paresa 3

Perched high on the cliff side, over azure blue waters and a picturesque panorama of the Andaman Sea, Paresa is more than just a hotel: it’s Phuket’s best kept secret. Imagine the Swiss Family Robinson, if they were smart enough to build themselves a treehouse made of teak in the tropical forest, an outdoor shower, a fully stocked bar, and a private infinity pool cantilevered over the cliff, and you begin to get a sense of the luxury adventure that awaits. Add a team of Angels on call to do your bidding – plus a private beach club along the marvelously under-crowded Kamala Beach – and your search for the perfect idyll has ended. Or at least my search has ended. What need have I with the rest of this island when my jungle villa awaits? Cocooned, the outside world falls away. And while I’m due at the spa any minute now, for the first time in my life I’m thinking a massage might actually be redundant.

kamal beach - paresa

paresa 2


live blog: the long and winding road

In a rough landscape of unthinkable beauty and wilderness, Chozoviotissa Monastery, on the dragon shaped island of Amorgos, is a small miracle: built high upon steep cliffs it clings to the rock face like a petrel, hanging into a 1,000 foot abyss as casually as if it were built upon the firmament. Pilgrims who make the arduous, winding trek up to see the small colony of monks in their stronghold are rewarded amply; with stunning views of the bright blue Aegean and fortifying glasses of Psimeni Raki – a sweet, stimulating local moonshine blended with cinnamon, carnation, and herbs – served by the holy men in an antechamber outside the icon-filled chapel.


cabo da roca

The area around Sintra is blessed with great public transportation – thankfully, since I don’t drive.  From the center of town I was able to catch a bus out to Cabo da Roca, the westernmost point of both mainland Portugal and continental Europe. There’s not much here, save a lighthouse, a cafe, and a gift shop that sells official looking diplomas certifying your visit to what 16th century Portuguese poet Luis de Camões described as the point “where the land ends and the sea begins.” (Yes, thank you – I bought one.) And of course, there’s the ocean:  in every direction and as far as the eye can see.  Staring out at the water it’s quite easy to imagine how people once believed the world was flat.  Or that there couldn’t possibly be anything out beyond the great expanse of water.  During the great age of Portuguese discoveries the Cape was known as the Rock of Lisbon – the sheer rock face rises dramatically out of the Atlantic Ocean – and served as a landmark for Vasco de Gama returning from India, and Ferdinand Magellan after circumnavigating the globe. As luck would have it, I arrived just in time to catch the last of the daylight  – after half an hour the sky turned a flurry of pink and lavender as the sun set over the ocean.


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