Archive | October 2011

Monchique maps (quick & dirty)

These maps are the first prototype to lead discussions and aid information collection for things to do in Monchique, whether that is walks, craft shops or places to eat. Apart from collecting the information in an accessible online space (Monchique unpackaged – url not finalised yet as we are still looking into existing resources), it’s also a great opportunity to involve the rest of the group and the wider community of Monchique to collect the information for the specific maps as well as straight away help the lady in the Tourist office with better and specific walking maps for tourists.

Monchique Unpackaged

Considering we are about to reach the half way point of the project: It’s time to think about the final outcome which all our efforts go towards, benefiting the community as a whole as part of promoting sustainable tourism in Monchique. It’s also an opportunity to show case what we have done as a group over the last three months. From working with individual people and businesses, there is little transparency of the outcomes and it would be brilliant getting them all into the same room to talk to each other as there is huge collaboration potential. So the newest plan, fresh from Julia’s mind with help of us others, is the idea for a final events week called ‘Monchique unwrapped’ which shares all the information we found out about eco tourism and interesting places to go to within Monchique, celebrating it and displaying the results.

As the core outcome, all resources and outcomes will be made available for tourists and local business to build and develop ideas from on some kind of wiki or ning platform. It basically will contain lots of maps, postcard designs, labels and contacts.

Monchique Tourism office

Veronika is now working in Monchique’s tourist office. She is assisting Vero, a local Portuguese lady who has been working in the office since it was opened four years ago.  Only having worked there for three days Veronika realised that there is a great demand for better walking maps and information on what to do around Monchique. The current information do not reflect or celebrate the beauty and various activities Monchique has to offer. That’s why Veronika took Nic and me, the two designers of the group, to the tourist office to  have a look at the current materials and generally get an impression of the interaction and advice given to tourist.

Opportunity 1 – Less about the Allgarve, more about Monchique

Every tourist who steps into Monchique’s tourist office hoping find exciting things to do in Monchique, making their car drive or lengthy public transport experience worth the effort, will be disappointed. The information within the office seems to say: ‘don’t be in Monchique, be anywhere else in the Algarve’. The leaflet information point only has one leaflet about Monchique activities (well done to Lucio), all the rest is pointing to activities around the Algarve or even Lisbon. The office counter is packed with hiking and trail books or wine guide about the Algarve or Portugal in general. The glass cupboard in the corner praises produce of the Algarve, rather than the local honey, Medronho, pottery or cork products. Only one A3 map is specific for the region, labeling all roads, but lacking cafes, shops, markets or foot paths.

Opportunity 2 – Clear, specific walking maps

Having been in the tourist office for 45 mins, the eight tourists visiting, all requested information about hiking or walking trails. All Vera can do is point people to the starting points of the two labelled paths. Unfortunately most paths are not labelled yet and there are no more specific maps of the two walks that are. Basically tourists are send out into the blue to find and follow the few path markers by themselves. The opportunity here is to create an economical A4 folded flyer that describes the path and the points of interest along the path for Foia, Picota, Monastery and Monchique town walk. This can directly feed into the Veredas work I am doing for Lucio and Joana. Although I’ll need to take care they don’t feel to be trodden on their feet and potentially putting their contact details on the back for guided tours.

Opportunity 3 – Monchique map with cafe’s, craft shops etc.

This could either tie in with a version of my Patterns of Monchique or Nic’s Monchiquetionary – a collection of facts and photos about Monchique.

Opportunity 4 – Help Vera to sell Monchique verbally

Maybe a bit dishearted by the lack of response from the council with new materials, Vero seems not very enthusiastic about her job – having worked in the tourist office for four years, most of the time by herself. Monchique is a great place to come with a huge range of nature activities or just a stroll around the city, relaxing in cafes or discovering beautiful tile pattern or get lost in the gardens. There is so much more to do than just walk up to the peaks or go to Caldas de Monchique, which is 8 km down the road. Tourists should rather be encouraged to contribute to the local economy in Monchique. As Veronika will be working in the tourism office, she could possibly inspire or try out different approaches as well as find out up to date / off season prices for guest houses and hotels to encourage people to not just spend half a day in Monchique, which current information suggest doing.

Lisbon for me

Never having fallen in love (with a city) on first sight, I am glad to have stayed in Lisbon for a whole week, experiencing the change in weather from summer to autumn, exploring all different parts of town as well as seeing the outer skirts, learned lots about its history through the free walking tours and its excellent museums. The week calmed my excitement for the city the more I got to know, the more I understood the lively veins of creativity but also the despair and underlying poverty – Lisbon, don’t get me wrong I am fascinated by your personality.

Lisbon, I like
your well dressed
simple elegant sense
of skirts and flat shoes.

I like your tram 28
like a roller coaster
rumbling through your streets
a rush of emotions
as the tiles go past
squeezing past people and cars

I like your empty streets and big wide placas
the fact that you aren’t shining from very angle
a crumbling wall, an assortment of juxtaposed tiles
licking its past wounds, show casting its history
The little quirky creative spaces tugged away
giving the impression of a respected and supported scene

But

it broke my heart when I found out it was convenience art
to cover over the derelict parts, forgotten houses and insecure living spaces
The poverty and darkened figures waiting on your empty streets
to see some change, waiting for a silver lining.

