After a few days in the lap of luxury I've
come to one conclusion. And that is we
could be almost anywhere. The views
are magnificent. Amenities lovely. Food
delicious. Cocktails impeccable. But if
I'd been dropped off here in the dead of
night hooded in a van with no windows -
my morning after my realization would
be "where am I?!" Our terrace view just
as well might be Santa Barbara, Mexico,
Puerto Rico, or any Virgin Island. And
I find that rather disconcerting. Why did
we travel across the globe to go nowhere?
Out of context
Up until now everything about our trip to
Portugal has been a learning experience.
The language alone has been consistently
challenging and somewhat intimidating.
We've delved into the Portuguese culture
via azulejos, stone sidewalks, port, and
custard cups. However once we entered
the gates of this enclave of ivory towers
it suddenly all became rather vanilla. In
essence it's a five star Disney world. And
while I rather like being pampered - all I
really want is to feel like we're in another
country not Orange County. Am I nuts?!
Over the years both Frank and I have
had the infinite privilege of staying in
some amazing resorts worldwide. And
while all were somewhat unique, the
reality is that few stand out in memory
from the rest. The exceptions being the
Mount Nelson Hotel in Cape Town just
below Table Mountain and Amanyara
(shown above) located on a remote end
of Turks Caicos. Both weren't simply
luxury facilities, they were nirvanas -
that transported one to a better place
within a uniquely regional context.
All of which causes me to wonder if
we're beyond jaded or simply spoiled.
In reality it's probably both. However
I've come to the conclusion that those
of a comfortable ilk prefer to live in
the manner they are accustomed to. A
day journey to view the locals aside,
they want their favorite cocktails with
ice, table service correctly demure, and
turn down service chocolates in place
when they retire. In truth they really
don't care where they are but rather that
they are treated well with no surprises.
The question is what are they missing?
If honest, we've equally high standards
as to what we expect. The difference is
we want a bit of patina on it rather than
perfection in a Four Seasons, Rosewood,
Ritz sort of way. It's all too safe, shiny,
and a bit "too too" for our taste. Hence
we prefer to indulge in the local scene
in as civilized way as possible. At least
we've wandered beyond the walls of
this place and seen the Algarve even
if it was in a Mercedes. My quandary
is does that make us ugly Americans?
Living in Manhattan one is treated with
kid gloves by world class restauranteurs,
bar keeps, and other luxury providers.
Thus whatever one wants is within arms
length, in the neighborhood, or an Uber
away. Yet in hindsight, we never truly
appreciated what we had until we lost
it. That's why nowadays we prefer to
travel to cities rather than posh resorts.
Living in rural Montana may be quite
magical, however elegance is definitely
not an everyday occurrence. Nor should
it be given it's not a natural phenomena.
It is what it is.. thank God!
The fact is we made a conscious decision
to flee the constraints of urbanity. Hence
now while any city destination is a nice
place to visit, I'm fairly certain we really
don't want to live there. If and when we
opt to be metropolitan, we love it while it
lasts. However after a month away from
home, I'm eager to return to reality. Our
new normal is uniquely Montanan. And
sometimes one must travel afar in order
to discover where they belong. Absence
makes the heart grow fonder... can't wait
to see you in a few days!