That Vietnam feeling

Vietnam may first bring to mind the eponymous war and then the delicious cuisine but there is much more to this Southeast Asian country. A culture spanning back thousands of years and of course the beautiful nature. Experience the country’s unique flair and find out what makes it tick – just like the Vietnamese themselves.

Marco Polo Vietnam Guide

Temples as oases

Whenever your senses are the worse for wear from the sheer noise of Saigon, visiting a pagoda will soon soothe the soul – relax, here at last is a place without the rattling of mopeds and incessant hooting, a place of contemplation with Buddha where you can rest for a moment. The timeless atmosphere of this world apart, enshrouded in incense, is often just a few yards from the chaos of the main roads – in Le Van Duyet temple, for example, which lies a little further off the beaten track.

Coffee breaks

Just grab a plastic stool, take a seat on a street corner and order a ca phe sua nong. Then watch as the delicious smelling, thick, bitter coffee drips from a dented tin filter into a glass before sweetened condensed milk is added. The whole process takes place in slow motion – and helps enormously to relax in the midst of Vietnam’s frenzied everyday hectic, even if only for a few minutes.

Communism live

People move slowly and reverently past the revolutionary leader’s sarcophagus; soldiers in pristine white uniforms scare hawkers away; nobody is allowed to talk or even whisper. Hands must be taken out of pockets, sunglasses and hats removed. ‘Uncle Ho’, who can be seen behind the polished glass window, looks almost as if he is wistfully turning his head to see each visitor.

The early bird…

Everyone in Vietnam is up and about early in the morning. In the cool of the day between 5:30am and 7am people doing their morning gymnastics can be watched at Hoan Kiem Lake in Hanoi. Balance out your own yin and yang with a bout of shadow boxing, exercise to the rhythm of the cha-cha or play a round of badminton.

Homestays

‘Homestays’ in Vietnam are always good for a surprise. Sometimes you spend the night in a type of dormitory under the roof, other times – in stilt houses – you sleep in the living room and meet the family personally. You can stay with the Vietnamese in their homes in cities, in the mountains, in the Mekong Delta, in national parks and on the less touristy islands.

At the fortune-teller

A glimpse into the future costs just a few dong. In the mountains, in particular, you can even watch the shaman telling a person’s fortune. The tools of his trade include a dog-eared book in Chinese characters, two split bamboo sticks, a stone that is heated in the embers of a fire and a thread that he winds around the stone – and, there you are, his ‘telephone to the spirits’ is ready for use.

Night markets

Try a tasty treat of a special kind. Start off with a steaming bowl of soup made with noodles, beef and onions, soya bean shoots and tiny strips of banana leaf – and slurp it quietly! For the next course, just follow the columns of smoke to a barbecue stand where skewered octopus is sizzling away, as an accompaniment dunk mint and basil leaves in a dip made of salt, pepper, chilli and lemon. Save the best ’til last: diep nuong mo hanh, scallops decorated with shallots and finely chopped peanuts – soft and slippery and incredibly cheap on top!

Timeless Vietnam

In the Graham Greene Suite in the Metropole in Hanoi it is not difficult to imagine how, in the 1950s, the eponymous author kept to his daily writing schedule like clockwork. Or how, one war later, Joan Baez strummed We Shall Overcome in a bunker under the pool. And in the Mekong Delta you can retrace the steps of Marguerite Duras in Sa Dec or of W. Somerset Maugham under the tamarinds along Saigon’s tree-lined avenues, just like in the days of old.

 

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Vietnam Marco Polo Guide

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Only on Malta

Malta is like a lavish buffet. You can choose what you like from what’s on offer, and enjoy a holiday there at any time of year. Malta and its little sister Gozo are small enough to allow you to get to know the island republic within a single week. You can go diving and windsurfing, you can swim and play golf, take a culinary journey round the world or make it a ‘wellness’ holiday in a spa. And Malta’s nightlife has made the island a happening place on the club circuit.

