In keeping with our Christmas tradition of discovering an exotic place, we threw the dart and it landed on the Azores.
At that point, I didn’t exactly know where they were. Had to go after I found out.
They’re islands that are part of Portugal; the result of angry volcanoes in the middle of the north Atlantic. Sort of halfway between New York and Lisbon and considered part of Europe. Home to some of the highest mountains on the planet.
Not to get even more scientific on you, but what I found most interesting is that some of them are connected to the same surface that makes up North America; the rest share a floor with Europe and Africa.
Though it’s sort of on the same latitude as The Apple, the weather, even in winter, is mild enough for just a sweater or light jacket. Must be all those currents in the middle of the ocean.
I chose a hotel on the water near the city. A place you probably couldn’t get near in the summer. But since it was off-season, there was lodging for a reasonable price.
The airfare was another story. One airline flies from North America. No seats. Next move was to go with TAP, Portugal’s national airline. But we would have to connect in Lisbon on the Portuguese mainland.
The cost for all this back-and-forth wasn’t cheap, even in winter.
So we decided to see what we could see in Lisbon on the two lengthy layovers. I know, it all hurts my head too.
Never been to Portugal. Visited its neighbor, Spain, several times.
Confess I knew nothing about the former; other than the fact that like the latter, it discovered a lot of the world and had an empire for awhile. No small achievement.
To the grossly uninformed like me, Portugal’s still known for Vasco da Gama, Ferdinand Magellan and maybe Chris Columbus (not the movie director). And the big financial tsuris it’s having these days, along with Spain, the U.S., and a heck of a lot of other places.
Obviously, this dopey Americana had a lot to learn.
Started the Christmas Eve trip from Pennsylvania like a rock star.
Mitch got me door-to-door car service from Lancaster to the airport in Newark, NJ.
I ask you: What could be more luxurious than a pit stop at Yocco’s the Hot Dog King in Allentown, PA? Started by the dad of some guy named Lee Iacocca. Well-worth the stop. And so was the potato peirogie. A first for me. Sort of like Jewish kreplach.
We had all morning and afternoon there. Someone at Expedia suggested a cheap place.
Were those cotton balls in the pillows? And the hard mattress had a plastic cover under the sheet. Mitch dubbed the place the Hotel Incontinental.
We saw a few people on the street. It was then that I wished we had somewhere to go. Maybe someone would adopt us Jewish orphans for the day.
Steps from the hotel, I thought my jet lag had me hallucinating. I smelled food. Home-cooked food. The aromas seemed to be wafting from what we first thought was a restaurant. The door was open, and people were eating.
The congregants were largely immigrants from former Portuguese colonies in South America and Africa.
We were on a natural high when we caught our flight to the Azores.