Portugal 2017

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LisbonLISBON, PORTO & THE DOURO

The ultimate Portugal experience
10 days, May 24 – June 4, 2017

SOLD OUT!

Lisbon continues to be Portugal’s heartbeat, and deservedly so, but the excitement and energy is being translated all across the country. Particularly up north in the bustling city of Porto, and in the wine regions of the Dao and Douro Valley. In 2017 we will be combining our Lisbon and Porto trips for the ultimate Portugal adventure. The best ten days that anyone can have in this wonderful country.

LIsbon7Not only does Portugal have most countries beat for cute old villages, chic city vibe, amazing castles, cathedrals, museums, culture and fun stuff, it is a lot less crowded. Feels relaxed. But not for long, as the travel magazines are now listing Portugal as the #1 place to go in Europe.

Douro-Boat“Portugal is the most exciting wine place on the planet today.”
Matt Kramer, Wine Spectator

 

LindaBeachABOUT OUR TRIPS

If you were ever hesitant about taking a ‘tour’ – rest assured that this is the most “NON-TOUR” you could sign up for! Think instead of being on an ‘insider’ trip – going to interesting places, doing exciting things, and meeting locals – all orchestrated by a couple who know and love the region. Think also of the shared enjoyment and FUN that happens in a group – ‘adult camp’ as Kato calls it. There is very little of the usual tourist sight seeing, and of course, some free time (mainly in the cities), but very little of the usual tourist sight seeing.

We stay at smaller, non-chain hotels away from the tourist bustle. Lunch is included when we feel it is an integral part of the day’s itinerary, and most evenings we dine together at restaurants where we arrange something special – for an experience not available to the general public. You can expect everything from gourmet to rustic – always with a generous amount of wine. And seating in small groups for an intimate experience. But we’re not opposed to a little rowdiness! We create the mood of a good dinner party where conversation and mood play off the food and wine for memorable times.

Instead of taking you to all the ‘guide book sights’ we like to show you something better, and less crowded. It is impossible to catch the ‘feeling’ of a place when you’re lost in a sea of fellow travellers. We spend hundreds of hours travelling in search of genuine and exciting experiences that are not in the ‘guides’. For sure we won’t let you miss the best main attractions, but most of our days are off the grid.

peepsWHO SHOULD TRAVEL WITH US?
Those with a love of adventure and social interaction are obvious candidates. On the physical side, good walking ability and drinking stamina are not only essential, but mandatory. Our groups tend to average in age from 50 to 65 – though we’ve had much younger and older. Meals are on the European clock– starting late and finishing late. Celebrating time at the table. The focus is on activity and participation – having FUN. We promise a fabulous experience to all who come with enthusiasm, a trusting open mind, and a wine glass at the ready.

 

LIsbon8THE 10 DAYS IN PORTUGAL – what to expect

Our tour starts in Lisbon, moves north to the Douro, and finishes in Porto. We call this Portugal’s ‘Golden Triangle’.

While Lisbon has its share of impressive architectural monuments and places of historical interest – it is the light, the colours, and natural beauty that captures most hearts. The hills account for the many great vistas – especially from Miradouros (vantage points) with outdoor cafés inviting you to have a drink and linger – as the locals do. Not sure if it’s the pinks and greens, or the red roof tiles, or the fresh sea air, but there’s an impression of the Mediterranean – the feeling of a southern city. Writer Paul Buck best describes Lisbon: “No-one has quite summed it up – and because of that, you can make it your very own.” I’m sure you will.

Lisbon6

Our four-day Lisbon stay includes exploring on foot – getting lost in the mysterious alleyways (Moorish) of the Alfama, popping in and out of the exciting shops and cafés of Principe Real, and wandering down to the inviting blue waters of the Tagus river – always stopping long enough to breath in the city, and fall in step with its tranquil pace.

An introduction to the works of poet Fernando Pessoa, and a tile painting class are a few planned activities you can look forward to. And Fado, of course. There will be an opportunity to visit the region of Belem, home to architectural wonders from Portugal’s era of discovery, along with the Berardo gallery – host to an amazing collection of contemporary art.

