For those of us who live on the East Coast of the USA, the Azores are the closest point to somewhere with a European and Portuguese feel. One of our guides (an American ex-pat) described them as a cross between Iceland (they are so volcanic), Ireland (they are so green) and Hawaii (a holiday destination in the middle of an ocean). Our trip with our daughter, son-in-law and two granddaughters (aged 9 and 11) started with a direct 5.5 h flight from Newark airport. Flights arrive in San Miguel Island, the most populated, and we spent the first three nights in the luxurious Octant Furnas Hotel in Furnas, The hotel is surrounded by hot springs bringing boiling water to the surface. Highlights there were the food, including preparing and cooking a traditional stew which is buried in the hot ground for several hours, the hotel’s super warm, mineral swimming pool and a hike up a mountain side to Lagoa de Fogo (a lake in a former volcanic cone) followed by a swim on the beach. We then took a short flight to the volcanic Island of Pico famous for its mountain (a former volcano of course) and its outstanding white wine. During 5 nights in Pico, we took two day trips on ferries to the neighboring islands of Faial and Sao Jorge. Highlights were a trip through the lava tubes on Pico, visits to wineries and a hike around the Caldera on Faial. After flying back to San Miguel for our last 3 nights we were driven to our hotel on the Ponta Delgada harbor front (Octant Ponta Delgada). Highlights included a private whale watching trip with great sightings of three female sperm whales (one with a calf), an evening wine and food tasting tour, a morning food tour, a Jeep tour of the Lagoa das Sete Cidades and finally a tour of the tea plantations with an opportunity to make our own ice cream. Throughout the trip we had excellent local food and wine, including ultra-fresh seafood and excellent beef (cows outnumber people on the islands). A 5-hour flight home took us back to Newark with the realization that we still had 5 more islands to explore! Thank you to Goncalo and his co-workers for a great trip that left a multi-generational family very happy.
We travelled to Portugal in late May, a trip that we built around a Film Festival my wife Catherine was attending in Spain. We began in Lisbon, staying centrally at the Pousada de Lisboa (we loved the location), & then moved slightly up the coast to Cascais where we stayed at the Albatroz seafront hotel (which we also loved). Catarina arranged for a private after-hours tour of the Peña Palace in Sintra, which we highly recommend. After the Film Festival in Barcelona, we flew back into the Algarve & began a self-drive tour that included a week on the coast in Praia de Luz, Portamao (worth a night or 2 but only if you stay at the Hotel Bela Vista), & Tavira. If you want a very special blow-out dinner by a Michelin-star chef we highly recommend Restaurant Vista in the Hotel Bela Vista. Chef deserves another star!! One of the best tasting menus we’ve ever experienced! We drove north through Evora, Coimbra, & Porto…all beautiful, but the highlight of our trip was a stay at the Quinta de Sao Bernardo (which Catarina highly recommended), a farmhouse & vineyard that’s been converted into a small boutique hotel. You can forget about going almost anywhere else…the food, activities, boat trips that you can organize out of the hotel are all superb. We had a small-group wine tasting with the vintner that lasted 3 hours, where he proudly showed off all the lovely wines he produces in the vineyard (which you can’t get anywhere else), & taught us the art of wine tasting. Truly the best wine-tasting experience we’ve ever had, & we’ve had many. There were a few things we could’ve missed in our itinerary…the food tour of Lagos & Porto (which was scheduled the day the Porto market was closed), the boat trip on the Douro river out of Pinhao & the port tasting at Bomfim. In the latter 2 cases we’d been spoiled by the special experience at Quinta da Sao Bernardo, & everything else paled after that. Overall, it was a fabulous trip, & I would recommend Goncalo’s office highly!
Our 3-week trip to Portugal was wonderful. The hotels and activities that Goncalo Correia arranged for us were enjoyable. He’s very familiar with Portugal and gave me some great tips and advice. We got off to a slow start working with him. He had the flu go through his office and were down for a while. With that being said, when the flu was over, his response time was still longer than it should have been. On a few occasions, he gave me a date that he would have my information back to me and when it didn’t come, I had to follow up with him.
