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Study Trip

DISCOVERING TINY NOTABLE TOWNS AND REMARKABLE VALLEYS IN NORTHERN PORTUGAL

Saturday, 27 October 2018 to Monday,5 November 2018
Leader: Khun Pikulkeaw Krairiksh, The President of the Siam Society

 

 

Portugal north of the River Douro is rural and unspoilt, yet offers splendid opportunities for cultural sightseeing. Beyond the cultivated valley of the Douro and the fertile Minho rises the remote and romantically named “Behind the mountain”, with its tracts of wilderness and tiny medieval townships. These historic cities will give visitors a fascinating insights into the country’s past.

Portugal is one of the oldest nation states in Europe: situated in the extreme southwest corner of Europe, Portugal occupies roughly one-sixth of the Iberian Peninsula and has a population of about 10 million. To the north and east, a border measuring approximately 1,300 km separates Portugal from its only neighboring country, Spain, and to the south and west, 830 km. of coastline meets the Atlantic Ocean. The Atlantic archipelagos of Madeira and the Azores are included in Portugal’s territory. The Romans, who arrived in the area in 216 B.C., called the whole peninsula Hispania, but the region between the Douro and Tagus rivers was named Lusitania after the Celtiberian tribe that lived there. When the Roman Empire collapsed in the 5th century, Hispania was overrun first by Germanic tribes, then by Moors from North Africa in 711. Military reconquest by the Christian kingdoms of the north began in earnest in the 11th century and it was during this long process that Portucale, a small country of the kingdom of Leon and Castile, was declared independent by its first king, Afonso Henriques.

The new kingdom expanded south-wards to the Algarve and Portuguese sailors began to explore the African coast and the Atlantic. Portugal’s golden age reached its zenith in the reign of Manuel I with Vasco da Gama’s voyage to India in 1498 and the discovery of Brazil in 1500.

From Siam’s historical records, the Portuguese on their first arrival in Ayutthaya in 1511, found an open society, where communities of Peguans, Laos, Malays, Persians, Japanese and others live side by side in apparent harmony that was mentioned in Mendes Pinto’s great work, Peregrinations. With the prevailing religious tolerance, Siam also became a centre for European missionary work in the East. Portuguese then became a lingua franca in the region and the descendants of those early visitors went on to occupy important positions in the Siamese administration.

Though eastern trade brought incredible wealth to Portugal, military defeat in Morocco meant that the prosperity was short-lived. Spain invaded in 1580 and Spanish kings ruled Portugal for the next 60 years. After Portugal regained independence, her fortunes were restored by the discovery of gold in Brazil. Napoleon’s invasion in 1807 and the loss of Brazil in 1825 left Portugal impoverished and divided. Power struggles between Absolutists and Constitutionalists further weakened the country, and despite a period of stability from the 1850s, the debt crisis worsened. In 1910, a republican revolution overthrew the monarchy. The economy deteriorated until a military coup in 1926 led to a long period of dictatorship. Antonio Salazar, who held power from 1928 to 1968, rid the country of its debts but poverty was widespread and all opposition banned. The Carnation Revolution ended the dictatorship in 1974 and full democracy was restored in 1976.

The ancient kingdom of ‘Portucale’ was born in 1143 in the north of modern Portugal, and northern retain a fierce sense of pride to this day. The region is dominated by the Douro - the golden river - which winds its way down from the mountain heights of Trás-os-Montes to the cosmopolitan city of Porto. The valley is home to Portugal’s most famous export, Port wine (named after the city), and wine lodges along the river are open for tours and tasting.

Porto rises spectacularly out of a gorge near the mouth of the Douro. On one side lies the world heritage quayside of higgledy-piggledy houses and winding streets; on the other, a string of bars and restaurants among the old port warehouses. Shopping is excellent and good value here, with leather goods a speciality. There’s a wealth of historical building to enjoy, but also some modern ones - notably the Fundação Serralves, a contemporary art gallery designed by Portugal’s leading architect, Siza Vieira.

The region has a rich variety of manor houses and quintas, or villas, where you can sleep like a prince and experience the charm of Portugal’s aristocratic traditions, and even discover the secrets of wine-making. Up in the north west corner is the province of Minho, a beautiful area of lush green vegetation and river valleys. Two historic cities stand out - Guimarães (Portugal’s birth-place) and Braga, but for the most part, Minho is traditional and bucolic, characterised by ox-drawn carts and frequent local festivals.

