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“CREATIVE SPIRIT” Portugal

Exceptional Travel Experiences in Contemporary Culture
SEPTEMBER 8 – 17, 2022

A unique 10 day tour where the individual personalities of Lisbon and Porto are revealed through a modern cultural lens. Personally led by celebrated Canadian curator Esther Shipman.

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From Lisbon to Porto and extraordinary points in between. Find new sources of inspiration as we explore below the surface in Lisbon and Porto and introduce lesser-known points in Portugal’s interior. A journey guided by the touchstones of contemporary art, architecture, and design from the handmade to the mass produced, inextricably linked to Portugal’s history.

All Culture Viewfinder excursions include exclusive insider-access programs not otherwise open to the public.

  • Behind the scenes museum visits with the curators
  • Meet creators in their studios
  • Architect led tours of private buildings
  • Explore neighbourhoods guided by engaging experts
  • Visit two of Portugal’s most remarkable design factories reimagining historic materials and techniques that incorporate both eco and social issues
  • Taste the cuisine of a new generation of creative chefs and exceptional regional winemakers
  • Stay in the comfort of 4/5 star design hotels
  • Share in Culture Viewfinder’s knowledge of amazing local shops, gourmet boutiques, and gallerie

Culture Viewfinder tours are restricted to small groups and will be personally led by celebrated Canadian curator Esther Shipman who will introduce you to many of the leading creative lights of Portugal.

If you are interested in the Post Tour – Wine, Architecture & Gastronomy from September 17 – 20, 2022 please advise, as space is limited.


Passengers will be asked to sign our ‘Commitment to Health’ form and comply with all health & safety protocols for the safety of our passengers as well as individuals in the communities we visit.

Day 1 | Thursday September 8 – Lisbon (D)
Note: This is a land only tour, however, Ellison Tours can assist with your individual flights and if numbers permit, we could have a designated group flight from Toronto. Flights from all gateways can be arranged.
Begin your journey at the Double Tree by Hilton-Fontana Park. DoubleTree is Hilton’s boutique hotel brand in Europe and this property in particular has a bright, modern interior and vibe. The tour kicks off in the early afternoon with a meet and greet at the hotel’s Fontana Park Courtyard, followed by a short coach ride to the Rossio district where we begin an Introduction to Lisbon walking tour through the central core of the city to the monumental riverside Praça do Commercio. Explore the collonades, shops and/or cafes of this historic square before departing by coach for a private tour of the Museum of Art Architecture + Technology (MAAT) designed by British architect Amanda Levete. Time will be provided after the tour to explore the exterior of the museum and its grounds designed by acclaimed landscape architect Vladimir Djurovic. We cap the day with a Welcome Dinner on the waterfront at Darwin’s Café, at the Champalimaud Foundation Centre for the Unknown designed by Indian architect Charles Correa. Return to the hotel by coach.

Day 2 | Friday September 9 – Lisbon – NO COACH TODAY (B/L)
Breakfast at the hotel. Departure by taxi (coaches are not permitted in the historic Alfama district), to a former Palace for a private tour of the unique artisan workshops that specialize in exquisite 16th Century wooden joinery and marquetry, decorative metal, textiles, and book binding.
Walk downhill through colourful Moor-influenced Alfama (starting with a wonderful miradouro-scenic photo-op), to our private lunch at the Taberna Sal Grosso (translated to Coarse Salt).
Taxi a short distance to a private studio visit of internationally acclaimed glass and furniture designer Emmanuel Babled, where we will meet the designer, view his work, and hear about his latest project in Tanzania. Two floors up the designer has personally funded a design incubator for new design businesses utilizing historic Portuguese materials and techniques.
Pit stop right downstairs at the incredible Gelato Therapy (tasting included).
​Free time for a couple of hours. Keep in mind we have one more tour before the day is done!
Exclusive tour of EDP Corporate Headquarters, designed by Aires Mateus Arquitectos (considered Portugal’s leading next generation architects). This private building is not open to the public.
Free Time for dinner – Steps away from EDP Headquarters is the renowned TIME-OUT Mercado Ribeira–the first and best of Lisbon’s food halls featuring stalls by many of Lisbon’s finest chefs and unique shops. Open-plan shared seating. Stay for a drink, snacks, or dinner.
Note: Alternatively, upstairs there is a classic Portuguese restaurant Pap Açorda with table service and ample seating OR venture a short distance by taxi east along the river where there are numerous seafood restaurants.

