A Guide to Heaven on Earth: the Azores

Visit and you'll find out why.

Welcome to the Azores, the little-known wonderland archipelago of Portugal. These islands are truly a nature lovers paradise, with hydrangea-dotted rolling hills overlooking the steely Atlantic, and verdant caldeiras housing glittering blue and green lagoas. Boasting a rare combination of impressive mountains, pastoral plains, and lush tropical vegetation–minus the bugs–the Azores' unique allure sets them miles ahead of many other Instaworthy destinations. Moreover, the Azores have been consecutively named one of the most sustainable sites in the world.

If you are looking for a still relatively undiscovered natural paradise where you can spend all day engaging in a range of outdoor activities, the Azores are for you. That said, depending on what time of year you go, it's likely that you'll get rained on, so bring an umbrella, waterproof shoes, and expect some unpredictable weather.

Here are some additional travel tips to make sure you get the most out of these miraculous islands.

When to visit

Ten minutes before the rainstorm

While the Azores have a subtropical oceanic climate (meaning it never really gets below the low 50's) this also means they get a lot of rain. Winter (November – March) is considered the rainy season, during which time it's overcast, gloomy, and wet most of the time. While this may not dissuade hardier travelers, for most people visiting during the summer months (June - August) is ideal. While there may be sporadic rain showers during the day or night, they rarely last for long, leaving you free to enjoy a guilt-free nap or two while you're waiting for the weather to clear up. If you're into swimming or diving, June – September is best, as the weather in the fall months gets too chilly to comfortably spend time in the water.

No matter what time of year you go, crowds should be sparse because the Azores haven't been "discovered" yet by the hordes of tourists. But it does have a steadily growing tourism economy, so go now before the spring breakers and Instagram fiends overrun it.

Getting to the Azores

For a tiny archipelago in the Atlantic, the Azores are surprisingly accessible. Multiple carriers offer daily trips from all over Europe and the US. If you're already in Portugal, the Azores are just a short flight from Lisbon. From the US, Azores Airlines offers a short (4.5 hour) direct flight to the island Ponta Delgada from Boston. Once you're there, you can take ferries or flights to access the other islands.

Choose an island, any island


The fog only adds intrigue to this place

With nine islands to choose from, the Azores have a wide variety of options for those planning a trip. São Miguel is the largest island and hosts some of the more famous natural wonders, like Sete Cidades and Lagoa do Fogo. Pico has a colossal volcanic mountain Montanha do Pico that just begs to be climbed. (It doesn't hurt that Pico also hosts Unesco-listed volcanic vineyards and 5 kilometers of lava tubes.) Terceira Angra do Heroísmo is the Azores' oldest city, a primitive 16th century ville that's home to Monte Brasil, a hike up a half submerged crater that meanders through a 500-year old castle's ruins. Faial is best known for its superlative whale-watching expeditions. Flores is the most verdant island, thanks to copious amounts of rainfall, but if you're willing to endure a little moisture you'll be rewarded with beautiful coastal walks and hikes dotted with clambering waterfalls. Corvo is a tiny dot of an island: with just 430 year-round residents who still lock their doors with juniper leaves, this is a quaint island best reserved for avid bird watchers and hikers who are fluent in Portuguese. Graciosa is tiny, but punches above its weight in terms of activities. You can hike, dive, go whale watching, and even explore Furna do Enxofre, a 120-foot tall volcanic cave. Last, but certainly not least, is São Jorge. Rather than wonder what you can do on São Jorge, you should ask yourself what you cannot do. Because the answer is not much. Mountain-biking, swimming, diving, whale-watching, hiking, canoeing, canyoning–the sky is the limit here.

Land bound activities

Hiking is obviously one of the most attractive outdoor excursions in the Azores. With seemingly limitless options throughout the islands, you're never far from a lush jaunt in the pristine wilderness: the volcanic archipelago's terrain is as hilly as the roads are twisted. (Pro tip: if you're prone to car sickness due to winding roads, you may want to reconsider your trip. The Azores are not known for their direct highways.) While you don't technically need traditional hiking apparel like walking sticks, hiking boots, and gators to navigate the often-muddy trails, it may not be a bad idea to pack them if you have them. An unexpected cloudburst can turn a steep trail into a mudslide in a matter of minutes, and your sneakers may not be quite up to the task. It goes without saying that you should never attempt to hike in sandals or open-toed shoes here, as you'll most likely regret it within the first several minutes.

