Trip Region: Europe, Africa
Country(ies): Spain, Portugal, Morocco
Partners Trek? Yes
Trip Cost: $2200
Airfare Estimate: $1700
Nightlife: 5 • Activity: 5
The Cliff Notes version: Three countries. Two continents. Wine. Sunshine. Ancient cities. Glamping under the stars. And the best souvenir of all: a group of awesome new friends to kick off your MBA experience!
Five MBAs and their partners will lead you on a trek to Spain, Portugal, and Morocco, from city exploring to beach days, exotic marketplaces to royal palaces, group excursions to solo ventures, to wine and… more wine. In Portugal, we’ll discover the vibrant history and culture of Lisbon and enjoy #islandlife off the coast of Olhao. Next up is Spain, where we’ll munch on tapas and try out our flamenco skills. Then we’re off to Morocco, where you’ll get the best of both worlds: time to discover the souks and riyadhs of Marrakech, as well as luxury camping under the stars in the Moroccan desert. Are you in?!?)
Travel Day — Friday, Aug 17
You are free to depart for Lisbon after orientation activities are over at 5pm. Enjoy the flight!
Day 1 — Saturday, Aug 18
Welcome Meeting at hotel starts at 6pm local time. The day is yours to explore Portugal’s vibrant capital city, Lisbon. Known for being one of Europe’s most affordable capital cities, you can shake off the jetlag at a rooftop restaurant and check out the fantastic architecture. That evening we’ll meet our Tour Guide and enjoy our first dinner together followed by an authentic Fado show.
Day 2 — Sunday, Aug 19
Today we learn about Lisbon’s history on a guided tour. After acquainting ourselves with Lisbon’s character and charm, beautiful renovated buildings, grand boulevards and impressive castles and churches - the rest of the day is yours! Get cultured at the National Art Museum or perhaps go to the medieval citadel of Sao Jorge Castle. Seated atop the highest point of old town, the citadel dates to Moorish times and provides picturesque views of the city swarming with endless angular white houses and buildings with distinct red terracotta rooftops. In the evening, join us for dinner and drinks. And don’t forget your party pants - a trip to one of the city’s best nightclubs just may be in the cards!
Day 3 — Monday, Aug 20
Grab your things and let’s hit the road! Today we head to the the southern coast of Portugal. On our scenic four-hour public bus ride, you’ll have a chance to sit back and enjoy views of the the Algarve region, known for its fertile plains rich with olive groves, fig trees, and almond fields. When we arrive, we’ll get settled in at our hotel in the city of Olhao which will serve as our base for the next two days. With an active waterfront and bustling quarters, Olhao is said to have a mystical feel. Take the afternoon to wander to city center or stroll along the coastal road Rua 5 de Outubro, the eastern Algarve’s food mile. But don’t eat too much - tonight we’re going restaurant hopping at some phenomenal eateries. With delicious food and a few drinks in us, we’ll see where the night takes us (we’re looking at you cocktail lounges, cafes, and rooftop bars...).
Day 4 — Tuesday, Aug 21
Wake up, sunshine! (But not too early - let’s be real, we’re on vacation!). For a first-hand experience of Olhao life, take the morning to visit the local market. Be sure to pick-up some fresh fruit and delicious snacks for our trip to the sandy island of Ilha de Culatra. After our ferry arrival, we’ll have time on Illha de Culatra to wander the boardwalk, explore the fishermen’s settlements, and recline on the endless beaches. With dunes and lagoons galore, take some time today to “treat yo self” and bask in the sun. In the evening, we’ll return to Olhao’s old town for a true Portuguese dinner experience and you’ll have the chance to enjoy some authentic Portuguese fare. Get some rest tonight - tomorrow we head to Spain!
