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Published: March 23rd 2018
Our flight left Boston this morning at 7 AM so we were waiting for the shuttle at 4 AM. Jet Blue has a great system at the airport with tons of kiosks for self check-in. If you have bags (like we did) you attach the labels and proceed to the bag drop where they scan everything and send them on their way. Everything went quickly and there were no issues. The security line was rather long and both our backpacks had to be inspected, but that's why I like to get to the airport early! Our plane left early and got to O'Hare in a quick 2 hours. I think we landed at the farthest spot possible as we spent a good 20 minutes or more taxing to the gate. Luckily we were at one of the closest gates to the exit so it was just a short walk to the baggage claim where my dad was waiting to pick us up. And, equally as lucky, our bags were the first two onto the carousel! So then we were in the car and then home. It already feels like I wasn't on vacation, other than the residual tiredness.
I booked the trip based on a deal I kept seeing on TravelZoo. The package was through Azores Getaways and everything was very organized. The initial booking was easy, they followed up with any flight time changes and sent reminders prior to departure. The hotel transfer bus had a person from the organization on board to give some basic information about the island on our way into Angra. They also gave each person a folder containing a booklet with all available tours as well as an outline of what tours were when and what time hotel pick-up would be. Our hotel had a table in the lobby where a representative from the organization sat for a few hours the first four days so people could ask questions or book any tours they were interested in. We did not book any of the tours as we were going to rent a car, but several people we talked with did tours and really enjoyed them. If you aren't renting a car you would really need to book some tours as it seemed public transport was very limited and spotty.
As far as the island goes, I really enjoyed my time there, but I would not need to go back. I saw everything there was to see that I was interested in. There are more hiking trails that we didn't do and some roads we did not go on, but we really covered about 90% of the island. Our trip was for six full days if you don't count the arrival day, which I don't because we were too tired to do anything other than wander to get food, and that was more than enough time for Terceira. The island is small so driving distances aren't that large and people drive so quickly that you can get where you are going in a short amount of time. We were back to the hotel by about 2:30 or 3 every day, leaving the late afternoon and evening for relaxing on the balcony or out on the sea wall. It was nice not having to jam a bunch of stuff into each day and then being exhausted at the end of the trip.
I did find that English was not as widely spoken as I would have imagined. Either that or people pretended they didn't know the language. I thought Portuguese would be closer to Spanish and that was not the case at all. I used my Google Translate dictionary many times and I felt bad that I didn't know enough to communicate in the correct language. However, people were friendly and that is the most important thing.
I would highly recommend the Azores to anyone looking for a European vacation without the long flight. It's 4 hours from Boston and there are several islands to choose from when booking. I read that temperatures rarely fall below 50 or climb above 80 so it's perfect for those who don't like the cold or the heat. The grass is green, the food is delicious and you get a lot for your money. I'm really glad I was finally able to take this trip and can now offer information to anyone I know who might want to go!
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