Tell Me About Gwen, our tour guide
Our facilitator/guide is Gwen McCauley, a huge fan of all things Algarve. Gwen has spent years uncovering great restaurants, off-the-beaten-track sights, and getting to know a side of the Algarve that is often unseen by the average tourist.
Gwen writes and publishes the only restaurant review guide for the area that specializes in Portuguese cuisine restaurants, as well as off-the-beaten-track locales. She loves to make friends with families who make their living in the food business and enjoys knowing that she is able to support these entrepreneurial folks.
As well as being your daily guide, Gwen is available to offer advice and suggestions to make your trip the best possible one. Whether it is recommending the best place to buy a bottle of Port or which type of pottery might make the best souvenir, count on Gwen’s knowledge of the area and interest in the local arts and culture scene to be of help.
Tell me more
Gwen McCauley has been traveling to the Algarve since 1975. She began offering personal/professional development retreats to the area in 2007 and has been visiting the Algarve for extended periods since then.
The great loves of Gwen’s life are people, travel, fine dining, cooking, writing, photography, art, gardening and hiking. She has found that the Algarve is a place where she can easily enjoy all of her loves. Being a generous person, Gwen is keen to share her discoveries with others who have similar interests.
Gwen has lived and traveled across Canada (although Nunavut and The Yukon remain elusive) and has seen much of the US, having visited 36 states. She’s been to Mexico several times. Several trips to Australia are highlights of her travels, as is time spent in Singapore. Gwen has been to both Northern Ireland and Eire several times, has been surprised by the wild beauty of Scotland, and loved exploring the surprise that is the Isle of Man. Next to Lisboa, London is probably her favourite international city, to date, and Gwen has had the pleasure of several trips to explore its delights. She’s spent a little time in Amsterdam, in Spain and much time in Portugal, especially the Algarve.
While not a professional chef, Gwen is known amongst her friends and colleagues as a fine cook with a wide repertoire of dishes that she loves to create, along with a finely decorated table and appropriate wines. She enjoys visiting food markets in all the places she visits. One of the reasons she loves the Algarve so much is that food markets are everywhere, the best being the weekly Saturday Mercados at Olhão and Loulé. Visiting the delights of the mercado is one of the few ‘must do’s’ on Gwen’s list and it is a rare Saturday that she won’t be found on the streets chatting with vendors, discovering what’s best this week and planning the evening’s menu based on her purchases.
Gwen’s background includes working as a marketing executive in the telecommunications industry before launching her own business 20 years ago. She has worked as a downsizing career counselor, a change management consultant/facilitator and as a personal growth coach, facilitator and educator. For the past several years Gwen has offered life transition coaching, created and offered her own coach certification program as well as personal and professional development retreats.
In 2013 Gwen took on a very special contract where she functioned as a start-up CEO and project manager for a new grocery market social enterprise. This labour of love involved not only planning and managing the dynamics of creating a store from scratch, but involved managing the media relations and communications for the endeavor, including all of the associated social media.
But the call of The Algarve, her coaching practice and her writing lured Gwen back so that she is, once again, offering A Taste of Algarve.
Gwen is also a writer who authored a hugely popular monthly column for Ottawa Valley Living magazine for over 4 years. She published her first book The Alchemy of Energy in 2004 and her second, collaborative book, Sekhmet Rising: The Restlessness of Women’s Genius in 2006. More recently she is working on Choosing Life: Celebrating in Verse, Prose and Pictures, a collection of her stories, poems, photographs and paintings. Algarve Dining is published as an e-book. Deciphering the Portuguese Menu is Gwen’s latest food oriented e-book in development. She is also hard at work on a major work on sexuality and aging, something that’s happening to us all but that we’re not very inclined to talk about.
Gwen holds a BA in Anthropology as well as an MA in Human Systems Intervention. She is an NLP Master Practitioner and a WEL-Systems® Educator. A life-long learner, Gwen regularly participates in personal growth experiences.
Offering culinary tours is a natural evolution for Gwen since it brings together so many of the things about life that energize her and bring vitality to her life. Over the years she has gotten to know a side of the Algarve that few of its 4 million annual visitors get to experience. She has built relationships with many restaurateurs, has sought out little-known beaches and discovered back roads that see very few tourists. Her knowledge of Portuguese wines, foods, cheeses, cuisine and culture are both deep and wide. Gwen brings a lifetime of wisdom, a great sense of humor, compassion and an enormous appetite for life lived large to her clients. She shares her knowledge and expertise generously and is always delighted to learn new things from her traveling companions.
“Travel is life’s soul food.
Sometimes messy but always satisfying!”
~ Gwen McCauley