Cozido-licious

Geothermal pools are also attractive destinations for residents and tourists alike. Furnas, a picturesque town on São Miguel, is neatly situated among a volcanic complex of geothermal springs. Meander up and down tiny cobblestone streets and you'll be surrounded by steam rising from piping hot geothermal springs running throughout the village. If you're feeling peckish, try the local Portuguese stew that cooks while buried underground, courtesy of the heat billowing just under the surface. Every afternoon you can see many locals pulling pots full of Cozido das Furnas out of the steaming ground. Try a bite at Caldeiras e Vulcões; it's a hearty stew made with three different types of meat (pig, chicken, and beef) as well as sweet potatoes, yams, and black pudding (blood sausage). Be warned: it may taste faintly of the sulphur that bubbles through the hot springs. If you're not a fan of potatoes, you may be best served by splitting one of the generous portions with a companion.

The Terra Nostra Gardens, a historical residence-cum-natural park that's been around since the late 18th century, is another must-see. Once inside you can wander the beautifully landscaped grounds (don't miss the topiary garden) or relax in the sepia-colored natural geothermal pool. Just don't wear a bathing suit you care about, as the water has been known to stain fabric.

When the water beckons

Eat my dust, humans!

Whale watching is an appealing option to those who enjoy being surrounded by water but would rather stay dry. Over 20 different cetaceous species reside in these fertile waters and there's something almost magical about watching these enormous gentle creatures crest above the waves.

If diving is more your speed, you'll find pristine bodies of water throughout the archipelago. Princess Alice Bank, situated around 50 nautical miles from Pico, is a prime contender for the best place to dive. If you can stomach the 2.5 hour boat ride to the diving site, you'll be richly rewarded by hordes of pelagic fish and fairytale-worthy deep ridges and gorges, not all that different from the magnificent spectacle above ground.

A must see for outdoor enthusiasts

The Azores is one of the most visually arresting regions in the world. The terrain is a magnificent combination of England's verdant pastures, Iceland's craggy mountains, and New Zealand's shameless explosion of lush foliage. It is truly one of the world's natural wonders and it's opulent beauty will remain in your memory long after you return home. However, take note that the Azores are not a destination for those seeking Michelin-starred restaurants and exciting nightlife. You're far more likely to find unpretentious local bars serving up generously portioned table wine, than au courant clubs prowled by glowering bouncers.

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Travel Tips

Best Jobs for People Who Love To Travel

If you want to travel but have a job that is currently holding you back, here are a few of our suggestions for the best jobs for people who love to travel.

For many people, traveling is an amazing experience, but traveling is not always feasible because of responsibilities to work.

One way to get around this roadblock is to get a job that will let you travel and see the world. Here are some of the best jobs for people who love to travel.

Hostelworld HostelworldHostelworld.com

Translator

A translator is a wonderful job for those who want to travel. It will bring you to many places as you work, so long as those places speak the language you can translate. The great thing about translating is the variety of work you can get by translating for specific clients or just translating for tourists in the area. You can choose what type of scene you wish to work in very easily.

Pilot

A pilot fits the definition of a job that gets to travel perfectly. Now, whether you are a private pilot or a commercial pilot, you will still get to fly all over the planet. The only major problem with this job is the requirement of flight classes. But once you get your license, you can fly freely around the world while making yourself money to fund your trips.

Travel blogger

Being a travel blogger is a temperamental job but, if done correctly, it will allow you to visit anywhere you want. Writing to fans as you travel the world can be a fun and exciting way to engage with the planet. This job can be difficult to do, though, as you must be able to write consistently and capture your audience with each post.

English teacher

This may not sound like a job that allows you to travel, but schools all around the world are always looking for more people to teach English.

In this career, you would move near the school that you would teach at and live there over the course of your time there. The interesting thing about this job is that it does not necessarily require a teaching degree, depending on the school and country in question. You also get to live in a new country for an extended period.

When it comes to the best jobs for people who love to travel, these are just a few of our suggestions. There are plenty of jobs where you can travel around the world, but these ones are far-reaching and cover a lot of different lifestyles. They might seem like pipe dreams, but hey, you never know!

Seattle, Washington is a rainy, coffee-fueled, coastal town often referred to as the "Emerald City."

