dos Caldeiros. This is also a must-see. There were numerous waterfalls, water mills and lush fauna everywhere.

   
 Again, on our way home we stopped at Cha Porto Formosso. 

That night we tried a restaurant called Rohta Ihla dos Verde. It was good but you must be open to different takes on regular dishes. I can see that many vegetarians love it there.

Day 4 – off to the airport to get to Terceira!

We hopped off the plane and immediately it was different. Instead of tall mountains and deep canyons, this island had more rolling hills. We stayed at Hotel Praia Marina which I highly recommend! It was right on the beach and the owner was so fantastic. They were helpful and very nice. This hotel also had a continental breakfast. 

Since we had gotten there after breakfast was served, we walked up the hill and into town to a local Cafe. I can’t remember the name but their pastries were delicious!
We then hopped in the car and went to Angra do Heroismo – which many of you know is a UNESCO Heritage site. This city did not disappoint. It was beautiful. From the bustling streets to the wonderful restaurants and beautiful architecture. We first got a view as we drove Monte Brasil before driving into the town. We went to lunch at Tasca das Tias – we also went to this restaurant twice. We loved it! After lunch, we continued walking around town, stopping in stores and exploring. We then drove around the island to see what there was, stopping at lookout points and just getting a feel for the island. 
   

 Then we had dinner at Tutti Gusti – a pizza place next to our hotel. We were exhausted!

Day 5

Everyone I asked said to go to Algar do Carvao so off we went to the lava caves. Little did we know we got extremely lucky with timing! We pulled up and people were waiting in a line for it to open. Apparently in October you need to make an appointment to go in there. We didn’t make one! They still allowed us in but if we had shown up later we wouldn’t have gotten in.

We climbed down this walkway and headed underground. 30 feet above us was a large hole in the earth where you could see the sky. The lava tubes went down close to 300 ft. We climbed down hundreds of stairs and got amazing views of this ancient cave that was made from a previous volcanic eruption. At the bottom was another small lagao. It was breathtakingly beautiful.

   

  

 After getting our fill of the beauty we went to Funas de Enoxfre which is another Furnas that has steam coming from under ground lava. We walked around the whole perimeter.

   

 From here we went to Lagao de Negro which was another lake and  lava tubes but the tubes were closed. 

We then headed off to Biscoitos and had lunch at Casa do Pasta de Pedro – it was delicious! We had a chicken dish that was sauteed, a salad, fries and rice. After a hearty lunch we walked over to the wine musuem (Museo de Vinho). The owner was very sweet and walked us around and told us the history. She then let us taste a table wine. 

We then walked along the beach (a mile!) to La Barca for dinner. Along the way we watched surfers and waves crash against the walls. We also came here twice for dinner!

Day 6

We drove to the top of the mountain overlooking Praia da Vittoria and looked at the monument to Mary. 

We then drove to Serra do Cume which is the second highest point on the island. We then drove back to Biscoitos and went to the Piscina Natural (natural pools). This was very cool. We spent an hour just hanging out watching the waves crash and the pools fill with water. In the summer it is very busy and filled with people.

   

  

 From here we drove back to Angra do Heroismo and had lunch again at Tasca das Tias and went shopping.

For dinner again we went to La Barca. 

Day 7

Sadly this was the end of our trip. If you ever get the chance to go to these wonderful islands, I highly recommend it. I would go back in a heartbeat.