WE started our vacation in Ponta Delgado, on Sao Miguel Island on July 18, visiting our daughter's husband's family, the Ferreira clan. Our first experience with the Portuguese life and country side in the Azores. We drove all over this island, as guests of the Ferreira family.
Then we flew on July 31 to Lisbon. The greeting from Cesar and Sofia from Splendid Evasion, was wonderful. The Neya Eco Hotel was wonderful. The next day tour was wonderful, as we encountered many historical landmarks, including a trip to the Belem area, all in just one day, and walked many kilometers. We picked up our automatic rental vehicle with GPS, and headed to Coimbra on Aug. 2, with the most amazing tour of the Mira de Aire Caves, and a second stop to Tomar for the Knights Templar Castle and Convent of Christ. We missed the University of Coimbra, but our Tivoli Hotel was very good.
WE then travelled from city to country, really old country, and visited the Schist Village with a walking tour in 40 to 45 degree heat, near Lousa. again the guide was amazing with his knowledge We swam in the pool and the mountain springs water at the bottom, which was a relief from the heat!!
Then we drove to The Wine Estate of Quinta de Marrocos, which was explained earlier, a little disappointing. No way of cooling off, no beer, just wine, port or water. Poor meal planning, with a very limited meal options. (not recommended to others).
The next day was in Pinhao, in extreme heat, with little to do and no cooling off option, (only a 1 hour boat ride) unless Port tasting, and being from Canada, we are committed to No Drinking and driving, for everyone's safety! This day was not fun, or productive at all, and not recommended.
Aug. 5, and we drove to the International Douro Nature Park, which was a fantastic afternoon kayaking with Pedro Cordeiro in the Miranda do Douro Valley or canyon. In Genisio, we found a hidden gem in Casa De L Cura. We were concerned at first, then pleasantly surprised with what Pedro had found for us from our local agency. Every hotel we visited, had excellent breakfasts, not all had evening dinner menus, as one had to drive for half an hour to find an alternative restaurant. Thanks to Pedro and Sofia for their dinner suggestions, many were enjoyed.
Then we came to Porto, and again, an excellent day on Aug. 6 and Aug 7, with an excellent tour host Deiogo, and we were visited by Pedro and Cesar, as well. WE have seen so many neighbourhoods and points of interest, with comfort, along our Portuguese tour, that most tourists would not have the opportunity, with our thanks to the local agency and Evaneos for this special concept of travel. Our day was completed with a tour of the Port Wine Cellars of Ferreira, and loved the bridge walk and touring in Porto. Yes, again our hotel was unique, small, yet efficient, and the staff were very courteous at HF Fenix. We had another day of many kilometers.
The flight from Porto to Barcelona was the ONLY big complaint we have.
The staff at both our Portugese and Spanish local agencies were exceptional!! Very Good at communication and customer care and courtesy, which will get our full recommendation to Trip Advisor. All bookings were easy to follow, and we had no headaches, except the driving portion in a foreign country, and even that, got easier with practice with our GPS and our short time in Portugal. All people we met in our journey were wonderful, from the agents, to the tour guides, to the hotel staff, and in addition the local Portuguese people were also kind in assisting us.
We will inform and recommend to our friends, of this new way to travel, with Evaneos concept of vacations!!! God Bless All !!
Peace, Joy, Hope and Love;
Doug and Loraine Purdey