Lisbon, full of potential and alternative ways
continue to show films in churches
and feed your citizens on pastais de Belem

I like to see you soon again
full of buzz and creative minds
a transformed look living out your potential

Lisbon for free

You future Lisbon explorer, whether you are a backpacker or not, you have to go on one of the free walking tours by panchotours. There are two to choose from, a tour through Alfama or a 2.5 hour guided walk through Bairo Alto/Chiado.  I went on the latter and was lucky enough to be in a tiny group  and have Alvaruo [pronounced: Auvaru], the owner of the Pancho Tours in Lisbon, as our guide. He made me understand Lisbon like nothing else I had seen or read in my previous 4 days of my stay – I experienced places I would not have discovered and heard facts I would not have remembered in such a story telling, engaging way. So, here my top 4 knowledge gems I gained through the tour.

Derelict Buildings

The centre reflects a wealthy past, but almost all building are run down and most top floor spaces seem unoccupied. How can this be, beautifully tiled houses with french balconies right in the middle of the centre? In fact only 20% of Lisbon’s inhabitants live in the city centre. Some flats even have been unoccupied for nearly 30 years². It’s said that this is caused by a law passed after the 1974 revolution³ which froze all rents making it not economically viable to maintain the property for rental. Of  course more recent economical developments haven’t helped that the state is not driving development. There may only be one advantage: there are plenty of interesting artist spaces – How else could the annual design exhibition be housed in an old court right in the centre of town for 1.5 months?

City of Tolerance

The above picture of São Domingos Square has ‘Lisbon, city of tolerance’ written in 32 different languages. It’s a reminder of the dark times, when in 1506 over 3500 Jewish people were killed on this square as result of a 100 day free pass for inquisition granted by a Christian priest, with the reasoning them to be responsible for the plague and suffering of the time – probably a sign of envy of more successful trading. Nowadays it’s the meeting point of ethic minority groups. If I hadn’t gone on the walking tour, I would not have come across this square tugged away by Rossio train station and not visited the overwhelming Sao Domingos church with its burned walls and red painted ceiling – in memory of the cruelty.

The 1755 earth quake

Symbolised through the convento do Carmo [6], the church in the above picture with the arches lacking a roof,  is the remains of a severe earth quake (the biggest earthquake of Europe recorded) which also caused greater destruction through fires and Tsunami. The coward king at the time did not set a foot back into the town after the destruction. Now, this king, King José, is represented on the commercial square by him facing away from town, looking towards Brazil.

Inherited Fado

Fado, a rather melancholic traditional music style. Apparently Fado is not formerly taught at any schools, but passed on through generations and families.

1. Rossio Square Meeting Point
2. Square of Tolerance & Igreja de Sao Domingos. A moving reminder of antisemitism.
3. A Ginjinja – a cherry firewater sometimes served in a chocolate cup
4. Casa do Alentejo – a 17th century Moorish palace now home to a restaurant
6. Convento do Carmo & Museu Arqueologico. Learn about the 1755 earth quake & sunami and its consequences for the city
7. Elevator de Santa Justa – a great view point for Lisbon’s grid streets, get in from the back for free
8. History and relevance of Fado
9. Luis de Camoes – author
10. Chaido – author
11. Fernando Pessoa – portrait of 72 different personalities
12. Best ice-cream in Lisboa
13. Praca do Comercio – learn about the relevance

Time to reflect #1

Today it’s one month exactly I have been living wonderful Monchique. The Leonardo program which enabled me to spend wonderful weeks in Portugal is all focused on personal development.  So, time to reflect on greater objectives and list all the things that I have done and currently working on.
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Things ongoing
– Participated photography competition – want to make a book about the patterns of Monchique, but need to figure out still how to involve people from Monchique in it
– Started building dry stone wall with Lucio
– Started helping Joana, who works with Lucio, to collect and design a brochure for Caldas Veredas (Footpath) learn about local plants
– Helped Lucio to dig and even two of the terraces in the Park
– Helping Frank to develop a Business Plan (ongoing)
– Help Group to organise and distribute concrete tasks but I found this took up too much time and distracted from own
– Went to Villa Fioa – good to see how they run the guest house
– Fixed Pool table pockets.
– Went along and will continue to go along to Monchique’s Embroidery class
– Wrote some blog entries
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On the radar
– Contact with Longevity to learn about how they organise their Design Department
– Visualise Garden Areas and room details
– Work with Algarve 123 Newspaper on alternative design suggestions
– Frank website (not started)
– Lucio Website + Leaflet (not started yet)
– Global Sustainability Jam in Lisbon at end of October
– Research in Lisbon into Hostels (for Frank)
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Dissatisfied / Criticism
– Not learning enough about sustainable tourism
– Program not sufficiently contributing to the local community of Monchique