Let Marco Polo show you some unique experiences to be had on Malta and Gozo:

Malta Marco Polo Guide

Discover Malta’s painters

Painters once had the role that photographers have today. They not only portrayed the
Grand Masters of the Knights of St John, they also captured on their canvases Maltese landscapes of the 18th and 19th centuries, on show in the Museum of Fine Arts in Valletta.

Dine like a lord

The Tá Frenc luxury restaurant on the island of Gozo has all the atmosphere of an old Gozitan nobleman’s estate. Almost all ingredients used here come from the island, and even the herbs come from a little garden in front of the restaurant.

A one-horse-power ride

When you take a horse-drawn carriage at the Grand Master’s palace in Valletta, you can feel like the nobles of old as it goes clip-clop through the old knights’ city – an experience that’s best at dusk as the lights come on.

Delicate silver jewellery

Silver items are among the few craft products that have a tradition on Malta. The place to find them in Valletta is the Silversmith’s Shop.

Politicking behind closed doors?

Not on Malta. Part of each kazin of the local party offices is a bar, where you’ll soon be able to strike up a conversation with locals, e.g. in Rabat in the bar opposite St Paul’s Church. But before you start sounding off about politics, find out which party’s bar you have come to.

Firing a salute

The Maltese are fond of old military habits and keep them alive by means of re-enactments. Every day at noontime a cannonade goes off from the Saluting Battery in Valletta.

 

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Malta Marco Polo Guide

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Only in Bangkok

Bangkok is not just another large city; Bangkok is a universe in itself. Typically Thai
on the one hand yet very cosmopolitan on the other. A city that unifies a traditional
past with a modern life, one that captures the past and anticipates the future.

Here is our list of unique experiences to be had in Bangkok!

Bangkok

Life on a canal

‘Venice of the East’ is no cliché: canals or khlongs spread throughout the Thonburi district like a giant spider web. Take a long-tail boat tour and see the old shingle-covered teak stilt houses.

Exquisite travesty

You will see transvestites everywhere in Bangkok – the ladyboys
are out and proud in this tolerant metropolis – and the most beautiful of them can be found at the Calypso Cabaret. Dressed in opulent outfits they give their audience an action packed show.

The budget traveller

The Khao San Road is loud, colourful and unique not only in Bangkok, but worldwide – and all the international backpackers meet here. Explore this iconic mile where a party takes place every night at the hippest bars.

Midnight snack

Fast food on the pavement: Bangkok’s street cooks prepare delicious snacks and even full meals right on the road. For the haute cuisine of street food go to Soi 38 in Sukhumvit Road, where they serve delicious gourmet food at midnight.

Palace of palaces

Many royals had palaces built in Bangkok but none is grander than the Grand Palace. This fairy tale building with its Wat Phra Kaeo temple is an absolute must. It is an architectural testimony to the close bond between the Thai monarchy and Buddhism.

Tailor-made

At first glance every second shop in Bangkok appears to be a tailor. But be warned: not everyone is a master of his trade. The ones offering tempting bargains and those with touts at the door are best avoided. A better bet would be to go to a reputable professional like Pinky Tailor.

 

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Bangkok Marco Polo Guide

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That Marrakesh Feeling

Marrakesh, with its brilliant riads and bustling souks, is a truly enchanting place. Find out what makes this Moroccan city tick and experience its unique flair – just like the Marrakchis themselves with Marco Polo’s insider tips.

Marrakech Marco Polo Guide

Thé à la menthe

No trip to Marrakesh would be complete without tasting some of the legendary Moroccan thé à la menthe (mint tea). If you want to try this sweet treat in the fairy-tale atmosphere of a palace filled with exquisite stucco, wood and zellij work, then you should definitely head to Dar Cherifa. It’s an extraordinary literary café where you can not only sit like royalty, but also admire temporary exhibitions and enjoy listening to concerts as you drink.

