PORTUGAL 2018

LISBON, PORTO & THE DOURO

The ultimate 12 day Portugal experience!

GROUP 1: Sunday 2 September to Friday 14 September, 2018  SOLD OUT
GROUP 2: Sunday 16 September to Friday 28 September, 2018  SOLD OUT
GROUP 3: Sunday 30 September to Friday 12 October, 2018  SOLD OUT

 

Personal concierge services of Kato Wake and Billy Munnelly • Nine 3-course Gourmet Dinners with Wine • Sleep in a Former Palace • Seven 3-course Lunches with Wine • Private Tile Painting Class • Guided Tour of a Mystical Garden • VIP Winery Tastings • Sparkling Wine Tasting • Billy’s Walking Tour of Lisbon • Boat Cruise on The Douro • Introduction to the Literature of Fernando Pessoa • Alfresco Lunch with Breathtaking Views of the Douro • Port Tasting • Sleep in Converted Farmhouse • A Visit to Mateus • Billy’s Walking Tour of Porto • Beach Walks • Michelin Star Dinner by the Ocean • Private Tour of the Tile Museum • Eleven Breakfasts • Private Coach Transportation • Two Nights Accommodation in a Winery Hotel • Return Airport Shuttle from Porto • 11 Nights 4-Star Accommodation • Local Cheese & Olive Oil Tastings • Entrance to Gardens and Museums on Tour • Fado Music • Private Language Class, and more!

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

 

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 2019 we will be including another location – the beautiful seaside/fishing town of Cascais.

While Portugal has most countries beat for cute old villages, chic city vibe, amazing castles, cathedrals, museums, culture and fun stuff, it still feels relaxed, and not too crowded. But not for long – 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 and Chiado, 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 parkright in the heart of the fashionable Principe Real district. So much to see and do within walking distance.

 

“Billy and Kato spent a lot of time organizing this trip and it showed. Many of the places we stayed, the 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

 

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 take the short ride to the historic town of Viseu, where restaurant owner Andrea will be our ‘hostess with the mostest’ for a fun lunch in the town square. Then it’s back to the ‘farm’ for some R&R, a bocce game, and a casual buffet supper.

 

“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 “obrigado” 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 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 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 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 we’ll 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!

 

“Words cannot express how wonderful this whole experience has been. What a wonderful 11 days it has been. I will never forget it.” S. Jones, Mississauga

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

INCLUDED:
Personal concierge services of Kato and Billy
Nine 3-course gourmet dinners with wine
Seven 3-course gourmet lunches with wine
Eleven Breakfasts
Eleven nights 4-star accommodation
Private tour of the Tile Museum, followed by a exclusive tile painting class
Guided tour of a mystical garden
Several VIP Winery tastings
Sparkling wine tasting
Billy’s guided walking tour of Lisbon
Boat Cruise on The Douro
Introduction to the Literature of Fernando Pessoa
Alfresco lunch with breathtaking wiews of the Douro
Port tasting
A visit to Mateus
Billy’s guided walking tour of Porto
Beach walks
Michelin star dinner by the ocean
Private coach transportation
Return airport transfer from Porto
Fado music
Guided tour of a Sintra palace
Local cheese tastings
Entrance to gardens and museums on tour
Private language class… and more!

NOT INCLUDED:
Airfare
Transportation from Lisbon airport to our hotel
A few meals not mentioned
Bar and after dinner drinks
City taxis
Some gratuities
Personal items
Travel and Medical Insurance

COST: $4,295 per person, based on double occupancy, taxes included.

We regret that there are no single accommodations available for this tour.

*THREE ‘upgraded accommodations’ (larger rooms) are available some of our accommodations. One for $750 per couple, and two for $550 per couple.

TICO #2392471

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.

 

OFFICIAL FLIGHTS with TAP
ARRIVING IN LISBON
Depart Toronto, Sunday September 2/16/ 30 at 23:55, arrive Lisbon next day Monday September 3/17/October 1 at 12:15pm

RETURNING FROM PORTO
Porto to Lisbon TP1947 Depart Friday September 14/28/October 12 at 14:30, arrive Lisbon 15:30
Lisbon to Toronto TP0259 Depart 6:25pm, arrive Toronto 9:35pm

You will be responsible for getting to the hotel when you land in Lisbon, but we will coordinate the transportation from Porto to the airport on return date. The tour will “officially start” at 6pm on our first Monday, our Lisbon hotel.

 

TO BOOK
1. Email katowake@gmail.com with PORTUGAL 2018 in the subject headline.
2. Kato will email you back to confirm, and then send you a direct link to fill out a form with Ellison Travel and Tours.
3. To confirm your spot, you will need to complete this form, and send a cheque deposit of $500 per person. (We will email you full mailing details.)
• Your deposit will be deducted from your invoice but will not be refunded should you cancel. (See cancellation policy above.)
• A non-refundable administration fee of $50 per person (plus any applicable taxes) will be charged by CWT Ellison Travel & Tours separate from Billy’s Best Bottles cancellation policy.
• Billy’s Best Bottles reserves the right to make changes in the itinerary.
FYI: Due to uncertain future currency rates, your invoice for this tour will permit a price increase of no more than 7%. Once your tour is paid in full, the price advertised is locked in, and no further price increase will be allowed.

 

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.

 

YES! WE LOVE PORTUGAL!
We were smitten with Portugal on our first visit well over ten years ago. Just about everything – the look, the feel, appealed to our sensibilities. We could not believe the grandeur – of the old and the new. How the streets were paved in magical patterns of black and white, how courteous the people were. The hills of Lisbon was our first love but we’ve since fallen for other magical places that you will visit. Our promise is that you will experience a mix of the best and the interesting, as you enjoy out-of-the-ordinary experiences – ones that capture what’s special about the country. Expect to fall in love.

Some of the beautiful photos shown are courtesy of Pauline Mosher of Oakville. Thank you Polly!

 

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. Meals are on the European clock– starting late and finishing late – celebrating time at the table. Basically we invite people who are interested in stepping outside their comfort zone and embracing a European experience. Filling the eyes, bellies and imagination with things unfamiliar. We welcome people who come hungry for activity and participation – ‘adult camp’ as Kato calls it – and FUN. While we are certain that you will enjoy our many activities, we do allow ‘free time’ for exploring self-interests. The more you know about our destinations before heading-out, the more fulfilling your trip will be. Do NOT come with us if you want a conventional ‘sightseeing’ tour with no participation on your part.

Finally a word on why we do not publish daily itineraries. One reason is we like to remain flexible and work around weather and local events. But more importantly, we believe that the best travel experiences are built around daily surprises – a trust between the host and the guests. Those who have travelled with us have said that they enjoyed the surprise element as it kept them ‘in the moment’. We ask that you greet us with enthusiasm, a trusting open mind, good health, and an empty wine glass (not for long!).

 

“If you are searching for a tour 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!! This was my first trip to Portugal – 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 Portugal 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

 

READ ALL TESTIMONIALS HERE!

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