Our hiking/walking tour in Madeira was beautiful. The tour was at 9 am. When 9:15 came around I knew something was wrong when our guide did not show. I called the number that Gonzalo’s team gave us if there was a problem. The gentleman I spoke to confirmed our tour was at 9 and he would investigate and call me back. Our guide showed up at 9:50 and his itinerary showed 10 am. We got a late start on our hike. I never did receive a return call.
I booked this trip using a WOW Moment certificate. I was anticipating this and as we got further into our trip, I figured it would be during our last week. It never happened. When I returned home, I contacted Goncalo’s office and inquired about this. I never received a response. I contacted Wendy Perrin’s office and you followed up Goncalo. You indicated he was very sorry and was checking into it and that you would continue to follow up and nudge him to get back to me. Nothing.
I do understand that traveling and trip planning has been more of a challenge after covid but incidences when I’m given a certain date to hear back from them or told I would receive a phone call and one never calls is not good customer service. If these dates couldn’t be met, they should not have been promised.
Again, Goncalo and his team is very knowledgeable and they were very polite. I’m sorry we had these frustrating events with this tour. Goncalo set us up with a 1/2 day private walking tour in Lisbon. This gal Diana was excellent. It was one of the best tours I’ve had. She was knowledgeable, down to earth, very personable and was passionate about Lisbon and the history. He deserves kudos for this.
And despite the hiccups, we very much enjoyed Portugal.
Response from Wendy:
Debra is absolutely right that the pandemic and the resulting crush of pent-up travel demand has made many aspects of travel planning far more complicated than they once were. We’re dismayed that Debra’s WOW Moment was overlooked, and we will certainly more than make it up to her on her next trip. As a reminder to all travelers, here’s how our WOW Moments project works and here are the rules for redeeming your WOW Moments gift certificate. While every WOW Moment is a surprise, if your final trip itinerary does not include mention that this surprise will occur and when, by all means let us know immediately at firstname.lastname@example.org.
My husband and I traveled to three places in Portugal in July 2023 to celebrate our 30th Anniversary. We had terrific tour guides in Evora, Porto, and Lisbon, and loved hearing all the history, culture, and food background in all three places. Highlights were a private after-hours tour of the Pena Palace in Sintra, our food tour in Lisbon with a terrific tour guide who incorporated just the right amount of history which we loved, and excellent choices of hotels in all three places. We celebrated our 30th anniversary visiting a port lodge with a glass of 30-year port overlooking the city of Porto as the sun set. Absolutely perfect!
We wanted to take a family trip for 2 weeks in July to Portugal with our two young children 7 and 2 years old. I had an idea of the areas I wanted to go but was unsure how to route it. We asked Goncalo and Joana Silva to plan an authentic, off-the-beaten-path look into the south of Portugal and the Alentejo and Lisbon, and we had a perfect time. Portugal is incredible! And it’s possible to beat the summer crowds. Everything was planned and executed perfectly from the minute we landed. We loved our day in Sintra and the coast at Azenas Do Mar with our guide Luís, and my son loved spending the day with our cooking teacher Claudia. We loved our apartment at Lumiares in Lisbon and the breakfasts on the rooftop. One of the highlights was our Costa Caparica beach day at Irmao. We felt like we were one of the only tourists and it felt like a slice of life for young Lisboans. Joana also got us a reservation at Belcanto, a very special experience for a parents’ night out. Another highlight of the trip were the people we met and the food at Craveiral Farmhouse. The kids loved to roam on their bikes and we found our favorite beach and fish shack on the beach on the quiet coastline of Costa Vincentina. We didn’t hear any English at these beaches and the water and coves were so unique. The most spectacular property we stayed at was Sao Lorrenco Borrocal in the Alentenjo. We had such a special time there, with delicious food and hospitality. We are so grateful to Joana for making sure we had large rooms at each of our hotels giving our family lots of space, and ease of rental car and drivers made everything stress-free. Portugal has quickly become one of our favorite places to visit and we plan on returning to see more of this beautiful country!