Day 5 — Wednesday, Aug 22
Flamenco shoes packed? Check. Today you’re in for a real treat. After a breezy four-hour private bus ride from Olhao to Seville, get settled in to the city that legends claim was founded by Hercules. Known worldwide for its vitality, flamboyance, fascinating history, and monuments, take the afternoon to discover the wonder of the city of Carmen, Don Juan, and Figaro for yourself. While you explore, be sure to taste-test Seville’s famous tapas and oranges. But wait...are you ready for an experience of a lifetime? Well, tonight is the night! Join us in the evening for a real Flamenco Show. And who knows, we may even seek out one of the city’s best clubs to test out our new found dance moves...
Day 6 — Thursday, Aug 23
Need to stretch those legs after last night? We’ve got you. In the morning, join us on a guided walking tour to see the Alcazar of Seville, a grand royal Palace. Known as one of the most beautiful in Europe, the Spanish royal family still uses the Alcazar as their residence in Seville. The rest of the afternoon is free. Take time to visit to the La Maestranza, Giralda Tower, and the famous Seville Cathedral, one of Europe’s largest cathedrals and home to Christopher Columbus’ elevated tomb. In the evening, enjoy a delicious glass of Spanish wine and head to dinner at your leisure before calling it a night. Tomorrow is a travel day - see you in Africa!
Day 7 — Friday, Aug 24
Success! We made it on time for our flight from Europe to Africa. Good afternoon, Africa! Today, we’ll get acquainted with Marrakech via a guided walking tour. We’ll explore the Old Medina and endless mosaic of Souks (Moroccan artisans), ending in the famed marketplace Djemaa El Fna. Why wait for your first offer letter to start practicing negotiation - dive in and practice your haggling skills (or make Devan do it for you!)
Day 8 — Saturday, Aug 25
After a leisurely lunch, we’ll escape from the bustling city and head to an area untouched by civilization - the Agafey desert. We’ll make our way via 4WD Jeep to Terre des Etoiles - a peaceful retreat in a desert oasis of palm and olive trees. Here we will spend the night in the Berber tradition, with an authentic dinner enjoying expansive views of the surrounding desert and night sky.
Day 9 — Sunday, Aug 26
Today, we’ll hop back to the coast. Essaouria is our destination - a UNESCO World Heritage Site set against the backdrop of the Atlantic Ocean. Take the day to yourselves to explore this town that fascinated artists like Jimi Hendrix, from walking the walls of the fortified old city, strolling along enormous golden beaches or trying your luck at novice haggling in the more laid-back medina. Essaouria is one of North Africa's most attractive places, and we bet you’ll find yourselves slipping into the easy-going rhythm of this Moroccan town with a European seaside twist.
Day 10 — Monday, Aug 27
We can’t believe this is our last full day in Africa! We’re heading back to Marrakech, where we’ll have some time to explore the city and see anything we haven’t seen yet. Go back to the medinas, relax at the hotel - the day is yours.
Departure Day — Tuesday, Aug 28
Departure day. Our adventure comes to a close and we have to return to reality. We check out from hotel by 11am. The good news is reality is now way better now because we all have a bunch of new friends, you’re way more cultured, and you’re going back to Ann Arbor in the fall. #ReunionBrunchAnyone?
Devan "Will probably give you a nickname" Gandhi and Heather “Blondhi” Gandhi
Favorite Band/Artist: Led Zeppelin… maybe James Brown
Favorite Movie: Goodfellas… or Dumb and Dumber, can’t decide
Why you want to hang out with me: I believe there is more life to be lived than time to do it in, so I’m pretty much always down for an adventure – and finding the fastest path to actually doing it. Also we can talk about business or life in Ann Arbor or make fun of Demundo
Weirdest Quirk about my partner: She has the uncanny ability to simultaneously keep our apartment incredibly clean, and also hide all of my stuff… not sure how
Hidden Talent: I can tell you what that place in Ann Arbor used to be (I did my undergrad at Michigan too, Go Blue!)
