PORTUGAL 2020

LISBON, PORTO & THE DOURO

The ultimate 12 day Portugal experience!

September 26 to October 7, 2020 (Leaving Toronto September 25) SOLD OUT

 

Personal concierge services of Kato Wake and Billy Munnelly • 11 Nights 4-Star Accommodation • Nine 3-course Gourmet Dinners with Wine • Seven 3-course Lunches with Wine • Eleven Breakfasts • Private Tile Painting Class • Guided Tour of a Romantic Garden • VIP Winery Tastings • 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 • Country relaxation at a Converted Farmhouse • A Visit to Casa de Mateus • Beach Walks • Private Tour of Portugal’s Tile Museum • Private Coach Transportation • Billy’s Walking Tour of Porto • Return Airport Shuttle from Porto • 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

 

(Note: Click on the arrows below the photo on the top of this page to view all the photos)

We are often asked “Which is your favourite tour”? “All of them” we reply, because each is our own creation – stuff we love to do. However, we have a particular fondness for Portugal. Partly because we went there before it became wildly popular, and we love the ‘modern-rustic’ style of the country. And what’s not to love about the food and the warmhearted people who seem to be born with the service gene. Portugal also offers a great variety of experiences from city to coastal to mountainous, and lots in between. It’s impossible to stop taking pictures.

Our Tour starts in Lisbon, moves out the coast to beautiful Cascais, then north to the Douro Valley, and finishes in Porto. We call this Portugal’s ‘Golden Triangle’.

While Lisbon is Portugal’s heartbeat with impressive places of historic 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-tiled roofs, 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’. Belem is also home to the newer Berardo gallery with its amazing collection of contemporary art. And the new ‘must see’ MAAT Gallery – stunning modern architecture built right on the riverbank.

For more edge you might want to take in the LX Factory with its crazy/arty stores and 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!

South of Lisbon we’ll visit the colourful wine region of Setubal. Sip luscious Moscatel while overlooking a magical oriental garden – complete with a pond and pavilions, followed by a VIP lunch in a winery courtyard.

Our Lisbon accommodation will be at ‘arty’ apartments bordering the city’s swanky, bohemian and the hip neighbourhoods – everything 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. During our two days there we’ll take a trip to a romantic garden and palace at nearby Sintra, followed by a stroll on one of the wildest surfing beaches in Europe. You will have free time to enjoy the local cafés, stores, galleries and promenades – or you may want to chill at our historic hotel, right on the bright blue ocean.

Next, it’s time to head north where our first stop will be lunch at a former Carmelite Monastery/Royal Hunting Lodge – now a gorgeous hotel with fairytale location. After lunch we’ll stay in the awesome groove and see more of José Berardo’s art collections (remember him from Belem in Lisbon). His amazing ‘underground museum’ features a collection of exotic African, Indian and South American indigenous artifacts, along with minerals and million year old fossils – and of course Portuguese tiles. All displayed in former wine cellars. Speaking of wine there will be a tasting at the end of our art adventure. Why not? We’re on holidays!

Later in the 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 most-est’ 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

 

On day eight we 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. Lunch this day is in a restored farm-workers house where you will be wowed by the home, 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 proclaimed as “the most impressive food in the Douro” by Financial Times magazine. This takes place at a beautiful quinta, the local name for a farmhouse/winery. 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 Casa 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. Porto is our home for the next two days and 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 most interesting.

 

“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

 

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, and 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. Hope you decide to join us on this great adventure! Travel magazines have started listing Portugal as the #1 place to go in Europe – check it out before it gets too crowded.

LISBON, PORTO & THE DOURO VALLEY

September 26 to October 7, 2020 (Leaving Toronto September 25) SOLD OUT

Group size 18 maximum
NOTE: Most of our destinations in Portugal are very hilly and we plan to do a lot of exploring on foot – pretty good physical shape is required.

COST:
$5,495 per person, based on double occupancy, in Canadian currency, taxes included.
Single supplement $1,500 in Canadian currency, taxes included.

LISBON accommodation upgrades!
Penthouse Apartment : Add $500 per person (total for our 3 nights in Lisbon) in Canadian currency, taxes included. SOLD OUT
Upgraded Apartment: Add $125 (total for our 3 nights in Lisbon) per person in Canadian currency, taxes included. SOLD OUT

 

INCLUDED IN THIS TOUR:
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 Lisbon’s Tile Museum
Exclusive tile painting class
Guided tour of a romantic garden
Several VIP Winery tastings
Billy’s walking tour of Lisbon
Boat Cruise on the Douro River
Introduction to the Literature of Fernando Pessoa
Alfresco lunch with breathtaking views of the Douro River
Port tasting
A visit to Casa de Mateus
Billy’s walking tour of Porto
Beach walks
Private coach transportation
Return airport transfer from Porto
Fado music
Local cheese tastings
Entrance to gardens and museums on tour
Private language class… and mores

