two-year anniversary

happy-anniversarytoday is our two year anniversary – so much has changed since then, i can’t believe how time has gone so fast and how happy i am with this little portuguese/vietnamese family of ours!

picture by branco prata

quinta da romaneira / douro valley

i would love to share a few pictures of a magical place we stayed in whilst in portugal. we were here just for one night, it was right after our wedding weekend, so it felt perfect to wind down and have some rest and relax before heading to italy for our honeymoon (see how happy james looked!).

we arrived late at night and in the morning had breakfast with an amazing view – what a surprise!

quinta da romaneira is one of the oldest wineries in the douro valley, a unesco world heritage site in the north of portugal, and  the oldest demarcated wine region in the world.

it specializes in port and table wines – the hotel, encompassing two guest houses overlooking the douro river, is owned by the winery and  managed by hotel des reves.

the hotels doesn’t have a restaurant or an a la carte menu – we simply say what meal we want and where we chose to have it – and will be surprised by the chef’d choice at our favorite location.

since we just had one day, and were driving back to lisbon after lunch, we chose to take  tour of the douro valley – and get to see all the douro wineries from our boat, i highly recommend it! we totally missed out on the wine tasting and tour of the winery…

the rooms throughout the guest houses – the herbs room, the library – all had different scents matching the ambiance.

the food was delicious (and the wine!!), the service very friendly and attentive, the views were stunning, but the interior design was what really impressed me. i find most hotels have an hotel-look to them, not always cozy and personalized. here, on the contrary, i felt like i was at some cool friend’s house – and could spend days relaxing and reading in these living rooms with a view to the vineyards!

see more picures.

quinta da romaneira‘s website.

other places i stayed and liked.

ps – for another great post on the douro valley and quinta da romaneira, check kriss koeller‘s blog!

mercearia da vila / ponte de lima

during one of my quick trips to ponte de lima with my mum, we decided to stay at a new small boutique hotel in town. it would be a fun thing to do, since it is right in the center of town and we always stay at home, in the village.

mercearia da vila, means “the village’s grocery shop” in portuguese, and that’s what the hotel used to be. i remember visiting all the time, because it was such a unique grocery store, it was always so neat and tidy and it looked just like a shop from the old days.

well, the nice old man who used to be at the counter – until he was 92!! – retired and it is his son who decided to convert the shop in a new business.

the rooms have so much light and some have great views too. the place has been modernized but using the grocery store theme and there are plenty of little details, like the toys my mum would play with when she was little.

the owner is an excellent host, the location is perfect, right in the centre of town, and the prices are pretty good too!

ps – (we paid Eur 80 per night – that’s about US$100) book through booking, it might be easier since their website is still under construction.

cycling in ponte de lima

i have recently become addicted to spinning here in provo, so when i was away in the north of portugal, i made sure i went for a few cycling tours.

some say ponte de lima has one of the best cycling routes of portugal – i went a few last times before the wedding, it was perfect to relax. and since we had a few friends who stayed over for the weekend, we also went on the day after the wedding!

we rent the bicycles at the nautical club of ponte de lima and we cycle through the path alongside the lima river towards ponte da barca. the scenery is beautiful, green everywhere, you really feel in contact with nature. it’s a pretty big contrast with the one i’m used to in turks and caicos, maybe that’s why i appreciate it so much.

i like passing through little water falls and seeing people’s orchards and vineyards along the way. had it been warmer we would’ve stopped for a dip!

can you notice that one of my friends was 7 month pregnant? very brave of her for sure!

first picture by me, other’s by anh-tuan’s instagram, thanks anh-tuan!

our day

we’re back, and i can’t believe how fast it was all – one month of fast track preparations; arrival of guests from chile, brazil, california and abu dhabi; the wedding weekend flew; and our honeymoon in italy is already over. it really was the happiest day of my life!

i had never dreamt of getting married, or better, i had never dreamt of my wedding day. bridal magazines never inspired me.  and somehow everything turned out as i have always wanted. i would love to share this picture of our day with you, and can’t wait to share a few more in the weeks to come.

i am now enjoying a couple of weeks back in lisbon, before i head back home to my paradise island in turks and caicos.

image by andre from branco prata