Christmas is far enough in the past to make another family get-together seem like a delightful idea and so the hunt begins for the perfect holiday. Something for everyone is the selling point for too many holidays which clearly don’t even come close to keeping everyone happy, whether in accommodation or activities.
I’ve found the solution in Northern Portugal – sold to me with the description that “It’s like the Highlands with sunshine” – which was always going to appeal to a native of Skye. If you’re holidaying across the generations you need enough room to escape without causing offence and Quinta de Agriboa – http://quintadeagriboa.co.uk/acommodation/ – ten minutes from Ponte de Lima, is a great luxury option. A former farmhouse, built in the late 18th century, it has been beautifully and sensitively restored to accommodate up to 14 guests with 6 bedrooms and 5 bathrooms.
The public rooms are bright and spacious with two well-defined and separate sitting areas and the two bedrooms on the main floor and the facilities in the bathroom have been designed to allow wheelchair access. Outside, there are two patio areas and a large 15×8 metre swimming pool is the focal point of the landscaped garden with orange, apple and olive trees. There’s a barbecue and dining area, shaded by mature trees and further space set aside for badminton.
So far, so good for ticking all the generational activity boxes and ensure family closeness doesn’t become overwhelming. This is the sort of property where grandparents can happily set up camp for two or three weeks and the rest of the family can fly in and out to suit. There are direct flights from Edinburgh to Porto and Vigo and hiring a car is best if you want to see the area well, though some guests are happy just to relax and do as little as possible.
Distinctive Portugal – www.distinctiveportugal.com – is an excellent start, not just in finding the right accommodation, but also in planning activities. Portugal is renowned for golf, which has most people thinking the Algarve, but the prices here in the North are a third of what you’d expect to pay there. There are gorgeous beaches within easy reach and wonderful walking and cycling tours – www.descubraminho.pt/en/home – offering a chance to see the real Portugal and have a truly authentic experience.
My favourite activity – of interest to fascinated adults and ghoulish children alike – has to be the Wolf Track, at its best during full or half moon. It starts in the late afternoon, when you meet a guide in the national park and then enjoy a picnic as the sun goes down. A leisurely walk in the woods in the dusk has added spine prickling in the shape of the wolves howling at the moon, with the luckiest visitors seeing them as well as hearing them.
Then there’s the Seven Lagoons trip, where you can dive and swim in the national lagoons, kayaking for all ages run by the silver medal winner at the 2012 Olympics, body boarding and kite surfing lessons, horse riding, 4×4 trips through the national park to see wild horses and the slightly more relaxing opportunity to follow different historical trails. You can be a shepherd for a morning, try a cruise down the river with a train ride back, go walking with a donkey, combine hiking and yoga, relax with the mouth-watering cornbread experience or enjoy a biking wine tour.
For a 21st with a difference, one lucky girl celebrated her birthday with a leisurely walk through gorgeous countryside, ending with a meander up a gentle wooded slope. A table of lovely food awaited them at the top where they all relaxed, feasted and toasted the birthday girl late into a starry night.
There are fabulous pubs and restaurants and night clubs for the younger generation, and the value for money is something that will strike you. Food and drink always play a huge part in the success of a holiday, so wine tasting tours, picnics in the vineyards and leisurely lunches feature extensively – and very enjoyably. Distinctive Portugal can also help solve the endless “Who’s driving/babysitting?” by recommending a Local cook who can come to your villa, create a menu, do the shopping, prepare a meal for your group and clear up afterwards. The food they prepare is authentic Portuguese superb and yet again is superb value for money – for larger groups the average cost per head for 3 courses with 2 choices is around €16.
It seems you can buy happiness after all.
Source : HeraldScotland