Thursday, 11 September 2014

Holiday On My Own - Part One.

I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to go away last week.  My husband had holiday he needed to use up at work and I desperately wanted some more sunshine after the on set of Autumn here in England.  We had no one to watch the children so that we could go away together so I decided I would just have to go without my husband!  I put a request out on facebook to see if any friends fancied coming along but knew there was probably no one who would be able to because of family commitments.  So there was only one option left for me, I would have to go alone! 

Now I could have taken myself off to visit friends, I have done this is the past, but the craving for some sunshine was overwhelming and the thought of not having to talk to anyone and not disturbing any ones sleep (I appear to have a terrible snoring problem - so my husband tells me) was too appealing.  So I spent a whole afternoon and evening doing some research.

I started off by looking at some big tour operators at last minute package holiday deals.  Most of these were to Turkey and Bulgaria, these are longish flights for a short holiday and from airports some distance away mostly in the middle of the night!  So after a while I got disillusioned with this idea and decided to start looking at where I could go from our local airport - Southampton, it is a very small airport and one I know that with my reduced mobility I would be able to get around.  The only place that sounded appealing was Faro in Portugal.  Now I have been there before (about 20 years ago!) and knew the airport was small there also.  The flight is only 2 1/2 hours and I could get a return flight for under £200, this looked promising.   I looked at the 10 day weather forecast which went right up to the time I would be going and that also looked ideal.  Next I searched on for accommodation.  I have used this website lots of times, including for our big trips over the last few years and have never yet had a problem with anywhere we have stayed.

I love the ocean and so began my search along the coastline, but to no avail, either there were no vacancies or the accommodation had a low satisfaction score and the reviews were not great.  So I started to look in land a little, still near to the airport.  I needed somewhere small where I was going to feel safe.  I found a lovely little B&B in a small village called Estoi, this seemed to fit the bill and there was a very nice review from a lady who had stayed there on her own.  So as it had free cancellation available I booked my flight and then booked this accommodation after my hubby had come in from work and given his approval.

I was so excited that night, I couldn't sleep and decided to switch my kindle on and look at the village where I was going to be.  It sounded and looked on the map very small and compact, quite perfect.  There was an old Palace which I researched a little more and discovered that it had been turned into a hotel - oh my, it looked beautiful!  I saved the page, turned off and finally got to sleep.

The following morning I looked again at this palace, I looked for it on, it was quite pricey but then I had got my flight much cheaper than hubby thought I would.  The reviews were great, I looked at trip adviser, here again the reviews were great.  I then checked out the prices on some other sites including the hotels own and decided this was where I was meant to go.  The small B&B's only downsides had been it only had a small plunge pool and I would have to find somewhere in the village to eat.  This other place had a lovely big swimming pool (plus a small indoor one to!) and a spa, bar and restaurant!  I was convinced so the Pousada Estoi was booked, the B&B cancelled, and I only had a week to wait before I set off!

Do you want to see some pictures?  

Within 6 hours of leaving home, I took this photo as I settled by the pool :o), I had arrived by 11am with no trouble at all with the journey, easily finding the taxi rank at the airport and giving them the piece of paper with the address on it.  I couldn't check into my room straight away but was able to take my swimming costume out of my case, get pool towels from the reception, leave my case with them and go and get changed in the spa.  Some time after two o clock I went back to reception checked in and got my room key, they had already delivered my case to the room :o).

That evening I booked myself into the restaurant and had the most gorgeous view, watching the sunset.  The service was the only thing that I would say let the hotel down at all, it was terribly slow.  Even that was not so big a deal when you were in such beautiful surroundings though.

I too, myself off on a little walk around the village a couple of times.  It has been a very long hot summer and there was very little colour around, but I did snap these beautiful trees and flowers, scattered around.

I also went and found the little B&B, it did look very nice but I was very satisfied with where I eventually chose.  This is the church in the main square opposite the B&B, it rang it's bell at five minutes too the hour and then again on the hour - I could hear this from the poolside!

The grounds of the Palace stretched over a large area and was separated in many places by small roads like this one....
 I loved how this place was surrounded by pots of plants, oil containers and all sorts were used for pots...

 more beautiful flowers.....

This would have been the main entrance to the Palace....

There is still a lot of work to be done and you cannot walk around a lot of the grounds you just get these glimpses....

This orange grove is what I had outside the balcony of my room....
 This is my favourite plant because it reminds me of my honeymoon in San Francisco, USA, bougainvillea....

The accommodation in the Palace is all in a new extension, however the rest of the Palace is also used, this is the large lounge......

This the smaller TV lounge/bar..

 And these are the beautiful gardens that you could walk around and are fully restored...

 There is still a lot of work being done and it is lovely to see that the trees are thriving....

These tea rooms at either side of the finished garden were full of beautiful fresco's and the colour of the glass was breathtaking.....

How clever to be able to use just a small variety of shrubs to give such vibrant colour is such a dry and arid landscape...

So would I do this again - you betcha!  I will let you know what I got up to with my 4 nights away (other than take these photo's) in my next post xxxxxxxxxx


  1. First of all congratulations Jane on your courage. Going it alone is not easy, (I should know, I've never yet found the guts to do so).
    Secondly, thanks so much for the story and the fabulous pictures.
    What a gallery you have there, especially the wonderful flowers. Gorgeous!
    You seem to have picked the ideal short break. Well done you.

  2. Thanks Ray, lovely to see your voice, hope all is well with you x

  3. Reasonably so Jane. The black dog has been in residence for most of the summer, but is showing signs of moving out again. Thanks be to God.

    1. sorry to hear that Ray, praying for you xxxx