European
                   Backroads
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                                Dennis Hartranft, Tour Leader

 

 

 

Trips
 

PORTUGAL/MOROCCO
April 18 – May 2, 2020

$3,800 per person, ppdo Cash cost; credit card + 3% ($3,914)
 

Includes Transfers to and from airport, roundtrip transatlantic and in-trip airfare, bus transportation, private ensuite accommodations, most breakfasts, most admissions

Saturday, 18 April
We will depart from Elite Coach, 1685 W. Main Street, Ephrata, PA at 1:00 PM… charter bus takes us to JFK Airport… Non-stop Delta Airlines flight #272 departs JFK at 9:56 PM… (multi-meals provided).

Sunday, 19 April
Flight arrives in Lisbon at 10:15 AM… 20 mile charter bus ride to Cascais, a stately seaside suburb of Lisbon… it is the Estoril coast’s liveliest resort, with an appealing old town back lanes and alleys worth exploring. It has a shady, gardenlike setting and three relaxing sandy beaches. We will stay one night at Casa Vela Hotel, a lovely mansion with large gardens and a pool within walking distance of many sights… relax… www.casavelahotel.com; we will have time to relax in this attractive town after a long day.

Monday, 20 April
2 hour bus ride to Evora, (www.cm-evora.pt) the city that best represents Portugal’s golden age… it has layers of history wherever you look and is listed with UNESCO… it has medieval walls surrounding the center… not only is it beautiful and historical, Evora is full of life, a center of cuisine and university town. We will stay two nights at the 4-star Albergaria Do Calvario … www.adcevora.com

Tuesday, 21 April
Day of leisure in Evora… walking tours with and without guides… time for independent exploration in this town of handsome townhouses with Roman temple and bath ruins, wrought-iron balconies, side alleys beneath Moorish-style arches… there is a cathedral, museum, public gardens, elegant mansions, and a university within the town’s old walls. Stay at Albergaria Do Calvario

Wednesday, 22 April
2.5 hour drive through the Alentejo region on the way to Tavira… Straddling a river, with a lively park, chatty locals, and boats that share its waterfront center, Tavira is a low-rise, easygoing alternative to the other more aggressive Algarve resorts. It’s your best eastern Algarve stop. You will see many churches and fine bits of Renaissance architecture sprinkled throughout the town…A clump of historic sites – the ruined castle and main church- fills its tiny fortified hill and tangled Moorish lanes. We will stay two nights in the 4 star Vila Gale Tavira (www.vilagale.com\tavira)

Thursday, 23 April
Guided walk in Tavira… visit Tavira’s beach island, a 6 mile long sandbar…free time in Tavira. Stay at Vila Gale Tavira.
 

Friday, 24 April
A two hour bus ride… we will visit Loule, known for its handicrafts and ceramics… we will visit Silves, home to a superb Moorish castle with beautiful gardens and a former cork factory containing cafes and fountains clustered around a courtyard in an orange grove… then we continue on to Lagos, on the Algarve coast of the Mediterranean ... Lagos is a vibrant, sunny town whose pretty cobbled streets bristle with cafes and restaurants… there are long, sweeping beaches and striking, twisted coastal coves… we will stay two nights at the 4-star Dom Manuel I ( www.dommanuelhotel.com) …time to explore old town and nearby beaches…

Saturday, 25 April
Combination of visits to fishing villages west of Lagos…we may visit Burgau whose cobbled main street tumbles down to colorful fishing boats… we may visit the village of Sagres, a charming town near the point where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic… return to Lagos to explore more beaches and coves… Stay in Dom Manuel I

Saturday, 26 April
One hour drive to Faro airport… TAP Airlines flight #1902 departs Faro at11:15 am and arrives at Lisbon at 12:05 pm... TAP Airlines flight #1448 departs Lisbon at 2:00 pm and arrives at Fez, Morocco at 3:55 pm. We will stay two nights at Riad Dar Bensouda www.riaddarbensouda.com a converted palace in the heart of the labyrinthine medina. We will use private taxis in Morocco.

Sunday, 27 April
All day in Fez, with guides…An ancient breeding ground for scholars and artisans, imams and gourmands – Fez is a supremely self- confident city with a historical and cultural lineage that beguiles visitors. Donkeys cart goods down the warren of alleyways as they have done since medieval times. Fez medina can seem like it’s in a state of perpetual pandemonium. But its charms are many. Seemingly blind alleys lead to squares with exquisite fountains and streets bursting with aromatic food stands rooftops unveil a sea of minarets, and stooped doorways reveal the workshops of tireless artisans. As the surrounding hills have constrained expansion – the last big growth of the traditional medina was in the 13th century with the construction of Fes el-Jdid. Today, around 156,000 Fassis still call this maze of twisting alleys, blind turns and hidden souqs home, while tourists call it one of the most mine-boggling places they’ll visit in Morocco.
The major sights are really only a small part of the charm of the medina. It pays to do a little random exploration, and simply follow your nose or ears to discover the most unexpected charms of Fez nature. Following your nose will lead you to women with bundles of freshly cut herbs, children carrying trays of loaves to be baked in the local bakery or a café selling glasses of spiced Berber coffee. Around the next corner you might find a beautifully titled fountain, a workshop hammering pots, a camel’s head announcing a specialist butcher, or just a gang of kids turning their alley into a football pitch. Navigation can be confusing and getting lost at some stage is a certainly but look at this as part of the adventure. Stay in Dar Bensouda.

Monday, 28 April
One hour private taxi drive to Meknes…quieter and smaller than its grand neighbor Fez, Meknes feels rather overshadowed and receives fewer visitors that it should. It’s more laid-back with less hassle, yet still has all the winding narrow medina streets and grand buildings that it warrants as an imperial city and one-time home of the Moroccan sultanate… we will stay two nights in two small properties 240 meters apart. We will stay in the 3 star Collier De La Colombe (www.lecollierdelacolombe.com) and the 4 star Riad Yacout (www.riad-yacout-meknes.com).

Tuesday, 29 April
All day to explore Meknes, with and without guides. Stay in Meknes

Wednesday, 30 April
Private taxi day tour of 2 places…The Roman ruins of Volubilis sit in the middle of a fertile plain about 33km north of Meknes, and can easily be combined with nearby Moulay Idriss to make a fantastic day trip from Meknes. The city is the best preserved archaeological site in Morocco and was declared a Unesco World Heritage site in 1977. Its most amazing features are its many beautiful mosaics preserved in situ.
The whitewashed town of Moulay Idriss sits astride two green hills in a cradle of mountains slightly less than 5km from Volubilis, and is one of the country’s most important pilgrimage sites. Given its picturesque setting, pretty historic core and national importance, it’s a mystery why more tourists don’t visit. The good news is that its lack of popularity means you can often have the place all to yourself.
Moulay Idriss holy status kept it closed to non-Muslims were allowed to stay overnight in the town. Its previous inaccessibility way of life and those who do stay are invariably charmed… Stay in Meknes

Thursday, 1 May
Private taxi transfer to Fez airport… TAP flight #1449 departs FEZ at 4:35 pm and arrives in Lisbon at 6:40 pm. We will stay at an airport hotel, the Star Inn Lisbon airport

Friday, 2 May
Shuttle to Lisbon airport… non-stop Delta flight #273 departs Lisbon at 11:45 and arrives at JFK at 2:56 PM…return to Ephrata

This itinerary is subject to change. Thank you.
Lonely Planet Guide to Portugal , Lonely Planet Guide to Morocco, Rick Steves Guide to Portugal

 

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