Perfect MTrek Day: Good local breakfast, walk around a town, stop for lunch somewhere weird, eat too much, go ride a camel or something, hang with the wife for like Maybe 10 minutes, hang in a lobby with the team, roll out to a crazy dinner, then local nightlife
Favorite thing about Ross: The people. Not a cheesy cliché, the Ross Community is the real deal
Hometown: Armada, MI
Favorite Band/Artist: Justin Timberlake
Favorite Movie: Legally Blonde
Favorite Book: No favorite book, favorite author Mary Kubica
Why you want to hang out with me: I’m friendly and I’m not an MBA – So we don’t have to talk about school, but I hear I’m a good listener
Weirdest Quirk about my partner: If he hears a song, he’ll go on a tangent for at least 20 mins
Hidden Talent: Ruining almost all meals I try and cook
Perfect MTrek Day: Sightseeing along with a nice, yummy dinner with friends
Favorite thing about Ross: The community, you always feel welcomed
Alexis "Papa Smurf" Morath and Adam "Big Pizza" Harris
Hometown: Greenville, SC
Favorite Band/Artist: Bon Iver
Favorite Movie: Hidden Figures
Favorite Book: Shantaram
Why you want to hang out with me: I’ve always got the snacks.
Weirdest Quirk about my partner: He enjoys pluralizing words not intended to be plural….
Hidden Talent: I can do the worm backwards.
Perfect MTrek Day: Morning – Physical Activity / City Exploration; Afternoon – Cultural Activity / Sight-Seeing; Evening – Dinner & Drinks w/ our MTrek and any interesting locals we happen to meet.
Favorite thing about Ross: The close-knit community and being a member of Section 3!
Anything else? Have MOOR fun with us in Marrakech!
Hometown: Orrville, OH
Favorite Band/Artist: Chris Demundo’s Greatest Hits
Favorite Movie: Mean Girls
Favorite Book: Running for My Life – Lopez Lomong
Why you want to hang out with me: I’m full of useless trivia
Weirdest Quirk about my partner: Alexis is a semi pro hip-hop dancer
Hidden Talent: Alexis seems to always be “surprised” when I do athletic things, so I’ll go with hand-eye coordination
Perfect MTrek Day: I still haven’t seen the itinerary for this trip. Where are we going again? I hope there is sangria and a beach…
Favorite thing about Ross: Partners Club, Ski Trip, Football Games, Listening to Devan talk about recruiting
Anything else? I recently went to Marrakech restaurant at Epcot, so I’m officially qualified to be your MTrek Leader
Justin “J-Lo” Loescher and Elizabeth “Bitsy” Loescher
Hometown: Columbus, IN (most recently Houston, TX)
Favorite Band/Artist: Aerosmith
Favorite Movie: The Departed
Favorite Book: Bleachers – John Grisham
Why you want to hang out with me: I am a massive beer nerd and will be searching for the best craft beer in iberia while everyone else is loving the wine.
Weirdest Quirk about my partner: She is on the never ending quest for legitimate Tex-Mex in Ann Arbor
Hidden Talent: Board Game connoisseur
Perfect MTrek Day: Craft beer tour for lunch
Craft beer tasting at dinner
Craft beer out on the town
Favorite thing about Ross: The awesome, collaborative community (Section 1 for life).
Anything else? Ask me about changing careers from engineering to consulting!
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
Favorite Band/Artist: Dave Matthews Band
Favorite Movie: Gladiator
Favorite Book: Moving Nations
Why you want to hang out with me: Southern charm and Texas chili
Weirdest Quirk about my partner: He has never tried a cup of coffee
Hidden Talent: Consistently finishing in the bottom 10% of marathons
Perfect MTrek Day: Waking up for a long hike, relaxing on the beach, exploring a picturesque city, eating an exotic and delicious dinner, and dancing with friends
Favorite thing about Ross: Wine Wednesdays
Chris “Selfie sticks” Demundo and Maureen “Eminem” McHugh
Hometown: Wurtsboro, NY
Favorite Band/Artist: Dave Matthews Band
Favorite Movie: Tropic Thunder
Favorite Book: Anything that isn’t a coursepack
Why you want to hang out with me: I’ll likely convince you to stay up with Devan and I until 5am because you can just sleep on the bus at 7am and exploring a foreign city is way cooler than sleeping.