NOT INCLUDED:
Airfare
Transportation from Lisbon airport to our hotel
A few meals not mentioned
Bar and after dinner drinks
City taxis
Gratuities for housekeeping, breakfast, lunch and dinner service, guides and drivers
Personal items
Travel and Medical Insurance


OFFICIAL FLIGHTS
TBC

 

TO BOOK

1. Email katowake@gmail.com with PORTUGAL 2020 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 below.)
• 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
Your $500 pp deposit is non-refundable.
Up to 90 days prior to departure – 50% refund, excluding your non-refundable deposit. However, should we find someone to fill your spot, full refund, excluding your non-refundable deposit.
Less than 90 days to departure – no refund. However, should we find someone to fill your spot, full refund, excluding your non-refundable deposit.

We are very pleased to be working with our excellent travel agents at Ellison Travel & Tours, our official partner with TICO #2392471 : Kelly Richards and Melanie Treasure.

 

 

HOW DO WE DIFFER FROM OTHER TOURS?

We must start by telling you that we never set out to conduct tours. However, after a few trials with friends we sensed that there was an interest in our style of travel. Found a niche as they say. Original and generous were the two most used words we heard to describe what we offered, and not surprisingly as our itineraries were of our own making. We did not see the point of taking people to over-crowded ‘guide book’ places. It is impossible to catch the ‘feeling’ of a place when you’re lost in a sea of fellow travellers. We still deliver WOWs, but without the hassles and crowds. And ‘generous’ might have something to do with how much wine we were pouring.

We have sought out parts of a country that offer a sense of the whole, thereby delivering the experience without long travel times. Spending less hours on the road attempting to ‘see it all’ gives us more quality time in towns, galleries or cafés. Feet on the ground as opposed to bum on a bus, seeing better over seeing more.

Most of the experiences we offer are either not available off-the-street, or would require a lot of work to secure.

We love the time at table so most evenings we all dine together, at a hand-picked restaurants where we have arranged something special – for an experience not available to the general public. You can expect everything from gourmet to rustic with seating in small groups for an intimate experience. But we’re not opposed to a little rowdiness! We stay at smaller, non-chain hotels away from the tourist bustle.

Have to admit we are not huge history buffs, but we do allow enough free time for those who want to visit churches and museums. Think of us as the anti Trip Advisor – seeking instead the alternative – the unexpected. The kind of tour you’d imagine from a local, as opposed to a Tour company. If you have never travelled with a group before, fear not. Think of the possibilities for fun with a group – ‘adult camp’ as Kato calls it. It may be the best party you ever attended.

Expect to eat and drink too much – and love every minute of it.

In each of our destinations we concentrate on the things that are special or unique: rural pubs in Ireland as they are the hub of a community, historic grandeur combined with sleek contemporary design in Portugal, and the effortless, indescribable sense of style in France. Crafting beauty in everything is Italy’s great skill, and that includes food and wine. We ask that our travellers take the time to know something of, and respect the culture we are visiting – your comfy Adidas and litre of Pepsi are not a fitting image beside a French bistro.

 

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 – please 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 detailed, 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!).

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

 

TESTIMONIALS

“The tour was truly exceptional in wining, dining and experiencing the culture and hospitality of the Portuguese people. The attention to detail by our hosts Billy and Kato was outstanding and made it a trip that is unforgettable! Many thanks for such a wonderful adventure and the opportunity to gain so many new friendships!” V. Huehn, Kingston

“Greg and I wanted to thank you again for another amazing vacation. Portugal was wonderful and truly a hidden gem. Every part of the tour was perfectly planned down to the last detail and included something for everyone from museums, spectacular gardens, shopping tours all woven around Portugal’s culture of amazing food, wine and history. Every day was filled with unforgettable moments (so many to list). On your tour, we got to see and experience the more “authentic” Portugal. Thank you for making this such a fun and memorable trip.” S Green-Jones and G Jones, Markham

“We have been with Billy and Kato in France, Ireland, Piedmont and Portugal and are going back to Ireland with them again next year. You won’t find anything like the experiences you will
have with them. They are warm and charming people and the ambience among your small group of fellow-travellers is special.” The Hannafords, Burlington

“The Billy and Kato Portugal tour is not your usual group tour – in fact, the experience is “ouro sobre azur ” gold over blue” (perfection). Because Billy and Kato have been doing group tours in Portugal for some time, they have sourced out and are well connected with owners of some of the most unique hotels, restaurants, quintas and other venues in Portugal. They ensure that things run “as smooth as silk” and that each traveller feels special and important.” Ken Burford and Yvonne Millman, Toronto

“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!! 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

“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

 

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

READ ALL TESTIMONIALS HERE!

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