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My rural choice - The Alternative to Mass Tourism

Updated on October 11, 2014

Welcome to the great city escape!

Are you one of those who live in the city throughout the year and spend 90% of their time imagining being somewhere else?

Do you have a job that involves high level of responsibility, which stresses you out more than you ever imagined?

On the top of all this, you wake up in the morning, look out of your window, and the only green you see comes from the two pots of flowers that belong to the next-door neighbour.

Do you know what colour a cow is? (No, it's not purple. That's Milka's)

I have experienced a rural holiday this year. I am actually one of those who live in London and did not wish to find themselves trapped in the madness of the Olympics 2012. I did not hesitate to pack up and fly away!

(Yeah that's me, in the picture.. Escaping London for an amazing month-and-a-half holiday to Italy and Portugal)

".. I need a vacation "

The Devilish Trick

To relieve the stress of the hustle and bustle of the city, someone has invented a devilish trick known as "vacation". You book well in advance for a hotel on the seaside, bundle your family in a case of good intentions, and then finally take off toward the longed for "pause" from your everyday life. Wonderful holiday, sun-sea-food-relaxation.

Then it all tragically comes to an end.

You re-bundle your belongings, your family, your expensive souvenirs, and go back home. Return to work. Back to your overwhelming stress.

And what's the good news? There's no good news, I'm afraid. In fact, there are two news waiting for you, both of them bad. First of all: your wallet is considerably lighter ("perhaps the expensive seafood dinner at a restaurant overlooking the sea could have waited for sunnier days .."). The second news is, alas, that you feel more stressed than you were before. And more often than before you stop and stare at the screen of the PC, in your office, and you can't help thinking you'd rather be anywhere else.

Rural house - Geres Portugal
Rural house - Geres Portugal

The rural areas in the European continent

...where rural life is still possible

Have you ever had a moment where you wished to be thrown into a totally different reality? In a world where you can live surrounded by trees and grass, in contact with nature (the real nature, not the "fake" one of your city park or the zoo).

Think of a place where people wake up when the sun rises to start their day, and at dusk.. well, maybe they don't go to sleep when the sun goes down. They gets out for a few hours to share a drink or a coffee with friends at the local bar.

I'm talking about parts of the European continent where, alongside the usual office works, many people practice traditional activities of farming and agriculture. Beside their salaries, the locals rely on barter of agricultural products, and the most part of their food is sourced locally. Everybody knows everybody in their neighbourhood, and everyone loves to share a laugh at their window or on their doorstep.

Rural house in Geres - Portugal
Rural house in Geres - Portugal

The origin of rural tourism

..a new opportunity for villagers

Rural tourism focuses on allowing foreigners to live a rural lifestyle. Any town or village can potentially be a tourist attraction.

During the last few decades, the small villages of Europe have been experiencing a youth exodus. Attracted by the charm of the city or simply for work or study reasons, many people have abandoned houses and farms that belonged to their families for generations, in order to move elsewhere. This phenomenon has led to the availability of houses and apartments, which the local people, often very hospitable, are often willing to make available to those segments of the urban population interested in visiting rural areas.

In this prospective, rural tourism is becoming a good business opportunity for villagers that used to rely on fields and farms for their living, and have now been suffering from the high level of mechanization of agricultural production.

Rural Tourism vs. Mass tourism - Escaping the city life

Here is when the idea of "rural tourism" comes into play. A hotel stay, with breakfast and lunch included in the package, is not what is offered to the foreign tourist.

Upon payment of a set amount, real apartments, houses and villas are provided, and families, couples or single travelers looking for an alternative holiday, are able to experience life in a countryside area, while cooking local products, or dining at restaurants and taverns, to taste the delights of the traditional cuisine. People are given the opportunity to "live" their life normally, while placed in a different context, in totally relaxed atmosphere, miles away from the stress of the city.

Nothing will prevent the tireless workers from connecting to the network and continue typing on their keyboard, bringing their own work from home. But when their eyes move off the screen and they look out from the terrace toward the stunning landscapes in search of a little inspiration, well, the stress of the work suddenly does not seem so overwhelming anymore.

Peneda-Gerês National Park

The great potential of the north of Portugal for authentic rural escapes

Many people know Portugal for its famous mass-tourism locations situated along the south coast, such as Algarve and Alentejo.

Maybe not so many are familiar with the Nort of Portugal, a national park located between the Atlantic coast and the Spanish boarder. This area is known as Peneda-Gerês.

Tourism in the Peneda-Gerês National Park is encouraged by local authorities, whilst being controlled and limited, since the park's nature would not resist a massive flow of tourists.

The park offers small camping sites and several hikingtrails.

The most visited locations are situated near the few major roads. Many of them have been named according to the strong religiousness of the people in northern Portugal, such as Senhora da Peneda and São Bento da Porta Aberta.

In some other areas, such as Soajo and Lindoso, is still possible to see small, traditional granaries built of granite, known as espigueiros (from the Portuguese espiga, which means spike).

The waterfalls are one of the most famous and visited features of Geres, especially the one near the old frontier station at Portela do Homem, and the Vilarinho das Furnas village. The river called Rio Omen, in particular, is full of great river beaches and areas where to take a swim and lay in the sun.

Cascata da Portela do Homem

waterfall | Source

Would you ever try a different holiday experience? - Traditional holiday on the beach... or long walks in the mountain?

In the picture: old barrels used to make wine

Have you ever wondered how our ancestors used to live?

Well, the idea of Rural tourism refers a little bit to this concept. No funny ideas of living the life of the Amish community, with no electricity etc..

No way.

But sometimes.. it just feels so good to walk in the nature. Feel the smell of the freshly cut grass.. Eat the products of your own garden.. Drink the water directly from a natural fountain.. I do believe all this promotes the health of the body, and the spirit.

AAAAAAAH! I'm so fed up with the city! Is it just me....?

Would you EVER live in a small village of the countryside?

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Thinking about running away from the city? - Here are some useful links for you!

Useful links to learn more about alternatives to mass tourism

Holiday to Portugal - might need a guide!

Choose one from Amazon

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    • PortugalBestPro profile image

      Portugal Best Properties 5 years ago from Portugal

      Very nice lens!