October 2017: Travel Summary and Statistics


sete cidades

When I last left you, I had just fallen in love with Maine.

Despite Dave and I considering throwing our money to the wind and cancelling the rest of our road trip to stay in Acadia National Park, I knew we had to at least get to New Hampshire. Everyone I’d spoken to about this part of the world had swooned over the White Mountains and it sounded like it could be the kind of place we love.

It was.

This region of New Hampshire was all about hiking to gorgeous viewpoints, and I couldn’t get enough of this outdoorsy way of life. We hiked to a vast waterfall, picnicked in the sunshine while overlooking the Kancamagus Highway, and saw more fall foliage than we have in our lives combined. The one thing we wanted to do but didn’t find time to? Drive up Mount Washington! It’s on the list for next time.

White Mountains viewpoint

Our three days in the White Mountains were just enough to convince us New Hampshire is one of the most underrated states in the country, so when we set off for Vermont, we were already feeling wistful about leaving yet another destination we’d fallen madly in love with.

Burlington was the first stop on our Northeast itinerary where we were less about hiking and exploring, and more about briefly slotting into a local way of life. We checked out a hilarious show at the Vermont Comedy Club, wandered alongside the shore of Lake Champlain, downed our body weight in maple syrup, and pulled on our flannel shirts to fit in with the lumbersexual residents of the city.

Vermont fall colours

I always feel kind of weird when I take a trip and love every single aspect of it, which is partly because I’m British and therefore can’t stand to be positive about everything and partly because I feel as though it weakens my trip reports, because how can I make a destination stand out from the crowd when every one blew my mind?

So here’s a slight negative: our drive across Vermont wasn’t incredible.

I’d read that the drive south from Burlington on Route 100 was one of the best for seeing fall colours, but unfortunately, a heavy storm washed away our hopes for spectacular photos. It poured with rain all day, the sky was grey and blown out on our camera screens, and the foliage wasn’t all that impressive.

This year brought an unusually warm spell to the Northeast in late summer/early autumn, so the leaves were delayed in changing colour, and in some cases, dropping to the ground rather than transforming to vibrant orange and reds.

That’s the only complaint I have about this road trip, though, because we pulled up in New Haven and found yet another city we couldn’t get enough of.

I loved New Haven! It’s now right at the top of my list of Kickass Cities I Want to Live in for at Least a Month. I loved how walkable the city was, how the architecture took my breath away, how the humid air carried the scent of the ocean, and how there were enough bookstores and ramen restaurants to keep my happiness levels high.

New Haven architecture

We rounded off our time in the States with a brief visit to Rhode Island, where the rain caught up with us once more and we ended up foregoing our travel plans in favour of working in a hipster coffee shop. After so much movement over the past few weeks, though, it kind of felt like the right decision.

From the U.S., we flew to the Azores and oh. my god.

The Azores!

The Azores!

The Azores is an incredible part of the world and I can’t stop talking about how everyone needs to go there.

Sete Ciadades viewpoint
Azores

The Azores is an autonomous region of Portugal, located in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, and consisting of nine volcanic islands. These islands are spectacular, rarely visited, and underrated as hell. Almost like Europe’s version of Hawaii, but surprisingly cheap.

It’s one of my best discoveries of the year.

Air Azores offers up free layovers for travellers if you’re flying between the U.S. and Portugal, so we opted for five days on Sao Miguel, the most popular island for visitors.

sete cidades

Sao Miguel was an island made for scootering, so Dave and I hired two wheels, grabbed a map, and set off in search of adventure. We didn’t have to look hard, as every five minutes, we were slamming on the brakes to snap photos of yet another breathtaking sight.

We hiked to secluded waterfalls in the midst of a jungle and had them all to ourselves.

Waterfall in the Azores

We explored an abandoned five-star hotel that offered the best views of the island from its hard-to-find rooftop.

