Musings from the Algarve, by Ron Jeffery
Ron Jeffery, B.Ed, M.Ed. has travelled to over 46 countries with over 1200 students and older adults over a 42-year period. His passion for travel extends to his planning and hosting of tours. Ron is a frequent speaker at conferences and trade shows on the benefits and trends of travel. Ron recently returned from hosting a Longstay group in Carvoeiro, Portugal – summarizing the experience in this blog. The ability to live locally while having the benefits of professional expertise for support is the fastest growing type of travel for retirees who have “been there, done that”.
On March 1, 2018 twenty-four travellers flew to Lisbon, Portugal to our home for the next 28 nights in the village of Caroveiro, Algarve at the Monte Santo Resort for a Merit Travel Longstay.
Monte Santo Resort, Carvoeiro, Portugal
To sum up our home for a month at the Monte Santo – gorgeous! It was a five-star property through and through, with condo units that featured two bathrooms in the one and two-bedroom units plus a washer and dryer in the fully equipped kitchen.
With proximity to three golf courses, the resort was ideal for the golf fans in our group, and the beach was a 20-minute walk through town, with access to a free shuttle when we didn’t want the stroll. Three couples in the group also rented cars, so we could do grocery runs.
The group quickly became its own little community, everyone eager to experience as much of the Algarve as possible, plus the hotel facilities, amenities and onsite entertainment. Happy Hour, for example was at 5p.m. each day and was attended by most of the group from beginning to end. Breakfast was included daily so we saw each other in the morning to make plans. The resort also featured a large and fully equipped wellness centre which was used extensively so became a meeting place unto itself.
Resort Service and Care
The staff at the resort were exceptional. They would accommodate virtually any request, including the staff getting up before the restaurant would open to serve an incredible buffet breakfast to those leaving early for a tour or providing a box breakfast on request.
Excursions to Loule Market, East and West Algarve, Spain and more!
Our Longstay included a half-day tour to the Loule Market – in a beautiful inland town with time to visit the Moorish castle, browse the quaint narrow shopping streets and of course buy some of the enticing market foods such as virgin olive oil, peppers, almonds, figs etc.
Almost the entire group travelled together on optional tours to both the west and east Algarve. The west Algarve tour included visits to the old Moorish Capital, Silves with its fascinating castle and cathedral. After visiting small historical towns, we continued to Cape St. Vincent – the most southwesterly point of Europe, known as the “end of the world!”.
We visited Faro, the capital of the Algarve with its 13th Century centre. After lunch, we travelled to the Moorish town of Olhao, a key town for fishing and its important fish market and then the old town of Tavira with a 4th Century Roman Bridge and churches. We also visited Gilao, Cacela Velha and Vila Real de Santo Antonio, the border town between Spain and Portugal separated by the mouth of the River Guadiana. At the end of the long day, we all felt almost overwhelmed by the history, incredible sites, scenery and the hospitality of the people. On all of our tours, our guide was helpful, informative and a “character”. The Portuguese are passionate about their history and country and point out frequently – they are very different from Spain!
Many of the group booked additional tours as well. Some of the group joined a full day jeep tour that ventured through off-road tracks, refreshing streams and old villages where time seemed to stop. Others signed up a full-day tour of the Algarve which included an in-depth cork factory tour. Whilst on the tours everyone enjoyed tasting carob bread and carob liquor, almond cakes and honey cakes, Algarve honey, jam and sipping on the famous Medronho drink. One member of the group made the long trek to Fatima where he attended mass at the Basilica in the Sanctuary of Fatima. Half the group also signed up for a three-day tour to Seville in Spain, Tangier in Morocco and Gibraltar.
After an incredible month of “living locally”, we travelled to Lisbon where we had a city walking and tapas tour that included historical and iconic sightseeing as well. This was followed by a full-day tour to the fascinating UNESCO World Heritage Site of Sintra.
Friends and memories
A wonderful experience from beginning to end, this Longstays vacation in Portugal left everyone with lasting memories and new friendships to last a lifetime.
To request your free copy of the 2019 Longstays brochure visit MeritTravel.com/Longstays
To read more about Ron Jeffery’s adventures in Portugal, visit MeritTravel.com/Portugal-Longstays-Vacation/
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