Day 1 - Since we had several arrival times for our group in Porto, we all met at our hotel for a late lunch and relaxed at the hotel before heading to Oficina restaurant for our welcome dinner.
Day 2 - The next morning we began our tour at the Museo do Vinho do Porto. Along the Duoro river, this museum, which opened in 2004, is a tribute to the long tradition of Port Wine. We then had lunch at Chef Rui Paula’s oceanside Casa de Cha Boa Nova, just north of Porto in Leça da Palmeira. We toured Espaço Porto Cruz in Villa Nova de Gaia. The Espaço Porto Cruz is a project that celebrates the culture of Port Wine. We had a private Port tasting and enjoyed fabulous views of the Duoro River. Dinner was at The Yeatman, a haven for wine lovers and the prime destination for those wishing to explore the pleasures of Port, the great classic wine for which the city of Porto is famous.
Day 3 - After breakfast we traveled to Barcelos for a cooking demonstration with Chef Hernani Ermida, followed by lunch at the chef’s home. We then spent the afternoon visiting artisanal pottery workshops in Barcelos before returning to our hotel.
Day 4 - We had breakfast at the hotel and then began our drive along the Duoro River to Vila Nova de Foz Côa. In 1992, the most extensive array of outdoor paleolithic art in Europe was discovered outside this small town sitting high above the Côa valley. The engravings are of a similar style to those found in caves elsewhere, but their uniqueness lies in the fact that they are carved outside on exposed rock faces in a river valley. With the oldest dated at around 23,000 years, their survival is remarkable, and they are now under protection as both a National Monument and UNESCO World Heritage Site. After our tour we had lunch at Foz Côa Museum restaurant. And then we were off for our tour of Penascosa site in all-terrain vehicles. We were able to see the original engravings with detailed information from one of the site staff members. We then drove to Peso da Regua. and checked in to the Hotel Quinta do Vallado. We enjoyed a lovely dinner at the hotel.
Day 5 - We awoke to a smoke-filled landscape due to the wildfires that were raging in Portugal and Spain. We had to change our plans and head south to Lisbon, bypassing our tour of the Duoro Valley. We stopped along the way in Coimbra before ultimately arriving in Lisbon. We had a leisurely dinner at Chef Jose Avillez’ Cantinho de Avillez restaurant before returning to the hotel.
Day 6 - After breakfast we took a tour and enjoyed some free time at the Campo de Ourique Market. The market has been a central part of the neighborhood for nearly a century, but has been refurbished to appeal to a chic, urban clientele. We then headed to our tour of the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos/Jerónimos Monastery, stopping beforehand at Pastéis de Belém for a quick tour of the baking of the “Pastéis de Belém” which follows the ancient ‘secret recipe’ from the monastery next door. We had lunch at the Darwin Cafébefore heading to visit Palácio Pimenta. This 18th century “pink palace” is the main site of the Museum of Lisbon and contains a large collection of artifacts, paintings, and ceramics. Dinner was at Páteo de Alfama restaurant, and included a fado performance in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Lisbon.
Day 7 - Following breakfast, we drove to Évora in the Alentejo where we had lunch at Divinus Restaurant in the 15th century Convento do Espinheiro, considered a national monument. We visited the city center, including the Roman Temple, and to nearby Cromeleque dos Almendres, a megalithic site with the largest existing group of structured menhirs in the Iberian Peninsula.
Day 8 - After breakfast at hotel we enjoyed some free time to visit city center and local handcraft shops. We then headed to our cooking demonstration by M`AR De AR chef Antonio Nobre followed by lunch at M`AR De AR. We enjoyed tours of the Alentejan towns of Estremoz and Vila Viçosa and ended our day with a reception and our farewell dinner at Casa do Terreiro do Poço a beautiful manor house in Borba.
Day 9 - Some of our guests departed beautiful Portugal for home, a few stayed on in Portugal, and the rest of us went on to extended journeys.