 

 

Between Portugal’s capital and its second city, Porto, can be found some of the country’s most impressive architecture and importance historical sites, which are known as World Heritage sites by UNESCO. Traditionally, Portugal’s rural architecture varied with climatic conditions and locally available building materials. There are the thick-walled granite houses of the north, designed to keep out the cold and rain. In the Alentejo and Ribatejo, the clay houses are long and low, to suit hot summers and chilly winters. The idea of covering walls, floors, and even ceiling with tiles was introduced to Portugal (and Spain) by the Moors. From the 16th century onwards, Portugal started producing its own decorative tiles. To this day, tiles cover the facades of houses can be seen in Portuguese towns and villages.

The geography of central Portugal ranges from a lagoon dotted Atlantic coastline and a vast flood plain to a hilly, then rocky, interior crowned by Portugal’s highest mountains. The food here is equally varied with roast sucking pig in the north, a rich choice of fish and seafood from the ports, unique cheeses and hearty stews from the mountains.

The province of Minho is known as the birthplace of the nation, the Minho has two of Portugal’s most historic cities: its first capital, Guimaraes, and Braga, the north’s main religious centre. Life in the province is still firmly rooted in tradition. Agriculture thrives thanks to abundant rainfall that makes this the greenest area in Portugal.

Under the leadership of Khun Pikulkaew Krairiksh, President of the Siam Society, the Society will arrange a study trip to visit Portugal from Saturday, 27 October to Monday, 5 November 2018. The following itinerary has been designed to take in as many of Portugal’s highlight as possible, while keeping long-distance travel to a minimum. The group will visit the fascinating historic city of Porto and many tiny medieval villages and townships in Northern Portugal and visit the vibrant capital, Lisbon. A visit to vineyards, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, royal palaces, museums, many well-preserved city centres, the narrow streets of the medieval quarter, will be included in the programme.

 

The tentative programme will be as follows:

Day 1: Saturday, 27 October: Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport

10:30 p.m. Meet at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport, check-in row G for Swiss International Airlines.

Day 2: Sunday, 28 October: Zurich - Porto

00:35 a.m. Depart Bangkok to Zurich by LX4301
06:55 a.m. Arrive Zurich Airport, transfer for flight to Porto.
11:10 a.m. Depart Zurich to Porto by LX4592
12:45 a.m. Arrive Porto Airport, transfer to restaurant for lunch, after lunch, check in at hotel Inter Continental Porto – Palácio das Cardosas.
- Dinner at own arrangement.

Day 3: Monday, 29 October: Porto

Morning: Breakfast at the hotel.
9:00 a.m. Full-day sightseeing in Porto. Panoramic tour towards the trendiest and most cultural area of the city called Boavista and Foz. This is where the Atlantic meets the Douro river providing the ideal location for the upper class residences.  Later, continue to the historical city centre, considered World Heritage by UNESCO, visit Church of São Francisco. This old simple Gothic Franciscan church is now known as "the cave of gold" in an astonishing exhibit of wealth and power. Right next door is the Stock Exchange Palace with incredible granite work and magnificent neo-arab influences and admire the interesting glazed tiles of the São Bento Railway station and visit one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world, “Lello Bookstore” After that visit to the Cathedral(12th century),  we  will be able to admire the river Douro and all of the Port Wine lodges that brought fame and fortune to the city and etc.
Noon: Lunch at local restaurant.
Afternoon: Continue the tour in Porto.
Evening Proceed to the port for the river cruise (1 hour), see the beautiful landscape along the banks of the Douro, passing by Foz do Douro, the six bridges over the Douro River, the Ribeira district and Port wine cellars in Vila Nova de Gaia.
- Dinner at local restaurant.
Overnight at hotel Inter Continental Porto – Palácio das Cardosas.

