When I tell people in the USA that I am spending quite a bit of time in Portugal these days the responses generally range from “Why?” to “Where”?” (as in, “Where is?” Portugal – not “Where in?” Portugal!) Usually followed by, “Oh! I’ve always wanted to go there!”
As a Brit, Portugal has been on my holiday/ beach/ wine/ food map since childhood. First, with family trips to the beautiful beaches of the Algarve, then, when old enough, to visit wine palaces in the North, quests for the best sardines and Vinho Verde (my parents were foodies before “foodies” existed) and even shopping trips for fabulous cotton goods when I was furnishing my first apartment.
Later, living in Southern Spain, I would drive over to Portugal for long weekends, quick trips, or just…because I could! Now, who would ever have guessed it, I’m engaged to be married to a Portuguese man. Funny how some countries keep drawing you back from afar isn’t it?
Obviously, due to my recent personal Anglo/Lusitanian alliance, I am now visiting this charming country on a fairly frequent basis. Not to mention the fact that I am a partner in a luxury home rental/experiential travel business with a home office in Lisbon. So, I am always quite taken aback when people are not familiar with this charming little country which has so much variety on offer.
All that is about to change, though. Portugal, these days, is definitely firmly located center stage of the “undiscovered” tourist arena. The spotlight is on and the applause from all who visit equals a standing ovation.
Visitors from all over the world are arriving and enjoying a diversity of experiences. Travel and Leisure ( USA edition) December 2016 selected Portugal as its chosen destination of the year. Quite a heady accolade, I have to say, I was quite impressed that they seem to have been following in my (TRIPWIX) footsteps and had chosen some of the same Douro Valley properties to feature which we have on the TRIPWIX website: Quinta Do Crasto, the S.S. Pipadouro and Casa do Rio. Of course, the magazine did not have the unique advantage that TRIPWIX properties have of access to local hosts (Wixxers), who in many cases are the owners of the properties, too.
Almost daily now, I pick up a glossy magazine, read a news/society related article and see Portugal featured time and time again. From celebrity designer Christian Louboutin launching his long-awaited perfume debut in Lisbon this winter (a city he has, incidentally, also decided to call home) to supermodels by the handful gravitating to the seaside paradise of Comporta.
So, with mixed feelings, I am delighted that the world has discovered my forgotten gem and can now also indulge in all the fabulous hospitality, great food, castles, wines, villages and incredible beaches that “My Portugal” has been sharing with me over the decades.
The new tourism will most definitely boost the economy, create more jobs and bring up the standard of tourism in the countryside. It also means, of course, that I will no longer sound quite so well-traveled, so pioneer-like and, instead of being the only foreigner in the village, I may have to share with others.
I do recognize that no country is more deserving of these well-timed, so-accurate accolades.