Visiting a foreign country for the first time is like taking a step into an entirely different world. Your first time might be scary, even exciting, and as you enter the new environment you’re faced with a place that on the surface may look normal, but as you delve deeper you discover treasures you might not have been able to find anywhere else in the world. Even perhaps some about yourself.
I originally started my first journey into this big world by visiting an area oftentimes mistaken to be a part of Spain: Portugal. A strikingly beautiful country, with a unique culture different than what you might be use to. Far out into the middle of the Atlantic you’ll find a chain of islands, not all that well known, called the Azores. Belonging to Portugal, it’s within these small islands, without the influence of Western culture, you’ll find tranquil peace in the very cultural oriented community.
The individuals residing there make up one of the most friendliest communities I’ve had the pleasure of being introduced to. I was shocked at first, to say the least. Being used to people glaring at me if I even looked their way (typical of a big city), only to have strangers treat me like a long lost friend was different, though a nice change. To make the experience more interesting, locals commonly kiss your cheeks before and after meeting.
Oh, and the food? Don’t get me started. Azorean food consists of a diverse mixture of European food. A delectable experience, to say the least. Though don’t let that fool you. Like any place, all the delicious cuisine doesn’t come without at least a couple unique and odd dishes. One of the tasty appetizers available are barnacles, a favorite among the locals.
My advice? Don’t be afraid to try new things.
Except for yearly summer festivals, the islands are quiet. With no noise of sirens or rushing cars at every hour of the day, peace is easy to find. For these tiny islands, the beach is only a short walk away.
Traveling may seem scary, the world itself is all so big and yet so small, but life is too short to only imagine such wonders.
Whether you walk across the sprawling city of France, or step back in time to islands like the Azores, beauty awaits you.