Goncalo, Sara, and other members of the team did a wonderful job planning and executing the details of our trip to Portugal in early July 2023. Each step of their planning was executed perfectly for us—rental car was ready immediately, hotel rooms all ready and with lovely welcome gifts waiting for us, drivers on time, etc. We started our trip in the Alentejo region and wish we had had more time to explore! (Sadly, United cancelled our flight there so we lost a day of our trip.) Our next stop was Lisbon, a beautiful and fascinating city, great for exploring and lots of walking up and down hills! A highlight of our time in Lisbon was a wonderful WOW Moment arranged by Goncalo. We learned of this surprise when we checked into our hotel and received a note instructing us that a driver would pick us up one evening for a surprise and then return us to the hotel after. The surprise was a fantastic candlelight concert in a church courtyard. Wonderful musicians and setting! The guide and driver organized for us to explore Sintra were both terrific and on point in every way—getting to explore Sintra alone before its official opening was a treat.
We left the trip wishing we had much more time to explore more of Portugal, and we will definitely return!
We were a family of six (three couples) traveling to Portugal in May/June 2023 to celebrate some milestone life events.
We were extremely impressed with the exemplary level of service we received from Goncalo and his team. While Goncalo and his team flawlessly executed on a travel plan to Lisbon, Porto, Douro Valley, Alentejo, and Algarve, the times that really had us appreciate his expertise as a travel consultant were:
—finding us exceptional accommodations: we especially loved, loved, loved the serviced apartments he arranged for us in Lisbon and Porto. Who wouldn’t love a chic, top-floor, 3 br, 3ba space with a balcony and a view of the Tagus river, the Christo Rei monument, and the infamous bridge in the Chiado neighborhood in Lisbon?
—recommending unforgettable places to visit: he listened when we articulated that we were interested in seeing some of Portugal’s natural wonders, so he arranged for us to hike in the wondrous Paiva Walkways outside of Porto.
—having someone to call when something goes wrong: when I forgot an entry ticket in the hotel, I was able to connect with the on-call agent and get replacement tickets texted to me within minutes. I felt so relieved to have had someone I could contact to help me resolve my problem.
Goncalo and his team listened attentively when we were planning the trip and created an itinerary that was perfectly attuned to how we wanted to travel and to what we wanted to see and do.
Our trip to Portugal (Lisbon & Algarve) went beyond our expectations. Working with Goncalo and Joana was pretty seamless. We really didn’t have any have-to’s or know much about Portugal, but I can say that they made ALL the right choices for us. With just a few conversations, they understand the needs of our family (two teen girls! Tough customers!). We felt like the choices of activities and vendors/guides was top-notch. It was clear they have vetted the best. All our drivers and helpers were extremely reliable. We highly recommend!
My wife & I worked with Goncalo and Catarina for a 3-week vacation to Spain & Portugal from May 24 to June 15th. We filled out Wendy’s initial introduction form and Goncalo scheduled a Zoom video call with us a couple of days later. The call lasted about an hour and we covered everything we felt we wanted to do and then some. The team put together an initial itinerary for 7 days in Spain and 14 days in Portugal. After a few tweaks to the itinerary we were ready to experience a trip of a lifetime. We were scheduled to leave FL on May 24th but our outbound flight to Philadelphia got delayed and we were going to miss our connection flight out of PHL to LIS. American could not get us out until 2 days later. We notified Goncalo’s team and they adjusted the missed days along with the Lisbon & Sintra all-day private tour we had scheduled. They were able to reschedule 2 half-day tours, one on the front end and one on the backend. The communication was amazing during the entire process and during the trip, especially when we asked for restaurant recommendations :) Our trip consisted an average of 3 to 4 days in Lisbon, Seville, Granada, Tavira, Vilamoura, Lagos and finally Cascais. We had 4 half-day private tours with a driver and tour guide in Lisbon, Seville, Granada and Cascais. The tour drivers and guides were always on time, friendly and informative. The hotels were beautiful and the supporting staff were very attentive. Becky & I would highly recommend Goncalo’s office for your travel needs and we are looking forward to our next adventure with Wendy and her amazing network of travel planners.
