Trip Region: Europe, Africa
Country(ies): Spain, Portugal, Morocco
Partners Trek? Yes
Airfare Estimate: $1700
Structure: • Lodging: • 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?!?)
Day 1 — Friday, Aug 17
You are free to depart for Lisbon after orientation activities are over at 5pm. Enjoy the flight!
Day 2 — 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 3 — 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 4 — 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 5 — 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 6 — 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 7 — 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 8 — 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 9 — 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 10 — 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 11 — 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.
Day 12 — 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?