Carmo’s Boutique Hotel: A Small Luxury Hotel In Portugal’s Most Spectacular Region

Carmo’s Boutique Hotel: A Small Luxury Hotel In Portugal’s Most Spectacular Region

This post was last updated on September 5th, 2017   It’s no secret that, given our travel lifestyle, we’ve stayed in countless hotels, hostels, resorts and apartments of all shapes, sizes and prices around the world. Throughout this time, we’ve learned that our favorite kind of accommodation is the small luxury hotel. The type of place that’s more like a friend’s guesthouse than a business—accommodation where you feel right at home (albeit more often than not at a much more stylish and luxurious home.) These small and personal hotels always go down as the most memorable, actually enhancing our travel experiences rather than just serving as a place to fall asleep at the end of a long day. Carmo’s Boutique Hotel in Ponte de Lima, Portugal, is exactly this kind of place (and more.) The family-run luxury hotel is not only uniquely gorgeous in every way, but it’s also conveniently located in one of our favorite spots in Portugal, the Minho region. If you’re looking for a memorable, off-the-beaten-track Portuguese experience, this is it. Here’s a closer look at why we love Carmo’s Boutique Hotel and the Minho region so much:   Carmo’s Boutique Hotel: A Small Luxury Hotel Of The World   It doesn’t take long to realize why Carmo’s consistently wins awards for being one of the world’s best small luxury hotels. Located down a quiet country road surrounded by rolling hills, you might drive right past Carmo’s if you didn’t know to look for it. Once inside, the hotel grounds begin to unfold into a quiet oasis of gardens and vineyards.     Carmo’s Boutique Hotel...
A Must-Try Douro Valley Wine Tour in Portugal

A Must-Try Douro Valley Wine Tour in Portugal

This post was last updated on September 26th, 2017    The Douro Valley makes a dramatic first impression. With its rolling green hills, a mighty river and lush vineyards and olive groves, it’s hard to imagine a better backdrop for sipping fine ports and table wines.     While the Douro Valley isn’t necessarily a secret, the destination doesn’t see nearly as many tourists as other famed wine regions such as Bordeaux or Napa. Drive just a few minutes outside of the main town of Pinhão, and you’ll encounter picturesque towns devoid of any tourists, seemingly pulled straight out of a storybook.     Even with its sleepy charm, you won’t have any trouble discovering spectacular vistas, delectable cuisine and memorable wines—if you know where to go.   Enter: Jorge Barefoot Wine & Tours     It’s no secret that we love wine and food tours. From Hong Kong to Paris to Boston, we’ve had quite a few incredible foodie experiences. But of them all, our Wine and Olive Oil Tour with Jorge easily tops out as most memorable—for all the right reasons. The best wineries in the Douro Valley are spread out, and most require advanced reservations for a tasting. We wanted to discover top table wines, but we also wanted to do it in a way that would let us get to know the winemakers and ideally find undiscovered wines from small but passionate producers. Jorge Barefoot Wine & Tours was the perfect solution. We set up a private, full-day tour, meeting from our apartment in Provezende, then set out on what would be the highlight of...
The Essential Guide to Visiting Cuba

The Essential Guide to Visiting Cuba

The largest of the Caribbean islands, Cuba’s unique history and natural beauty have been captivating the travelers’ interest for decades. Remnants of colonial history dotted around its cities, Baroque palaces, vintage American cars, white-sand beaches and streets echoing with salsa rhythms are just a few of the reasons why you should add Cuba to your bucket list.   Before you start planning If you’re planning on visiting Cuba for pleasure you’ll need a tourist card (simple visa), that can be purchased from the Cuban Embassy. While nationals from other countries are free to visit for leisure purposes, there are still restrictions in place for US citizens. Their reason for visiting must fall under one of 12 special categories, such as visiting relatives or educational purposes. Tour companies get around this by including an educational activity (e.g., school visit) in the itinerary. Don’t forget to take your travel and medical insurance certificate with you, as you’ll need to show this on arrival.   Planning Your Trip Whether you’re hopping over to Havana from Florida, or you’ve got a 10-hour flight ahead of you, plan ahead to keep stress to a minimum. Use a comparison site to discover the cheapest flights and book yours. If you’re driving yourself to the airport, pre-book long-term economy parking close to your departure terminal; you’ll save time and won’t get stuck with ‘drive-in’ rates. You can use dedicated comparison sites such as Looking4Parking.com to search for the best parking deal and to make our booking as they often offer massive discounts for booking through their site. Don’t rely on plastic to finance your trip, as...
Phuket For Couples: The Novotel Phuket For Luxury & Romance

