Time Stop: Açores

Nothing prepares you for the scale of the Açores islands. A short, two-hour flight from Lisbon (or twice that from Boston), and you’re there—this impossibly green flotilla of masted ships clinging loosely to each other in the midst of the Atlantic.

Only Terceira (“third” in Portuguese) is vaguely round. The remainder of the archipelago form distinct, towering shapes. We’d spend a night in Angra de Heroísmo then fly over to São Jorge then back for a final night, in a whirlwind weekend—to visit a friend and to at least say we’d been there.

We wandered into town on our last night, looking for a bite and a beer, and we found music too—a new club had opened its doors that week. The Açores trap youthful angst amidst real old-school ways. We saw it on São Jorge, as folks would stop their cars in the middle of tight cliff-climbing roads, to have a chat with a neighbor or extended family. With no room to pass, we’d idle behind them on the inevitably steep incline, until some magic time elapsed and the confab was complete.

And so, too, in this brand new bar, with sawdust still peppering the floor and half a menu hastily printed for our consideration.

We ordered Azorean brown ales, and the friendly, classic tremoços from the mainland, and let the setting sun flow over us along with some Beatles cover songs, pondering our walk back to the hotel over the timeworn, calçada-paved streets outside.

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