Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Ahhh. Today is Spa day. We have been anticipating this day for several months. Brochures have been poured over and treatment choices have been selected. All we have to do is relax and ride the wave.
A civilized breakfast awaits us in the Winter Garden Room at Vidago Palace. The dining room is simply gorgeous and the breakfast is beautiful. We take our time perusing the offerings.
After breakfast it is spa time. Fortunately our rooms are adjacent to the secret elevator that does directly to the spa. This allows us to don our bathrobes and slippers before even leaving our room. We checked out the facilities last night so we kind of know what we are in for, but we are eagerly anticipating our first treatment of the day – the hydrotherapy bath.
Janet and Janel are starting 30 minutes before me and are most likely already luxuriating in their respective baths. I take some of the extra time to sneak some pics around the spa (cameras aren’t allowed). There are some things in which I will be taking part
And there are things I will not be doing
The receptionist greets me and takes me to the dressing room to assign a locker. She asks me if I would like to choose my own locker so that I will remember its number. I immediately say that I would like Number 1. “Oh, I am sorry. That one is taken.” Alright. I then choose Number 10 when it hits me. I turn to her and ask “Did my sister take Number 1?” “Yes.” I should have known.
The locker snafu has caused a bit of stress for me and I think I need a hydrotherapy bath.
Wow. This bad boy has a complete program of bubbles and jets that move up and down your entire body until you are ready to just slip under the water without a care in the world. The only way it can get better is if the next step would be for the therapist to ask you to lie on the massage table and give you a full body exfoliation followed by a warm shower and a light oiled massage. Hmmmm
When my treatment is done I join Janet and Janel in the Relaxation Room. They already look mighty relaxed. We melt into the chairs.
We are the only patrons in the spa and love having it all to ourselves. We read. We snooze. We tea.
Our next treatment isn’t for a couple of hours and we are feeling a tad bit hungry. The receptionist tells us she will send for a server to present a menu and take our orders. We like that. Lunch is a couple of light salads, soup for Janel and a glass of sparkling wine (c’mon, we ARE in wine country).
Our final treatments today are full body massages followed by facials. I have already declared that I know I will doze off. The massage is awesome, but the facial is where it really happens. It is heavenly to lay back while the therapist softly rubs applications of about 20 different types of “goop” on your face. I alternate between consciousness and unconsciousness. We all come out with our skin glowing and huge grins on our faces. Spa day was a complete success!
Vidago Palace has a very fancy formal dining room with a killer menu, but we have made other plans. From all the reviews on TripAdvisor, we have chosen to dine at Quinto Dos Carvalhos tonight. It gets rave reviews not only for the traditional Portuguese menu, but also because the owners are so kind. The restaurant is about a 10 minute walk from the palace and our concierge volunteers to make us a reservation. (We were almost the only diners there tonight and we think the “reservation” is actually to let the chef know that someone is coming for dinner!)
Qunita Dos Carvalhos is not a fancy place, but we are in the mood to dress up so we do.
I have a bit of a dilema. We will be walking to the restaurant and I already know I can’t subject my poor foot to “real” shoes for too many steps. I finally ditch my vanity and put on my sneakers. What the heck? Janel and Janet get a kick out of me being in my formal attire puncuated by my Maz shoes. Thank heaven for Maz. I have been able to wear them all over this trip and my foot has done pretty good.
A very short walk later and we arrive at the restaurant. We are greeted warmly and then given lots of help with the menu. Janel steers this boat and goes back and forth with the server/owner to decide on the best dishes of the house. It is agreed that we will have the “Chef’s Surprise” appetizer and 3 half rations for entree: Baccalao (the famous cod), some sort of special steak, and the lamb chops. He steers us to a regional Vidago red wine that is wonderful.
Our 3euro Chef’s Surprise was outstanding! It had the Portuguese sausages that we love (stuffed with chicken and bread and crispy outside skin), meat epanadas, pork rib bits, langostino spread and cod balls. We realize that we are already in trouble. Then comes our baccalao which is HUGE! The server even grins as he serves us.
We try to show some restraint since we know we have 3 other dishes coming, but we don’t want him to think we don’t like it, right? The steak and lamb are soon to follow. The steak is good, but the lamb is the star. He knows it and we do, too. Janel makes a remark that we are eating “Three animals in one night!” That cracks us all up. Our server runs to relay the comment to his wife who starts giggling. It becomes the slogan for the evening.
When he comes with the dessert cart we are prepared to decline until he comes to the special dessert a la casa. Don’t know what it is or what it was called, but it was fantastic!
Janel also asks for some lemon ice cream and is delighted when it arrives in half a lemon!
Just when we thought it was over we are offered a chupito of Liquores de Hierbas. He explains (in Portuguese and pantomime) that the 1st glass you must “shoot” and the second glass you can taste. Janel and Janel take him seriously and comply by downing their first glass of the burning/sweet liqueur. I sip.
What an awesome find this restaurant is. We are so happy that we chose to dine here rather than the stuffy ballroom at Vidago. We like to mix up our experiences from local to fancy. This was a great example of how generous and kind we have found the people of Portugal to be.
The walk back to Vidago Palace leads us past an old abandoned hotel that looks pretty creepy. I think there must be some interesting history in this place and need to read more about Vidago,
When we get back, Janet and Janel want to show me their secret lounging spot from last night. We decide to linger for a bit in the living room at Janet/Janel’s “table.” Their “Little Man” server greets them warmly and brings us sparkling wine and chocolates. Perfect ending to a perfect day.