I have a confession to make: I don't do luxury. I'm one of those people who will only splurge if something is really worth it, or when I'm going to use the item for the rest of my life (I've wanted a Stutterheim raincoat since they started producing them but still can't get myself to buy one). When it comes to travelling, luxury is simply not justifiable.
When we got married, I had a stupid job in a cafe in a multinational corporation which shall not be named (which I hated, even though I love making coffee). I was getting married in a different country (back home) and they wouldn't give me time off for long enough to go for a honeymoon. So we got married on Saturday and on Tuesday I was back to making soy cappuccinos and grilling overpriced panninis. It was fine at a time as I was in the post-wedding haze-happiness.
The other day I was browsing through deal websites and found a pretty amazing offer for a short break in a beautiful hotel in Portugal, in Praia de Rocha region. We only had about 5 days of annual leave so a long trip was out of a question. Portugal is one of the most affordable Mediterranean destinations so we booked flights, packed suitcases and tried to figure out how to behave to not give away that we're staying in a fancy hotel for the first time in our lives.
We flew to Faro and took a bus to Portimao, a small very touristic town, full of massive concrete hotels, shops selling souvenirs and one of the most stunning sandy beaches I've seen in my life.
Our hotel was a beautiful oasis among the chaos of the busy resort. It used to be a summer residence, built in 1918 and converted into a modern hotel, named one of the world's best new hotels of 2012 by CondéNast and described as A Miami-meets-the-Mediterranean decor inspired by South Beach, North Africa, and, above all, the Moorish-inflected traditions of the Algarve. To be be fair, it was an incredibly well designed place, but it made me feel slightly uncomfortable, especially having our room cleaned every day (including ironing of the bed sheets).
We spent 5 days walking along the endless golden-sand beach, reading books by the pool and sitting on the deck of our room overlooking the sea. Is it a good place for a honeymoon? Yes and no. While the hotel has everything you could wish for, the location is almost unpleasant and impossible to avoid even if you were to stay in the hotel. Would I go back? To Portimao - probably not. But I'd love to explore Portugal, especially Lisbon with its delicious food, vinho verde, idyllic scenery and nostalgic fado music.
In the meantime, I made a play list which takes me straight back to Portugal
Have you been to Portugal?
Do you like splurging on holidays?
Here are my Porgugese playlists again, hope you enjoy.