“I first came to Faro on Erasmus and I chose it for the most superficial reason – there is a beautiful beach here,” says 36-year-old Katerina Glukova bluntly. The southern Portuguese metropolis enchanted her so much that she lived here for twelve years. Here she got a job as a tour guide, met her husband and gave birth to a daughter. The relaxed atmosphere of Alaghar Temple cannot be denied.
He hugs you to welcome you, never leaving a smile and bursting with energy. During a conversation with a local Portuguese, a normal person will not notice that he only learned the language years ago. The dark-haired Prostejov arrived in the country in 2009 as a university student. Today, he guides Czech tourists through Portugal and mediates internships for Czech teachers. In addition, he is the co-founder of the Faro Czech School, where he teaches.
“The Portuguese have hearts of gold, they are very friendly, if something happens to you, the locals will help you, even if they don’t know you, they will give you something to eat,” he explains of the characteristics of the locals. This is another positive aspect of the region. In addition, they have a common hobby with sex – they like to tease each other.
Over the years, Katerina has made many friends here. He often meets them in unexpected places, such as Cape St. Vincent, 120 kilometers west of Faro. “Ola, boa tarte!” An older married couple greets each other in a parking lot.
Although she spent her first few years in the tourist attraction region without knowing any Portuguese, over time she discovered that the language barrier was a barrier to getting to know the locals more deeply.
“Once I learned Portuguese, it took me three years to have a meaningful conversation with the locals, who stopped treating me as just a tourist. I was surprised how many friends I didn’t know and how. I knew everything, but only when I finally knew the language did I make real friends,” He explains.
“A person can easily stay here in his English-speaking bubble for years. For example, the English live here for twenty-five years and they don’t know Portuguese, because they only have their community and they never leave.” He adds.
“When the Portuguese promise something, they really deliver”
No wonder she chose the city on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. Bordering the Ria Formosa National Park, Faro boasts wide sandy beaches, clean air and low white houses with colorful decorations. The average annual temperature reaches 20 degrees and in early October you can swim in the sun in the sea in the Algarve. The relaxed atmosphere, great food and the attitude of the locals is simply infectious.
“Time goes differently here. A shop assistant can chat with a shopper about a recipe for lunch or a cake and get annoyed if someone is late,” explains Catrina’s traditional Portuguese quarter-hour delay. “But when the Portuguese promise something, they really deliver,” he adds.
The biggest income for the locals comes from tourism and the Algarve is well-prepared for travelers. It has an international airport, good infrastructure and above all many places to explore. Catrina recommends going in early spring or fall to explore the south of Portugal.
It is best to stay directly with the locals – Portuguese people are more interested in renting apartments or houses. Also, thanks to them, viewers get to know real life in the countryside or in the city center.
An authentic journey through the Algarve
You can travel to Faro all year round, but the winters are rainy and the Czech Republic’s origins indicate that many Portuguese houses and apartments have no heating. “I found out almost everything about Portugal before my studies. But I settled in a bad apartment with no heating in the winter. That was probably my worst winter. It might be 10 degrees and blue outside, but when I was sitting inside writing my bachelor, my fingers were completely frozen. , were blue, my mouth was steaming, I sat under the blanket, it’s not hot here, Portuguese houses are better built today, but they still don’t heat. ,” she recalled.
Katerina is the only Czech tour guide in the Algarve. He works for several Czech travel agencies, including World Travel Site. The latter provides all the services offered by travel agents, including travel and guide, but at the same time preserves the benefits of private travel. In the app today, you can choose from half a million itineraries, for example, Kateřina in charge of the Portuguese.
Author photo: Archive Worldee
How the World Works
- The travel platform brings curious individuals closer to authentic experiences, connecting them with a community of experienced travelers with similar interests and allowing them to discover the world through the eyes of a local.
- The tourist chooses the itinerary for the destination of his choice. Then, he can purchase a package of related services (air ticket, accommodation, car rental, local guide services) from Worldee. He can travel with a so-called travel companion or on his own axis with the support of Worldy. This is done through an app that not only shows individual locations, distances or departure times and arrivals, but also basic information about attractions. The app also serves as a personal travel diary, and Tomasz Jobledal founded it with this idea in mind.
- The site also offers special destination routes such as gastro tours or architectural tours. Zapletal and her friend found inspiration in travel groups on Facebook, where strangers meet to vacation together.
“Itineraries are created by people who live in a particular place. The goal is to connect travelers and show people a given place from a local’s point of view. When you travel with Worldee, you really get to know a given country or place. We don’t. Generally, Worldee doesn’t have all-inclusive resort accommodations, even if we arrange it. But with the locals you can get to know the place through their eyes,” explains founder Tomáš Zapletal.
Some time ago, Worldee won the Czech Tourism Award in the field of digitalization of tourism. “I travel solo and don’t travel with a travel card, but I miss having a place to save travel itineraries and get back to them. I also miss the mobile guide so I don’t have to look everything up separately. Wikipedia,” he adds.
Trouble in Portugal’s paradise
In addition to getting to know the Algarve, Katerina Glukova is responsible for the project to get to know Lisbon and its surroundings. He has been working with the platform since this year, and among its frequent customers are active tourists who are genuinely interested in getting to know the country with all their senses. As a local, he would recommend the best restaurant in town, arrange a surfing lesson with a Czech instructor, or add a story about how Vaclav Havel flew to Fara to treat his lungs and where he lived. All this while walking along a breathtaking beach formed by limestone cliffs.
While Portugal may seem like a dream place for foreigners to live in, Katerina and other interviewed Czechs living in the Algarve draw attention to the country’s systemic problems. They are mostly found in the fields of employment, housing, health and education.
“The biggest problem of unemployment in the south of Portugal is in the winter, that is outside the tourist season. In the summer, on the other hand, there is a shortage of people in some sectors,” says Caterina. Availability of rental housing is also a major problem, as most locals prefer to rent their house or apartment to British tourists who are willing to pay more than rent.
State health is also problematic. There is a shortage of money and doctors who have to work overtime. Strikes by medical workers are very frequent. According to Kateřina Klugová, it is better to pay for private doctors and hospital care.
“One of my acquaintances – a Czech woman waited three years for an allergy test for her little daughter. They suspected celiac disease and lactose intolerance, which negatively affected their daily life. She was finally diagnosed in the Czech Republic,” he describes. “Portuguese public hospitals are bad. But it’s good in private hospitals, they’re nice and clean and you get your turn quickly,” he explains.
Teachers’ strikes are as common as health workers’ strikes. They also struggle with underfunding and overtime. “There are strikes here even for a month, which also affects children’s knowledge,” Katerina explains.
Despite all the problems Katerina knows about, she still wants to stay in Faro. “But my Portuguese husband and I are flexible, we’re not saying we’ll stay in Faro forever. I can imagine returning to the Czech Republic. If something changes that we don’t like, we’re ready. Go to a place where we’re good,” she says. For now, however, they are best on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, and even the onlooker-observer is not surprised.
Photo author: Personal archive of Kateřina Klugová
Katerina Glukova (36 years old)
- He was born in Prostějov and lives in Faro, where he moved in 2012.
- He studied Marketing Communication at Tomáš Bata University in Slin.
- He is a tour guide throughout Portugal and he works with many Czech tour guides. She mediates internships and training for Czech educators and is co-founder of the Faro Czech School, where she teaches.
- She has a Portuguese husband and a four-year-old daughter.
- He loves working with people and wants to transfer his energy and enthusiasm to this country – Portugal.