For more edge you might want to take in the LX Factory with its crazy/art cafés, and the colourful bars on Nova Carvalho (former brothels), and the bohemian Bairro-Alto area. You’ll enjoy a full range of dining experiences from back street café, to some of the city’s wonderful modern restaurants. Of course you’ll want to spend several hours eating and drinking at the amazing revamped Ribeira Market – the best party in town!

Lisbon3For more edge you might want to take in the LX Factory with its crazy/art cafés, and the colourful bars on Nova Carvalho (former brothels), and the bohemian Bairro-Alto area. You’ll enjoy a full range of dining experiences from back street café, to some of the city’s wonderful modern restaurants. Of course you’ll want to spend several hours eating and drinking at the amazing revamped Ribeira Market – the best party in town!

We’ll take a day trips to the exotic gardens and palaces of nearby Sintra, and to the colourful wine region south of Lisbon. Sip sparkling while overlooking a magical oriental garden – complete with a pond and pavilions, followed by a VIP lunch in a winery courtyard. Enroute back, we’ll stop-off at a waterside café to enjoy Lisbon’s splendor from the other side of the river, and see the city sandwiched between blue water and sky.

PORTUGAL-CHURCHOur Lisbon hotel spills on to a café-filled square, high up and right in the heart of the fashionable Chiado district. So much to see and do within walking distance.

On day five we head off to explore the centre of Portugal with a first stop at Alcobaca – the country’s biggest Gothic church and monastery. A wow for sure. Lunch will beat a close-by café or wine bar. Mid-afternoon, we taste wines at a beautiful winery in the Dao region, and after a short ride we arrive in the historic town of Viseu. Café owners Andrea and Miguel will be our ‘hosts with the most’ for a fun evening in the town square.

DOURO-STREETNext morning we head into the valley of the Douro River for some of the most stunning scenery anywhere. Breathtaking for sure! But first we will make a stop to be transported back in time by strolling through the remains of a magnificent 12th century monastery where Cistercian monks first planted grapes. Although the Douro was originally famous for Port wine, it now produces some great reds, whites, and sparkling too. Such as Caves Murganheira, which is our next morning stop for a tour of the caves and a tasting. Lunch this day is in a restored farm house where you will be wowed by the place, food, and the exquisite taste and charm of owner Ana Maria.

PORTO-FOODOur home on the Douro will agri-tourism winery/hotel. Just gorgeous. Of course we’ll have a private boat ride on the river – stopping off for an exclusive lunch at a Quinta – the local name for the magnificent, hillside, white-washed farmhouse/wineries.

One of our visits will be to Solar de Mateus, (not associated with everyone’s once-upon-a-time Rosé) – a spectacular baroque Manor house and stunning formal gardens. Enroute to Porto we will make a Michelin star lunch stop by the picturesque Roman bridge in Amarante.

Lisbon-FOOD

Porto is our home for the next two nights. A city full of old world charm – with red-tiled roofs tumbling down the hills to the riverbank. Which is lined with restaurants on one side, and Port lodges on the other. Best urban planning in the world! We’ll have dinner and a tasting on the top floor of a Port house with a stunning view of the river and city. Porto’s centre is now a World Heritage Site. Besides wine and food, your Porto visit might include taking in the creations of world-famous architects and their 18th and 19th century buildings, and contemporary works such as the must-visit Casa da Musica, and Serralves Contemporary Art Museum and sprawling park.

3-Cheers

We love Porto’s combination of old grandeur, rough edges, and up-to-the-minute cool. It’s very stroller friendly with its cobbled streets, and its fondness of food and design is apparent in concept stores and trendy cafes. As with Lisbon, there is no shortage of nightlife – we’re always delighted to take you to a few of our favourite spots. And let’s not forget, the beach is only a short tram ride away. So much to do in one small place.

Hope you decide to join us on this great adventure!

NOTE: Most of our destinations in Portugal are very hilly and we plan to do a lot on exploring on foot – relatively good physical shape is required.

Hope you decide to join us on this great adventure!

NOTE: Most of our destinations in Portugal are very hilly and we plan to do a lot on exploring on foot – so relatively good physical shape is required.

