One of the hardly explainable curiosities of travelling is the potential longing for places in which you feel like home. At first glance, this looks like a paradox contradicting any travel logic. But stronger than travel logic is still human nature itself: constantly feeling like a stranger is definitely an undesirable condition. All the more you appreciate a cozy spot in the remotest corner of the world, in which you feel welcomed and at home. Casa Balthazar is exactly such a place.
But this we didn’t quite sense when we arrived at Rua do Duque, back that broiling day in July. First of all, it didn’t look like we ever could feel comfortable here, given the desolate appearance of this back alley above the famous Rossio. And the fact, that not only Casa Balthazar was located in the house number 22, but also the popular and well-frequented Café Restaurante Buenos Aires, didn’t really trigger any enthusiasm.
But all our doubts cleared up when we entered the house. The pictures we saw in the Internet did not lie. Almost unimaginable, but there was a small, calm backyard garden with a pool, surrounded by the four wings building the traditional house. The guest rooms and suites were all beautifully arranged, just the same as the lounges, the garden and the little pool. The passion for details and the unconditional will to live up to the individual character of the house were sensible anywhere. Every detail seemed to be authentic.
Of all the available rooms we consciously decided against the bigger ones to the back street – it was a Friday – and moved into the “Antique Garden Room”, located in the calm part of the house; maybe even the smallest or most original room of the Casa Balthazar, because the least modernized. Here we met a lot of natural Palazzo-Flair combined with Jugendstil, generous space, traditional hardwood floors, stuccoed ceiling, pretty furnishings and a lot of patina. The same was valid for the bath: big, light, classic and timelessly outdated. The room was quiet, cool and offered a comforting view to the patio with pool. And exactly there, the magic phrase was born: “Cool, here I could settle in immediately!”
Unfortunately, this didn’t work out because the Casa Balthazar was fully booked for the upcoming weekend. But during the remaining two weeks of traveling we again and again returned so as to enjoy firstly the “Duque Garden Suite” and then the “Panoramic Terrace Suite”.
We quickly got used to the rather rundown appearance of the Rua do Duque as well as to the turmoil caused by the Café Buenos Aires, in which we finally celebrated our last evening of this gorgeous trip to Portugal. We had to return to Zurich, back home, where we felt like strangers as well, at least during the first days…
Rua do Dueque No 22
213 24 30 00