Phuket For Couples: The Novotel Phuket For Luxury & Romance

This post was last updated on July 4th, 2017 Phuket For Couples: How To Have The Most Romantic Trip Thailand has been one country that consistently surprises us in the best of ways. We recently shared about our experience in Surin Beach, Phuket, and how we found a quiet paradise on Thailand’s largest island. Now we’re taking it South and divulging the ins and outs from our time in Karon, Phuket.     What To Do: Phang Nga Bay       We had a difficult time deciding what excursions to take during our time in Phuket, with Phi Phi Island and James Bond Island stealing the limelight, and several other alluring, lesser known islands to choose from. In the end, we chose a Phang Nga Bay sunset tour and couldn’t be more pleased. We opted to head toward Hong Island and Phangha Island. The great thing about staying in Karon is that most of the tours will pick you up from your hotel at no additional cost.     Our first stop was Phangha Island, where the tide had receded just enough to walk through. We paused halfway to light coconut candles and placed them in the water to peacefully float onward. Then, venturing a bit further, we came to a hidden jungle cove, which is usually inaccessible because of the tide. Then, it was off to Hong Island, which was larger than Phangha and equally as beautiful.     We jumped back on the speed boat to head back to mainland Phuket and feasted on an array of scrumptious seafood while we watched the sun go down...
The One Travel Essential We Wouldn’t Dare Leave Behind

The One Travel Essential We Wouldn’t Dare Leave Behind

We often get asked questions about what to pack for trips around the world. With limited suitcase space and weight, it can be hard to determine between the essentials and the nonessentials. If we had to pick just one item that outweighs them all in importance, we’d choose our sunglasses. A good pair of sunglasses is, in our opinion, the one thing you just can’t go without when traveling.   Why Sunglasses Are The One Travel Essential You Need     1. It’s not about all the style: Yes, sunglasses are a great fashion statement and the perfect touch to any outfit. Tourists almost look incomplete without their favorite pair sitting atop their head. But, the reason we think it’s crucial to travel with sunglasses isn’t primarily for fashion, it’s for safety. Most everyone is aware of the harmful effects the sun’s rays have on your skin. While many people may not heed the warning and use proper skin protection, it’s common knowledge that UV rays are dangerous. What doesn’t seem to be common knowledge is that UV rays are just as dangerous to your eyes as they are to your skin. A huge portion of Cataracts cases (eyes that become gray/blue and blurry) are caused by UV exposure. Not to mention, the sun’s rays have been linked to macular degeneration (one of the leading causes of blindness in the US) and Pterygium (a tissue growth that causes astigmatism.) (1.) Moral of the story: your eyes need protection in the same way your skin does. If you want to keep seeing the wonders of the world, you’d better start...
Wedding Anniversary Recap: Our Past 5 Travel Celebrations

Wedding Anniversary Recap: Our Past 5 Travel Celebrations

For the last five years, we’ve celebrated our wedding anniversary in a new destination, and year #6 will be no different. We can’t imagine a better way to spend our anniversaries than by exploring a new place together. This May 21st, we’re popping the champagne in Portugal. We’ll be taking a road trip from Lisbon up to Coimbra and Aveiro, then stopping in Porto and driving the Douro Valley, finally going up to Ponte De Lima. It’s going to be a road trip filled with romance, lots of yummy food and wine, of course. If travel experiences aren’t your cup of tea, don’t forget to spend time exploring a rich selection of gifts for your 5th wedding anniversary. Or, take a little inspiration from our past 5 destination wedding anniversaries: Wedding Anniversary Recap: Our Past 5 Travel Celebrations     1. Bohol And Apo Island, Philippines The Philippines will always hold a special place in our heart since it’s the destination where we spent our very first wedding anniversary! Our first stop was Apo Island, world-renowned for its scuba diving. The dives were gorgeous, and we can confidently say that Apo Island had the best diving we’ve experienced yet. We felt like we were in a real-life version of Finding Nemo. 2. Macau And Hong Kong For year number 2, we opted for a cosmopolitan-style anniversary in lieu of an exotic beach. We loved every minute of our time in Hong Kong and Macau. We went during the summer, which we think is the best time to go, and enjoyed everything from fine-dining to street foodie tours, seeing the...