Weirdest Quirk about my partner: She can hear “”wheel of fortunes”” at street festivals from approximately a half-mile away. I’ve won a lot of free t-shirts.
Hidden Talent: I’m oddly good at finding friendly cats in foreign countries.
Perfect MTrek Day: Up early, delicious breakfast, city tour, delicious lunch, wandering the city/activity, even more delicious dinner, beer until way too late in a local bar. Mix in hiking/beach sporadically.
Favorite thing about Ross: The people and the amazing cell service throughout the entire building.
Hometown: Chicago burbs
Favorite Band/Artist: There is not enough room to list all of the 90s alternative bands
Favorite Movie: Sister Act 2
Favorite Book: Currently, The Radium Girls. But it changes with the wind.
Why you want to hang out with me: I’ll try almost anything once… or twice or three times if this thing is dessert. You can count on me to find the best gelato stand/pastry shop/‘insert local specialty here’ in town.
Weirdest Quirk about my partner: A strange fondness for cats. I can promise he will be chasing down strays in Morocco.
Hidden Talent: Bargain hunting (but don’t ask me to haggle)
Perfect MTrek Day: A morning hike in a beautiful location, then cooling down with some ice cream and shopping for locally made goods. Breaking for a late lunch (at a winery?!) and gelato followed by a siesta to re-energize for the night ahead. Tapas dinner and drinks at an outdoor restaurant before hitting the bar scene, where we miraculously stumble upon a cover band playing 90s pop in accented English – we scream sing along until the bar closes. Drunk food. And closing with more ice cream.
Favorite thing about Ross: The partner community
Anything else? MTrek is awesome.
Luisa "No relation to Lance" Armstrong and Tom “No Relation to Tara” Lapinski
Hometown: Indianapolis and Boston
Favorite Band/Artist: The Wind + The Wave
Favorite Movie: Remember the Titans
Favorite Book: All the Harry Potters!
Why you want to hang out with me: You will win at trivia!! I will stop at literally any bar that has trivia and do everything in my power to win. Plus, I have a really cute dog 🙂
Weirdest Quirk about my partner: Babies love him. Like, will-stop-everything-they-are-doing-to-stare-into-his-eyes kind of obsessed.
Hidden Talent: I make a killer chocolate chip cookie
Perfect MTrek Day: Starts with brunch, ends with a bottle of Malbec, with a group hike or the beach and lots of city exploring in between!
Favorite thing about Ross: The people! And The Bus, duh.
Hometown: Garden City, NY
Favorite Band/Artist: The Killers
Favorite Movie: The Shawshank Redemption
Favorite Book: Unbroken
Why you want to hang out with me: If you have to ask, you can’t afford it.
Weirdest Quirk about my partner: She will manage to run into, bump into, or stump anything yet she still refuses to live in the Zorb I bought her for her birthday.
Hidden Talent: I can juggle while riding a unicycle (no, I can’t, but putting it down here might just be the push I need to make this a reality)
Perfect MTrek Day: Wake up early and do something active (hike, run, explore). Grab a bite to eat somewhere with a breeze. From there, just spend the afternoon touring the area and learning about culture and history. And when the night falls, I’m always game for checking out a new watering hole, playing some drinking games, and finding out a little more about my fellow trekkers.
Favorite thing about Ross: It has given me the opportunity to live in a Midwest college town (something I would have never pictured myself 3 years ago) and have been loving every minute of it so far.
Anything else? I love pizza, the Mets and my lab puppy, Mosby (in no particular order).