PORTUGAL

Porto - Guimares, Braga - CoimbraBatalha, - Évora - Estremoz, Villa Viçosa, Monsaraz - SintraLisbon

April 9 to 22, 2020

minimum 5 - maximum 7 participants 

Price Includes:

  • 4 nights in Porto - 1 night in Coimbra - 3 nights in Evora 1 night in Sintra - 4 nights in Lisbon

  • 14 Breakfasts - 8 Lunches - 7 Dinners - Transportation to sites - Entry fees to sites - Books and maps 

  • Accident/Medical insurance - Pick-up at Porto Airport and Drop-off at Lisbon Airport

(Same price as 2017, but with 2 extra days).

  $4755 Per Person Double Occupancy

  $5450 Per Person Single Occupancy

Itinerary

 

Day 1 (April 9) Leave the US. Airfare not included.

 

Day 2 (April 10) – Arrival in Porto

Greeted by our Representative and Transfer to the Hotel.

Welcome Dinner. Night in Porto.

Day 3 (April 11) – Porto - Walking Tour - 'Old Porto' - Tour in Casa da Musica.

The Cidade Invicta, or Invincible City, has around a quarter of a million inhabitants and is the second city of Portugal. It has always displayed a spirit of great independence and entrepreneurship. Focusing on trade and business, it also has a great deal of culture to offer, as well as being a city with its own distinctive character. Locals are known as "tripeiros" (tripe-eaters) because during the time of the military expedition to Ceuta, they sent all the meat they had to the Kings soldiers and left only the offal for themselves, displaying the same spirit of sacrifice that the locals maintain to this day. The River Douro flows through the city, its powerful waters forging deep banks. As these are often sloped, the historic area of the city is an intricate medieval arrangement of houses and lanes.

Palácio da Bolsa deserves a special visit. Built between 1842 and 1910, the building, which belongs to Porto Commercial Association, is one of the most beautiful buildings in the city, inside, its façade in neo-classicism is a bit drab.

The visit starts, in the old cloister of Convento de S. Francisco – named today as Pátio das Nações - whose ruins were donated by the Queen D. Maria II to the association founded in 1934, so that the town businessmen might have a place to meet.

The decor all through the building is outstanding but what takes the prize is the Salão Árabe, a ballroom designed in a Moorish style which was fashionable in the 19th century, and inspired by Palácio de Alhambra in Granada.

Serralves Villa: Steeped in the visual culture of his day, Carlos Alberto, a scion of the restricted industrial elite that prospered after World War I, favored the artistic currents prevalent between the 1920s and the 1940s, in particular French architecture and French decorative arts, encouraged by his visit to Paris to the International Exposition of Modern Industrial and Decorative Arts in 1925. There he met the people who were most in tune with the pragmatism of his class, including Charles Siclis (1889-1942), an architect whose 1929 watercolors are behind the referential image of the Villa, Jacques Émile Ruhlmann (1879-1933), probably the most important Art Deco furniture designer and decorator, and Jacques Gréber (1882-1962), the architect who was invited to design the new garden. Design elements by Jacques Émile Ruhlmann, René Lalique and Edgar Brandt are found throughout the house.

lunch

Casa da Musica is a major concert hall space in Porto, Portugal, which houses the cultural institution of the same name with its three orchestras Orquestra Nacional do Porto, Orquestra Barroca and Remix Ensemble. It was designed by the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. Intended as part of Porto's designation as the European Culture Capital in 2001, it was only finished in 2005. It immediately became an icon in the city. Featuring a 1,300-seat auditorium suffused with daylight, it is the only concert hall in the world with two walls made entirely of glass.

We will also visit a Port wine house where we will taste Port of different ages and assist at the opening of a very old bottle with tongs. Using Port Tongs to remove the whole bottle-neck (glass and the cork complete) is an old technique. The black iron tongs are heated to a red hot temperature (the polished wood handles help from burning your hands) then gripped around the neck of the bottle. The heated tongs are then applied to the neck of the bottle for a few minutes before quickly removing, then applying a damp cloth to the same position. The sudden change in temperature will cause the bottle neck to break cleanly and neatly. Using Port Tongs helps in preventing sediment being disturbed and contamination of the Port via crumbling corks. We will off course taste the port from that bottle too.