Noreen and Rick Carvolth here—just returning from an amazing trip to Portugal, along with our good friends Ivan and Carolyn Gowan. We cannot say enough about Goncalo and his team, especially Sofia! Goncalo’s planning process was super-friendly, easy and thorough, resulting in a trip that perfectly met all our goals and expectations. We gathered in Porto in late May and over three days got to know the city and its historic sites with the help of two private tour guides. A highlight was a tour and wine tasting at Taylor’s beautiful lodge. Our next leg was an incredible drive in our rental car into the magnificent Duoro valley. In addition to private winery tours, a highlight was an afternoon cruise on the Duoro River. Then we were off to Coimbra with a stay at the historic Quinta das Lagrimas, an 18th century palace in the heart of the city. The renowned University and Library did not disappoint! For those of us who are antiquities fans, the Roman ruins of Conimbriga were eye-opening with their detailed mosiacs and preserved peristyles. We then drove through the beautiful Alentejo country, stopping in the little medieval towns of Belmonte and Marvao with the Castles panoramic views into Southern Spain. At the Torre de Palma Hotel we lunched in an olive grove amid its own Roman ruin. Then we were on to the Algarve region, stopping in Evora and Mertola on the way, two ancient but vibrant cities. Next stop came the town of Tavira, with its charming beachside hustle and bustle. Out of the port of Portimao we took an all-day sailing cruise complete with sightseeing, swimming, and exquisite cuisine. Finally, June 12-15 we were on to Lisbon and Sintra for three days. We were fortunate to visit during the Festival of St. Anthony. The city was alive with revelers, music, and many friendly people—natives and visitors alike.
It’s safe to say that with this trip we experienced a slice of almost all that Portugal has to offer—old and new, urban and rural, coast, mountains, rivers, and countryside. We found the people to be warm, encouraging, and helpful and the accommodations, dining and tour experiences fantastic without exception. Our hats are off to Goncalo and his team. The logistics, connections, guidance, reservations, and experiences were all just—WOW!!
Thanks to Gonçalo and his staff, we had a wonderful trip to Portugal April 23-May 5, 2023. Gonçalo planned a perfect itinerary, starting in Lisbon (where we stayed at Casa Balthazar); then driving east by rental car to a ranch (São Lourenço do Barrocal) near Monsaraz; then north to the Quinta Nova Luxury Winery House in the Douro Valley (after an intermediate stop in Belmonte, where we stayed at Convento de Belmonte); then west to Porto (where we stayed at Casa da Companhia); and, finally, after dropping the rental car in Porto, south by train to Lisbon, where we stayed at a seaside hotel in Cascais (Hotel Albatroz) before departing from Lisbon back to the U.S. All the hotel accommodations were outstanding. Gonçalo and his staff also planned and made reservations for many of our meals (great local choices and variety; highlights — DOC in Douro and Furnas do Guincho near Cascais) and arranged several tours along the way (all terrific, except we cut out two of them when we decided we needed more breaks in the schedule).
Tips: If you stay in Douro on the side of the river where Quinta Nova is located, beware of the drive along a narrow, winding stretch of road with few guardrails to protect against a long drop off to the river (glad we did it in hindsight—spectacular views—but driving was tense at the time). In addition, be prepared for some navigation headaches in Porto due largely to ongoing construction around the train station (made our rental car drop-off very difficult). But driving in Portugal was otherwise easy (terrific interstates), and, when we were without the rental car, all of the drivers Gonçalo hired to take us from one location to another were always there, on time. Thank you, Gonçalo and staff, for an extraordinary trip.
