Posts Tagged With: Costa del Sol

Albufeira: The Portuguese Costa del Sol

My company held their annual retreat at the wonderful Sheraton Algarve Hotel in Albufeira, Portugal. This area is considered the most “touristy” part of the country and for good reason. The beautiful beach is lined with higher end resorts catering to mostly European tourists heading south to enjoy the sun. DUS joined me in Albufeira and we enjoyed four days of great dinners, spending time with work colleagues and enjoying the spring sun that eluded us in Scandinavia.

I’m proud to say that I won a company award called the “Leading Edge Award” for pioneering a new business offer around leadership development training based on business performance coaching.

Leading Edge Award

Leading Edge Award (click for more images)

We had a great time in Albufeira but I think I finally cemented my long believe that I am not a “resort” guy. I love spending time relaxing and doing nothing. I like the beach, reading books and general act of being somewhere to just chill. However, I need a little more in my travel. I need authenticity and to interact with the soul of a place.

Chillin' on the beach in Portugal

Chillin’ on the beach in Portugal (click for more images)

Having been to both the major “sun holiday” tourist areas in Europe, the Costa del Sol in Spain and Albufeira in Portugal, I can see why most adventure tourists steer clear from these areas. Their infrastructure and higher class of living is great, but they are sucked dry of all authenticity by catering to people who are looking to vacation in another without any of the natural things that come with being in another country: Authentic food, native language, local culture and the genuine “feeling” of another place. I struggle to understand why other European countries seem to colonize these areas in an attempt to make them a mirror image of their home countries. When we visited similar areas in Turkey, Spain, and Greece it makes me upset to see restaurants on every street corner flying the Union Jack and advertising “full English Breakfast” while blaring Phil Collins. Or going to “local” pubs where advertising English only menus and cricket on TV. Please don’t get me wrong, I’m all for capitalism. But from now on when we leave cold and dark Scandinavia, we will continue to seek out more authentic places like the other areas we visited in Portugal.

Categories: Europe Travel, Personal, Portugal | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Spain & Morocco – Tapas, Gypsies and Englishmen

Our good friends Bobby & Sara graciously invited us to take part of their honeymoon in Spain. We were so delighted to see them that a trip to Spain was just icing on the cake!

Our first stop was in Málaga, the birthplace of Pablo Picasso. Málaga is an old city; full of history and interesting people. Our stay was quite short, but we were able to tour the old town, see the Picasso museum and enjoy our first Spanish tapas.

Málaga Photo's

Málaga Photo’s

Next we were off to our luxury time share in Mira Flores, a small community on the Costa del Sol. We spent two days enjoying the unique and thriving English culture. Yes, you read correctly, English culture. Our little town seemed to be inhabited by everyone but Spanish locals. This was our first exposure to European “settlements” where “Northerners” come to buy homes and enjoy the sun. We embraced our fair skinned compadres on the beach, by the pool, and in the local pub where we watched a three hour tribute to Phil Collins. Our apartment was also visited by Gypsies; unfortunately they were not like the ones from Aladdin…

In an effort to expand our cultural experience, we decided to take a one day adventure to Tangier in Morocco, Africa. This was a very easy trip, only one hour’s boat trip from the Spanish port of Tarifa. Morocco was all that I expected it to be – Interesting, chaotic, nerve racking and generally different than any place I’ve ever experienced. We decided to take a guided tour that basically chauffeured us to the major parts of the city. We rode camels, ate kabob and toured the markets and shops. It was very exciting to see Bobby and Sarah buy a genuine handmade Moroccan rug! The tour was great for the first timer, but next time I would hire a personal guide or go it alone. Tangier feels like a city that needs to be explored on foot, with no specific plan other than to submerge oneself in the culture. According to DUS, if that’s the plan for next time, I’ll be going alone…

Morocco Photo's

Morocco Photo’s

From the Costa del Sol, we took the train to one of our favorite places in Europe – Seville, Spain. Seville is a remarkable city with old world Spanish charm, amazing food, great historical attractions, and best of all, reasonable pricing. The majority of our days were spent enjoying the local sights such as the Cathedral de Seville (second largest in Europe), the Alcázar and the Seville bullring. Let me just reiterate how awesome tapas were in Seville. Very fresh and extremely tasty; I would return just for the food! One tip is to not drink the water, even ice, if you have a weaker stomach. DUS had the stomach flu for two weeks!

Seville Photo's

Seville Photo’s

We were very sad to leave our friends in Spain, but we were so very happy to share two significant events with them. One, their Honeymoon in romantic Spain and two, the conception of their first child! Ok, we didn’t share the second one 🙂 Congratulations Bobby & Sara!!!

Categories: Europe Travel, Morocco, Spain | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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