Abandoned hotel in the Azores

We ate cozido das Furnas, an Azorean stew that’s cooked underground for seven hours by the steam of a volcano.

cozido stew

And we saw more lagoons than we could possibly count.

Azores viewpoint

Five days was the perfect amount of time to spend on the island, as we managed to scooter along practically all of the roads on Sao Miguel over that time, checking out almost all of the major attractions. Despite this, I’d still return in the future, with a plan to eat the island’s incredible cuisine, relax in volcanic hot springs, and village-hop my way around the rugged coastline.

Plus, of course, there’s another eight islands that are calling my name, too.

We left the Azores hours before a hurricane was threatening to strike, making it to Lisbon on one of the last flights off the island. There, it was time to spend just one week recovering from our month of fast-paced travel and work on getting our health back on track.

Unfortunately, I failed on the last front, when a growing health concern brought me back to the UK in search of answers.

And that was October!

October 2017 travel map

Countries Visited: 3

Portugal, United Kingdom, United States

Cities/Towns visited: 12

Burlington, Furnas, Lisbon, London, Mosteiros, New Haven, Newport, Nordeste, North Conway, Ponte Delgado, Ribeira Grande, Sete Ciadades.

Distance travelled: 5,248 miles

Flights Taken: 3

Highlights of the Month

Falling for the Azores: If you’ve haven’t been yet, start making plans! The Azores is one of the most incredible destinations I’ve checked out over the past 12 months, and 2017 has been my best year of travel yet. The islands are easy to get to, inexpensive once you’re there, and ridiculously beautiful to explore.

Going to my first comedy show: I’d heard great things about Vermont Comedy Club and, having never been to a comedy show before, eagerly snapped up some tickets. And it was so much fun. I floated back to our apartment in Burlington yearning to go to a comedy club every day of my life because laughing for hours on end made me so freaking happy.

Hiking in the White Mountains: Dave and I spent most of our time in the White Mountains pondering why they aren’t more famous. The hikes we did were some of the best we’ve ever tackled, and I couldn’t believe how much beauty was packed into such a small region of the U.S.! I definitely need to head back here to spend a couple of weeks exploring in the future.

Lowlights of the Month

Cancelling my trip to India: I’m starting to feel as though it’s been written in the stars that India and I will never meet. I think I’ve booked flights to India three times now, but something has always come up to steer me astray, whether it was an exorbitant visa fee or, as in this case, getting sick and needing to head to the UK for medical tests (more on this below). I’m bummed I didn’t get a chance to visit this year, and super-bummed I can’t get my money back on flights/accommodation.

Falling behind on work: I feel like I have the perfect work-life balance these days. I hole up in one place and work for a few weeks, then head offline and travel for the next month. I get the best of both worlds this way, but I’m starting to realise my split likely involves too much travel as I don’t have enough time to write about all of my adventures! I’m simply seeing and doing too much too frequently to share everything here. And let’s not take into account the two+ years of travelling I’ve skipped over in the past and still hope to one day write about.

It’s convincing me I need to slow down on my travels for next year so that I can finally keep on top of my writing. I want to be able to share everything I do each year with you guys, rather than briefly mentioning things in a monthly summary and then never writing about them again. Buuuuut, I definitely struggle with the idea of travelling less when I still have so much of my identity tied up in being a traveller. After a couple of weeks in one place, I get seriously itchy feet, so I know going to be a struggle to cut back.

When I have 33 blog posts in draft form for travels I’ve done in 2017, though, I know it’s time to make a change or I’ll never be able to catch up.

Rained out in Rhode Island: I was super-excited to spend time in Newport, but when we arrived to torrential downpours, the mere thought of beach-hopping and mansion-spotting was enough to have Dave and I hiding away in our apartment for our entire stay. The weather was so bad while we were in town that we left having seen nothing of Newport outside of a couple of coffee shops and restaurants.