Patricia and Joana planned a wonderful two-week trip through southern Portugal and Spain. Joana also planned a trip to Portugal and Spain for us a couple of years ago. At every hotel, we encountered friendly and helpful employees. Our guides were uniformly excellent and provided in-depth historical perspectives, and our driver, Sandro, in Portugal was exceptional. He came to our rescue when things did not go as planned, such as a canceled lunch reservation, pottery workshop, and cork factory tour. He introduced us to off-the-beaten track restaurants where we were the only tourists. We especially enjoyed a private wine tasting and lunch at Quinta Dona Maria that was led by the matriarch of the family that owned the winery. A cooking class in Faro, where we learned to make cataplana, was excellent. Our driver, Miguel, in Spain showed us some beautiful villages between Seville and Granada.
This is a difficult review to do, as we ended up having a nearly perfect trip in the end. However, getting there was somewhat of a challenge. Goncalo is an amiable person and aspires to do well. However, things are so crazy in Portugal and Spain now that we did not get the attention we are used to from a Wendy Perrin travel agent. Despite starting our plans months ahead of our trip, we did not have a finalized trip until just about one week before leaving. It was nail-biting until the end. We often went as long as a week before Goncalo (or his assistant, Patricia) responded to us. We told them what we wanted to do and what we didn’t want to do, yet initially we felt like we were given an “off-the-shelf” itinerary. Sometimes it was as if they had not listened to us. We kept having to go back and fine-tune the details. Near the end, Patricia disappeared from the process and Joana Silva came into it. Things drastically improved at that point. Joana was responsive, previously inaccurate documentation was corrected and we moved ahead well. As I said. the final arrangements were great. EVERY guide and driver they arranged for us were wonderful — on time, spoke English, were knowledgeable, engaged and engaging. All good. The 2 hotels (in Lisbon & Barcelona) we selected upon Goncalo’s recommendation were excellent. With the exception of one ticketing glitch (which was immediately corrected), all pre-paid tickets were there as expected. Goncalo’s best suggestion was to pay the $$ for an after-hours visit to the Peña Palace in Sintra. After seeing how totally mobbed the place was (and having read the nightmare of crowds there), it was worth it. We and our guide (who had actually worked there in the past and knew the place like the back of his hand) were the ONLY 3 people there. We were able to spend 2 hours there at our own pace. Worth every penny for this iconic building. I’m not sure we would use Goncalo’s office again due to the issues we had getting the trip planned. We feel bad saying this, as I suspect a big part of the problem was just the volume of tourists inundating Goncalo with work. However, ultimately, he is accountable for managing his staffing and service levels. I hope he can gain a handle on this wave of post-pandemic travelers in Iberia.
We love Portugal!
We had such a great trip in Portugal, exploring the Northern part of Portugal. Goncalo and his team have created the best possible arrangement for us. It went smoothly. We visited 6 towns, starting from the countryside of Monsaraz, Marialva, then moving to bigger/more popular places like Douro Valley, Porto until we reached Lisbon. Every place is unique and we enjoyed every place. We even had a rest day in the middle of the trip, and they put us in the beautiful Vidago Palace for two nights. They have given us a perfect pace of travel.
We got our hotels, restaurants & the vineyards booked by them, and all were excellent recommendations. Some places provided greater service when they knew we were from Goncalo’s company.
They managed to get us in to some of the best restaurants and vineyards, such as Quinta do Crasto in Douro Valley. We were told by the hotel that they can’t get the slot for their guests to visit that vineyard and need to book 6 months in advance to get in. So we were grateful.
The guides and the driver were very professional. We did the road trip in Portugal, so imagine if we were stuck with a lousy driver. Everyone was very passionate. However, we need to mention that the guide in Lisbon and our driver throughout the trip were outstanding.
They made us really love Portugal, we felt very safe, good food and many choices of restaurants especially in Porto & Lisbon, and people are very friendly and open-minded. Good-quality food and wine are more affordable here.
We surely will be back another time to explore other parts of Portugal.