Day 4: Tuesday, 30 October: Minho Region - Pinhão

- Breakfast at the hotel and check out.
9:00 a.m. Head north up the coast to the Minho Region, visit the coastal town known as Viana do Castelo. Visit The Igreja da Misericórdia Church, rebuilt in 1714, has on its inside one of the most beautiful decorations of tiles mosaics in Portugal. Drive to the top of Basilica of Santa Luzia. View over the Atlantic coast and the green hillsides that surround.
After that visit the medieval town of Barcelos, known for creating Portugal’s national symbol – the rooster.
Noon: Lunch at local restaurant.
Afternoon: Visit the city of Guimarães where we will enjoy its beauty and simplicity. This is the "cradle" of Portuguese nationality and the first important city of the kingdom of Portugal with references that illustrate more than 800 years of history. In fact, this was the birthplace of the first King of Portugal, Afonso Henriques. Visit Ducal Palace of Guimarães.
 
- After that proceed to Duoro Valley, where the terraced hill slopes hide one of the country's most valuable treasures: the beautiful vineyards from where the worldwide famous Port wine is still nowadays produced.
Dinner and overnight at The Vintage House Hotel in Pinhão.

Day 5: Wednesday, 31 October: Duoro Valley

- Breakfast at the hotel.
9:00 a.m. Drive Passing through scenic countryside, visiting small towns such as, Pinhão for the impressive viewpoints on Duoro Valley and  the train station, decorated with24 azulejo-painted tile panel depicting local scenes and folk culture and onto Peso da Régua, the administrative center for port in 18th century and just a few miles from Regau, we will  visit one of the most important quintas, The Quinta do Vallado, with references dating back to 1716, the Quinta has belonged to the legendary D. Antonia Adelaide Ferreira and remained in the family, ever since.
- We will have a wine tasting, boat trip on the river.
Noon: Lunch at on board during river cruise.
Afternoon: Continue to visit Vila Real, located in the former province of Tras-os-Montes and Alto Douro. It is situated at the confluence of the Corgo and Cabril rivers, framed in a beautiful landscape. The Escarpment of the Corgo River - with the hills of Alvão as backdrop and, farther, the hills of Marão. Vila Real was once known as the "Court of Tras-os-Montes" due to the high number of stately houses that still can be seen. Visit Mateus Palace. Built in the first half of the 18C and betraying the finishing touches of Nicolau Nasoni, this palace set in beautiful gardens on a vast farm is considered to be one of the finest examples of baroque civil architecture in Portugal.
Overnight at The Vintage House Hotel in Pinhão.
- Dinner at own arrangement.

Day 6: Thursday, 1 November: Belmonte – Sortelha – Monsanto

- Breakfast at the hotel and check out.
9:00 a.m. Proceed to visit 3 historical villages in central region. First visit Belmonte, one of the best places in Portugal to understand the secrets and mysteries of the Jewish communities that had to live in secret for centuries. The village was also the birthplace of the great Portuguese navigator Pedro Álvares Cabral, who discovered Brasil in 1500. The main monuments of the village include the fortress itself and the small Romanesque-Gothic Church of Santiago.
After that, visit the small, but charming, village of Sortelha, still preserves all the characteristics of the old and sometimes forgotten Portugal. Entering there it seems that we've gone back in time. This is one of the most beautiful villages of Central Portugal, still encircled by medieval walls and with houses built in stone, some even sculpted from the rocks. This quiet village is almost deserted nowadays as young people have moved to bigger towns searching for better living conditions.
Noon: Lunch at local restaurant.
Afternoon: Proceed to visit The village of Monsanto, is known as “the most Portuguese village of Portugal”, after a competition in the first half of the 20th century, which recognized it as a unique and very special place in Portugal. Set on a high rocky mountain, the houses line the narrow-cobbled streets with tiny gardens and courtyards separated by small stone walls. Monsanto has plenty of traditions and its typical granite architecture can be seen by walking up till the Castle from the Roman times that has witnessed fights and sieges.
- Dinner and overnight at Pousada Flor da Rosa, Crato.