Incidents of the Month

An update on my illness: In my previous monthly summary, I wrote jokingly about a peculiar illness I’d contracted that saw me burping every couple of minutes for weeks on end.

Unfortunately, it hasn’t abated.

It’s been eight weeks, and I’m unable to sit upright or stand for more than a few minutes before starting to exhale air like a madman. And I tried everything: fasting for 48 hours, taking PPIs, chewing on charcoal tablets, cutting acidic foods from my diet, popping anti-histamines… but nothing worked.

I flew home to see my doctor in the UK and it was then that I learned it wasn’t actually burps, but hiccups.

I can’t believe I’ve been diagnosed with chronic hiccups.

These days, my diaphragm is continuously spasming and treating it can be tremendously difficult. Fortunately, the spasms are silent, so I’m not embarrassingly squawking every couple of minutes, but they are painful, frequent, and frustrating. Worryingly, they could be caused by a brain tumour, liver cancer, pancreatitis, pleurisy, and a number of other scary-sounding conditions, so I’ve spent my time in the UK having blood tests, x-rays, and more, all in the hopes of proving this isn’t caused by something life-threatening.

If nothing serious is causing it, I could still end up suffering from this for years.

I was caught up in a hurricane in the Azores: The East Atlantic isn’t somewhere that’s known for hurricanes, but in October, Hurricane Ophelia formed off the coast of the Azores and began its journey north towards Ireland. And yes, Dave and I found ourselves directly in its path.

A government-issued alert warned us the hurricane was due to make landfall at 12 p.m. on the day we were leaving, but our flight off the island was at three. We put a contingency plan in place, from finding a place we could stay in if things started to get frightening to scouting out a store we could stock up with food from.

Fortunately, the hurricane skirted around the Azores, causing little damage, and we managed to leave the island on one of the last planes out of there.

I planned the worst possible trip for a colourblind person: When Dave and I decided to spend a full month in the U.S. this month, I immediately took the travel planning reins and steered us towards New England. We were aiming to be in the country in early October, which is perfect fall foliage season, and I’d been wanting to spot those colours for years.

I booked the trip, we hired a car, and, as I gaped at the vibrant colours in awe, Dave awkwardly confessed he wasn’t seeing what I was seeing.

So, um, Dave is colourblind, and yes, both of us forgot that when we came to booking this road trip. Fortunately, the colours weren’t the highlight of our time in the States, but I did feel ridiculous about booking something that relied on him being able to differentiate between red and green.

November 2017 travel map

My Next Steps

I’ve got some seriously exciting travel adventures coming up over the next four weeks! Well, for the next few months, actually, but more on that soon.

First up: making the most of my unexpected return to the UK! While I hang out at my parents’ place to await my test results, I’ll be aiming to busy myself by catching up with friends, taking a chocolate and cocktail making workshop with my mum, and even squeezing in a gig or two. It’ll be quite some time until I’ll next be back in this part of the world, so I’m taking every opportunity to enjoy being back in my homeland while I can.

Then, it’ll be time to begin my journey south for the winter. Dave and I spent Christmas with my family at home in London last year, so we’ll be heading Down Under for an Australian Christmas with Dave’s loved ones for 2017. Of course, you know I had to work in an assortment of stopovers along the way.

We’ll be heading to Rome first, for three days of ruin wandering and pizza eating. I first visited Rome 10 years ago and spent the entire trip hiding in my room, while Dave hasn’t been for almost 20 years! On our agenda is seeing all the touristy sites, checking out Vatican City, and eating as much food as we can cram into our mouths. I really want to take a pasta-making class while we’re there!

Then, Japan. This will be my first visit to what is one of my biggest travel oversights and I couldn’t be more excited.

Up first on the list is Tokyo, where I’ll be chasing everything that’s weird and wonderful, eating so much food, and crossing off a few places from my themed restaurant wishlist. After Tokyo, we’ll be heading across to Hakone to check out Mount Fuji, and then onwards to Shibu Onsen to see the snow monkeys! Snow monkeys, guys! I know I’m going to cry with excitement when I see them. Snow monkeys!!!!!!

