Peter, Karin, John and Patricia, Canada, November 2016
So sorry that I have been so late in getting a response back to you. Our trip was so action packed that we did not have much time for reflection. And then when we got home our lives quickly went back to normal with all the things to do to catch up and prepare for Christmas. Anyway, here are some comments for you.
1. Portugal Trails was an excellent company to deal with and I would highly recommend it to any traveller to Portugal.
2. Your personal management of our file, Vanessa, was superb. You are a great travel agent!
3. All of the planning and preparation by internet in advance of the journey was easy and successful. Your systems work well and are very accommodating and responsive to the customer.
4. One of the main highlights of the trip for us was the outstanding hotels that you booked for us. We wanted something unique, special and out of the ordinary and you certainly gave that to us. While every place was exceptional, the convent at Evora and the Pousada do Castelo in Obidos were the most memorable experiences.
5. The tours of both Lisbon and Porto were excellent. The guides were knowledgeable and personable. In particular we really enjoyed our walk with Rita in Lisbon.
6. The transportation/transfers were top notch. Vehicles were on time, clean and comfortable. The drivers were extremely courteous and catered to our needs. A special thanks to Anna for meeting us right at the train in Lisbon on our return and escorting us to the parked vehicle. The train ride from Porto to Lisbon was fast, comfortable and very convenient.
7. Unfortunately we did not have enough time to see all of the sights that you had recommended but we did many of them. All were good recommendations and we enjoyed them thoroughly. We could have easily used another 3 or 4 days on this route to get everything in and to have more time to just relax and soak it all up. Alas, that is life. So much world to see and so little time to see it. But a good reason to come back to Portugal again soon. Next time we want to go up the Doura valley for sure.
8. The Guide Book is an excellent initiative and we relied on it a lot. The basic format, layout and approach are really good. We did have a bit of a problem with navigation though, particularly in the towns and cities. In some cases the maps in the book showed different routes than those programmed in the GPS. And the GPS, while good on the open road, had a lot of trouble in urban areas where turns were very close together. After a few days, we stopped using the GPS and just followed the instructions/maps in the Guide Book. And we sometimes got lost but helpful locals got us to where we needed to go. In Porto, where we got totally lost, a good Samaritan we met at a gas station drove his car as an escort to get us to the Yeatman.
9. The food we ate everywhere was very nutritious and tasty – perhaps too many yummy pastries that made it hard to avoid over eating. And of course, the wine, port (and even the ginja) were delicious.
10. Overall we found Portugal a great country to visit – perhaps the hidden treasure of Europe. The scenery is beautiful, the country is steeped in history with well-preserved sites and yet the the amenities for travellers are totally modern. We were particularly impressed with the apparent prosperity in both cities and countryside and the obvious cleanliness and care with which properties were kept. And all of the Portuguese people we met were friendly, courteous and helpful. We never felt concerned for safety or taken for granted.
11. Thanks for passing our donation to the charity in Estoril. That was a very kind initiative which speaks volumes to the civic mindedness of yourself and Portugal Trails.
Peter and Karin, John and Patricia”
Pat and David, Canada, November 2016
Just a quick note as we’re at the airport right now. Thanks so much for organizing such a varied and interesting trip in your beautiful country! I feel as though I learned a lot about the country and the wonderful people who live here.
Everyone we met related to your company and all of the facilities and tours were excellent. A special remembrance to our walking guides – Sophia, Roderigue, Carla and the wonderful staff at the Hotel Britania.
Thank you again for the welcome gifts – we are taking them home to enjoy!
All the best and thank you again,
Pat Penner and David West”
Linda Schilling, USA, October 2016
I wanted to send a note to let you know how much we enjoyed our trip. All the plans you made for us went like clockwork…except when the clutch went out on the car as we were heading to Cascais toward the end. You may have heard about this as we called the helpline for advice and to help us communicate with the tow truck driver. Avis provided another car and all turned out well.
