Backyard holidays: Portugal

Portugal isn’t exactly just round the corner, but the notes I made when on holiday there in 2017 are in a drawer in my bedroom.

The disabilities that came with my stroke in 2012 put an end to independent travelling, so organised touring holidays became our thing. The notes and doodles in these pages are the idle scrawls I made as we journeyed by coach from place to place around Portugal.

They reflect the mood of a malcontent. Sometimes they are vicious, often bitchy, but all of them show the misanthropy of someone being jerked around. The softness of the seat made no difference to my temperament. And I loved every minute.

Organised tours are full of people you are happy to hate. Familiarity really does breed contempt, and there’s something about groups of Britons abroad that smells bad. Or maybe we just don’t fit in.

The one person we often like on our organised touring holidays is the tour manager. We use a company called Riviera, and their managers we’ve found to be helpful and charming.

This is important to someone like myself, with special needs. On this trip our manager’s name was Inken. She was German but lived in Andalusia and had a wicked sense of humour and great taste in jewellery.

The memorable moments on this holiday are too many to recall individually, but whenever I scan the yellowing pages of my old notebook, the pictures fall into place, as if by some strange psychological domino effect, and there I am, normally with a drink in my hand (port in the Douro Valley), Vinho Verde in downtown Lisbon and a big smile on my face.

Read more Backyard holidays.

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