And that’s what I have in store for November!

 

Have any recommendations for Rome or Japan for me? Share away in the comments below!

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33 Comments

  1. Scott
    November 7, 2017
    Reply

    I LOVED New Hampshire as well, and as someone who had never experienced fall colors, like I did when we went (about the same time as you), I was ready to move there! And I loved all the covered bridges too!

    So, how does the Azores stand-up cost-wise?

    Chronic hiccups sounds both funny (like something on a sitcom) and incredibly sad, and I hope you recover from it quickly!

    I’m so jealous of you getting to see the snow monkeys! These are the ones that hang out in the hot springs, right? Have a fun trip, and of course, I look forward to seeing your photos!

    • Lauren
      November 7, 2017
      Reply

      The Azores was actually really cheap! $30 a night for a really nice hotel with a pool in the centre of town, $1 glasses of wine, $2 breakfasts, $6 dinners, $20 a day scooter hire… it was more affordable than mainline Portugal! The thing that surprised me about the Azores is that the islands are super self-sufficient. They grow their own food and wine, etc, so don’t really need to import anything and that keeps the prices low.

      And yes! The hot spring monkeys. I’m so excited to see them!

  2. Lara
    November 7, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Lauren! I’m from Italy and I’ve been in Rome more than 20 times ( my boy-friend is from Rome ?)!! If you want to eat good you should go to a typical roman “trattoria”, the best ones are located in Trastevere and Testaccio. My favourite is “da bucatino” in testaccio. The most typical roman plates are “bucatini all’amatriciana”, “cacio e pepe”, “gricia” and “carbonara” if you love pasta. If you want pizza the most typical in Rome is “pizza al taglio”( shops looks like bakery), the most famous is bonci and usually is really crowded. For visiting just a suggestion: go to giardino degli aranci after sunset: the night view with the lights is amazing and don’t forgert to look in the lock ?

    • Lauren
      November 7, 2017
      Reply

      Amazing! Thank you so much, Lara! :-) All on my list now!

  3. William
    November 7, 2017
    Reply

    Lauren, shhhhh on the Azores! I’ve been trying to get there for some time and consider it the Hawaii of the Atlantic.. Don’t tell everyone how awesome it is there…. yet! :D

    • Lauren
      November 8, 2017
      Reply

      Ha! Well you have about a month to get there then ;-)

  4. Nicky
    November 7, 2017
    Reply

    Oh my goodness, the chronic hiccups sounds even more horrible than I imagined!! :O I really hope you’re recovered soon – lots of hugs being sent your way!

    New Haven and the Azores have just zoomed on to my (rapidly expanding) list, and in full agreement with Lara about eating in Trastevere – if you’re a huge carbonara fan like me, there’s a trattoria called Da Enzo which does a particularly fine one! Oh god I want carbonara now.

    • Lauren
      January 2, 2018
      Reply

      Thanks so much Nicky, for both the well wishes and the food recommendation! :-)

  5. Kate
    November 8, 2017
    Reply

    The Azores look absolutely amazing! I feel like I should be planning a pop-over immediately! Overall, it sounds like you had a fabulous month, and have so many wonderful things to look forward to (and I look forward to reading all about them :)).

    • Lauren
      November 11, 2017
      Reply

      Yes, you definitely should! It’s really, really worth the trip :-)

  6. Cath McManus
    November 9, 2017
    Reply

    OMG – didn’t know chronic hiccups were a thing. It sounds awful. Hope you get well soon.

    • Lauren
      November 11, 2017
      Reply

      Right?! I know I’m going to be so embarrassed when I travel and have to hiccup my way around the world!

  7. Natalie
    November 10, 2017
    Reply

    I had no idea chronic hiccups were a thing or that they were potentially life threatening! I’m so sorry to hear you are going through this scary thing.

