When on holiday, you want to explore the country you’re visiting. You want to see, eat and especially do what the locals do. So the one thing you don’t want to do, is to act like a tourist, I repeat, do NOT behave like a tourist! So that’s exactly what I did in the Algarve, Portugal. In my defense, I was with my folks, so it wasn’t really an option not to.
Tourist Trap number 1: Lovely Loulé
Going on one of those horrible group excursions, jammed into a big tourist bus with 50 slightly older (translation: elderly) people sounds like a nightmare to every young, vivid and adventurous person. But it actually is a great way to see the beautiful landscape and local hotspots. So we decided to book a trip to an old, nostalgic little town in the Algarve, called Loulé. Our friendly tourist guide got us totally excited for the gypsy market on Saturday morning, so I expected to see a cute, little market in an picturesque square.
When the bus arrived, I could already see the ‘gypsy market’ from my window and all I saw was a lot of sand with some market stalls on it. I made a quick round and I was disappointed for several reasons: there were no gypsies, all the non-gypsy people sold cheap designer knock offs and the local market in Amsterdam looks more nostalgic than this one.
Aside from this ‘awesome’ hotspot, the rest of the town looked pretty authentic and beautiful. And it would have looked even better without the flocks of tourists running around with their cameras. I know, I was one of them and yes I felt embarrassed to walk around in a herd of people, all wanting to make the same ‘unique’ photo for the annual family vacation album.
There was an impressive Moorish market hall though, with a beautiful Arabic design and local fish, fruit and meat sellers inside.
But that was pretty much all there was to it, definitely not a bus ride worthwhile. I almost tripped on the dozens of tourist buses and every single corner of this town is designed to trap tourists into buying the ‘local’ goodies.
I’m very aware of the fact that I voluntarily got on that bus and totally stimulated the local screw-a-tourist business. And for that I’m sorry, fellow adventurous travel lovers. Well at least I gave y’all some what-not-to-do-when-in-the-Algarve- pointers, right?
On that note I actually did some more tourist trap thingies, oops, so be aware of part 2!