Group size 16 – 18 maximum

INCLUDED:
Personal concierge services of Kato and Billy
10 nights luxury hotel accommodation
10 breakfasts without wine
8 dinners with wine
6 lunches with wine
Private coach transportation
Airport pick-up in Lisbon on ‘Official Flight’
Visits to, and VIP tastings, at wineries
Entrance to gardens on tour
Introduction to the works of Fernando Pessoa, Portugal’s most famous poet/philosopher
Portuguese wine and cheese tastings
Tile painting class
Luxury boat ride on the Douro River
Transportation to airport in Porto for return ‘Official Flight’
…and a few surprises!

NOT INCLUDED:
Airfare
A few meals not mentioned
Bar and after dinner drinks
City taxis
Some gratuities
Personal items
Travel Insurance

COST: $3,995 per person, based on double occupancy, taxes included. SOLD OUT!
For single supplement or “upgraded accommodation”– please enquire. Email katowake@gmail.com.
TICO #2392471

OFFICIAL FLIGHTS Via Sata Airways with a short stop-off in the Azores
GOING:
S4 # 322, Depart Toronto 8:25pm, Arrive Ponta Delgada 6:00am (25MAY)
S4 # 220, Depart Ponta Delgada 7:30am, Arrive Lisbon 10:40am

RETURN: S4 # 371 from Porto Sunday 4 June @ 3:40pm. Arriving Toronto at 6:35pm

TO BOOK
1. Email us at katowake@gmail.com with PORTUGAL 2017 in the subject headline.
2. Please go to THIS LINK and fill out the form: https://www2.ettravel.com/ET/bbb-portugal2017/
3. Wait to hear confirmation then send a deposit of $500 per person to secure your spot to Kelly Richards, Ellison Travel and Tours,  PO Box 303, 18 Victoria Street S. Goderich, ON N7A 4C6

Make your cheque out to Ellison Travel and Tours: include your full names, address, contact number and email.
•  Your deposit will be deducted from your invoice but will not be refunded should you cancel.
• Billy’s Best Bottles reserves the right to make changes in the itinerary.

CONFIRMATION OF TRIP
We prefer that you book your flight if possible with Kelly Richards, employee extraordinaire of our travel partner, Ellison Travel & Tours (email: kellyr@ettravel.com or phone 519-524-8692 or toll-free 1-877-847-1272)

Every tour we’ve run has ‘sold out’ and many guests are repeat offenders.

Cancellation policy:
Up to 90 days before departure, full refund less deposit.
59 to 89 days prior to departure – 50% refund less the deposit. However, should we can find someone to fill your spot, we’ll issue a full refund less your deposit.
60 days prior to departure – no refund. However, should we can find someone to fill your spot, we’ll issue a full refund less your deposit.

 

“If you are searching for a tour of Lisbon, that involves many visits to churches, museums, up at dawn and in bed by 10, then this tour is NOT for you. But, if you are seeking an unforgettable tour with daily surprises and exciting experiences involving food and wine then this IS the tour for you!!

My first trip to Lisbon—-what an experience!! Kato and Billy are excellent hosts. Each day brought new and unexpected delights, from wineries, food photography, Fado singers, poetry, to the most gorgeous  scenery and excellent food. As a single traveler, I found this tour to have the most cohesive and friendly group, no doubt in part to both Billy’s and Kato’s friendliness, knowledge  and organization. This is a trip not to be missed. I will most certainly travel with them again and highly recommend this tour.”
Meryl, Wellandport

“Total pleasure and happiness! Everything you had planned out was a first class surprise. I would go back in a heartbeat!”
Ami, Montreal

“Buy lottery tickets! Sell your house! Do everything in your power to join Billy and Kato on next year’s Lisbon trip. BEST HOLIDAY OF MY ENTIRE LIFE – the wines, the food, the art + architecture, the people, the scenery, the creative force, the surprises…”
Leigh D., Toronto

“I was fortunate enough to be with Billy and Kato on their 2013 Piedmont wine tour in Italy. I couldn’t imagine how they would match, let alone improve on that experience when in 2014 I joined them again on their Lisbon trip. Well, by golly….they did. They seem to have a knack for putting a disparate group of travellers, albeit wine lovers, together and making the experience quite something special. I would highly recommend joining them on any of their endeavors.”
Wally Anderson, Simcoe

READ ALL TESTIMONIALS HERE!