    • Lauren
      November 11, 2017
      Reply

      I had no idea either! You wouldn’t believe how well-informed I am about hiccups now, haha. The good news is that the x-rays showed it wasn’t being caused by a tumour, so it’s time to start trying medications to see what works.

      • Natalie
        November 12, 2017
        Reply

        I am relieved to hear that. I hope you are able to find relief and quickly. I know we are just random people on the internet, but I was hoping you didn’t have anything life threatening!

        In other news, my husband just returned from Japan and mentioned that it is very expensive. Of course, he was taking the more expensive/fast trains due to work, but yikes! I hope you have a wonderful time when you visit!

  8. Ronnie Walter
    November 14, 2017
    Reply

    Firstly, do take care of your health issues and get rid of them asap so that you can explore this beautiful world on your toes.
    And, do visit India sometime you’ll be mesmerized by its cultural and vast beauty. By the way, when you visit Rome, do try the guided Segway tours, it’ll be great fun. Have an amazing time ahead. Stay well. Cheers!

    • Lauren
      November 17, 2017
      Reply

      Oh god, me on a segway would be disastrous!

  9. Jerry Chiang
    November 15, 2017
    Reply

    If you are going to Japan and checking out Mt. Fuji, I recommend you also stay on the shores of Lake Kawaguchiko and check out Shosenkyo Gorge, which is gorgeous in the fall but still awesome in the winter and spring!

    • Lauren
      November 17, 2017
      Reply

      Thank you so much! I’ll add it to the list :-)

  10. Louis
    November 16, 2017
    Reply

    I used to live near New Haven, such a nice area, especially in the fall. Greta info on the Azores, heading there for a hiking trip early next year. Cheers !

    • Lauren
      November 17, 2017
      Reply

      It was such a pleasant surprise! I rarely hear people talking about it, but it’s such a lovely place. And the Azores are incredible — you’ll love it there!

  11. Stephanie
    November 16, 2017
    Reply

    Whoa…chronic hiccups sound like a nightmare. Glad you were able to find out what’s going on, even if you don’t know how to fix it yet. Good luck!

    • Lauren
      November 17, 2017
      Reply

      Thank you! They’re starting to get a little better so I’m hopeful I won’t be stuck with them for years as I originally feared.

  12. Sebastian Bach
    November 16, 2017
    Reply

    Hi Lauren! Please take care of your health issues and get rid of them soon. The Azores look wonderfull! It making me so excited to book my trip right away.

    • Lauren
      November 17, 2017
      Reply

      Thank you! I hope you make it to the Azores :-)

  13. Dominique
    November 18, 2017
    Reply

    Oh no, I hope it’s nothing serious and that the hiccups will pass soon! You do have some great trips on your calendar, so that’s something to look forward to! I will certainly check out the Azores for a future trip, I have heard more people rave about the islands!

    • Lauren
      November 23, 2017
      Reply

      Thank you! Still dealing with them, but I’m hopeful they’ll get better soon. I have days where they feel like they’ve disappeared, but they always seem to come back in full force.

  14. Mike
    December 5, 2017
    Reply

    My friends are planning to go for a kayak adventure here. And i don’t think it is a good idea since i am a beginner. But they look amazing. Really can’t decide !

    • Lauren
      December 7, 2017
      Reply

      Where? The Azores? It’d probably be pretty rough in the ocean, to be honest.

      • Mike
        December 8, 2017
        Reply

        Yes at Azores and thank you for the feedback.

        • Lauren
          December 14, 2017
          Reply

          No worries!

  15. Sharon
    February 28, 2018
    Reply

    I too have been trying to get to India for quite a while. So many places to go see and you possibly can’t do everything.

    Cheers Sharon…

    • Lauren
      February 28, 2018
      Reply

      Definitely true! Once you make peace with the fact that you can’t see everything, travel becomes a lot less stressful.

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