Quinta do Barranco da Estrada, or Paradise in Portugal, as it is affectionately referred to, is a small quinta off the beaten track. Its remoteness makes it seems like it exists in its own, special world and for the most part, it does.

pip1

The quinta itself is almost dwarfed by the lush, carefully kempt and manicured greenery that abounds all around. The sheer amount of land that surrounds this place is surreal. Nature here is a law unto its own and you are constantly reminded of this. This is a retreat where you are able to get back to the basics of life and to the things that matter. It is a wholesome experience, a Steinbeck-type picture, of ‘livin’ off the fat ‘o’ the land’ (which is in fact totally lean).

IMG-20160708-00189

You have all manner of colours thrown at you: from the azure lake that stretches into the distance, to the myriad flowers that surround you, to the ‘top of the world’ vision as host Frank calls it, which is the most spectacularly beautiful sunset that lights up well, the world, for as far as the eye can see. You can’t help but notice how REAL it all is and envy it – we who live in our superficial worlds and drive around in metal boxes…

IMG-20160708-00191

The quinta consists of 9 cosy rooms. All that you want is there: a super comfortable bed, large bathroom (and bath) and an unrivalled balcony view that stretches over the centrepiece of it all – the lake (more on this below).

The salon, saloon-like in its quirkiness, is home to all dining arrangements. Homemade meals, plentiful in supply and all totally organic are the staple of your diet here coupled, perhaps, with some of the local madrogna or Alentejano wine.

pip2

A word on the hosts.

Frank and Daniella are the happy (and lucky) owners of Paradise. They run the quinta as a sort of extension of their home. This is after all where they live, which makes ‘service’ personal and perfect.

Frank, originally from the UK, visited Alentejo over thirty years ago and his eyes feasted on the virgin beauty of the land…he didn’t return to the UK but moved his life in a double-decker bus that he picked up and drove to this side of paradise.

He bought the quinta – then a loose collection of buildings – and with his piecemeal approach turned it into the haven of tranquillity that it is today. The quinta structure now, the pathways and stairways – all of it was conceived and executed by him.

Something of a philanthropist (though he humbly rejects the idea), the reason when we asked of ‘Why here?’ was that he ‘thought he could make something here and give something back’. Five families in the area subsist thanks to employment from the quinta.

He also gives back to the environment. Paradise is totally sustainable. It runs off of solar panel and waste is kept to a minimum, if not recycled into the environment when possible.

An organic spread

An organic spread

Another quirk of Frank’s is his passion for birding. Travellers from far and wide come to Paradise because of his 25 years’ experience in the field. The all-natural habitat that encourages wildlife to exist irrespective of human presence provides the perfect foundation for this kind of hobby and you will find all sorts of unique species waiting for your eyes or camera. (His favourite bird ‘is the one he hasn’t seen yet’.)

pip

The living room frames the centrepiece of paradise: the lake. Some 25km in total, it is the kind of swimming/sport experience that will rival that of any you’ve ever had – no matter how well-seasoned a traveller you are. The lake is pure. It is clean. No chlorine, no salt water – just freshwater. (And for you city-dwellers, there are no mysterious creatures lurking in the depths!)

You can, as we did, take a Swallows and Amazon kind of adventure down the lake with the sail boats or canoes on the pontoon. Or you can swim as far as your limbs can take you. Whatever you decide, the sheer joy and privilege of being able to enjoy something so pure and untainted is unlike any experience you will have had.

IMG-20160708-00190

When you think of Portugal, you may think of the expansive, unadulterated coastline that hugs the land and has become so cliché. But in fact, the real Portugal is found in Alentejo. And if you’re looking for an experience and a return to the intangible realness of life, well then, you now know where to go.

Address: Quinta do Barranco da Estrada, 7665-880, Portugal
Phone: +351 283 933 065
Email: info@paradiseinportugal.com

www.paradise-in-portugal.com

www.birding-in-portugal.com

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,