An evening meal at Jemaa el Fna

The food stands that are set up here every evening under the stars are the epitome of Marrakesh’s vibrant soul. Surrounded by acrobats, snake charmers and storytellers, you can either enjoy such simple dishes as fried fish and chips or try out something more exotic, like sheep’s head and snail soup. This is one experience you definitely won’t want to miss!

Storks chattering at the Palais El Badii

The El Badii palace is large, impressive, and almost completely empty. Nevertheless, a visit here is one of the absolute highlights of Marrakesh. Find a place to sit in the shade or at a café on one of the surrounding roof terraces and admire the palace walls while listening to the chatter of hundreds of storks. It’s a unique experience that gets even better just before sunset!

Haggle away!

At any respectable souk, you stroll around, haggle a little, and buy anything that takes your fancy. Things are a little more intense at the Bab el Khemis flea market, however. If you can’t find something here, you won’t find it anywhere! Sellers come from all directions in the morning to set up their stalls and try to earn some money with repairs or second-hand goods. The shoppers here – mostly Europeans – are on the lookout for the antiquities that pop up from time to time amidst all the other wares.

Hip Morocco

While you’ll come across the city’s poorest at the Souk el Khemis, you’ll mainly mingle with the upper crust when you visit the Hivernage, a quarter boasting rows and rows of hip hangouts, bars and rooftop lounges. If you feel like eating Thai food while you’re in Africa, this is the place to be – head to such restaurants as the beautiful Jad Mahal. The Hivernage is a melting pot of Moroccan and European influences, and money here is King.

Sweat in style

The spa at the La Mamounia Hotel is the pinnacle of Moroccan pampering. Entering the Hammam is like stepping into a dream from the Arabian Nights. The turquoise pool in its own little palace is surrounded by oriental lanterns and alcoves everywhere you look. It’s also furnished with big, comfy recliners with views of the world outside. There are few experiences that are more stylish and relaxing than a luxury steam bath – so take your time and enjoy!

Cyber-cuddling at the park

The Cyber Park, located between the New and Old Town, is special for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s a beautiful swathe of green right by Marrakesh’s city walls. Secondly, there’s free WiFi everywhere – and we mean everywhere! – in the park, so you can surf the web on laptops and tablets while you sit under the trees. Above all, however, it’s where the youth of Marrakesh come to have dates and hold hands – a sweet and entirely innocent sight!

Live like a pasha

If you’ve ever wanted to live like an Arabian nobleman (and who hasn’t?), Marrakesh is the place for you. More than 1000 riads (city palaces) have been renovated and turned into small guest houses that whisk you far away from the noise and stress of everyday life. Treat yourself to a magical stay in such palaces as the exclusive Riad Enija or the more simple Riad Bamaga.

 

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Marrakesh Marco Polo Spiral Guide

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Only in Berlin

Berlin attracts creative people from all over the world as if by magic. No other city in
Europe has as much art and culture to offer! It is also famous worldwide for its feverish nightlife with more than 200 clubs, innumerable bars, cafés and pubs. There are no set closing times and most places stay open until the early hours of the morning – if they close at all!

Whatever your personal tastes and preferences, Berlin has something for everyone! Let Marco Polo show you some unique experiences to be had in Germany’s capital…

Berlin Marco Polo Guide

Quadriga with twelve legs

The Brandenburg Gate (photo) is an absolute must. Not only the street artists let their hair down here, there are also many hobby photographers. Who can take the most beautiful picture of this city landmark?

‘TV-asparagus’

This is the name the people of Berlin have affectionately given the Fernsehturm on Alexanderplatz. You will really miss out on something if you don’t visit the viewing platform 203 m (666 ft) above street level – it’s the best view in Berlin.

Wall taxi

A taxi will take you to all remnants of the Berlin Wall in the city. The driver will point out the most important places and garnish his stories with his personal experiences in the former divided city.