Located against the ecological wonderland of Puget Sound, this cosmopolitan, seaside city is a mishmash of arts, culture, history, nature, and, of course, cloudy weather. Thanks to its proximity to nature, its greenery, and its culturally rich, big-city atmosphere, the city is becoming increasingly popular, both for tourists and those looking for a change of scenery.

The Big Stops: Tourist Seattle

If you only have a few days to visit Seattle, you'll probably want to check out the area's most famous attractions.

For nature lovers and summit-chasers, there's the imposing, wildflower-shrouded Mt. Rainier.

Mt. Rainierthebesttravelplaces.com

Mt. Rainier

For foodies, there's the popular Pike Place Market, a giant patchwork of food-sellers and friendly chaos where you can purchase everything from giant crabs' legs to bottomless amounts of coffee (more on that later).

Pike Place Marketseattle.eater.com

And finally, there's the iconic Space Needle and the Sky View Observatory, which will give you extraordinary views of the city.

Space Needlegetyourguide.com

Seattle Arts and Museums

For arts and culture lovers, Seattle has plenty to cut your teeth on. Don't miss the Chihuly Garden and Glass, a collection of extraordinary blown-glass sculptures by Dale Chihuly.

Chihuly Gardensfodors.com

Chihuly Gardens

For art, there's the giant Seattle Art Museum Downtown. Seattle also offers the Museum of Pop Culture, a nonprofit that features all your favorite icons from history, and plenty of other options.

Museum of Pop Culturesmithsonianmag.org

For some history, there's the Klondike Gold Rush Museum, which commemorates Seattle's history as a gold rush hub.

There are plenty of quirky attractions—like the giant Fremont Troll, the 18-foot sculpture in the Fremont neighborhood that cuts an imposing figure.

Fremont Trollsillyamerica.com

You could also take in the city from a boat—marine enthusiasts might enjoy visiting to the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks to explore the history of this port city.

Seattle, of course, also has a gritty underground side—you may know the city from its time at the heart of the '90s grunge movement.

It also has a long, storied history that has left more than a few scars. You can literally see its underground through one of its underground tours, which will take you on a walk through the "buried city," the remnants left over from before the Great Fire of 1889.

Seattle Undergroundpinterest

Natural Wonders

Seattle is notorious for its natural wonders. For a close-up view, there's the Seattle Aquarium, a marine experience that showcases the best of what Puget Sound has to offer.

For more exposure to the beauty of Seattle's nature, try the Washington Park Arboretum, a 230-acre showcase of Seattle's wetlands and natural wonders.

Washington Park Arboretumtriposo.com

You might also pay a visit to the Alki Beach for some time with the ocean waves.

Alki BeachMetropolitangardens.blogspot.com

Or consider taking a more exhaustive adventure to Discovery Park, a giant and labyrinthine natural park at the edge of Puget Sound.

Discovery Parktrip savvy.com

Food and Drink

Food tours are also popular options for those who want to get more intimate with the city's cuisine, and Seattle is often ranked as one of the best cities for foodies.

It's also a great place for coffee-heads. You might also pay a visit to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery, AKA Ultimate Starbucks, a tasting room that features a coffee library amongst other treats for coffee addicts.

Sarbucks Reserve Roasterydesigner.com

Moving to Seattle

If you're planning on moving to Seattle, locals say there's a few things you should know. First off, it is most definitely overcast the majority of the time, though the rain is rather like a mist. That makes the rare sunny day shine even more, though, locals say, in addition to fostering natural abundance.

The city is generally very congested with traffic, which can be noisy, though it offers great public transportation options, from buses to rail—regardless, you'll want to get an Orca Card for that.

Like every city, Seattle has a number of diverse and charismatic neighborhoods. For example, there's the beachy, more laid-back West Seattle.

West SeattleWest Seattle

There's the vibrant Capitol Hill, a hub of arts, culture, tech bros, and nightlife (during non-COVID times).

There's the historic and artsy Pioneer Square, featuring plenty of museums, shops, galleries, and pubs.

Pioneer Square SeattleExpedia

Fremont is a more bohemian area. Belltown is a trendy waterfront neighborhood that's close to everything.

