It’s hard not to think ahead, and we are all having little ‘fantasy holiday’ plans as winter sets in. But where would you like to go first? Louise Roseingrave tells us what’s on her Top 3 Wishlist
After so many months of so little freedom I am aching for a little adventure. Top of my list is a most gorgeous health spa in southern, coastal Portugal. This is not your average holiday but a juice-fast retreat, where you can forgo food altogether or opt for a ‘mild fasting’ option of tiny vegan meals.
After months of so little in the way of company I’m sure I’m not the only one that’s been grateful for the comfort of food. All this incessant talk of safety is however, a little bit anathema to those of us who like to break out of our comfort zone.
This replenishing retreat takes place at Vitalise Portugal’s beautiful Vila Mimosa, nestled on the outskirts of the village of Gale, 5km west of Albufeira.
Its attraction lies not just in weight loss, which should be regarded as an added bonus, but for the physical and emotional full system-reboot.
The day begins early with a 5km hike, either along the majestic coastline with its dramatic rock formations and cliffs or up into sleepy nearby villages through winding country roads not unlike the boreens of West Cork. Activities continue through the day but the beauty of this place is the option to put away the phone and lounge around drinking healthy juices and detoxifying teas, giving your mind, body and soul a chance to simply rest and recover.
The weather this time of year is perfect for a winter break, a steady 18 to 25 degrees with pretty much guaranteed sunshine, to fill up on that all important Vitamin D.
I’m not actually a huge fan of Florida but since my father has recently retired there, I just cannot wait to hug him again. Outside of the giant ugly shopping malls, there are many coastal treasures to be found. My favourite is Siesta Beach in Sarasota, south of Tampa on Florida’s Gulf Coast. The white sand is 99% quartz, most of which comes from the Appalachian Mountains and its shimmering sparkle is a breathtaking sight. The water is a clear aqua blue in temperatures that those of us jumping into the Atlantic on a daily basis can really only dream of right now.
Because it reflects the light, the sand feels cool underfoot even when temperatures begin to soar, as they do in this part of Florida, particularly in summertime.
I’m not the only one that’s been deprived of the warm embrace of a loved one this year and the lesson learnt is never to take moments with family that live far away, for granted.
Medjugorje, Bosnia Herzegovina
Besides family and friends, pubs and mass have been the two things I’ve missed most this year. They are such an important element of rural living, for company, comfort and communion.
A trip to Croatia with two friends in May, with an add-on trip to Medjugorje (which for me is the spiritual capital of the Catholic world) was quashed due to travel restrictions in May.
I always advise anyone I find in spiritual or emotional turmoil, depression or simply looking for some meaning in life, to visit Medjugorje. In fact everyone should go, because there is a supernatural sense of peace there, that I have not found anywhere else in the world.
Masses run throughout the day in several languages at the Church of St James, where devout Catholics defied Communist rule in the former Yugoslavia to practise their faith.
Outside the church in the evenings Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament draws thousands who gather in a quiet reverence that is awesome to experience.
Having been deprived of the right to practise my faith in my own parish for so many weeks this year, I look forward to returning to Medjugorje to give thanks to Our Lady for the gifts that have helped encourage and inspire me.