Smile




“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened” Dr.Seuss



I’ve got a list labelled ‘Rewards for Future Nick’, some slaps on the back in lieu for all good deeds done. Unfortunately, there is also a growing ‘Get Off Your Arse and Do’ list for Future Nick to accomplish. But for now, having just completed a month of yoga, which also entailed a month of healthy eating (read: a month off the booze), the GF and I are due some well earned rewards. Bonus, we find ourselves on the beach in Goa with a week of relaxation up our sleeves.

High, high up on the rewards list is an overdue re-tox. I’m dreaming of sparkling wine at sunset, Sula being the local Indian supplier, followed by a cleansing Goan Kings brewski or two, complemented with something fresh from the tandoori. They’ve actually got a rapidly growing wine industry in India with some great producers of plonk … but back to the story.

Feet in the sand, sun setting over the sea and a month (I may remind you of this a few times) off the booze, the glass in front of me is full of tantalising bubbles, mere moments from my mouth. 

A long overdue “Cheers” is said in earnest, coinciding with that magical sound of glasses chink-chinking.

I inch the nectar upwards.

“A quick toast”, the GF announces. The glass will have to wait, but hey what’s another second or two after a month off the booze (you were warned).

“I’m just so proud of you”, she states, glass held high. “Proud that you fully committed to the whole month. Thank-you.”

The glass is getting warm. The sun is touching the ocean. I need to reply. Something short. 

“To us!”

Glassware is re-clinked.

Then, intuition takes over.
Hand grabs glass, arm lifts hand, glass touches mouth, liquid begins to flow.

“Aaaarrgghhh!”, I scream. 

I’m the first to admit I’m a baby when it comes to pain, but this is something else. A shooting sensation has just run straight through my front tooth, piercing my brain. I drop the glass as both hands reach up and cover my mouth.

The GF gulps whilst peering over the rim of her glass. She’s staring wide eyed at me in agony. She gulps again. Then gulps once more, finally asking after my well being.
My well being is not good.

Luckily, Goa is renowned for its dentists, and within ten minutes by rickshaw I’m lying flat on my back, in the dental chair, sober as a judge, mouth wide open.

Dentist goes tap, tap, tap.

I go aargh, ow, OUCH!

Seems there is a ‘minor emergency’, his words not mine. 

Now is probably a good time to confess that seeing a dentist was THE top of my ‘Get Off Your Arse and Do’ list, as I had been experiencing and ignoring some discomfort for some time. 
After a revealing X-Ray, a brief consultation, a local anaesthetic, and on my request a second local just for good measure, the dentist pulls the front tooth clean out of my head, and with it a huge cyst is drained, GROSS, and I’m prescribed a week of antibiotics.

‘You will no longer be in pain,” I was reassured. “Just remember, no drinking with the antibiotics this week”. 

I can only, barely, smile.

(Thanks to Beth of https://travelingwinechick.com/ fame for suggesting the prompt word ‘Smile’ for #mwwc28 and to https://thedrunkencyclist.com/ for the reminder to write! )

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Picnics of the World

“Well — I’ll get them to put you up a tea-basket, and you can picnic all to yourselves, — that’s the idea, isn’t it?’

‘How fearfully good! How frightfully nice if you could!”

Women in Love (D.H. Lawrence)


(The most romantic grass in the world?)

For all the travelling around the world feeding my face at fancy restaurants, I still find a picnic hard to beat. Growing ‘hangry’ searching along a dining promenade, my mind will wander to the perfect park or patch of grass that awaits at the most spectacular scenic spots. Getting the right amount of romance and Rose Wine onto the rug takes a little knowledge and patience, but with preparation the picnic is the true winner in alfresco dining. Let me review some of the great picnics of the world.


FRANCE

Sunset at Sacre-Coeur 

Getting you out of the restaurants in the dining capital of the world is admittedly a hard sell, but a visit to Montmartre and the Sacre-Coeur is a ‘must do’ when visiting the French capital. Why not pack your rug, and pick up supplies along the uber cool Rue Des Abbesses on your way towards this most romantic of picnic spots in the city of love. Belon No.2 oysters from La Mascotte are shucked and ready to go, grab a chicken and a tabouleh salad at the rotisserie across the street. Don’t forget the Brie de Meaux sold at any number of the delicatessens on the strip, and add some fresh bread from the award winning La Greneir a Pain. Continue to the green grass at the Square Louise Michel below the iconic building. Watch the sunset over Paris and pop a bottle of Billecart-Salmon Rose to wash down the feast.

