For when it´s safe to travel again…
Raise your hand if you love weekend trips. I, for one, could easily give up my early vacation and take instead a million small weekend or even day trips. And while given the current circumstances flying off to London or Paris for a weekend is impossible, I love discovering Portugal trip-by-trip. Typically, I see a picture of a place that looks interesting, or even hear a story of a place that is still undiscovered, and plan my way there. This time though, it was a picture of a hotel that guided me yet again to Alentejo – specifically the Ribatejo area this time. The Salvaterra Country House is a small hotel, an hour away from Lisbon and it is serious #nexthouse goals. I discovered it on an Instagram account that aggregates Portugal´s most beautiful hotels for your inspiration – @getawaygoto_portugal and I have been dreaming of it for about a month before finally booking a night there. And so, the day came and we left Lisbon early in the morning, drove up the Tejo river and returned late the next night. Here´s where we went, what we saw, what we ate and what we loved most.
It´s been six years since my family and I last hopped on our Tabbert trailer together for a roadtrip. In 2014 we ventured to Bulgaria and Greece, and had one of the best family vacations ever. So when the pandemic hit and travelling abroad was put on hold for a while, a trip to Romania already sounded like bliss. So when my mom suggested we take advantage of me being home and do another trip together with our 30 something year old trailer, I was totally in. Because my parents are awesome and super flexible, they let me draft the itinerary. And so I chose to head north, to the infamously beautiful Maramures area. On our way there, I pinned some objectives, let some room for improv and what came out was one week of reconnecting with nature, breathing fresh air, swimming in clean lakes and walking up and down green (and soon turning brown) mountains. Here´s where we went, what we loved most, what disappointed us, what we learned and how much it all cost.
Three cancelled trips later, along with the painful realisation that COVID-19 is here to stay, I (like many others who are privileged enough to even be able to travel during these times) had to rethink the idea of travel for the near to distant future. Out the window with visiting Turkey with my mom, Spain with my best friend or Madeira with my boyfriend, and hello continental Portugal with all it has to offer. And so, after quite a bit of research, this summer´s first trip turned out to be a girls´ trip to Évora, an ancient city about 1,5h from Lisbon. This post is not an ode to Évora though, but a chronicle of how travelling felt like to me during a pandemic.
I am going to go ahead and state the obvious: travelling has taken quite a turn this year. For the ones privileged enough to travel at all, it´s mostly meant shorter and more local getaways. It´s meant rediscovering their areas, or at most their countries, and while I understand some feel constrained by this, I think (re)discovering one´s roots is quite magical. So this pandemic´s first travel article had to be about a place very dear to me, the little coquette town of Cascais – one of the first places I ever discovered in Portugal.
If you´ve ever spent more than a couple of days in Berlin or better yet lived and work here, you´ll know what I mean when I say Berliners are obsessed with maté. Doing a bit of research, I found out that maté had arrived in Germany from South America shortly after the first world war. In a town in Northern Bavaria, maté became “Club-Mate” when the Loscher brewery purchased the license to this drink. This rebranded version of the Argentinian yerba mate soon reached Berlin and is nowadays as important to Berliners as sliced bread. Personally I was never a fan of the maté herb. When it comes to Club-Mate, the caffeinated drink present and free in every Berlin start-up , I couldn´t care less. This brings me to the obvious alternative: coffee. Dark and hot as I´ve gotten to know it in Portugal. While not really a fan of coffee either, I do find the smell of it magical. It might not be just the smell but the chuckles I have when remembering the Colombian coffee scene from Bruce Almighty and the memories of my mom sipping it on our front porch. Bottom line is – I´m not big on either maté or coffee but I will admit Berlin is the ultimate connoisseur of both. So naturally, when I returned to Berlin after two years, I stumbled upon some new and old but totally awesome coffee places. This post is about two of them.