​ The city is most famous for its wine, PORT, where the grapes are grown much further inland, upstream on the banks of the river Duro but the processes from fermentation to the bottling is done in Porto. Port wine is Porto' spiritual legacy.

Night in Porto.

​Day 4 (April 12)Explore Guimarães  and Braga with our private driver and guide.

​Guimarães is the city where the Portuguese independence movement began and where Afonso Henriques, the first king of Portugal and the founder of the nation, was born. Almost nine hundred years ago, Afonso Henriqes transformed the medieval country into an independent kingdom and advanced south to conquer lands held by the Arabs. Now its historic center still maintaining the appearance of its far-off medieval times and is a UNESCCO World Heritage Site. 

Bom Jesus Do Monte is a Portuguese sanctuary in Tenões, outside the city of Braga, in northern Portugal. Its name means Good Jesus of the Mount. The Sanctuary is a notable example of pilgrimage site with a monumental, Baroque stairway that climbs 381 feet. In the 19th century, the area around the church and stairway was expropriated and turned into a park. In 1882, to facilitate the access to the Sanctuary, the water balanced Bom Jesus funicular was built linking the city of Braga to the hill. This was the first funicular to be built in the Iberian Peninsula and is still in use. It is the oldest funicular in the world moving by water counterbalancing, loading water into the car at the top of the hill, which weighs it down so it descends to the bottom, at the same time drawing the lighter, drained car up the hill, where the process starts all over again. The funicular track is 899 ft long and descends / rises 381 ft, giving an average gradient of around 42%.

Free day to explore Porto on your own or go with Jean to visit a few museums and typical neighborhoods of Porto, like wandering in the medieval alleys of Ribeira, a UNESCO World Heritage-listed neighborhood. 

Braga is an ancient city that was once the seat of the local Roman government, the capital of Galicia, the capital of the Suevo- Bracara kingdom and an ecclesiastical center. Even today, the Portuguese still call it the "archbishops city ". In the 16th century it was known as the Portuguese Rome and in the 18th century it was profoundly marked by a taste for Baroque. Today it is a young, dynamic university city with friendly inhabitants.

We could go enjoy some “rabanadas” or delicious “ovos-moles” at the Majestic, the historical café in Porto, since 1921 and known for its literary gatherings attended by many famous artists of the time. The cafe is one of the best example of Art Nouveau in the city.

Night in Porto.

 

Day 5 (April 13) – Porto to Coimbra

On the way we stop at Roman ruins of Conimbriga,one of Europe's great Roman archaeological finds and one of the best preserved in the Iberian peninsula. It was first a Celtic settlement in the Iron Age, but was occupied by the Romans in the 1st century A.D., who turned it into a prosperous city.

Then we will visit the university city of Coimbra, a quaint and interesting city The ancien library in Coimbra is absolutely astonishing. Night in Coimbra.


Day 6 (April 14) – Coimbra to Évora 

In the morning, we will drive to Batalha, for lunch. It is a village developed alongside the Santa Maria da Vitória Monastery, whose construction was prompted by King João I, after the victory of Portugal against Castile, at the famous Aljubarrota Battle (14th century). This monastery is one of Unescos World Heritage sites.

It took over a century to build, starting in 1386 and ending circa 1517, spanning the reign of seven kings. The construction required an enormous effort, using extraordinary resources of men and material. New techniques and artistic styles, hitherto unknown in Portugal, were deployed.

