travelmemo.com specializes in telling unique stories our bloggers uncover during their visits to destinations close to home and far away. We write about our personal experiences, both pleasant surprises and those to be avoided at all costs, so you’ll have a better idea of what to expect before you arrive at your boutique hotel or reserve a table for an intimate candlelight dinner.
The story of travelmemo.com illustrates how we are different from other travel blogs and why we began, and remain – indie bloggers who care deeply about design and boutique hotels, fine dining and the personalized experiences discerning couples desire to create their own memorable travel stories.
Before reading further – understand travelmemo.com’s story almost ended before it began.Back in 2010, our founder, Walter Schaerer, was tasked with developing a social media strategy for his employer: a blue chip Swiss media company. Before betting his hard-earned career on the new strategy, Walter decided to test it using his own time and money.
Teaming up with Katja Birrer, a kindred spirit who shares his love for one-of-a-kind travel experiences, the two quietly built and launched reisememo.ch, a German language travel blog. It was an immediate hit, easily outperforming other Swiss travel websites in Google’s search result lists.Entertaining dreams of becoming the next TripAdvisor, Walter and Katja committed a near-fatal error by cloning their reisememo.ch blog and publishing it in English under the URL: http://travelmemo.com. Smitten by the euphoria of early blogging success, they assumed the world’s massive audience of English-speaking Internet users would naturally convert into huge numbers of travelmemo.com fans and followers. It was not to be.
When asked about his experience today, Walter smiles ruefully, having paid the price to learn the hard way that, past performance is no guarantee of future results. But as painful as mistakes can be, the dismal results of their first efforts sowed the seeds for travelmemo.com’s future success.
Walter freely admits without those early setbacks, it’s unlikely he and Katja would have kept their day jobs that today permits travelmemo.com to remain proudly independent when so many travel blogs have devolved into thinly disguised advertorial platforms for travel brands’ marketing machines.
One-of-a-kind travel experience
Walter likes to tell the story of a boutique hotel trip he took to near Lisbon, Portugal, a few years ago with Katja. A story that exemplifies their enduring love affair pursuing the next memorable travel experience.
They were in the bar of the Areias do Seixo hotel writing up their travel notes for the day when an unshaved guy with a stark Portuguese accent approached them about an unusual restaurant they simply had to dine at. Skeptical but always curious, Walter pressed him for details. The man sheepishly conceded the restaurant had no Michelin stars, no TripAdvisor ratings; neither did it take reservations or print a menu. “Trust me,” said the stranger, “you won’t be sorry. I’ll have my driver pick you up at nine o’clock.”
Walter was having severe misgivings a few hours later as they were driven down a dark narrow street flanked by anonymous brick buildings that gave the appearance of last being occupied when Wellington fought the French in the Peninsular War of 1808.
The big SUV abruptly turned into and stopped at the end of a dead end alley void of streetlight or commerce. “It was pretty creepy,” Walter remembers. “Like something from a cold war spy movie that ends badly for the hero.”
Their driver ushered Walter and Katja through a wide wooden door and down a long left-winding staircase barely lit by torches to an underground passageway. Another 20 meters further on led into a cavernous room with an arched ceiling and stone floor. The room was part wine cellar but also a well appointed dining room filled with other hotel guests laughing and all talking at once – as though this was the most popular place to dine in Lisbon!
As Walter later exclaimed,
It turned out the gentleman who approached us not only was the hotel owner but also in charge of this hide-away restaurant – and when bad weather didn’t permit his much rumoured beach fireside chats, he opened the cave’s doors for private guests! It was one of those unbelievable serendipitous moments that can happen to anyone when you follow your curiosity to indulge in new travel experiences.
Despite failing to dethrone TripAdvisor
travelmemo.com continues growing rapidly by satisfying readers’ desire to discover one-of-a-kind travel experiences around the world. Using exclusive photos that tell their own stories, combined with emotionally rich narratives, we showcase top destinations from perspectives not found anywhere else.
We invite you to browse our stories and subscribe to our regular travel news briefings to see what Walter, Katja and their cadre of talented travel bloggers have prepared for you.
Then use our first-hand experiences to make great choices designing your own unforgettable “travel memos,” ready to share with friends and family.
Contact walter ät travelmemo.com or katja ät travelmemo.com for any inquiries.
Here’s the actual review of Europe’s most enchanting boutique hotel Areias do Seixo. Make sure to book way ahead of time – we were not the first to find out about this hidden gem!