We enjoyed the posadas very much, especially the one in Obidos. The rooms and service at both Obidos and Porto were exceptional, Sagres lacked services…seemed to be short staffed…but had a great view. The hotels were very nice. Our 1/2 day city tours were most interesting and we found the guides to be very pleasant and knowledgable, particularly Patricia Longa in Santiago and Miguel in Lisbon. Karla, the nature guide in Sagres was delightful and her walk was most enjoyable. Of course, the beaches and coastline are beautiful and the historic palaces, churches and fortresses were fun to visit.
We loved the food and wine overall. The golf courses had lovely views although were not as well kept as we had expected. Nonetheless, we enjoyed playing.
Thank you so much for making these arrangements …we will not hesitate to recommend Portugal Trails to others. Thank you also for the gifts… those cookies were great…we enjoyed them throughout the trip!
June Masuyama, USA, October 2016
Good morning. I wanted to give you feedback about our trip. I can truly say that overall, you and your company exceeded our expectations!
1. I was impressed with your professionalism, knowledge, patience, and kindness. You were always so prompt with your responses and felt that you really wanted to help us. I appreciate all the last minute help you gave us…like helping us find the soap, good octopus meal, soccer shirt, etc. I met several travelers using Portugal Trails and they all had positive comments to say about their travel consultants. I will definitely recommend Portugal Trails to my friends (and you’ll probably hear from me again when we make plans for Spain).
2. All accommodations were excellent. Our very favorite hotel was Pousada de Belmonte! Pestana Palacio do Freixo was beautiful…a little far from town which was not a problem for us since we like to walk (yes, we walked back one night by the river…45 minutes).
3. All drivers and local guides arrived on time. I liked that we did not have to share the local guides with other tourists. Both guides were excellent. The woman who picked us up at the airport was just “ok”. The driver who took us to the airport was excellent…friendly, asked about our trip, etc.
4. The preprogrammed GPS was a lifesaver! We were impressed with the ease of using it. (When we took a wrong turn, it did couple of times take us on a different route to our destination…using very narrow back roads…scary at times).
5. My favorite site, as you know, was Monsanto! I loved that there were very few tourists there and that people still live there. We really liked the route and places we visited on our way to Porto…Evora, Belmonte and Duoro Valley. Places felt more “authentic”…definitely compared to places like Obidos.
6. Harry’s favorite place was the Duoro Valley. I think I mentioned that Harry loves port. We did not know that Duoro Valley is where the grapes are grown (ignorance on our part)…we always thought it was Porto. Since we stayed there, Harry found his favorite quintas and we went to three Porto tastings. He was like a kid in a candy store!
The only negative comment that he wanted me to share is that the Churchill Porto tasting was a disappointment and I agree. The tour was cursory…the guide took us to look at the view from one of the rooms (river and town) and also took us outside to look at the view the second time! Harry says that unless someone wants to go there, he suggests going to a larger cellar, not a boutique cellar like Churchills.
7. We visited many of the places you suggested. The Portugese Stonehenge, historical villages and castles were amazing…it looked like some of the areas we visited has not been discovered by tourists yet (which was great for us)! Because we went back to Monsanto before heading to Duoro Valley, we only stopped in Amarante (went to local bakery). We decided not stop to see the Guimaraes castle because there was too much traffic around the castle.
On the way back from Porto, we only stopped in Obidos because we wanted to spend more time in Lisbon. Since we visited medieval villages on our way to Porto, Obidos felt just too touristy…too many tour buses and tourists! The itinerary you set up was perfect for us!
8. We really enjoyed the Fado dinner in Lisbon.
We ate at Casa do Alentejo Restaurante in Lisbon – we thought it was very good.
We also had Francesinha at Cervejaria Brasso (Rua Ramalho Ortigoa 28, Porto)…recommended by our city guide. We really liked the restaurant!
The food at Restaurant of Pousada de Belmonte was delicious!
I can go on and on but I think I better stop. I loved Lisbon and wish I could have spent more time there. I guess that’s a good reason for returning to Lisbon.
Once again, thank you!
Bunny Smith, USA, October 2016
I am sorry I am so late replying to your email requesting feedback on our Portugal Trails experience in Portugal.