AUSTRALIA

Brunch on the Mornington Peninsula (outside Melbourne)



A short drive outside the city of Melbourne takes you onto a number of stunning beaches. Bushman’s  Bay on the Mornington Peninsula is the clear picnic spot winner. The walk is full of wildlife, kangaroos hoping through the eucalyptus forest, kookaburras laughing, the place nearly always devoid of people. On the way, pop into Ten Minutes By Tractor for their 10X pinot rose to accompany lunch. Down the road, Red Hill Cheese produce the apt named ‘Picnic Point’ range. A quick stop in Flinders is where you can get the rest of your supplies. Local prawns by the half kilo, and the heavenly Flinders Bakery heavy fruit loaf with poppy seed. As extravagant as the provisions are, the real reason to picnic at Bushman’s Bay is for the secluded rock pools that you can swim in after the meal. Now what Michelin restaurant supplies that! 

(Rock pools at Bushman’s Bay)

PORTUGAL


Afternoons on the Banks of the Tagus

Portugal is the picnickers paradise with so much produce perfect for the rug. Simplicity is key. Pick up a can of Conservas Santos sardines. Eat with local sourdough and fresh tomatoes. The new Mercado da Ribeira market has all you are looking for. Grab a wheel of  Evora cheese. Include some local pate and of course a bottle of Mateus Rose, a Portuguese classic. On any given weekend the party atmosphere on the river may well extend past the picnic. Not to worry as there are many pop-up bars serving sangria and mojitos to keep you fuelled.

Got a favourite PICNIC ? Please let me know in the comments below.

Portugal Beyond Lisbon – Alentejo

 Visit Portugal’s Alentejo region for an outdoor adventure complemented with fresh local produce and breath taking walks.


Portugal strikes back! After nearly a decade in the clutches of the GFC, the South West Coast of Portugal is striding forward towards a new future with an invigorating push into Nature Tourism, well supported by the local community and council. The houses and buildings in every street have been given a fresh lick of paint, bright white with blue, orange or pink trimmings so that when you enter a town you feel like you’ve stumbled onto a film set.

Forget the Algarve for a beach break, the Alentejo region is full of activities for those looking for outdoor adventure. The jewel in the Alentejo crown is the Fishermans Trail, a four day walk along the Atlantic Coast line that, from north to south, starts at the market square in the old town of Porto Covo and finishes on the tranquil beach of Odeceixe.

EAT and DRINK

Add to your time here fantastic fresh seafood, affordable local wines and cheeses, plenty of municipal markets (mercados) and a bounty of Portuguese patisseries, there is more than enough fuel to keep you going along the trail. Keep an eye out for the rated DOC cheeses (queijo) from Nisa, Evora and Serpa regions, all made from sheeps milk with their own regional flavours. Wines from Enoforum, Herdade dos Grous and Cartuxa are all high quality and affordable made from the lesser known grape varieties grown in Alentejo. Broadly, the whites are light, zingy and refreshing, perfect for the local seafood, whilst the reds are mostly full of fruit and also enjoyed young.

WALKING  THE FISHERMAN’S TRAIL

The first stage of the walk from Porto Covo to Vila Nova de Milfontes, is a 20km trail that should take about 7 hours to complete. Start by heading south from the Porto Covo fishing port onto the trail that twist and winds along the Atlantic, passing pebbled beaches and sandstone dunes. Expect to see endemic plant species that have survived the poor soil conditions of the area and exist nowhere else on Earth. Pack a lunch with drinks for this stretch as you will have the place to yourself with no conveniences on the way. From the market in Porto Covo’s main square you can pick up ripe local tomatoes, fresh bread, a small wheel of queijo and a tin or two of Portugal’s famous sardines for a picnic along the way.


(Porto Covo)

Vila Nova de Milfontes is a sleepy seaside town facing south, over looking the mouth of the Mira river and home to great restaurants and cafes. Nestled on the banks of the Mira is Quebramar Beach Bar, serving local fresh seafood. On the dunes is Conversar Comsal, perfect for sunset, with Super Bock on tap (1euro a glass) and ‘Catch of the Day’ (7euro) it’s a popular local favourite. If you plan on spending a few days here, there are surf schools, bike hire and yoga at Love Ashtanga Yoga to keep you busy.


