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ON THE SPOTLIGHT

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

Mary Lussiana

In between trips, I am normally busy with planning another one— which is enormous fun, especially sourcing books on the country to read; but time spent with my family is a huge joy.

Mary Lussiana is a travel writer contributing to How to Spend It, Conde Nast Traveller, House & Garden, the Daily Telegraph, and the Times. She is passionate about culture and food and loves off-grid destinations which still have a sense of place. 

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

Mary Lussiana: I was 16 and it was my first trip outside Europe. It began with a night in Jerusalem, where I woke at dawn and heard the Muezzin calling the faithful to prayer. This sound, so foreign to me and so exotic, thrilled me beyond measure. I realized that the world which lay beyond what I knew was rich with possibility and full of cultures which I had yet to explore.

 

E: How did you find yourself living in Portugal? What is something about the country you really love?

ML: My husband was offered a job here just as I was about to give birth to our daughter and we thought it would be a wonderful place to bring up children. We live five minutes from the beach, with little traffic and no pollution. Without a doubt the thing I love most about Portugal is the light.  It never fails to uplift me.

 

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

ML: Seek out the local market or if it is a Sunday head to church. I find both things give a valuable insight into the heart and soul of a country.

 

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

ML: Venice. I can’t imagine ever tiring of it. 

 

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

ML: My mobile and my moleskine notebook.

 

E: Any secrets for battling jetlag?

ML: I always try and straight away adopt the new time zone with a sleeping pill if need be.

 

E: Backpack or roller suitcase?

ML: Roller suitcase

 

E: In your bag: Books or kindle?

ML: Books

 

E: Where are you writing from today?

ML: A wooden gingerbread house in the Jura Mountains that my Father-in-law built for our children years ago and which I have now adopted as my office. It sits at the top of a hill by our chalet, which we try and escape to a couple of times a year, with views onto the green lake beneath. 

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