In general, Seattle residents love the city for its proximity to nature, from beaches to glaciers, and its abundance of arts and cultural attractions. As Kimberly Kinrade said, "Seattle is for people who love culture, but refuse to sacrifice their wild nature to attain it." Residents dislike the steep cost of housing and all things that come from rising prices, including the city's large homeless population.

In general, the city is known as environmentally conscious, liberal, and dog-loving. The people are often referred to as nice but possibly a bit standoffish and cold (the "Seattle Freeze" is when you make plans to hang out and then bail, which is apparently very common). The rain can certainly get depressing, but the proximity to nature helps.

Remember, if you do happen to move: umbrellas are dead giveaways for tourists.


What's your favorite part about Seattle? What did we leave out? Let us know at @thejourniest on Twitter!

Travel

Weed World Candies Exist to Prey on Gullible Tourists

Weed is still illegal in New York, but scamming tourists is not.

You wouldn't know it walking around midtown Manhattan, but marijuana is still illegal in New York.

It does seem strange to think that perhaps the most metropolitan city in the US would be lagging behind so many other parts of the country that have legalized possession, production, and sale of cannabis and THC products, but it's true.

New York's decriminalization of marijuana has led many smokers to be more brazen with their public consumption in recent years, and Governor Cuomo recently announced plans for limited legalization for recreational use at the state level. But for the time being the sale of products containing THC is still very much illegal.

buy happiness You sure about that?

Adding to the confusion is a company that has sprung up to prey on tourist's uncertainty. Weed World trucks have multiplied at a staggering rate since they first started appearing in Midtown and the Village a few years ago. Easily a dozen RVs and vans now line the tourist-dense streets of Manhattan, advertising Girl Scout Cookies and Gorilla Glue, clad in marijuana-leaf decals and occupied by employees who are paid either to be stoned out of their minds, or just to pretend they are.

With eyes nearly in slits and an air of relaxation that suggests that customers are temporary interludes from a permanent nap, they will promise you as much as they can get away with while letting their branding do most of the work. They will sell you four lollipops for $20, which would seem like a great deal if not for the fact that they will not deliver on the strong implication that they'll get you high.

They have a Twitter account where they celebrate the supposed availability of weed and claim to "have New York locked down." They'll even sell you vape cartridges that advise you to "get medicated," and which are packed with potent doses of… flavor?

weed world truck

An employee once assured me that their candies do contain THC—maybe they wouldn't be so brazenly dishonest today—and in a drunken state I coughed up $5 to test that claim. There is a faint weedy taste to their candies, and you may find trace amounts of CBD inside, but that's it. It's a scam. There is no THC. Nothing that will give their customers the experience they're selling.

Worse than the trucks is the Weed World Candies storefront that opened in midtown in 2019. Just walking past you would swear that people were passing a massive blunt inside.

The smell is unmistakable and overpowering, except that it's fake. Whatever chemical fragrance they pumped onto the street, it was not connected to anyone smoking weed. Inside, the psychedelic wall art complemented shelves lined with suggestive candies and boxes emblazoned with pot leaf insignia.

Whatever the venue, they are all too happy to sell you overpriced hemp products and CBD creams and chocolates made to look like nugs. And if you're a tourist, or a moron like me, you might believe the scam long enough to give them money, but nothing they sell will get you high.

weed world store Hiroki Kittaka

The owners of Weed World, Judah Izrael and Bilal Muhammad—who prefers to go by "Dro Man" or "Doctor Dro"—will defend their products by claiming that they serve to promote legalization and decriminalization efforts by normalizing the idea of public sale of marijuana. But at no point in the purchasing process is the illusion that their candies will get you high broken. At no point are their customers offered literature explaining the mission of Weed World.

On their website's FAQs page, there is no mention of THC or its absence from their products, but the first question, "How much should I eat?" is answered, "It's all based on your tolerance but there's no limit." Tolerance for what? Sugar? The company—which originated in Alabama and has spread to cities around the country—mostly seems like a very profitable way to sell candy to gullible adults.

weed world wall art Nicole Mallete

The best thing I can say in their defense is that one of their trucks was recently busted by police in Saraland, Alabama, with products that "tested positive for marijuana." Assuming this isn't a screw up or deliberate frame-job by the police, it's possible that some of the Weed World trucks are using their faux activism as a front for selling actual drugs. If so, that would be the most honest thing about this company. Until that's confirmed, ignore these trucks and maybe just ask a friend for a hookup.