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Sintra and Friendships

Another organised outing during our Lisbon Vorwerk Incentive Trips weekend was a visit to Sintra and Pena Palace.

With its rippling mountains, dewy forests thick with ferns and lichen, exotic gardens and glittering palaces, Sintra is like a page torn from a fairy tale. Its Unesco World Heritage-listed centre, Sintra-Vila, is dotted with pastel-hued manors folded into luxuriant hills that roll down to the blue Atlantic.

We visited the Palacio Nacional da Pena is one of the finest tourist attractions in Portugal. It exemplifies the 19th century Romanticism style of architecture. The palace is a hedonistic mix of vividly painted terraces, decorative battlements and mythological statues, all of which stand at stark contrast to the lush greens of the Parque de Pena forest.

The interior of the Pena Palace is equally as fascinating, being restored to reflect the decor in 1910, when the Portuguese nobility fled to Brazil to escape the revolution. Surrounding the Palacio da Pena are forested grounds, which continue the design ideals of Romanticism, with hidden pathways, mystical ornaments and stunning vistas.

One of the things I love about these trips is that I get to experience things I wouldn’t usually do. I love to travel but my heart lays in the long-haul. If anyone asks me where I want to go next the answer would be Bali or Malaysia. So by having the opportunity to go on Vorwerk Incentive trips means I get to experience places I wouldn’t dream or generally want to go to.  Lisbon has been one of those pleasant surprises. It’s never been on my to-do list and quite frankly I’m not a big fan of heritage sites but being brought here forces me to do and see things I wouldn’t do on family travels.

Lisbon is only a short flight from London as Mary Luciana describes it perfectly in her recent articleLisbon is having a moment. It is the place on everyone’s lips and its breezy sea views, glossy tiled facades, and red roofs feature on many an Instagram feed. The food surprises, with a depth far beyond the famous pastéis de nata (custard tarts) that are so known and loved. There is history; from the 12th-century Moorish castle that dominates the skyline to the magnificent 16th-century Manueline monastery of Jerónimos, and the bombastic 18th-century heart of Lisbon, built after so much of the city was destroyed in the 1755 earthquake. There is authentic, genuine and welcoming hospitality; and a wave of new and affordable hotels along cobbled streets and flanking bougainvillea-clad squares, all of which brim with a sense of place. For Lisbon, unlike so much of the world, has not gone global: it remains resolutely Portuguese, looking out to sea, with its back to the rest of Europe and its identity intact.

As for me, these incentive trips also force me to spend time with people I wouldn’t normally which pleasantly surprises me too.

My time in Portugal was spent room sharing with Corrine Rowe. Corrine is an Advisor and Team Leader in South East London. Whilst I meet her often at Branch Meetings and Kick Offs, Team Leader planning days and events, it’s only now, can I actually say I now know her. She’s is one of the most incredible, kind, kindred people I have met in my time at Thermomix. Until Lisbon, I never knew what makes her tick, her personal stores or how much we actually have in common even though we are so different.  She’s chef trained, having run catering businesses for many years, but has experience in lots of other things. She’s well-traveled and We’d never really talked like this before. Even if Lisbon has been a total flop, the one thing I would have got out of my experience is a new found friendship with Corrine. That has to be worth it alone.

Not only have I come away seeing a beautiful part of the country, but I’ve come away with a friendship that goes beyond the business.

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