First, I have fallen in love with your country and have been spreading the word among my friends and everyone who asks, “How was your trip?” I say, “You HAVE to go to Portugal, and I highly recommend Portugal trails!”
Everything that Portugal Trails arranged — from the pickup at the airport, to the tour guides, to the information packet — was outstanding and exceeded my expectations. I was especially glad we used the private driver option; it made everything go so much smoother for us “older ladies.” Our driver/guide, Fernando, was delightful and worked very hard to enhance our experience.
My one regret is that, in trying to keep to our budget, we didn’t go with your original hotel recommendation in Porto. The hotel we stayed in was certainly acceptable; the lobby spaces were pretty and the breakfast was very good. The location was excellent. But the rooms were kind of strange and the beds not the most comfortable. We thought the hotel we ended up staying at in Sintra was very nice, and the service and location were outstanding.
Please accept my thanks for working so hard to make our time in Portugal so memorable!
Nancy and John Godwin, Canada, October 2016
Thanks for your follow-up email.The four of us very much enjoyed our driving trip around Portugal and all of the activities that were paid for with the vouchers. More specifically, to start at the beginning, we felt a warm welcome when we were met at the Lisbon airport and transferred to our hotel. We were pleasantly surprised to receive the package containing the port wine, cookies and soap – the wine and cookies were very tasty. The road map book and the other tourist book contained so much additional information that added to what we were seeing and we carried the relevant pages from the road map book around daily.The GPS unit worked very well and we were able to find everything without a problem. We sent the GPS back by mail from the Lisbon post office, as instructed, so hopefully you have or will shortly receive it.
The walking tours of both Lisbon and Porto were excellent and Elsa and Maria respectively, had a wealth of knowledge that made the walks very interesting and informative.
The dinner and fado performance was an experience to be remembered, as we did not previously know what “fado” was and so learned that aspect of Portuguese culture. We also learned that Portuguese servings can be quite large!
We enjoyed that side trips to Belem and Sintra (but decided to further explore Lisbon rather than go to Cascais.) Similarly, we decided to further explore Porto rather than to Braga.
On the way to Aveiro we found Obidos and the Alcobaca monastery to be interesting and on arrival in Aveiro could really see why one of the tourist books we read described it as “the Venice of Portugal.” We enjoyed the boat tour and the local snacks before heading out. At this point I will say that the night before the boat tour we had dinner at a restaurant called, ” Mare Cheia” and would recommend this to anyone spending time in Aveiro. The food was delicious and the staff very friendly. John had a sore neck and one of the owners (I think) gave him a neck massage! They did not have an English language menu but another owner translated and made recommendations. It appeared that “locals” ate there and the restaurant was full by the time we left.
Another restaurant to recommend was one in Evora called, “Restaurante A Chaupana”.Once again the food was superb, it seemed popular with the locals and there were people waiting on the street for a table when we left.
We very much enjoyed the port wine tasting outside Porto and the wine and cheese tasting outside Evora. The medieval town of Monsaraz was also fun to explore.
It almost goes without saying that Lagos was beautiful and very relaxing after a busy itinerary. Once again, we chose to stay there
rather than go to Albufeira.
All in all, Nuna, we had a wonderful time, learned a lot about Portugal and its culture and took 953 pictures.
Thanks again for arranging such a full and interesting itinerary for us.
Victoria Corbett, Canada, October 2016
“Good morning Sofia,
Many thanks to you and Portugal Trails for organizing such an excellent trip for us. The support materials from the road book to the preprogrammed GPS made following the itinerary extremely easy. We appreciated all the excursions you organized and thoroughly enjoyed our time on the ocean and beside the ocean.
Thanks also for your careful selection of charming hotels. We enjoyed them all from Madeira to Cascais.
We also appreciated the restaurant recommendations with the programmed locations along the way.
We have done a number of self drive trips but the organization and attention to detail from you and Portugal Trails was particularly impressive.
We would highly recommend Portugal Trails to anyone.
