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ON THE SPOTLIGHT

Alentejo: Portugal’s best-kept secret
Between glamour and grit
community

Jen Murphy

Originally from Point Pleasant, New Jersey, a quiet town on the shore, where she first got into surfing, Jen Murphy currently divides her time between Boulder, Colorado and Maui.

Jen Murphy is the former travel editor at Food & Wine magazine and served as deputy editor of Afar. She writes a weekly fitness column, What's Your Workout, for the Wall Street Journal and contributes to publications including Outside, Men's Journal, Men's Health, Departures, and Condé Nast Traveler. She is an avid surfer, kiteboarder, snowboarder, runner, and yogi. She is also author of the Yoga Man(ual). Essentialist spoke to Jen Murphy in her hotel room in London—where she had just landed at 12h30 that morning.

Essentialist: What was the first trip you took where you thought…I’m hooked and want to do this more?

Jen Murphy: My family did not travel a lot—we used to go to the beach and camping but not big trips. When I was at college in Boston, I took a semester to study in Australia. The school I attended was mostly American study abroad students, so I asked my parents if I could stay another 6-months and I ended up traveling around the country for 9 months. I loved the Australian mentality that it is important to take time to go travel. It really opened my eyes. The country is so diverse and you learn a lot meeting people from all over the world.

 

E: What is the first thing you like to do when you have landed in a foreign country or a new city?

JM: Depending on the time and weather, I almost always go for a run, especially when I land in the morning. It really helps shake off jetlag and gives me my bearings in a new place. Or I do yoga.

 

E: What is a place (city, country) that you could go back to a million times?

JM: This is easy for me. I know many people are not interested in going back to a place—once they have seen it it’s checked off. But as I’ve gotten older I love going back to same destination. There’s something to be said for familiarity and not having to adjust to the newness of a place, while still being able to discover new things.  London is one place I will always go back to. It is a city I wish I had lived in. And also Portugal. I have been there about 6 times and I always get excited to go back. The people are so friendly. I don’t know many places where locals offer to cook you dinner at their home or take an afternoon off to go shopping with a stranger. Lisbon is a favorite, but I think the coast, especially Santa Cruz, is lovely and a favorite hotel is Areias Seixo.  

 

E: What are two essential items you carry with you on all trip (besides your passport and wallet!)

JM: A water bottle. I am obsessed with drinking lots of water. And always a good book and my journal. Also, another essential is Tata Harper hydrating spray, especially on a flight.

 

E: Any secrets for battling jetlag?

JM: Running and yoga. A trick is to do a headstand—or for new yogis, you can get similar benefits by lying on the floor with your legs raised against a wall—this really helps fight the effects of a long flight.

 

E: When not traveling, what do you like to do for fun?

JM: For me, having a sense of community at home is really important and I value that a lot. So in the summer I love to surf and in Colorado I have a great crew of people I go wake surfing with at the reservoir. In the winter, I swap my surfboard for a snowboard. I go on an annual ski trip in Europe with a group of about 10 friends from around the world. Each year we vote on what resort to visit.

 

E: When did you first go to Hawaii?

JM: Around my 25th birthday. My brother was living there as a professional body boarder. I did a yoga and surf camp called Kelea, on Oahu’s North Shore, and loved it. I later discovered Maui and now spend part of each year in the upcountry town of Haiku.

 

E: Backpack or roller suitcase?

JM: Both. I do have an amazing Quiksilver backpack that fits under the seat, yet it is big enough to hold a large purse and another bag so I if I end up buying anything on the trip I can check that bag on return.

 

E: In your bag: Books or kindle?

JM: Books.

 

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