Last summer I went on a week long summer holiday to the Portuguese coast. The purpose of this holiday was purely to relax, eat, read, repeat. And I think we pretty much nailed it. Our hotel was in a golfing resort, just out of the main town of Praia da Rocha. It was peaceful and had stunning views of the coast.
The beach wasn’t too far away and we enjoyed a couple of days here paddling and sunbathing, but it was very hot indeed for us pale Brits. It took about half an hour to get to the beach town, or the same distance the other way to the slightly more charming Alvor.
We managed to find a few good restaurants, although unfortunately a lot of the places were dedicated to visiting Brits and the menus reflected this, with fish and chips and chicken tikka masala always on offer. Yet, this didn’t deter us, as we often found that being friendly to the local waiters meant we were given great service and even recommended local, fresh food.
The hotel itself was a luxury find, we paid next to nothing for the room, only to find we had been allocated what I can only describe as an entire apartment: with 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a lounge, kitchen, and even 2 balconies with wonderful views. It definitely makes a change from some supposedly 5* places I have paid for in the past, and we were chuffed with the pool and facilities too. Even the little shop had everything we needed to make lunch every day, not that the breakfast included wasn’t great enough – the pastries and cakes were fantastic!
I can’t say I’m used to doing “holidays” anymore, where I haven’t planned every last detail, or at least factored in some kind of historical visit or hiking trip. But with personal stresses starting to take their toll back in London, I really needed a break where my brain was able to switch off entirely. I could sink into a good book (for some reason I chose Vanity Fair which almost took me the entire trip to finish!) or the pool. There is nothing better than true relaxation, especially with a good friend, and I honestly think it sent me back to London with a fresh and determined mind, ready for the huge events I didn’t know were coming. I visited Portugal a few times as a kid, with the family and have never come back without good memories, one good one in fact being the spotting of the Iberian Magpie aka Azure Magpie – a stunning local bird in Portugal.