Day 3 | Saturday September 10 – Lisbon (B/L)
Breakfast at the hotel. Depart by coach for the iconic Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation Museum and Gardens, two museum buildings–1 housing Gulbenkian’s personal collection of historic near and middle eastern textiles, ceramics and furnishings, and temporary exhibitions, the second featuring outstanding contemporary exhibitions (visit approximately 2 hours).
We then change gears heading to the hilltop neighbourhood of Principe Real with 45 minutes free time to explore Rua Dom Pedro I–take in the shops or chill in the park with a coffee or a cool drink, before meeting under the giant Juniper Tree in the park to begin our descent by foot through the narrow streets towards the hip districts of Bairro Alto and Chiado. Our lunch destination The Taberna at chef José Avillez’s fantastic Bairrio do Avilliez (part food market, part multi-resto complex) is located along our walking route.
After lunch our descent on foot continues with an architect-led tour downhill to the hidden gem of architect Alvaro Siza Vieira’s creative urban redesign (responsible for saving a significant section of Chiado destroyed by fire in the 1980’s), which ends at the landmark Elevador Santa Justa.
The balance of the day and evening are Free Time.
**Options: Follow the Culture Viewfinder guide to Chiado design shops and galleries or head off on your own. Perhaps this is a good night to take in a FADO performance. CV will survey everyone in advance and can book for a group or provide a short list of FADO spots and you can take your chances. (Cost additional).

Day 4 | Sunday September 11 – Lisbon & Sintra (B/L/D)
Early breakfast at the hotel. Bus departs early to Sintra, a wonderland collection of fantasy villas built as summer retreats by Lisbon’s elite in the late Victorian era. Our destination is the outstanding Monserrate Palace and its award-winning Gardens. Both the villa and the extensive gardens are yours to explore from 10am-12:30pm. Bus departs for an exceptional seafood lunch on the coast at Praia das Maçãs (Água e Sal).
​Free time this afternoon: you will have an opportunity to visit additional museums, neighbourhoods, or shops on our last day in Lisbon. ​**A choice will be available for a drop-off in Chiado district or return to the hotel.
Taxi to dinner at a charming, intimate, tucked away restaurant in Bairro Alto.
​After dinner you will have further free time.
The restaurant is located a short walk to Mantegaria for the best Pasteis de Nata (custard tarts) in town, or to the artsy Cocktail Bar atop the Consulat Hotel. The Bairro Alto club district is not far away.

Day 5 | Monday September 12 – to Manteigas and the Sierra da Estrela Mountains (B/pL/D)
Please have all luggage packed and deposited at reception before breakfast.
Breakfast at the hotel. Bus departs post breakfast. We begin the day with brief visits to three architecture landmarks just east of central Lisbon-the recent Cruise Ship Terminal by Carrilho da Graça Arquitectos, Siza Vieira’s Portuguese Pavilion at the Expo’98 site, then Calatrava’s Gare d’Oriente train station, before heading north towards our destination in Serra d’Estrela (mountains and national park).
The hotel will provide box lunches and bottled water for the trip (as the highway rest stop fare is bleak). We will make washroom stops enroute. Hot drinks and fresh squeezed orange juice are typically available (not included).
Our destination is a picturesque mountain town, home to an innovative design studio, textile factory and two boutique hotels founded by creative entrepreneurs who saved the historic factory from shuttering and rejuvenated the town with a young workforce, support for a school and hospital. The Serra da Estrela mountains are the highest elevation in Portugal, include a National Park and unusual rock formations making it a remarkable national landmark.
​Our hotel for two nights is a 5* Spa Hotel perched 7000 ft above the town. We arrive to a tour of the exceptional hotel and settle into our rooms before tea is provided in the late afternoon. Relax with a swim in the indoor/outdoor pool, on the patio, or lounge, or book a variety of treatments at the spa (additional cost). Dinner in the excellent hotel restaurant.

Day 6 | Tuesday September 13 – Manteigas (B/L/D)
In contrast to the hectic pace in Lisbon we take some time to enjoy the town and the surrounding mountains.
Breakfast at the hotel. Coach departs as we descend into the town for a tour of the textile factory, followed by a brief visit to the factory shop.
Lunch will be casual (soup, salads, sandwiches) at a well-appointed ski lodge, the second hotel property owned by our creative couple.
​Just outside the ski hotel gates is a fascinating ancient stone house, worth visiting.
​We return to our hotel for an afternoon of R+R.
In addition to the pool and spa, a hike will be offered to those who would like to explore the mountain with one of the hotel staff.
​Tea in the late afternoon.
Dinner at the hotel restaurant.