Goncalo and Patricia planned a wonderful and varied 9-day itinerary for us and were absolutely delightful to work with. This was our third trip to Portugal, so we wanted to visit places we had previously missed. Within and close to Lisbon, these included Belem and Sintra. After Lisbon we drove to Belmonte and explored the medieval towns of east central Portugal, including Sortelha and Trancoso. This is a beautiful, less travelled part of the country where we were often the only tourists walking the narrow, winding streets and eating our bacalhau (cod stew) beside local families in tiny cafes. We stayed in Belmonte’s Pousada and ate one of the best meals of our trip – an unexpected discovery in a fairly isolated location. Next we spent three days in the Douro Valley, where we enjoyed a private cruise down the Douro river and wine tastings at two quintas. At Bomfim 1896, Goncalo and Patricia surprised us a with a WOW Moment dinner accompanied by wines from the adjacent quinta. Given the choice of ordering a la carte or giving Chef Pedro Lemos free rein to create whatever inspired him, we chose the latter. The evening was so much fun, as the chef and serving staff brought us a sequence of small plates that were as artistic as they were delicious. We spent the last two days in Porto, which is charming but in mid-March already overrun with tourists. We look forward to working with Goncalo and Patricia on a trip to the Azores.
My husband and I went to Portugal for a week in mid-January 2023, spending two nights in Cascais (near Lisbon), then 4 nights in Sagres in the Algarve, and the last night in Lisbon. We spoke with Gonçalo Correia, who gave us good suggestions of where to go. We told him we were interested in photographing land and seascapes, especially during sunrise and sunsets. After the Zoom conversation, his colleague Patrícia Gomes took over and I mostly communicated with her.
She drew up an initial itinerary and we went over it and emailed questions and answers back and forth etc. We paid a deposit after she secured the reservations and then paid the balance a few weeks before the trip began.
She booked pousadas for us because we like the historic nature of the accommodations and our rooms overlooked the ocean and we could see sunsets from our rooms in Cascais and Sagres. Free breakfasts were included in all our lodgings. She arranged a rental car and accommodated our request for a hybrid car. She also booked a full day of palace and castle tours in Sintra with a private driver and guide. In Lisbon we also did a private half-day walking/food tour, which she arranged.
I felt assured that if anything unexpected happened, it was a comfort to know that the travel advisor and team would help us. In fact, we got lost trying to find the Lisbon hotel (GPS failed) and I called them up and they were able to walk us calmly through where we were and direct us to the hotel. I highly recommend Gonçalo, Patricia and their team to help plan vacations in Portugal. We hope to use them again for another Portugal trip, maybe to the Azores and the eastern side of the Algarve, which we didn’t get a chance to see.
Our family just returned from the most magical and well-planned trip to Portugal and Spain for Christmas and New Year’s! We were thrilled to have traveled at this time of year, and especially in Europe where the Christmas lights, trees and markets made it even better. We took our four children and their spouses and four grandchildren, so fourteen all together. Wendy lined us up with the perfect people to help us plan and then succeed on a 14-day excursion with 14 people, big and small, in Portugal and Spain. Gonçalo Correia and Patrícia Gomes were phenomenal with their hotel accommodations, food and restaurant recommendations, tour guides that fit our needs of grandchildren ages 6, 3, 1 1/2 and 3 months, and activities that enriched our trip. The itinerary was just what we wanted! It truly was perfect in every way. There was even flexibility, so if we needed to cancel a restaurant because we were going on a food tour and would not be hungry, we could. The amount of scheduled activities and free time to explore more was perfect. Gonçalo and Patricia are experts in what they do, and I would trust them again to plan the most satisfying travel experience for my family! They both took the precautions necessary to help us feel safe with Covid and continued to help us along our journey with lost luggage and further restaurant recommendations. We could not have done this trip without our trip planners, Gonçalo and Patricia. We thank them from the bottom of our hearts for planning a Christmas to remember forever and ever!
