One of the most important American travel journalists explains why he returns so often.
I remember my first visit to Portugal, a two-day jaunt years ago, and how after I had returned to New York feeling embarrassed that this land, a mere six-hour flight away, had not been explored before that moment. I was instantly entranced by Lisbon’s pink light and taken by the ceramic tiles lining the edifices of each building, the citrus groves around the nearby coastline of Cascais with the roar of tumbling Atlantic waves and the smell of baking pastel de nata wafting from bakeries around every town and village I’d come across. One moment here, in Portugal, was enough to push me to explore further afield.
As a travel journalist I’m blessed to visit far and away places, often in a rush to complete an assignment and move on to the next. But, here, in Portugal, there is an energy that wraps itself around me during every visit, and nudges me to slow down. Since my first visit, I’ve discovered my favorite places and experiences – ones that have left a fingerprint of the culture on my soul forever. Embedding myself in the luxe-but-cozy Palácio Belmonte in Lisbon, my favorite hotel in the city, is always a good home base. Jumping in the car and driving a short 90 minutes to the Alentejo region, along cork-lined lanes to the tranquil L’AND Vineyards Resort to spend an evening or two next to my suite’s outdoor fireplace with a giant glass of Portuguese red – is an experience that stays with me always. Driving through the hills of the Douro Valley, or sitting inside one of Lisbon’s unique dining venues like Casa dos Prazeres or Cantinho do Avillez (in Lisbon and Cascais) – reminds me that this land offers some of the world’s best culinary innovation.
I’ve traveled to Portugal over ten times since my first visit. For me, this is rare. There are few countries that I return to over and over with such fervor. I always know a place has left an impression on me when I can envision myself living there, and Portugal has earned that spot in my heart. Because, when a place is this diverse and offers so much in such a small area, I just can’t help but be amazed time and time again.
by Anthony Berklich
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