As October begins and the year inches toward autumn, I thought it was appropriate to share this image, photographed early on a foggy morning on the grounds of the Bussaco Palace Hotel early in November last year in central Portugal. Never have I stayed in a hotel that was so much resting on its laurels in a 5-star atmosphere of genteel—and not so genteel—decay.
Staying at the hotel allowed me to photograph the palace and surrounding park at twilight and in the first light of dawn. Really, if you have a taste for this kind of thing, the whole experience of staying within the grounds of the Bussaco Palace was great fun in a kind of funky former glory, upstairs downstairs vibe.
The hotel restaurant was the only place to eat within many dark miles, and I endured (or enjoyed) the infinitely expensive, infinitely slow meal with close to inedible food. I was served by an astounding array of costumed wait-person staff, each with a separate function apparently not coordinated with any of their colleagues. In other words, the ratio of gilt epaulets to farm fresh edibles was way skewed toward the gaudy.
The hotel was almost devoid of other guests, and my room was at the end of a long, drafty hall. Half the time I expected Count Dracula or werewolves to come out of the foggy night to complement the ruined elegance. I slept with the door to my room locked and barricaded as well as I could, and eked out a lukewarm bath in a huge clawfoot tub.
In other words, this was a thoroughly enjoyable experience, and I would return in a heartbeat. The stone angel shown below in the morning fog is part of the front facade of the Bussaco Palace.
Related story: Travels with Samantha.