Goncalo and Patricia planned the perfect four days in Lisbon for our multi-generational family of eight. Right from the start they were super responsive, and we traded over 100 emails finalizing all of the details up until the week before we left. This was a stopover for us en route to another destination, so we really focused on Lisbon and immediate surrounding areas. Spending a day in Sintra was a must on our list, and after being told that we would likely have to wait hours to get into Pena Palace even with advance tickets, they planned a private evening visit after the castle was closed and we had the entire place to ourselves! This was a true VIP experience and a very memorable one for all of us! Our guide, Tiego, was so knowledgeable about everything and he really related to everyone in our group, even the kids. We love trying all different local cuisines when we travel, so we did a food tour/food shopping in the morning that evolved into a cooking class in the afternoon, which everyone enjoyed—this was a highlight! All of the restaurants they recommended were perfect, from the casual places while were still fighting jet lag to the amazing dinner and Fado music show experience. And visiting Lisbon around the holidays, we had the added bonus of all of the beautiful lights and decorations around the city! I can’t wait to plan another trip to see the rest of Portugal and when we do, I will most certainly be reaching out to Goncalo and his team!
Goncalo and Rita organized an amazing trip for the two of us in late October with less than 10 days’ notice. We traveled to Lisbon, Porto and Sintra (staying in Cascais). They found us hiking guides, foodie guides, drivers, and just amazing all-around people to show us around Portugal. Those guides were amazing and based on their suggestions we are now planning to visit the Azores. We would not have had the interactions or quality of experiences without their help. Thank you so much Goncalo and Rita!
Our trip to Portugal was amazing. Goncalo planned every detail to perfection. We started in Alentejo — which we had not even thought of going to — and it was the perfect place to get over jet lag and recover in a gorgeous hotel and setting. From there we went to Porto, and he planned amazing day tours — walking tours and a day trip to the Duoro with an incredible winery visit and lunch. Porto was wonderful and we loved exploring it. We also had a WOW Moment at Claus Porto — a company that started in Porto in 1887 — and we had an incredible experience. After Porto, we went to Lisbon for seven nights. There had been a really bad rain the night before we got there, and Goncalo called us when we arrived and suggested canceling one of our tours due to the flooding damage. We actually had really good weather the whole trip, but it was a relief to know we were not going to trudge through wet areas after a deluge the night before.
Goncalo planned it so we had stops with tours on the way to each city, and our drivers were wonderful. All the restaurants they suggested and booked were so good. Everyone that toured us or drove us around knew so much about Portugal history and so much pride in their country. December was a great time to be in Portugal and we loved it so much, and Goncalo made it a truly wonderful experience from the second we landed until we got on the plane to come home. We did not have to think of anything — he already had it all figured out. We can’t wait to go back!
My wife Leslie and I traveled to Portugal this year from 11/7-17. Having never been to Portugal, the reasons we decided to venture there are twofold: to consider the possibilities for a dual passport, which we heard was easier there, and to experience the culture and climate in the off-season, which is when we would consider staying in the future for an extended period.
Through Wendy we reached Goncalo Correia and his assistant Patricia Jesus in Lisbon. Based upon our intentions and the level of travel that we prefer, they were able to craft an itinerary that served our known needs and opened new horizons for us. Their suggestion for the itinerary was actually a road trip which included a rental car delivered to our hotel in Lisbon and then setting out east to a charming type of farm stay for 2 nights and then directly south to the eastern part of the Algarve, adjacent to Spain, which was an area that we wanted to research in depth. All of their suggestions included hotels and restaurants and areas along the way that might be of artistic or historical interest, and all were great suggestions. They arranged for a historically based guide in Lisbon for a 1/2 day and an artist as a guide for the next 1/2 day, knowing that the arts are a driving force in both of our lives. This type of experience was a tremendous opportunity for us and gave us a thorough appreciation of the art world there and informed our desire to learn more. It’s experiences like these that make Wendy’s recommendations so valuable to us, as the professionals that one comes in contact with through this service are fully vetted and of high caliber.