 

Work began in 1386 by the Portuguese architect Afonso Domingues whose style was essentially Rayonnant Gothic, with similarities with the façade of York Minster and with the nave and transept of Canterbury Cathedral. He was succeeded by Huguet from 1402 to 1438,  who was probably of Catalonian descent and introduced the Flamboyant Gothic style, obvious in the main façade, the dome of the square chapter house, the Founder's Chapel, the basic structure of the Imperfect Chapels and the north and east naves of the main cloister. He raised the height of the nave to 32.46 m. By altering the proportions he made the interior of the church seem even narrower. He also completed the transept but he died before he could finish the Imperfect Chapels. As Capelas Imperfeitas (The Unfinished Chapels) remain as a testimony of the fact that the monastery was never actually finished. They form a separate octagonal structure tacked on the choir of the church and only accessible from the outside. It is an amazing sight and one can imagine what it could have been if finished with a roof.

 

We will have time to visit a shop selling all sorts of things made of cork: shoes, bags, wallet, dresses, jewelry and maybe sit for coffee or a drink before finishing our drive to Evora.

Lunch - Dinner - Night in Evora.

 

Day 7 (April 15) – Walking tour in the Historic Center of Évora, including the Bones Chapel & the Cathedral.

History lies within the walls of Évora. Known as the museum-city, it was once occupied by Romans, Visigoths, Arabs who left their marks. Starting within the Roman and Moorish walls, we could continue by mentioning  the Roman temple, the cathedral or even the nearby megaliths, as proof of what makes this main city of the Alentejo plain, an UNESCO Heritage Site worth visiting. Its main square is named after Geraldo the Fearless, the hero that fought off the Moors. It is also a prosperous university city full of character. The cathedral is a grandiose building of considerable size which dates from the beginning of the 13th century and marks the transition from the Romanesque to the Gothic style. It still has the appearance of a fortification that is typical of this style.

There are many dolmen and menhirs dotting the landscape surrounding Évora. Just a few kilometers outside Évora is the most important and best preserved cromlech in the Iberian Peninsula.

 

Cork Tour in the afternoon.

We will visit a cork plantation and a small manufacturer using cork to create all sorts of objects from bags to furniture and shoes.

Night in Evora.

Day 8 (April 16) – Évora​ / Vila Viçosa / Monsaraz   

Vila Viçosa is a scrupulously clean town of the Alentejo, full of flowers and streets lined with orange trees. This town was often at the center of some of the most important moments in the country's history. The House of the Dukes of Bragança, the most powerful noble family after the Royal Family, was established here. Vila Viçosa region is known for the marble, extracted and cut at more than160 quarries, and internationally famous for its pink marble.

After a visit to the Ducal Palace, we will drive Monsaraz for lunch. This is one of the prettiest village you will ever see.

Monsaraz, conquered from the Moors in 1167, the town was given to the Order of the Templars and, later, the Order of Christ. Located on the border, in 1381 it was attacked by English archers and in 1385 by the King of Castille. Nowadays, with the passing of centuries, it is a quiet town. Walking in the peace and calm of the old village down the schist paved streets with their whitewashed houses is like taking a journey back in time. Situated on top of a hill, Monsaraz also offers a fantastic view of the surrounding landscape and the delightful waters of the Alqueva dam. A place you really should not miss when you visit the Alentejo.

Night in Evora

Day 9 (April 17) – Évora to Sintra

Sintra is the Romantic place in Portugal. Inlaid in the foothills to the north of the Sintra range, it is a wonderful mosaic of intertwining constructions half-hidden in the thick woods and the massive boulders. The mountain range and the proximity to the sea make it a very breezy and cool area, and that is the reason why it soon became a favorite summer spot for the royal Portuguese family, ever since the first dynasty. The whole village is enthralling, from the tiniest corner to the most exuberant of palaces.

Sintra is known for its many 19th-century Romantic architectural monuments, which has resulted in its classification as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In addition to the Sintra Mountains and Sintra-Cascais Nature Park, the parishes of the town of Sintra are dotted with royal retreats, estates, castles and other buildings, including the Pena National Palace and the Sintra National Palace.

The Palace of Pena, Sintra's exemplary Portuguese Romantic symbol, was initiated by the King-Consort Ferdinand, husband of Queen Maria of Portugal (1834-1853), a German-born member of the House of Saxe-Cobourg-Gotha. The Palace was built over the remains of the 16th century monastery of the Order of Saint Jerome, conserving many fundamental aspects, including the church, cloister and a few dependencies. The architecture is eclectic, influenced by many architectural styles.