(Overlooking the river mouth at Vila Nova de Milfontes)

Follow the trail from Vila Nova de Milfontes to Almograve, a 15km walk along the coast. First, you can go out of town and cross the bridge and head back towards Furnas beach or knock a couple of kilometres off the day by taking the ferry straight across the river. From here head down the acacia laden path and watch local fisherman on the rocks and keep your eyes out for the small Stone Age quarries in the dunes. Turn into Almograve for another feast at one of the wonderful local seafood restaurants. There is also a ferry service from Vila Nova de Milfontes that continues all the way to Odemira for those not wanting to walk the whole ‘Fishermans Trail‘ (25 euro one way). 

The third leg from Almograve to Zambujeria do Mar is the only leg with paths wide enough to allow for bikes. This 22km stretch of trail is high and hugs close along the 100mt red sandstone cliffs, giving fantastic views down the coast. Lookout for birds nesting in the craggy rocks and keep heading to the lighthouse at Cavaleiro where you can stop for lunch. The trail leaves the cliffs edge at Bacra, where a taxi can be ordered to take you into town avoiding the last 3km straight stretch of road. Handy if you sampled the impressive list of local wines available at the Restaurant a Barca which is highly noted for their seafood soup (3euro).

Zambujeria do Mar has a magnificent beach formed by the erosion of the cliffs over the millennium. It’s a great place to stay, and you can enjoy dinner at Restaurant Rita who serve big pots of Portuguese Octopus Rice for two (19euro), and have magical sunset views over the town church and Atlantic. Local bars on the Main Street have impromptu Fado musicians throughout the night. 


(Sunset at Zambujeria do Mar)

The final leg of the trail is 18km from Zambujeria do Mar to Odeceixe where many nocturnal mammals will be at rest. Burrows and footprints can be seen on the trail, the signs of the local otter, Egyptian Mongoose and Beech Marten population. Carvalhal beach is also home to a private African zoo, a hundred metres above the Surf School and Bar. From the town of Odeceixe there are kayaks available to paddle the last couple of kilometres to the beach.


(Odeceixe)

Odeceixe is the perfect beachside town to stop and enjoy the fresh air blowing across the Atlantic and reflect on the adventure just completed. Bars, accomodation and restaurants hang off the cliff with mesmerising views over the river mouth and Atlantic Ocean beyond.

All photos nickisalwaysonholidays.
If you have any more information on the area PLEASE add a link in the comments.

Wandering Wino

Needing travel inspiration?

Look no further than your local wine shop.

Visiting vineyards is a perfect pastime for the vagabond. A wiz around a winery has so many winning attributes. You can drink wine, spend time outdoors, learn about the micro climate and terroir of the area, drink wine, catch a glimpse of some wildlife, ride a tractor (probably not) and of course, drink wine. Like all good travels,  visiting a vineyard is a learning opportunity that helps broaden our minds. However, this information may or may not be remembered depending on how many ‘tastings’ you complete.

Wines are so integrated with the travel experience that names of destinations ARE the names of wines. Bordeaux, Rioja, Montepulciano, Burgundy, not just you’re favourite bottles but actual towns and communities. Other places are infamous because of their wine: Barossa, Rhine, Napa are all valleys full of vines. So what makes wine and travel such a winning combo?

STRUCTURE

Choosing a vacation destination can be a real dilemma. Why not head to the home of your favourite plonk. This way, at worst there will always be good drink near by. Touring through wine districts gives much needed structure to a holiday. Maps are needed, directions must be found, accommodation sorted, all for the good cause of tasting some of the local vino. Sounds like the holiday is ready to bottle. 

LENGTH

From a short lunch at a local vineyard to a year in Provence, wine districts offer it all. What you need to decide is how much free time you have and how much wine you’re willing to consume. A short stay can include a vertical tasting of the vines, for longer stays try and fit in a horizontal tasting of the region. And if you’re not enjoying yourself, just spit.

PRICE

For those on a tight budget head to the New World. Stay in Stellenbosch for a pinotage party, go mad for Malbec in Mendoza. Looking for something more complex? Rack it up in the Rhone or wine and dine in Washington State. Searching for something sweet? How about heading to Hungary for Tokaji. Prefer to travel the back palette? Have a tipple in Turpan or at Tarija, both places where I’ve found excellent valued vino that the locals don’t let leave their hometowns. Talk about a good reason to visit.

On My To Do List



1. Chateau Grillett, France. The Viognier voyage of a lifetime.

2. Inniskillin, Canada. Ice wine in Ontario.

3. Chateau Musar, Lebanon. Because wine will win over war.
Got any wine travel advice? 

Vineyards you recommend to visit? 

I’m all ears!
#MWWC25