An exclusive EBTS tour hosted by Gerald Luckhurst and led by Kirsty Fergusson with EBTS Deputy Chairman, Charlotte Maclean
Portugal has a rich history of seafaring and trading. In the early 15th century, Prince Henry “the Navigator” discovered Madeira and the Azores. Bartolomeu Dias made it around the southern tip of Africa in 1487 and within 10 years Vasco da Gama opened-up the trade route to India. The small cargo of pepper he bought back was enough to pay for the trip three times over. In the late 18th century, following a devastating earthquake, there was a period of lavish reconstruction and many palaces, quintas and extravagant gardens were built including those at the hill town of Sintra, the chosen site for the summer residences of royalty. Surrounded by the natural luxuriant vegetation, it is not surprising that Sintra began to attract Romantic movement travellers of the 18th century. Byron immortalized Sintra by calling it “Glorious Eden”. Many of the gardens that we visit are embellished by azulejos (decorated glazed tiles) and include intricate box parterres. We stay at the 5-star Hotel Fortaleza do Guincho with fantastic views overlooking the Atlantic Ocean, this Hotel de Charme is the ideal base to reach the gardens of the region.
Day 1: Thursday 24th September
Depart London Heathrow at 11:20 flying to Lisbon airport, arriving at 14:05 on TAP flight TP1367. We travel from the airport by coach for a brief sight-seeing tour of historic Lisbon and then out to Hotel Fortaleza do Guincho with time to settle in before dining together in the hotel’s restaurant with local wines included.
Day 2: Friday 25th September
Today we are joined by Gerald Luckhurst who will remain with us for the duration of the tour, starting the day visiting one of Lisbon’s best kept secrets, Palácio dos Marqueses da Fronteira: originally a 17th century hunting lodge, it has been the family home since 1755. Both the intimate palace and the terraced garden feature some of the country’s finest glazed tiles – azulejos – representing different themes from battles to monkeys playing trumpets. The garden also includes an impressive Buxus parterre and we will hear about its upkeep and restoration during the visit. We then drive to Sintra starting with some free time for lunch then a beautiful private garden with coffee on the terrace followed by Quinta da Regaleira built between 1898 and 1912. Conceived by Italian architect Luigi Manini for the owner, António Augusto Carvalho Monteiro, a man of immense fortune who requested his new home to be in the Manueline style – after King Manuel who reigned 1495-1521. This was the summit of Portugal’s supremacy at sea. Abundant sculptural decoration with vegetative and marine motifs are found in profusion at Regaleira. Some say that the gardens represent ancient secret orders, others that it is more a theatrical treat. We then take the forest road out of Sintra to Quinta de Piedade where, as special guests we are shown the formal gardens, and dine with a tasting of wines from the estate included. Later return to Hotel Fortaleza do Guincho.
Day 3: Saturday 26th September
Today we cross the River Tagus to firstly visit Quinta da Fidalga that was owned by the family of Vasco da Gama and is one of the best examples of a model farm in the region, the formal gardens contain box parterres and beautiful azulejos. Then to Quinta da Bacalhoa, a classic renaissance garden with a Portuguese twist. Created in the 16th century by the son of Alfonso de Albuquerque, following a visit to Italy, he created a garden with logia, patio and tank garden flanked with decorated pavilions. Later, it was discovered as a ruin by the American Scoville family who fell in love with the azulejos. Here we are offered a wine tasting and light lunch. Before out return to the hotel dining together at a local restaurant in Cascais overlooking the sea we have some free time to explore Lisbon.
Day 4: Sunday 27th September
Start the day at Monserrate, once an obligatory destination for Romantic Movement Grand Tourists following in the footsteps of Lord Byron who was inspired by his visit to the glorious ruins of William Beckford’s then home and extensive garden. Later, Sir Francis Cook embellished the original quinta and gardens. Recently, all has been carefully restored. We then travel to Palácio de Queluz for a simple lunch in the pousada de Queluz before visiting the palace and gardens including the tiled canal and the masterpieces of English lead sculpture by John Cheere. We then return to Lisbon airport to check in for the 19:15 departure on TP1358, arriving at London Heathrow at 22:00.
How much & what's included:
The price per person: £1,895
A single supplement of £150 is levied by the hotel
The price includes: three nights with bed & buffet breakfast at Hotel Fortaleza do Guincho; one evening meal at the hotel, one at a private residence and one in a local restaurant, all with wine included; two lunches with local wines; and return flights from London Heathrow. Those wishing to make their own flight arrangements should state this on the booking form and we will deduct £275 per person from the tour price. Please note that hotels used by Boxwood Tours are invariably hotels of character featuring a variety of rooms & styles. The price does not include extras at the hotel or travel insurance.
To make a reservation please make an online booking request or send the completed Booking Form with a deposit of £250 per person to:
Boxwood Tours, 1 West Street, Buckingham, MK18 1HL, UK
Telephone: +44 (0)1341 241 717
Facsimile: +44 (0)1341 241 712
Please make cheques payable to ‘Boxwood Tours’. Payments by Mastercard or Visa, may be made by telephone to the Boxwood Office.
This tour is financially protected by the ATOL scheme. When you pay you will be supplied with an ATOL Certificate. Please ask for it and check to ensure that everything you booked (flights, hotels and other services) is listed on it. Please see our booking conditions for further information or for more information about financial protection and the ATOL Certificate go to: www.atol.org.uk/ATOLCertificate