Thanks again, Sofia”
Debbie, USA, October 2016
With just two more tour days, we thought it was a good time to let you know how much fun and enjoyment we have been having in Portugal. The trip has been amazing.
The men picked up the rental car with no problem. We opted to skip Obidos for a more relaxing day. The Nazare beach and Sitio were great. We found A Tasquinha but, alas, they were closed for holiday. We will try them next time!
We had a little trouble with the GPS entering Coimbra (I am pretty sure it was man-made error). The weather on our arrival was very rainy but we were able to secure a table at Restaurant Ze Manel–it was even better than described. Definitely one of our highlights. The hotel, Vila Gale, was adequate. The neighborhood was not very picturesque, so less pleasant to walk through.
On the other hand, the Intercontinental in Porto was perfect! Fantastic location and totally elegant. We happened to meet the general manager of the hotel in the bar one night and told him so, too! Our Porto guide, Poala, was very nice and did a good job of introducing us to the city and its history. She spent over three hours and was very generous with her time. We would have preferred an earlier start because by the time our tour ended and we grabbed a bite to eat, we had to leave for the port tasting. It would have been better to have scheduled that a little later in the afternoon. We needed to delay our departure from Porto so that we could go into several places we did not have time for on Wednesday. So on the way to Pinhao, we saw Guimaraes (which we loved) and skipped Amarante.
The Vintage House in Douro was another great place. But really not a lot to do in Pinhao for us. We did the 2-hour boat ride (1-hour would have been sufficient). We really enjoyed the wine and cheese tasting–our hostess was knowledgeable and personable and spent a lot of time with us. Again, it would have been better for us to have it later in the day. (In retrospect, we probably could have eliminated the port tasting in Porto and just done this.)
The poussada in Belmonte was incredible as was the restaurant there. Another great choice–thank you!
We just loved both Sortelha and Monsanto. What treasures they are and we are so pleased you had us scheduled to see them. I am quite sure that we will feel the same about Estremoz and Vila Costa tomorrow.
The M’AR de AR Aqueducto is clean and modern and ideally situated. Our visit to Herdade do Esporao was beyond all expectations. The guide was exceptional. The lunch experience was out of this world. Another perfect recommendation! (Our driver was very nice but did not speak English. Joy was able to converse with him a little in Spanish. Sorry to be spoiled Americans.)
We have had so much fun, seen such beautiful, interesting places– both historical and modern, eaten delicious food and drank some great wine. What more could anyone ask for? Thank you so much again.
Barb, Canada, October 2016
“We had a wonderful trip. All your arrangements came together almost flawlessly. We arrived around 9:15 am at Avis in Lagos to pick up the car to find the office locked and a sign on the door that they were closed until March. Fortunately once we reached them on the phone they had arrived at the office as they knew we were coming!
Our guides for our walks were great. One comment would be that the 3 hour cliff walk was too much of the same. Most of the time we were inland from the ocean. Nona was good though.
Loved our range of accommodation except perhaps for Porto. We faced the noisy street as well as the bar across the way where the noise went on until after 3 am.
Some challenges driving when we ended up inside the fortifications. I would recommend that all drivers be told to stay outside the walls as you did later on. We however had our challenges in the beginning in Lagos. Perhaps a page in the Road Book on Portugal road signs would help.
GPS only had a few errors. In Pinhao we were told to turn right, not left, across the bridge.
All in all, a memorable trip. We certainly would recommend Portugal Trails without hesitation.
Sofia, warmest thanks.
Fritz, USA, October 2016
We want to thank you for your help in putting together a fantastic trip for us. There is nothing that we would change. The drive from Sos to Parque National Ordesa/Monte Perdido was a little too long but we enjoyed So. The surprise was the pintxos tour in San Sebastion. We found fighting our way to the counter to sample very daunting but our guide was great and we sampled things we would never have tried. The only other hitch was the drop off location for the car in Madrid is almost impossible to find. The street has 2 names and the Avis sign was miniscule. One of us had to leave the car walk to the main office walk find the location and then walk back to the car. We were very happy customers!!!