Day 7 | Wednesday September 14 – to Porto (B/L)
Please have all luggage packed and deposited at reception before breakfast.
Breakfast at the hotel. Depart by coach for the largest Cork Composites factory in Portugal. ​Arrival at the Composites Showroom for an exclusive custom presentation and tour. Be prepared to be amazed!
Lunch on site.
​Continue on to Porto, check into the Carris Hotel Ribeira Porto a characterful modern hotel, near the Douro River and central historic Porto. Unfortunately, in this part of the city, there is no coach parking at the hotel, everyone will disembark and walk 200 metres to the hotel. A luggage service has been hired to transfer all baggage to the hotel.  ​Settle into the hotel.
Late afternoon departure for a tour of Graham’s Lodge followed by a Port Wine Tasting at Graham’s Cellars across the Douro River in Vila Nova de Gaia the famed location of all of Porto’s famed historic Port purveyors. Coach transport will be provided to Graham’s Lodge.
Free time for dinner. There is a fine restaurant Vinum Restaurant on site at Graham’s Lodge or walk down hill to the festive riverfront Quay where there are numerous restaurants and cafes, or alternatively return across the bridge to Porto for dinner.

Day 8 | Thursday September 15 – Porto (B/L/D)
Breakfast at the hotel. Depart by coach for the Leça da Palmeira coast.
A day north of Porto, starting with a guided tour of the Boa Nova Casa da Chá (Tea House), an iconic early work by Alvaro Siza Vieria, Portugal’s most renowned architect, then a brief stop at Siza’s Tidal Pools before we head for a fresh grilled fish lunch adjacent to the famed Matosinhos Port.
After lunch we visit the Casa da Arquitectura the new centre for architecture located in an arts compound in a repurposed winery and warehouses. A brief tour of the compound and architecture centre.
The coach returns to the hotel in Porto. Free time for the remainder of the afternoon.
Dinner at O Commercio located in the former stock exchange building, walking distance from the hotel.

Day 9 | Friday September 16 – Porto (B/L/D)
Breakfast at the hotel. Coach departs for the Serralves Museum, considered amongst the top ten contemporary art museums in the world. Brief guided introduction to the history of the museum, the current featured exhibitions and a map of the 10-acre site. 2 hours are allotted to tour the museum, the sculpture gardens, and the grounds.
Coach departs for lunch at the charming, mostly plant forward Essência Restaurant.
The coach takes us back toward central Porto to the district of Bolhão where we visit the studio of designer Gabriel Tan.
Then either take a leisurely downhill walking tour with Esther Shipman past by The Majestic, famous Art Deco Café, continue down local pedestrian streets to the tile murals at the
St. Idelfonso Church and São Bento Train Station, continuing south through historic Porto towards the river.
OR enjoy a free afternoon.
Take a taxi from the hotel to the Farewell Dinner at Oficina, by chef Marco Gomez, located in the Bombarda art district. Group Pictures.

Day 10 | Saturday September 17 – Porto or departure (B)
Breakfast at the hotel followed by independent check-out and departure (tour commitment ends).
Those continuing onto the Douro Valley Option will depart by coach after breakfast – see the 2022 Wine Architecture and Gastronomy itinerary for further details.

If you are interested in the Post Tour – Wine, Architecture & Gastronomy from September 17 – 20, 2022 please advise, as space is limited.

B – Breakfast / pB – Packed Breakfast / L – Lunch / pL – Packed Lunch / D – Dinner /
M – Airline Meal / S – Snack – denote meals included in tour cost

Please note that an average/moderate level of fitness is required to enjoy the various activities of this tour. Trip activities include walking, sometimes on uneven ground, climbing stairs and getting on and off buses, boats etc. There are some long travel times in this itinerary, and that is because of the nature of the destination – but the travel days are also part of the adventure and an opportunity to witness life in the rural regions.

For your own safety as well as the safety of other passengers and the communities that we visit, we require that all travellers in this journey are fully vaccinated against COVID-19 at least two weeks prior to departure.

Living Standards and practices at the destination may differ from those in Canada and the standards and conditions at the destination with respect to the provision of utilities, services, and accommodation may differ.