Curry 36

Cheap but tasty – that’s all a Berlin currywurst needs to be, with some chips or a bread roll to go along with it. The Berliners queue up at Curry 36 in Kreuzberg for a grilled sausage with curry powder.

Sophisticated shopping

Time and time again, the Ku’damm has been pronounced dead, but the many customers in the fashionable boutiques on the elegant boulevard cannot all be wrong. This is where Berlin is at its most glamorous in a setting of magnificent old buildings: typical of Berlin – but sometimes beautiful can be expensive.

Don’t forget your swimsuit…

You will feel like you are at the seaside: deck chairs and sand as far as the eye can see. The wide expanse of water at Wannsee is an inviting place to sunbathe or take a swim, and a snack bar is never far away.

Jazz in a beer garden

Real Kreuzbergers don’t give a hoot about the yuppies in Mitte or Friedrichshain when they sit back with a pint in their hands in one of ‘their’ beer gardens – listening to live jazz in Yorckschlösschen, for example.

 

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Berlin Marco Polo Guide

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Drinking in Amsterdam – steeped in tradition

When you visit Amsterdam you should visit a Dutch pub, or a kroeg as the locals call it. Sample some of the locally brewed beer or give jenever a shot. Marco Polo takes a look at the Amsterdam drinking traditions.

Amsterdam by Tim Kelly

Picture credit: Tim Kelly, used with permission

Safety first

In medieval times, the Count of Holland decided to boost the fledgling city’s coffers. In 1323, he designated Amsterdam one of only two ports in his province allowed to import beer from Hamburg, the most important ale-producing town in northern Europe. At that time, beer was far safer to drink than water.

The Heineken Story

Heineken­ started­ brewing­ lager­ in­ Amsterdam ­in ­1864, ­and ­is ­now ­one ­of­ the ­largest ­brewery companies ­in­ the­ world,­ selling ­beer­ in ­170 ­countries.­ The­ firm ­attributes ­much­ of­ its ­success to the ­cultivation ­of ­the­ Heineken­ A-Yeast ­in ­1886: ­every ­month­ the ­yeast ­cell ­is ­still ­flown out ­from its ­main­ brewery ­near ­Amsterdam ­to ­its ­100 ­breweries ­abroad. ­Though ­its ­Amsterdam­ brewery stopped production in 1988 and is now a tourist attraction, Heineken’s­ presence­ in­ the city ­is still­ unavoidable.­ The ­famous ­De­ L’Europe­ hotel ­is ­home­ to ­Freddy’s ­Bar, ­named ­after Freddy Heineken.­ The­ Heineken­ empire­ also­ includes­ a­ number of other brands such as Amstel­ and Murphy’s ­Irish ­Stout.

For Good Measure

Beer­ is ­usually ­served ­in ­a ­25cl­ flower pot-shaped ­glass,­ and­ will­ be­ presented­ with ­a ­two- finger thick­ head.­ The­ bartender­ usually­ makes­ a­ point ­of ­skimming ­off ­the ­extra­ froth ­with­ a plastic spatula.­ In­ brown cafés, you usually need to order at the bar, and can either pay on the spot, or, if you’re staying­ for ­a ­few,­ ask ­for ­a ­tab.

Dutch Spirit

Gin – ­known­ locally­ as ­jenever, ­the ­Dutch ­word ­for ­juniper –­ originated in the Netherlands in the 17th century before being exported to­ England.­ It­ is­ still­ produced­ in­ distilleries around the country that date­ back ­from ­this ­time ­and ­can­ be sampled in a number of traditional tasting houses. ­At ­the­ House ­of ­Bols ­(Paulus­ Potterstraat­ 14, ­tel:­020­5­70­85­75, ­www.house­ofbols.com,­ Sun-Thu­ noon–6:30,­ Fri­ noon–10,­ Sat­ noon–8)­ visitors­ can learn about the history and traditions of both the company and the­ spirit.

