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Beautiful illustration

Although the pen might suggest I drew the picture, I did not unfortunately. This card I picked up in Ar De Cor in Monchique. It’s drawn by a Brit called Stephen K. Green. From his website, he has drawn quite a few tourist attractions and architectural details in the Algarve including Monchique, along with the odd London one. I also love the Algarve Scroll Map which depicts the cost line from Cabo de S. Vicent to Lagoa from a bird perspective at a 60 degree angle (approx). I also like the map detail in his Tenderden ScrollMap, a similar style would have been good for the Monchique town map. If the work on Veredas continues along similar lines, his contact as an illustrator might be useful, although it’s a shame that the website on first sight in no way represents the beauty of the illustrations.


Designing guided tours

When I was in Lisbon, I joined two ‘free’ walking tours by which a small group of people, less than 15 are taken by an English speaking guide to different view points and points of interest in Alfama and Chiado/Bairo Alto. The Alfama tour is themed ledgends and myths, the Bairo Alto/Chiado is about Lisbon’s history. I was particularly baffled by the first tour, taken around by the owner of the company, is pretty cool and insightful. The second group was larger than ten with three rather dominating personalities, asking lots of questions and creating most of the group dynamic. the details and historic information were exemplified and illustrated well, so that I even remember the key dates. (and I certainly do not have a memory for historical information). Anyway, of course as a by product I also used this experience as a research opportunity to exemplify some examples on how good guiding tours are planned and executed, primarily for the Veredas de Monchique.

So what makes a good guide and an enjoyable experience?

Firstly: the guide’s personality and preparation. The first guide we had, well educated in history and human rights, repackaged the information in jokes and narrations and used reoccurring descriptions like ‘coward kind’ to differentiate between King Jose and Marques de Pombal. He used lot’s of anecdotes, examples and leading questions to take the listener on his historic adventure unfolding few and steadily new packages of information. Unfortunately I did not make more detailed notes on this to draw on more specific examples, but I am sure reading into constructing a narratives and doing good presentation can teach some more specific examples:

Structure of information and narratives:

  • roll out historic facts in chunks that correspond to what is being visited
  • prepare listeners to and confirm – Next I will tell you about…. So,…
  •  embedding it into a story with indirect speech and jokes
Secondly: Sufficient time to explore and avoid confusion:
  • Complimentary drink included – no complication with money
  • Explain how it works with the ‘tipping’ in the right situation, leave it not right to the end, but rather explain how the company works and remains existing
  • Regulate group size
  • No stress for time, if a group takes longer than the 2.5 hours

The biggest cork tree [by Picota]

One, two, tree, four, five, six, seven

Seven years it takes to ripe

Cork trees grow their light and buoyant coat

Protects them of the fire scare

and gives reason to visit the mountains

The picture above is of course NOT the biggest cork tree Europe’s and the poem somewhat sucks, but the real location of the magnificent tree is below and it should be worth the visit. It is on the east side of Picota and you will need to cross a private land to reach it. I’ve not been there myself but sought this to be potentially useful to stumble over. Let’s hope the Feldspata quarry will not be build – Quarry endangers biggest cork tree.

The major of Monchique posts us on facebook…

In the middle of preparing the 2012 budget, time for a small gathering in the way of farewell to the 14 youngsters who were in Monchique for 3 months and they did a very interesting and can be seen in this blog, also created by them. Many paths, or “NewDirections” is now open with the help of these young people who miss a farewell in tears of sadness as a sign that leave a lot here, but also take a little of our culture and our Friendship!

If I were to continue the Veredas project…

Small extensions 

1. Translate all current maps into Portuguese

2. Four more Walking maps -> Foia (POI = spring, forests, convent, eagles), Monchique- Caldas (mills, roman benches, beautiful valley, farm houses), Europe’s largest Cork tree (Picota and 4 classified trees – Eucalyptus, mixed forest, Magnolia, Cork tree on Picota), Moinha (mill, valley)

3. Three Cycling maps – Foia->Monchique downhill, Monchique – Alferce – Picota, Picota – Caldas, Monchique – Caldas

Resources: (small team of 3 (including me), 1 illustrator, 1 biologist (part time), who both love being in nature, cycling and taking photos, Portuguese speaking) Time: 1 month with 4 days a week. Materials: Good camera, GPS and tracing device, laptop, scanner, printer)


Medium extentions

4. Work with Ethnographers to collect local myths and legends for 2 legend walks – Monchique vila, Monchique > Caldas underground tunnel system. (1 months for both, team with 1/2 Portuguese)

5. Work with experts to collect more information about specific flora and fauna and make into commercial booklets specific for existing routes (Resources 1.5 months for 4 routes, team of 2/3 allowing printing time after)

6. Develop games and kids activities along routes e.g. drawing activities, card games etc (If content gathered 2 month including user research, probe games and iterations, team of 2/3)

7. Translate all existing maps into the other three main languages – German, Spanish, French


Online app and rental service (Start set 5 walking maps, 3 cycling routes with 6 points of interests along the way each with more specific information.)

8. Mockup simple tech solution and Test ideas and responses (1 month further development from current stage)

9. Maps and GPS signal follow where one is along the route (not relying on well signed marks)

10. QR codes for direct access to information along some routes (acquire small set of durable tablet devices for development and renting service)

11. Community of walkers shape the content by asking questions, contributing, sharing, competition & games, marking signs that need to be replaced, paths to be opened or where dogs are an issue for safety of walker

 Resources: 3-6 months depending on goal and complexity – full time developer (I wonder who?!) and me and a few part timers like: illustrator and biologist

A little mapped out….

… but the Veredas de Monchique site is updated with final maps, new top navigation and neatened philosophy including creative license and attributes.