Amazing Trip to London and Portugal
Our VIP clients returned back from Portugal. Here are just some highlights from their vacation.
All hotels were great and definitely were non-smoking and had A/C. Non feather/down linen at each location was good. London June 30- Jul 4. Everything was great! We saw 4 plays in 3 days (!) and got to visit with many of our London friends and colleagues! Marlin Waterloo was good – it’s very reliable, and there’s a grocery store next to the hotel, so it’s easy to buy breakfast items and eat in the hotel suite – saves some $ for not having to eat breakfast out every day, and it is a good healthy start! BA flight was fine.
FYI: we always take the Heathrow Express from the airport to Central London – always a good and fast choice. Heathrow Express arrives at Paddington Station, and then we took the Tube to our hotel. Jul 4 We also took the Gatwick Express to Gatwick airport. That airport was also pretty hectic but we got to the TAP flight with plenty of time. TAP was ok – not the most modern plane in the world, but it sufficed.
FYI: they still required masks, and we actually felt very reassured having that safety. Jul 4. Transfer from Lisbon airport to Gradil/Mafra (Quinta Dos Machados) with Igor went well! He was waiting for us as planned. Good driver, great guy! Quinta Dos Machados is lovely. Breakfast buffet was delicious.
Jul 5. Tour to Sintra from Gradil with Roman. Fantastic!!! Would highly recommend Roman as a guide. He is very engaging, has great English and is passionate about the local history. We went into the center of town first – walked around, went to Casa Piriquita for pastries (I had read about that place, too!), sampled Ginja cherry liqueur in dark chocolate cups at Roman’s favorite store for that treat, went to Monserrate Palace (very beautiful), had lunch at Azenhas do Mar-Restaurante Piscinas (my husband had delicious fresh tuna), which was a lovely place along the seaside, then went to Capo da Roca, which was also a beautiful vista.
Roman brought us back to the Quinta a little after 4 PM. What a great day!
The wedding was gorgeous and the Quinta de Sant’Ana is a lovely location for a wedding! Stunning. Jul 7 Transfer to Lisbon airport and then to Altis Avenida Lisboa went fine – Igor was prompt and did a great job for us.
I know I mentioned via email that the Lisbon airport didn’t start international check in until 2 hours before flights. But it went ok. Mollie said Iberia was pretty good. I guess she had to really run to get her connecting flight in Madrid, but she is very fit!
Lisbon was terrific! The highlight for us was a long visit to the Museo de Fado. Fascinating! The Altis Avenida Hotel was very nice and the view from the balcony was great! The breakfast buffet was very good – just a note, the outdoor seating does allow smoking – but the indoor seating was plentiful, so no worries for us. Just in case you have other clients who might ask about that.
We had friends staying in a hotel across the street from us, so we made reservations for the Friday evening – having dinner in the hotel restaurant on the 7 th floor. Their hostess was not managing the time well, and we had to wait 90 minutes for our table – and it was hot outside! (We had the reservations for indoor due to the smoking and the heat). But the dinner itself was good – and that was really the only detractor for that lodging. (We would have switched to a different restaurant but being a Friday night we probably wouldn’t have gotten reservations near us). That area of the city was packed with people!
The night before my husband and I went up to the 8 th floor observation deck (for hotel guests only) – that view is amazing! We took several panoramic shots that were beautiful. Alfa Pendular train: 1 st class was roomy for seating. We arrived in Porto only about 20 minutes late – but the train had a lot of electrical problems. No A/C for a good portion of the trip, and the toilets didn’t flush.
We love trains, so had hoped it might have been a little more reliable!
We took a cab to the hotel. Hotel Infante Sagres is lovely! We had a spacious 5 th floor room with a city view. Breakfast buffet was great. The Douro River Valley tour was run by Cooltours Oporto. Alex was our guide, and he was fantastic! And a great driver – handling the hairpin curves of the roads up and down the hills! He grew up in the area, and he really knows his stuff about winemaking, and the two winemakers we visited. Both were family run wineries, and we did a tasting at the first place, and then had lunch and a tasting at the second place.
In between the two vineyard visits, we had the river cruise. It was an extra 10 Euros per person, but worth it. If people didn’t want to go on the cruise, they could have the time to walk around the town of Pinhao. The boat cruise was run by Magnifico Douro. Alex both picked us up at our hotel and dropped us back there at the end of the day! A great day.
Other highlights in Porto – we walked up the Torre dos Clerigos which gave us amazing views of the city. And we took the Teleferico Gaia Cablecar into the southbank area of Gaia, which had many places you could taste more wines and ports if you wanted! We did enough tastings the day before, but we had a nice lunch in that neighborhood.
One note that your clients might like to know – the famous bookstore in Porto, Livraria Lello, is a very popular place, and it’s best to buy tickets in advance in order to enter the bookstore! It was close to the hotel, so we just walked over there one night – but the line to get in was very long – and that was all people with tickets! So next time we’ll plan ahead.
Another comment about Hotel Infante Sagres – the staff was particularly helpful! The last morning we had a 4 AM taxi pickup to go to the airport, and when we booked the taxi with the front desk staff the previous afternoon, they asked us if we’d like them to pack us a breakfast box for each of us, since we were leaving before the time of the breakfast buffet! I didn’t even have to ask! And it was very welcome to have once we checked in at the airport (we had time before going through security screening). The box had little sandwiches, pastries, fresh fruit and yogurt drink.
BA flights were ok. Heathrow was chaotic, but we made it.
A fabulous trip, in every way!