 

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Amsterdam Marco Polo Guide

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That Iceland Feeling

Iceland – a truly magical place if there ever was one! This Northern island has it all: glaciers, volcanoes, hot springs and one of the most progressive and liberal cultures in the world. Experience Iceland’s unique flair and find out what makes it tick – the Marco Polo way!

Iceland by Sophie Boisvert

Picture credit: Sophie Boisvert, used with permission

Weekends in Reykjavík

In Reykjavík, daily life follows a leisurely pace from Monday to Friday, just as you would expect from the world’s most northerly capital city. But the picture changes late on Saturday evening when the streets of Reykjavík are abuzz with nightlife revelry. The Laugavegur becomes the site of a motorcade, the restaurants are transformed into bars and discos – and the alcohol level increases as the night progresses.

Beach holiday

Iceland has beautiful sandy beaches that stretch for miles. They are dazzlingly white on the Westfjords and the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, and impressively black on the south coast around Vík. The water temperature will probably not tempt you to take a swim –only the bravest risk the waves for a few moments – but if you are looking for peace and quiet you will not be disappointed. A long stroll quickly turns into an atmospheric nature experience.

Iceland by Sophie Boisvert

Picture credit: Sophie Boisvert, used with permission

Midnight sun

To truly experience the midnight sun you need to visit the small island of Grímsey north of Akureyri; it lies right on the Arctic Circle. But summer nights on the main island are also bathed in warm, soft hues and as the sun slowly sinks towards the horizon, and the hands of the clocks move towards midnight, a unique – almost magical – silence envelopes the landscape.

A world of elves and trolls

A remarkable number of Icelanders believe in elves, fairies, dwarves and trolls. Some even claim that they are able to communicate with the Huldufólk (the “hidden people”). If you want to test your second sight then you can take part in an elves tour in Hafnarfjörður or make a detour to the tiny village of Bakkagerði in the east of the island where it is said that the Queen of the Elves has her residence in a rather non-descript hill.

Island of fire and ice

Iceland is famous for its volcanoes and glaciers. Both have a destructive power but also offer the opportunity to experience marvels of nature in their purest form. A quiet spot on the shore of the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, which is fed by the mighty Vatnajökull, or an excursion to the man-made ice cave in the Langjökull are just as fascinating as the bubbling mud pots in the high-temperature area of Hverarönd, or the descent into the magma chamber of Þríhnúkagígur.

Iceland by Sophie Boisvert

Picture credit: Sophie Boisvert, used with permission

Dine with the locals

You can enjoy a meal with an Icelandic family in their own home via the Meet the Locals website. Expect either lamb or fish to be served for dinner, they are both top ­quality products that can be enjoyed without any reservations. It’s a unique opportunity to engage with locals about life in Iceland (Tanni Travel, Eskifjörður, Strandgata 14, tel: 476 13 99; www.meetthelocals.is, ISK13,500).

Iceland by Sophie Boisvert

Picture credit: Sophie Boisvert, used with permission

Cascades of water

Iceland is not only an island of dramatic volcanoes and glaciers but also one of impressive waterfalls. The superlatives “highest” and “the most powerful” can be­ determined objectively but you can decide for yourself which one impresses you the most. Here are a few candidates: the Gullfoss (meaning “golden falls”), the Dynjandi in the Westfjords, the mighty Dettifoss, the mystical Goðafoss or the Seljanlandsfoss on the Ring Road near the Eyjafjöll Glacier, which has a path behind its veil of water.

