Mental vacations


When things are not going our way, we take a mental vacation and recall a day at the beach. It’s late afternoon and the sun is getting ready for an ocean dive. The temperature is perfect; a slight breeze caresses our skin. Sometimes, we daydream about the Algarve, where the air is perfumed by almond flowers. Other times, we imagine the west coast of Portugal, where the wind smells of pine and seaweed. All we hear is the chatter of the waves. All we feel is the serenity of the moment.

Pedro Rebelo is a Portuguese composer, sound artist and performer, working primarily in chamber music, improvisation and installation with new technologies. You can learn more about his wonderfully original work by clicking here.

A Winter day in Portugal

If you were here today, you could spend the morning on the beach, collecting shells, wondering why no one told the sun that it’s not Summer. You could have a simple lunch of roasted chicken with piri-piri sauce, visit a romantic palace, and sit on a cliff, watching the sun bathe in the ocean. You could dine on grilled fish, drink a great local wine, and go out into the warm night to gaze at the stars. And, when the day is done, you would know the meaning of the word felicidade.

Sea mornings

Many visitors arrive in Portugal with their body clocks disoriented by jet lag. They lie awake in the early hours of the morning, stranded between dream and reality.

If you’re close to the ocean, this is your chance. Go to the beach and walk on the immaculate sand. Watch the sea put aside its black nightgown and try on different shades of blue. These simple moments can be extraordinary. Here’s how the writer Raul Brandão describes them in his 1923 book, The Fishermen:

“There are mornings when the dust of the sea mixes with the blue dust of the sky. A fresh, moist breeze, vibrant and salty comes from afar, from the deep, from an endless groundswell that makes us feel that life has no limits.”

Traveling in Portugal

It is great fun to read John Murray’s “Handbook for Travellers in Portugal,” published in London in 1864.  He warns that, to explore far-distant valleys, hills, and mountains, the tourist in Portugal “must be prepared for poor accommodation, poor food, and great fatigue.” But, at the same time, “to one who is in pursuit of scenery, more especially to the artist, no other country in Europe can possess such attractions and such freshness of unexplored beauty.”

So much has changed in the last 150 years! You can now travel throughout Portugal in great comfort, eating delicious food, and staying in elegant hotels, pousadas and bed and breakfasts. But, what remains unchanged, is the freshness of the country’s beauty. Take a look!