  • transportation via private A/C motor coach or by taxi transfers as noted on itinerary
  • 4 night stay in Lisbon, 2 night stay in Serra d’Estrela, 3 night stay in Porto (based on twin accommodation)
  • breakfasts daily, 8 lunches, 1 gelato tasting and 6 dinners included
  • included admission fees and private tours of 4 major museums, + architectural landmarks, the Alfama Artisan Workshops and Monserrate Palace and Grounds
  • Introduction to Lisbon custom walking tour, and Siza urban redesign walking tour Lisbon, Whispers Sound System provided for both. Central Porto walking tour led by curator Esther Shipman.
  • PLUS exclusive visits to 2 significant design factories, 2 private design studios, and the award-winning EDP Headquarters which are not open to the public
  • driver and guide gratuities
  • services of a Culture Viewfinder Tour Manager – Esther Shipman
  • includes all applicable taxes and service charges
  • Insurance has not been included as part of your tour package. Ellison Travel & Tours highly recommends that all travellers ensure they have Travel Insurance. These products, including Cancellation and Medical coverage, can be purchased through Ellison Travel & Tours
  • costs associated with vaccination, testing and other entry/exit requirements for your itinerary (unless noted under included above)
  • costs associated with visa or passport processing, passport photos and other government processing fees
  • European Travel Information and Authorization System (ETIAS) fee (effective in 2022 for visa-free non-EU citizens to visit the European Union Zone https://www.schengenvisainfo.com/etias/)
  • meals other than mentioned
  • hotel luggage handling
  • international airflight from Toronto to Lisbon, return
  • transportation from Porto back to Lisbon at the end of the tour
  • additional transportation required during free time
  • vaccines and medical precautions may be required for the country visited. It is your responsibility to consult with your physician or a physician who specializes in Travel Medicine, several weeks prior to departure, to ensure your travel vaccinations are up to date and that necessary prescriptions are obtained.
  • the tour details and airline tickets are processed in the names you provide and must match the name per the legal travel document (eg. passport). An administration fee up to $100.00 plus applicable airline charges and taxes will be charged per name change or correction.

Cost: $4995CAD, double occupancy

PAYMENT REQUIREMENTS AND IMPORTANT DEADLINES:

  • Payment terms are EFT, VISA, or MasterCard via Online Portal
  • 1st deposit of $700.00 per person due February 24, 2022
  • 2nd deposit of $2150.00 per person is due April 15, 2022
  • Final payment is due July 15, 2022

**Note: Optional insurance must be purchased at time of deposit

Passengers will be asked to sign our ‘Commitment to Health’ form and comply with all health & safety protocols for the safety of our passengers as well as individuals in the communities we visit.

Terms & Conditions

Travel insurance for your peace of mind.

Along with our trusted travel insurance partners at Manulife Insurance, we offer comprehensive travel and medical insurance options so that you can travel with comfort knowing you are covered. Travel insurance is highly recommended always, but particularly essential in a post COVID-19 world.

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Esther Shipman

Esther E. Shipman has established a national reputation as an innovative curator, arts administrator, policy/strategy consultant and cultural issues advocate spanning the not-for profit, public and private sectors. She has lectured across Canada and internationally, written extensively about design and culture, and created and produced more than 100 exhibitions, plus dozens of competitions, lectures, events, publications, and other initiatives intended to encourage increased knowledge, dialogue and the incorporation of design and culture into daily life.

Shipman first came to prominence as the Co-founder (1985), then Executive Director of VIRTU/Directions in Canadian Design, the highly acclaimed design advocacy organization, pivotal in the development and promotion of new design in Canada and in introducing leading international design and designers to Canadians. From 2007-2018 she was the Curator of Architecture + Design for Cambridge Art Galleries, Idea Exchange, at their Design at Riverside gallery, Canada’s only municipal gallery dedicated to architecture and design, where she served as the Assistant Commissioner for Canada to the 11th International Biennale of Architecture in Venice (2008).  Select recent large-scale commissions include Curator/Coordinator of the MOVE//Installation Project for the Ontario Association of Architects (2017), Cultural Properties Appraiser and author (700+ page illustrated report): Michel Dallaire Collection, Musée de la civilization Québec (2015), Cultural Properties Appraiser and author, illustrated report: Douglas Ball Collection, Musée des beaux-arts de Montréal (2018). Previously, Ms. Shipman served six years as an Executive Board Member and Chair of the Design Sector for the Trade Team Canada-Cultural Goods and Services Committee (TTS-CGS) Department of Canadian Heritage, Government of Canada.

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