Experience solitude

As soon as you leave Reykjavík, you will discover just how sparsely populated the island is. This creates an unusual sensation for many tourists: a feeling of solitude and silence. This feeling is especially acute on an excursion into the uninhabited highlands. A deserted beach, a lava field covered with moss, or the view of the gigantic Vatnajökull will make you relish the solitude in wonder and awe.
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Iceland Marco Polo Spiral Guide

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Only in Dublin

The Irish capital is rich with museums and galleries, churches and sport facilities, with sightseeing attractions, shopping opportunities and concert halls, with cinemas and theatres, but most of all – with pubs! Almost everything is within easy walking distance, as the city centre is small.

Small but perfectly formed, we might add! Let Marco Polo show you some unique experiences to be had in Ireland’s capital:

Dublin Marco Polo Guide

Dublin’s poets and the thirst

If you would like to follow in the footsteps of poets, you need not worry about getting thirsty
on the way. On the Literary Pub Crawl actors lead you from pub to pub and as they go
along they recite verses, sing ballads, act out melodramas and talk about the
authors’ works.

The Georgian style Merrion Square

The brightly coloured doors of the Merrion Square, built in the Georgian style,
will make quite an impression on you. In the middle of the beautiful park there is a
collection of historic street lamps and a few sculptures, one of Oscar Wilde, who lived at no. 1 between 1855 and 1876.

The rich and famous

If you want to keep an eye out for celebrities, the best place to go is the Horseshoe Bar at the Shelbourne Hotel. This is the place to see and be seen and the hotel and its bar are a Dublin institution, quite a few scandals have played out here.

Cultural market

Dive into the multiculturalism of Moore Street: no other street better symbolises the old and the new Dublin. The garrulous women at this market are an Irish institution but they now have new neighbours: immigrants from Africa, Asia and Eastern Europe have opened grocery stores, hair salons, music shops and a pub.

Favourite number game

Nowhere is Ireland more Irish than at bingo. The lottery game was first introduced by the Catholic Church as a fundraiser. Bingo evenings take place in the community halls and at the National Stadium. Try your luck!

Train trip along the coast

Get to know Ireland starting from Dublin: the Dart (Dublin Area Rapid Transport) will take you once around Dublin Bay. The commuter train goes from Howth and Malahide in the north of Dublin along the coast up to Greystones in county Wicklow.

 

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Dublin Marco Polo Guide

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Only in Singapore

Asia for beginners? A city of sterile buildings with no character, without any soul? Few other places in South-East Asia are laden down with as many clichés as the five-million metropolis of Singapore. Everybody thinks they know the small tropical island – 42km (26 miles) long and a maximum of 23km (14 miles ) wide – at the south-eastern tip of the Asian continent. Most visitors immediately think of marathon shopping sprees on Orchard Road, or maybe about the famous Singapore Sling cocktail, a relic from times long past when the city was a British crown colony. Of course, there is a certain element of truth to these clichés. The city actually is ‘Asia light’ because it does all it can to make Europeans feel at home in no time.

Singapore Marco Polo Guide

Singapore has metamorphosed again over the past few years. The scruffy harbour town that transformed itself with iron discipline into a colonial metropolis and then rose to become the centre of South-East Asia, has now blossomed into a global, cosmopolitan city. It is easy to explore Singapore on your own, you will be able to eat and drink wherever the urge hits you and feel safe everywhere in the city. What’s more, you will always meet friendly passers-by who will be happy to help and to proudly tell you about how life really is in their homeland.

Unique experiences, only in Singapore, with Marco Polo’s insider tips:

Eat like the locals

Forget all about the gourmet restaurants and eat seated on a plastic stool in one of the countless food courts or ‘hawker centres’. Do not worry about the quality: taxes and rent are very low so that makes it possible for the stall owners to serve high-class traditional food for a couple of dollars. One of the best hawker centres in the city is Makansutra Gluttons Bay directly next to the Esplanade.

Chinese casinos

If you love to gamble, Singapore is the place to be. Spend an evening with the locals and join in the fun. The best place is in the Marina Bay Sands complex which has the charm of Las Vegas without visiting the US.