Quinta da Regaleira is an estate located near the historic center of Sintra, Portugal. The property consists of a romantic palace and chapel, and a luxurious park. The palace is also known as "The Palace of Monteiro the Millionaire", which is based on the nickname of its best known former owner, António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro. The park is magnificent and filled with stunning spots, one of them being the Initiation Wells. There are two wells on the property that better resemble underground towers lined with stairs. These wells never served as water sources. Instead, they were used for ceremonial purposes that included Tarot initiation rites. There are tunnels connecting these wells to one another, in addition to various caves and other monuments located around the park. The larger well contains a 90 feet spiral staircase with several small landings. The spacing of these landings, combined with the number of steps in the stairs, are linked to Tarot mysticism.

Night in Sintra

Day 10 (April 18) Sintra to Mafra's superb baroque palace & ornate monastery, church & renowned library. Mafra to Lisbon

Night in Lisbon

Day 11 (April 19)Touring "Old Lisboa" - Dinner with Fado.  

Lisbon has a dozen different faces, of different urban landscapes, each and every one with its own urban rhythms and lifestyles. With an undulating topography, many of its monuments are seen from afar on top of their hills. It has seven hills, all of them densely urbanized. Some say that Lisbon is architecturally speaking a white city, which gives it its markedly Mediterranean character. Lisbon has a very good transport network, especially its underground lines, abundantly decorated with artworks: each station has its own color scheme and theme. Lisbon is also dotted with the picturesque yellow electric trams, whose trajectories are of great tourist interest.

In Lisbon old town you will spend a lovely evening hearing, Fado. This traditional Portuguese music immersed in sentiment is famous worldwide. In popular belief, fado is a form of music characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor, and infused with a sentiment of resignation, fatefulness and melancholia. Fado evenings take place in local restaurants, so we will enjoy a traditional meal and delight our ears with Fados beautiful songs at the same time.

lunch - Dinner with Fado - Night in Lisbon

 

Day 12 (April 20) – Lisbon Touring - Belém District & Modern Lisbon (Oriente District). 

​​Jerónimos Monastery. This is certainly the most emblematic of Portuguese monuments from the  Discoveries era, so much that it has also became a symbol for Portugal. It was built to celebrate the discovery of the maritime route to India found by the Portuguese in the 16th century. It is a complex and harmonious remarkable piece of work. Among the most striking features are the fine carved façade; the church, which is a masterpiece of the enthusiastic spirit of Mankind; and the cloister, one of the most beautiful in the world, not only for its proportions and originality, but also for its strange mixture of lightness and robustness at the same time. One finds in the building the tombs of Vasco da Gama (the Captain who discovered the maritime route to India), and the poets Luís de Camões and Fernando Pessoa.

The church and the Jeronimos Monastery, like the nearby Torre de Belém and Padrão dos Descobrimentos, symbolize the Portuguese Age of Discovery and are among the main tourist attractions of Lisbon. In 1983, UNESCO formally designated the Monastery of the Hieronymites and Tower of Belém as World Heritage Sites.

We will have lunch at a restaurant called Darwin, where the food is good and the walls hold many Darwin's quotes. In the same gorgeous building is the Champalimaud Foundation, of of the 3 best cancer research and treatment centers in the World.

lunch - Night in Lisbon.

 

Day 13 (April 21) Lisbon great museums and some surprises

Another great day to visit Lisbon in relaxing mood. We will have a visit to the Gulbenkian museum which is very interesting and has a sumptuous collection of 18th Century French furniture, besides great art, fabulous Lalique jewelry, nice collection of early 20th Century furniture and a very interesting painting collection classique but also exhibition of contemporary art. 

And many other museums I have not mentioned. 

Time for a bit of shopping and looking around some still fascinating neighborhoods.

Farewell dinner with the group - Night in Lisbon. 

 

Day 14 (May 26) – Departure from Lisbon Airport.

Transfer to the Airport.