2021 started, not with unrealistic resolutions this time, but with COVID still haunting humanity! Needless to say, it was the first NYE in about 12 years that I spent at home with my family and absolutely no friends. We all dressed up elegantly and threw an ultra-private “New Yorker jet set cocktail party”-style event to send 2020 back to the devil’s quarters from where it should never have left.
On the upside, there was no hangover on the 1st of January, no major regrets (resulting from shameful pieces of blurred memories slowly coming to mind), no money mysteriously missing on my account (proportional to the amount of alcohol my liver had to metabolise) and no need to come up with a good excuse to run away from some random guy who, just a few hours ago, seemed the most interesting free-spirit (and potential soulmate) of the party. On the other hand, terribly missing all those classical markers of a crazy non-pandemic NYE. Oh well.
Anticipating a new confinement coming soon, my first decision on January 1st (a sober one, I am afraid) was to book a couple of days somewhere away from the rush of a city on the brink of lockdown. Luckily, my friend M. was just as desperate to run away from the capital as I was, and so we decided that a Glamping winter experience sounded like the perfect idea. And we knew just the right location to write on the car’s navigation system. We packed our backpacks with warm clothes, cozy pajamas and hiking boots, and set off, heading south, the next day late in the afternoon (2 hours later than predicted, because punctuality is not what we are known for).
RESERVA ALECRIM – Eco Houses & Glamping Boutique Resort
Rural tourism in Alentejo, Portugal
Our two-hour car ride did not go as smoothly as expected. A sudden stormy rain coming literally “out of the blue” hit us hard, but it wasn’t enough to kill our great glamping vibes. We arrived tired but happy. Since it was already dark we could not see the beauty of the place, only the sky was giving us its best frame, now that the storm had passed, a million stars were shyly dispersed in a dark blue mantle, as if a celestial giant had spilled salt all over the sky.
Lost somewhere between Comporta and Costa Vicentina, RESERVA ALECRIM is a place of Human reconnection with nature, as it provides its guests with an exquisite taste of how nature is indeed a luxury. It is a property of 28 hectares with completely preserved local fauna and flora, where “wooden tree house”-like lodges, discretely merging with nature, coexist with fancy domes that remember mushrooms growing from the ground.
The biggest dome of all was the one that housed a heated swimming pool, that was impressive not only by its beauty but by the view it provided from the valley and all the way down to the sea.
Outside, two other pools competed in originality and glamour. An infinity pool mirrored the orange light of an explosive sunset warming that winter day, and a bio pool (a true ecosystem in full activity, guaranteeing the maintenance of water by the balance of animals and plants) whispered friendly through the sound of its frogs and dragon-flies.
Eco-houses and its breath-taking mornings
Wooden lodges are the best place to wake up in a freezing morning, lazily blinking your eyes a couple of times, and, in warm pajamas, take the breakfast basket that was left by the door and go for a colourful and highly instagrammable breakfast on the deck (since they are set on stakes on the hillside, these lodges have a stunning view over the nearby valley, the horizon and the sea).
Domes and its breath-taking nights
Domes, on the other hand, are famous for its starry nights. For every traveler who, like me, has a star-watching night planned in every itinerary, and is able to bore their friends with excited reports of the sky they saw that one time in Morocco, or how the moon seems so different in Australia, spending a night in one of these domes is mandatory.
Our star-watching night could not have been better, fuelled by glasses of rum and coke and philosophical debates about life. Even though we love to see the stars, we are absolute ignorants in the subject, so we had lots of fun finding out exactly what stars we were looking at, thanks to a night-sky explainer app.
Santo André Lagoon Natural Reserve (Lagoa de Santo André)
Santo André Lagoon is the largest lagoon in Alentejo. Its 500 hectares of outstanding natural beauty make it worth a visit. Next to Santo André Beach, with a visible connection with the sea, its mix of fresh and salty waters host diverse water species and attract many birds to the area, such as the Eurasian reed warbler (which is the symbol of the Reserve).
A walk around the lagoon and then on the beach at sunset was all we needed to fully recharge our batteries and face the new year of 2021. We walked along the coastline, letting the salty air bring us strength, as the waves carried away our worries. We were not talking, but sharing the same thoughts: fuck COVID, confinements, endless cycles of emergency/calamity states. We just want our lives back.
Wishing everyone safe travels (even without crossing borders),