Black delights

It is true; they do look like they were dipped into axle grease. Put on an old, dark shirt (to hide the spots) mingle with the Singaporeans and sink your teeth into the black pepper crabs at the East Coast Seafood Centre.

Speed along the coast

If you want to find out what Singapore is really like, pedal along the surfaced promenade of the East Coast. Just take a taxi as far as Marine Cove where you can rent bikes and inline skates every few hundred yards; all the rental facilities are equally good.

Shop until you drop

The Singaporeans love shopping – the real spending variety, as well as just window shopping. Do not only stroll through the main malls, visit the small merchants on Pagoda Street in Chinatown or in the side streets of Serangoon Road in Little India.

Floral glory

Singapore’s national flower is the orchid. Prominent visitors to the city state are often honoured with a new variety named after them; for example Dendrobium Jackie Chan and Papilionanda Andrea Bocelli.

 

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Singapore Marco Polo Guide

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That Algarve Feeling

Golden beaches, seafood and plenty of sunshine – the Algarve has it all, and more! With its breathtaking vistas and lively culture, the southern-most region of Portugal will steal your heart, as it has done for countless people before. Find out what makes the Algarve tick and experience its unique flair – just like the locals themselves, with Marco Polo’s insider tips:

Marco Polo Portugal Guide

Life’s a beach

Beaches might be a part of the Algarvios’ lives from a young age, but that doesn’t mean they let tourists hog all the best swimming and sunbathing spots for them­selves! The Algarve’s many beaches come in all shapes in sizes, ranging from the cliff­ lined shores at the Ponta da Piedade to the long expanses of sand near Monte Gordo and on the Ilha de Tavira. The region is a beach fan’s dream come true!

Fresh fish from the grill

If you see columns of smoke in the air, it’s nearly time to eat! These telltale signs come from simple restaurants and open­ air grills that serve swordfish, salmon, sardines and a great deal more. It’s a guaranteed taste sensation!

Fun in the sun

Golf, standup paddle boarding, sea kayak tours… you’ll find all this and more in the Algarve!
The Via Algarviana and the Rota Vicentina are popular long ­distance hiking trails, the Costa Vicentina boasts some excellent surfing beaches, and the best cycling can be found along the 214km (133 miles) ­long Ecovia that connects the Cabo de São Vicente in the west with the Rio Guadiana border river in the east.

Markets

No matter whether they’re large or small, indoors or out, on the coast or inland… locals love their markets! They go there to stock up on fresh seafood, fruit, vegetables, honey, garlic, spices, sausages and cheese. The best markets in the region are held in Olhão  and Loulé . There’s a bit of a carnival atmosphere there, particularly on Saturday mornings. Dive right in and enjoy the hustle and bustle!

Straight from the source

Farmers and beekeepers go to markets to sell their wares – but locals also sell goods right outside their front doors! You’ll often notice small crates or nets along the street filled with freshly plucked produce from the fields and private gardens. Depending on the season, you might stumble across  oranges, lemons, mandarins, melons and much more besides. Selling direct like this cuts out the middleman, and because there are no receipts, the taxman doesn’t get a share either…

Taking a break

Taking a break is an essential part of life in the south, and no break would be complete without a spot of coffee! You could choose a tiny espresso (café), which locals drink with plenty of sugar, or perhaps a large latte (galão) that’s served in a glass – beware: holding this clear container without burning yourself demands a great deal of skill!

Frolicsome festivals

The Algarvios might seem rather reserved, but they certainly know how to let their hair down during festivals. They celebrate Carnival for days on end in Loulé, the village of Alte and elsewhere. Patron saint and summer festivals are also pretty lively. Get stuck in and party like a local!

Bottles of liquid sun

The region’s wines, grown around Alvor, are a vital part of the Algarve experience.
The reds are full-bodied, the whites are smooth and fruity, and they all taste like they’ve been soaked in the southern sun!

 

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Algarve Marco Polo Guide

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