Me on the road is generally not a very tender and graceful affair. Me on the road usually involves a lot of swearing, excess luggage and sleeping on buses or trains (in fact I just woke up from a two-hour nap on my backpack as I’m writing this). And so it happened last week: I stumbled out of my flat in Berlin at a disgraceful time somewhere between midnight and sunrise, put on my Doc Martens without thinking twice, threw some of my last clean clothes into a suitcase and got onto a bus to the airport. The plan was to spend five days in Portugal with Katja and the cutiepie that is her baby boy in November. Yes please! Once in Lisbon, I took a train down to the Algarve

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Upon arriving in Faro, a driver with a flashy iPad was looking out for a certain Caroline. I think he probably didn’t expect a disorganised hippie to suddenly stand in front of him. The other guests were all golf players… The thing is that I didn’t expect the Conrad Algarve to sort my life out in just 24 hours. I arrived stressed, occupied with work things and generally worn out. When I left the next day I was a new, well-fed and deeply massaged grown-up. But first things first. My room had a terrace which came with a few pretty accessories like cushions, a view, sun in November and turned out to be excellent for my creativity, among other things I’m sure. Transcribing interviews or editing photos suddenly doesn’t really feel like work anymore when you see blue skies and munch away on some of these yellow Portuguese custard tarts whose names I keep forgetting – Pastéis de nata, yes yes.

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Next stop: Spa. I could choose between different types of massage oils and scents. The owner of two very skilled hands massaged absolutely everything, including my butt cheeks and toes (I got cramps there, what kind of person gets cramps in their feet!?) which had me giggle through half the session. I’m sure that must have been a very relaxing experience for the masseur. After that I checked out the infinity pool for research purposes. The good thing about being there off-season is that you feel like you have the beauty of the Algarve all for yourself. It’s so quiet and peaceful – and it’s waiting for you to make it your own. So while swimming towards the sunset and freezing a little, I felt relaxed in a way that you just can’t replicate at home.

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When walking back to my room (wearing only a bathrobe and a content smile), I stumbled into a very official reception of golf players… along the red carpet. Well, hello! Is there a chance I can get some champagne!? But instead of deepening my relationship with British golfers who were twice my age, I ran to the beautifully cosy castle that was my room, took the longest shower of my life, tested all the organic shower gels and shampoos (awesome) they had and moved my butt to a certain Gusto by Heinz Beck restaurant.

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Holy moly. Katja – whose baby was taken care of by the in-house babysitting service, thanks for that! – and I were left speechless because our taste buds had risen up to heaven. The service was ridiculous. And by that I mean ridiculously attentive, I don’t think anyone was ever so interested in making sure the wine would fit each of my courses before. The portions were perfectly sized, I didn’t feel I would have to depart this world after the desert which often happens when I try to eat more than a kebap. For breakfast we had a view on the crystal blue skies, an outrageous selection of smoked salmon and all kinds of other treats that I wish my stomach could have tasted.

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I could go on about how the Algarve itself is a beautiful destination and it definitely is, but to me stepping out of the Conrad felt like a waste of time – there is so much to explore after all. This is one of the things I never thought I would ever say, but maybe sometimes being in a great hotel for a short amount of time makes checking out the rest of the world unnecessary. 24 hours at the Conrad – which by the way is a global brand so the renewal effect can set in absolutely everywhere – went down an absolute treat, not at least because it really felt like three days.

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All photos taken by Caroline Schmitt