a portugal state of mind

I’m back home after six amazing weeks in Europe. It was a life-changing trip. I know I've written that before, but somehow it's always true. When I travel, I arrive home a different person from the one I left behind on my Seattle doorstep.

If I talk a lot about the transformative power of travel around here, that’s because it never ceases to amaze me. I keep expecting travel to become banal or boring or, at the very least, predictable. It never does.

Time away from home always manages to leave me awestruck at the vast and varied beauty of the world. And humbled at my small place in it.

One of the highlights of this last trip was the ten days I spent in Portugal. This sea-swept, sunny little country seems to take up a bit more real estate in my heart every time I visit!

Lisbon is a painting of bright sun, sparkling river and pastel-hued buildings arrayed along sidewalks paved in cream-colored limestone. To climb one of its many hills and look out over the city is breathtaking. Wandering Lisbon's ancient alleys for something as mundane as lunch with a friend takes on an intoxicating air of mystery. And the locals, at first reserved, are quick to offer a smile and a helpful piece of advice if you take the time to strike up a conversation. 

The rolling, sun-drenched hills of the Alentejo are my second love. This part of Portugal is all golden grasses, vineyards, olive groves and placid cows napping in the shade of cork oak trees. I love bouncing over its dusty roads in our rented car--stopping for lunch at a tiny local taberna or pulling off to buy cherries from the back of a farmer’s truck. Wending our way up a one-lane road to a hilltop castle with stunning 360° views of the valley below always leaves me a bit giddy. Watching the sunset from the terrace of an 19th-century olive oil factory that's been converted into a restaurant leaves one feeling the whole region has been sprinkled in some sort of magical dust. 

I treasure all these golden Portuguese memories. I'm grateful, too, for the effect they have on me once I'm home.
 
Before this trip, I was running around like a crazy person, trying to jam an unreasonable amount of work into each day. I was stressed and irritable and argumentative (to the point of throwing a blanket on my husband’s head when he refused to acknowledge my infinite wisdom).
 
That version of me now feels a million miles away. A Portuguese state of mind lingers on, leaving me unable to recall what I was so stressed about exactly. I'm finding it easier to focus on work instead of scrolling manically through Instagram at five minute intervals. I’m energized to dive into creative projects that have been languishing on my mental to-do list. I'm miraculously able to stop working at a reasonable hour these days in order to take walks along the lake with Beau before we head home to open a bottle of wine and throw together a simple dinner. I’m sleeping like a champ.
 
Travel can do that. 

Which is precisely why I keep exploring. And also why I invite you to come with me. This last trip to Portugal was so inspiring, I want you to experience it for yourself!

I'm thrilled to announce I'm teaming up with my friend Filipe to bring you a week of food, wine, creativity and beauty in sunny Lisbon this October!

Filipe and I have so many amazing experiences planned for you. We've filled this retreat with the sort of people and places no traditional tour guide could take you to--some of our most talented creative and culinary friends and visits to our very favorite, locals-only spots!

You'll cook Portuguese specialties alongside local chefs and sample the custardy sweets the country is famous for. You'll travel to an organic farm and harvest sea urchins by hand at the shore. You'll visit the studios of a jewelry-maker and a ceramicist and learn to make your own wall-hanging with a local artisan. You'll stroll historic streets sampling hyper-local wines, cheeses and other Lisbon specialties.

This is going to be the best trip ever!!! (I'm getting goosebumps just thinking about it.) This retreat is the perfect way to banish burn-out, inject creative inspiration into your life and experience this stunning country.

Registration in now open and I absolutely cannot wait to share my Portugal with you! Click the button below to join us!
 
XO,
 
Olaiya