Day 7: Friday, 2 November: Marvão – Elvas – Evora - Lisbon

- Breakfast at the hotel and check out.
9:00 a.m. Proceed to visit The village of Marvão amazes with its fabulous location. On top of high defensive rocks, this small village has always been a tactical point for locals to protect themselves from invasions and to defend their Portuguese nationality.
Continue to visit Elvas, situated in a strategic location, the history of Elvas is marked by war and Castilian attempts of domination. This military history is today typified by a rich military heritage: Santa Luzia Fortress, Graça Fortress, the Forts of São Mamede, São Domingo and São Pedro, the walls and all the military buildings and monuments that, together, make Elvas one of the largest fortified towns in the world, and the largest bastion fortress in the entire world. Due to its history and heritage, with its 17th and 18th-century fortifications, Elvas has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Noon: Lunch at local restaurant.
Afternoon: Proceed to visit the winding walled city of Évora, capital of the Alentejo region is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and will enchant you with its medieval appearance. It will be difficult to stop walking around the very narrow streets of its historical center.
The monuments to be visited will be the Cathedral, Saint Francis church and the ancient University, The Roman Temple, from the 1st century and probably dedicated to the Emperor Augusto but famous under the name of Diana’s temple.
- After that onto Lisbon.
- Dinner at local restaurant.
- Overnight at hotel Tivoli Lisboa, Lisbon

Day 8: Saturday, 3 November: Lisbon

- Breakfast at the hotel.
9:30 a.m. Sightseeing in Lisbon, capital of Portugal, colonized by many civilizations along the centuries: Phoenicians, Greeks, Carthaginians, Romans, Moors and finally the Portuguese after 1147. This city is linked with the heroic deeds of the Portuguese maritime exploration, in the 15th and 16th centuries. This was the Age of Discoveries and the Golden Era of Portugal, transforming Lisbon into the opulent centre of a vast empire. Part of the wealth from these expeditions was used to build magnificent monuments in
Visit Jerónimos Monastery, the extravagant Manueline Portuguese architectural, Tower of Belém and the Monument to the Discoveries.
Noon: Lunch at local restaurant.
Afternoon: Visit the traditional commerce zones of the city, with their 18th century buildings: the Downtown, the Chiado and the Bairro Alto.
- Dinner at own arrangement.
- Overnight at hotel Tivoli Lisboa, Lisbon

Day 9: Sunday, 4 November: Lisbon – Zurich - Bangkok

6:30 a.m. Transfer to Lisbon Airport.
8:50 a.m. Depart Lisbon to Zurich by LX4581
12:40 a.m. Arrive Zurich Airport.
5:55 p.m. Depart Zurich for Bangkok by LX180

Day 10: Monday, 5 November: Bangkok

10:30 a.m. Arrive at Bangkok Suvarnabhumi International Airport.

 

 

Booking

Bt. 148,000 (Bt. 151,500 for non-members). Single room surcharge Bt. 28,000. A deposit of Bt. 40,000 and photocopy of passport must accompany the booking. Your reservation will be confirmed as soon as the deposit has been made. Payment in full is required 45 days before the start of the trip (i.e. by Wednesday, 12 September 2018)

Please pay by cash or cheque payable to ‘The Siam Society’. There is a 4% surcharge for credit/debit card payment to cover bank charges. Alternatively you can deposit/transfer the money to the Siam Society travel account at the Thai Military Bank, Asoke Branch saving account no. 053-2-18000-7.  Please fax or e-mail the deposit or transfer docket to us. In case the tour has to be canceled due to insufficient participants, a full refund of the deposit will be made.

Includes/Excludes:

The contribution includes meals as mentioned in program, accommodation for two persons per room, transfer and sightseeing by coach, entrance fees, gratuities and other costs incurred to make this trip possible. It excludes visa fee to Portugal (if any), international airfares, personal expenses, personal beverages, etc.

The excluding airfares on Thailand - Portugal. We have decided to offer this trip without including an airfare but for those who would like us to book and buy airfare can be arranged for the price at the date of booking

To comply with payment and cancellation policies set forth by tour agencies, and to facilitate smooth working condition between the Siam Society and the tour agencies, please read carefully the revised cancellation policies stated below:

Cancellation charge:

45 days before the start of the trip:                                                  Deposit forfeited
45-30 days before the start of the trip                                              50% of the tour cost
Less than 30 days or cancellation without notice:                               No refund

Booking details:

Your booking will not be confirmed until deposit payment has been received. Please book your place as soon as possible. Please supply a copy of your passport with your booking.

The Siam Society reserves the right to change the programme as necessary. Seats are limited. Please book your place as soon as possible. For further information and bookings please contact Khun Prasert or Khun Supanut.