2014 SDL Tridion MVP Retreat

The past few days has been filled with excitement and awe as SDL hosted their fifth Tridion MVP Retreat. I was extremely lucky to have had the honor of getting to go to Portugal for a second time. Last year the group of Tridionaughts got to visit the castle town of Óbidos, and this year we got to gaze our eyes upon the fortified city of Évora. The day started just like the previous year, the sleep deprived flew into the Lisbon airport to meet with the hungover who had decided to join the party a day (or more) earlier. This year though I got to journey on the adventure with my good friend and first time MVP winner Frank Taylor.

The Roman Temple

The Roman Temple at night as we make our way for dinner at the Pousada Dos Loios.

Courtyard of the Albergaria do Calvário

Hanging out in the courtyard of our hotel… did I mention we had the whole hotel to ourselves?

A private shuttle picked up everyone from the airport and shuttled us to Évora, where we were to stay at the Albergaria do Calvário, a hotel that was booked solely to our MVP group (possibly due to some noise complaints from outside guests at the hotel of the previous year’s retreat). For a little background on the kind of group that we are, its definitely not uncommon to see some of us out still drinking outside at 0400 in the morning singing along loud and drunkenly with a ukulele playing.

Outside of our conference room

Outside of our conference room at the M’Ar De Ar

Once we checked into our hotel, we headed across the street to the M’Ar De Ar where our conference/war room (and lunches) awaited us. After a multi course lunch, the event began with Nuno discussing the road map for Tridion and its products. The rest of the MVP business for the next days was focused on the SDL Tridion Reference Implementation. We discussed what it was in detail, the architecture of how it was built, installation and feedback, and future features that are in the works or needing recruitment to help out on.

Post Work Events

Singing in the Courtyard

Raimond and Quirijn showing their musical talent the first evening in the courtyard at the hotel.

Our first evening’s event was dinner at Pousada Dos Loios, which was a multi-course meal (thinking back, which meal didn’t have multiple courses?) that included octopus. I was a little bit worried when the octopus first came out, as the ones I’ve had before were always a bit rubbery. But I have to say, it was probably the most tender and delightful octopus I’ve ever eaten. My only regret is not taking a picture of it to share with you! After the dinner we shared some drinks at the restaurant’s bar, and finally retired the night in the courtyard of our hotel where we drank even more as our very own talented musicians Nick, Raimond, Quirijn, and Dominic provided a night of sing along music with a guitar, ukuleles, and harmonicas. Various members dropped off through the night, but the party continued til around four in the morn (to the dismay of some who were trying to sleep).

Beautiful view of the grounds at Adega Da Cartuxa

Beautiful view of the grounds at Adega Da Cartuxa

Are those barrels of wine for us?

Are those barrels of wine for us?

A chapel at the Convento Do Espinheiro

A tour through a chapel at the Convento Do Espinheiro

Our second evening’s event kicked off to Adega Da Cartuxa, a winery that produces one of Nuno’s most favorites (so if you ever need to bribe him, you know where to go). We got a tour of the building, watched a couple of videos, and got a wine tasting. Following the winery, the group continued on to the luxurious Convento Do Espinheiro, a historic national monument where we got a tour and then a feast. Following the feast was more drinking, pool playing, and our own personal pianist (Quirijn!). The night ended back at the courtyard of our hotel, but most of the group retired a lot earlier than the previous night.

Will Price serving drinks at the  Convento Do Espinheiro

Will Price serving drinks at the Convento Do Espinheiro

Saturday’s events started right after our final lunch at the M’Ar De Ar. The activities started with a guided tour around the city. One of the places we visited that stood out most to me was the Bones Chapel, a room where the walls and ceiling are covered in skulls and bones. Although the skulls look like they belong to children, the guide said it was due to age and shrinking. From the tour we went directly to Kartodromo de Évora, where we had a serious go kart race. It started with a 5 minute warm up, followed by a 15 minute qualifier which determined the positions that we would start in for the actual race. I must admit that after the 15 minute qualifier I was about sore and done…

At the Bones Chapel

At the Bones Chapel. We were told this is where MVPs end up when they stop sharing.

but alas no rest for the wicked as we entered the 30 minutes of the actual race. It was great times as many of us spun out and crashed into each other, and the race ended with the venue handing out trophies and awards to the winners and finishers. It was pretty intense, and each of us were drenched in sweat by the race’s end.

Our war room at the M’Ar De Ar conference room

Our war room on the last morning at the M’Ar De Ar conference room

Winners of the go kart race!

Winners of the go kart race… Nick in First, Chris in Second, and Julian in Third

Finally the night found us once again at our hotel’s courtyard where a three hour buffet of various traditional Portuguese foods awaited us. The night ended as any other night with your fellow MVP’s would: with good food, good drinks, good music (this time Frank and Robert Curlette joined in on the Triangle), and good friends.

Thanks You’s

A special thank you to SDL again for hosting this award program for the community and for making those who are selected to feel beyond special and appreciated. For those of you who have not yet won but are thinking of trying for it – keep sharing and don’t stop. Believe me, the experience of spending several days with your fellow Tridionaughts is well worth any amount of time spent sharing your knowledge and helping others. And the MVP community and its events are one that you will remember through a lifetime.

Another special thank you to Carla Osorio for organizing yet another smashingly great year and the amazing job in keeping a drunken lot such as ourselves organized and together. And another thank you to Paulo Linhares for helping with the organizing as well as the threats and cursing that helped us keep in line and not end up mugged and arrested somewhere. And of course to Nuno, as this program would not be where it is today without him.

Hanging out on a wall of the Adega Da Cartuxa

Hanging out on a wall of the Adega Da Cartuxa

Til next time my friends, hopefully I’ll be there and you as well!

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