The ultimate Portugal experience!
12 days, Sunday 16 September to Friday 28 September, 2018
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 2018 we will be repeating this year’s trip, with the addition of an extra day to include the ‘beach experience’ at the pretty town of Cascais.
Portugal has most countries beat for cute old villages, chic city vibe, amazing castles, cathedrals, museums, culture and fun stuff. It feels relaxed. Travel magazines have started listing Portugal as the #1 place to go in Europe.
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 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.
Our three-day Lisbon stay includes exploring on foot – popping in and out of the exciting shops and cafés of Principe Real, getting lost in the mysterious alleyways of the Alfama (Moorish), and wandering down to the inviting blue waters of the Tagus river – always stopping long enough to breath in the city, and fall in love 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 ‘Age 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!
We’ll take a day trip to an exotic garden and palace at nearby Sintra, followed by a stroll on one of the wildest surfing beaches in Europe. South of Lisbon we’ll visit the colourful wine region of Setubal. Sip sparkling while overlooking a magical oriental garden – complete with a pond and pavilions, followed by a VIP lunch in a winery courtyard.
Our Lisbon hotel is a former palace overlooking a park – right in the heart of the fashionable Principe Real district. So much to see and do within walking distance.
“Words cannot express how wonderful this whole experience has been. What a wonderful 10 days it has been. I will never forget it.” S. Jones, Mississauga
On day four we move out the coast to the beautiful fishing/arty/elegant town of Cascais. Enjoy the local cafés, stores, galleries and promenades – but you may not want to leave our historic hotel right on the bright blue ocean.
Next, it’s time to head north where our first stop will be a winery lunch in the medieval village of Santar, in the heart of the Dao region. But not before a glass of sparkling as we tour the gardens. After lunch we’ll visit the cellars, stroll the back streets and enjoy a little more wine. Mid-afternoon, we arrive at our ‘country home’ for the next two days. A hill-side, converted farmhouse/winery offering modern conveniences along with relaxing rural charm. Walk trails through the woods, or just chill on your terrace as you wonder what’s for dinner. Next day we’ll hava a picnic lunch, play bocce, and take the short ride to the historic town of Viseu, where restaurant owner Andrea will be our ‘hostest with the mostest’ for a fun evening in the town square.
“Kato and Billy put so much thought into our tour of Portugal, which allowed us to really experience the culture, learn the history and savour the flavours. They introduced us to so many lovely people, who shared Kato and Billy’s passion for creating magical moments. And they took us to places we would not likely have found (or got into) on our own. Cannot “obrigada” you enough!” C. Wood, Oakville
Time to head into the valley of the Douro River for some of the most stunning scenery anywhere. Breathtaking for sure! But first we’ll take a stroll through the remains of a magnificent 12th century monastery where Cistercian monks first planted grapes… for sure, a step back in time. 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-workers house where you will be wowed by the place, food, and the exquisite taste and charm of owner Ana Maria.
Our home on the Douro will be at a boutique hotel on the grounds of one of the oldest Port Houses. Just gorgeous. So magical that you may not want to leave the property – till we tempt you with a private luxury 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. You won’t want to miss this outing. Or the ‘at sunset’ bocce finals back on the terrace of our hotel. Followed by one of our famous ‘surprise’ dinners.
“We just returned from the most fantastic trip to Portugal. Truthfully, it was the best vacation I’ve ever had. Billy and Kato selected wonderful wineries, restaurants and activities – the 10 days were filled with great food and delicious wines. The group size was perfect. What a great job you did planning this adventure – thank you Billy and Kato!” M. McLeod, Newmarket
On our way to Porto we’ll visit Solar de Mateus (yes, the palace on the label of everyone’s once-upon-a-time Rosé) – a spectacular baroque Manor house with stunning formal gardens. After, we will make a lunch stop by the picturesque Roman bridge in Amarante.
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, lined with restaurants on one side, and Port lodges on the other. Best urban planning in the world! 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.
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 good restaurants, and for our farewell dinner well take you to one of Porto’s finest, with waves crashing beneath a brilliant sunset.
Hope you decide to join us on this great adventure!
“Billy and Kato spent a lot of time organizing this trip and it showed. Many of the places we stayed, food we ate and experiences we enjoyed would not have been possible if we were on our own. The accommodations were first rate, the restaurants and meals were excellent and there were new and surprising experiences each day. We did not know that Portugal had so much to offer, but Billy and Kato did, and they were delighted to share it with us. If you are looking for a first class trip that offers great value and lots of wonderful experiences, travel to Portugal with Billy and Kato.” C & W Boyd, Ancaster
“Such an amazing 11 days – I’m not sure there are words to express what we all experienced. Definitely a trip we will remember forever! What Kato and Billy do is phenomenal – so glad you took us all along for the ride!” P. Black, Carrying Place
Group size 16 maximum
Personal concierge services of Kato and Billy
11 nights luxury hotel accommodation
11 breakfasts without wine
9 multi-course dinners with wine
7 multi-course lunches with wine
Private coach transportation
Visits to, and VIP tastings, at wineries
Entrance to gardens and museums 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!
Transportation from Lisbon airport to our hotel
A few meals not mentioned
Bar and after dinner drinks
NOTE: Most of our destinations in Portugal are very hilly and we plan to do a lot on exploring on foot – good physical shape is required.
COST:$4,295 per person, based on double occupancy, taxes included.
We regret that there is no single supplement for this tour.
THREE ‘upgraded accommodations’ are available – please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
OFFICIAL FLIGHTS are not yet posted, (as it’s too far in advance).
1. Email us at email@example.com with PORTUGAL 2018 in the subject headline.
2. Typically, our tours sell out fast, and many guests are repeat offenders! Once Kato emails you back with confirmation, you’ll be given a link to fill out for our legal travel partner, Ellison Travel and Tours.
3. Once your spot is confirmed by Kato, a $500 per person deposit will be required. Mail your cheque to Kelly Richards, Ellison Travel and Tours, 1930 Hyde Park Road, Suite 4, London, ON, Canada, N6H 5L9
Tel: +1 (519) 672-7020 x 205 (We prefer that you book your flight if possible with Kelly Richards, Ellison’s Travel and Tours employee extraordinaire)
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.
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.
ABOUT 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 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 have 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.
WHO 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.
“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.”
“Total pleasure and happiness! Everything you had planned out was a first class surprise. I would go back in a heartbeat!”
“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