Originally from Lisbon, Portugal, Mrs. O is now permanently based in the beautiful English countryside, near Henley-on-Thames, in the UK. She has developed a successful career in marketing across Europe for over 10 years, has recently finished her MBA, married an Englishman (Mr. O!) and has recently entered her 30s. She loves camping…. in 5* hotels.
You live by your mother’s motto: ‘If you are leaving home, it has to be to a better place’. Could you tell us your best and worst destinations to date?
I had an amazing honeymoon and Moorea, in French Polynesia, which was the most beautiful place I have ever been to. And the worst was an overnight stay at an awful airport hotel in Casablanca, Morocco. We missed a connection and were forced to stay there. And the airline staff wouldn’t speak to me because I was a female!
You have a lot of wine and food posts on your site. Where was your most memorable meal whilst travelling?
I do love food – it is all my parents’ fault! Even in Portugal, my father thought it was perfectly normal to drive two hours to go to a particular restaurant.
Nothing beats seafood like in Baiona, in the north of Spain, for example. Oh and grilled red mullet at a beach in Portugal. It’s all about the taste, the experience and the memories.
We also had an incredible meal in Milan; a friend had recommended a place and we took a cab. As we were driven towards an industrial estate, I thought: ‘My time is up, we are being taken and kidnapped’. The cab stopped at this unmarked door and we got off. I was seriously worried. I couldn’t believe it when we entered this beautiful oasis. The staff were seriously surprised to see non-Italians there. We all did our best to communicate and had an incredible meal. It was one of my best birthdays ever.
You like to meet locals whilst abroad. Who has been the most inspirational person you’ve met so far?
Leah and Lola will always be special – Leah and I bonded over Twitter and she travelled all the way to California to meet me and Mr. O. You have to be pretty mad to do that, but something special was born; our online relationship turned into a very strong offline friendship. We have been together three times alone since June and seeing each other in a couple of weeks again, this time on her home turf.
You vowed you’d never go on a cruise but found yourself on one earlier this year. Are there any other experiences you had previously sworn off but have since been willing to try?
Oh I know, that came back to bite me. Okay, I won’t stay at a hostel nor will I go backpacking. Someone wanted to film me doing that and flying low cost on an unknown airline. I am not doing it.
You’re very organised when it comes to travelling, but what has been your biggest travel blunder?
Ohhhh! Last year we were to go to Brazil after Christmas. We were going to Sao Paulo, Rio and Florianopolis. I booked everything nine months before and could swear on my life that I booked the internal flights. Three days before we were due to depart, as I was printing all the documents, I couldn’t find the bookings for these flights – they’d never been made! At this stage, the flights were so expensive we decided not to go. I was able to cancel the hotel in Florianopolis, but extending our stay in Rio wasn’t easy. But miracles happen!
You often get excited when coming home after time away. If you could take one thing with you to remind you of home, what would it be and why?
I love my pillow, but don’t travel with it. I do tend to travel with my shower gel, for example, so I smell the same. I know it’s weird but it’s true! I love the smell of my house. I am really into candles and those nice diffusers and tried for a while to travel with a Jo Malone candle with me, but it’s not practical, so the shower gel will do.
You felt at home in Fazenda Nova, but where in the world have you felt completely out of your comfort zone and why?
I felt really uncomfortable in Moscow – the whole visa experience wasn’t impressive and alarm bells started ringing. Did these people really want me to visit their country? On arrival, my pre-booked driver didn’t turn up and my husband didn’t answer his phone. Luckily I saw a driver with a hotel sign (which was where I was going) and the guests let me go with them. I felt super nervous.
Everything that could go wrong on a trip, did. I loved seeing the Red Square and the Kremlin, but nothing else. Everyone was super unhelpful, cabs were horrible and we were supposed to take gypsy cabs, which I absolutely refused to do. Meals were average and stupidly expensive. On the last day, I asked Mr O if he minded that I left early. The airline Gods let me change the flight, so at 11 am on the Sunday, I was at the beach outside Lisbon. I was never happier to leave a place.
You list your top 10 places around the world, but where would you avoid at all costs?
Moscow, obviously (unless I am forced to go for professional reasons). I don’t want to say point blank I will avoid A or B – but it’s very unlikely you will find me in former Soviet republics or some parts of Africa, if only for the reason that I have other places I want to visit first. My problem, as always, is that there are so many places I want to go to.
You were surprised by Milan after hearing that is was an industrial, urban mess. Where else in the world has left you pleasantly surprised?
Genova and Turin were nice surprises – and places I will happily go back to. After my Swiss adventures, people thought I was mad to go to Zurich for a weekend, but I have to say, it was one of the nicest surprises ever; great restaurants, bars and places open on Sundays. I may have even had too much fun.
Lyon has also been a nice surprise. In the last couple of years we started flying to Lyon instead of Geneva when skiing. I don’t know why, but I’m glad we did. It is a beautiful place, the food was outstanding and the people are lovely. Oh, and the shops! I am seriously considering staying over for a bit longer next time.
Where to next?
I am actually on a plane and on my way to Geneva! I am going skiing in Val d’Isere and then back before the Christmas madness, which will take me to Devon, Lisbon and Henley-on-Thames, in just four days. After that, we are off to Texas and Louisiana – I am very excited about New Orleans! It’s somewhere completely different than we would normally go to this time of the year, which is usually a beach.