Since Covid was no longer much of a consideration, we were able to travel safely and carefully without worry. All of the accommodations and restaurants suggested were well thought out and to our liking, and perfectly coincided with our days of driving. After 3 days on the eastern edge of Algarve, we drove to just north of the western edge to the Costa de Vincentina, which was truly magnificent. The wind and surf and thrilling sky conditions there created an exhilarating experience, as Patricia strongly recommended a 2-night stay in another farm type country setting. A rare find indeed!
All in all we greatly enjoyed our time in Portugal, and the guidance afforded us by the superior team of Gonçalo and Patricia was instrumental in this. We will return and we will definitely knock on their door before we do so next time.
We traveled in Portugal Nov 4-13. Lisbon at the Bairro Alto Hotel, which is in an ideal location—and has a lovely staff. It has a wonderful outside space for breakfast and another one for drinks on the roof with outstanding views. We had a wonderful itinerary and several extraordinary experiences planned by Goncalo and his team: a private tram though the city and an after-hours visit to the Pena Palace in Sintra were two of the highlights in Lisbon. Then we rented a car and drove to Coimbra to see the university and the library—very worth a visit—and on to two nights in the the Duoro Valley at the Six Senses—with a trip on the river and wine-tasting experiences. The Six Senses is a beautiful hotel with incredible food and service, and the Douro Valley is stunning. Finally we went to Porto, staying in the Yeatman hotel, where we had an incredible suite—the Artist Suite—with the most amazing views of the city. Throughout the trip the guides and drivers were all excellent, as were the choices of places to visit—and the little extra touches made it special. We had a fabulous trip. Goncalo was especially responsive and helpful in the planning—and checking in during the trip. This trip had originally been scheduled for April 2020—and then rescheduled due to Covid for Nov 2022. We had a few glitches with dining reservations not being made, and drivers taking us to the wrong restaurant, but given the excellence of the rest of the trip, we shrugged those off. If there is a special meal or restaurant planned, we would advise double-checking early that it was arranged. At the time of our travel, almost NO Covid precautions were being taken in Portugal—and we saw few or no masks in most places, but we are up-to-date on vaccines and boosters and felt quite comfortable the entire time.
Wendy Perrin referred us to Goncalo’s office, where Patricia, Madalena and Goncalo helped us plan our trip.
We are three friends who frequently travel together but this time did not have the time to do our own planning. Goncalo and team were able to plan for us to go to Lisbon, Porto and the Alentejo region from September 30 – October 8. As we only had a week, it was a whirlwind, but with the proper planning we were able to fit it all in with plenty of unscheduled time, independence and serendipity.
Goncalo’s team offered us many wonderful experiences during the planning process, and we were able to work very easily with them to narrow down all the options into a plan that suited our interests and preferences. In working with this trip planner, I would recommend (only because it worked for us) to ask them to put together an “ideal” itinerary with their suggestions rather than start with a very specific budget constraint. They sent us a very full and exciting “first draft” itinerary that would have kept us very happy and busy, but since we like to explore independently and have more “downtime,” we were able to work with them to give the itinerary a “haircut.” I think it depends on your personal travel preferences—the team had great recommendations for special experiences.
We had a wonderful guide and driver take us to the “must visit” Sintra region, and I strongly recommend even for independent travelers to see Sintra in this way. There is just too much worth seeing, over too much area, and a lot to learn. We could not have been happier with our pleasant and knowledgeable guide Alex. She very adeptly tailored our day to our personal interests and pace. The agency had recommended a sailboat ride along the coast that also sounded wonderful. We passed on that because one of our group doesn’t like to sail, but it was a great option to have. Likewise, the agency had recommended a private vineyard luncheon and tasting in Alentejo, and it was very tempting, but in the end we opted to use that day to explore the region by car independently and we really enjoyed that.
Lisbon and Porto were very congested and full of tourists—fair warning! If you enjoy good food, I would strongly recommend that you work with the agency and do your own research to book at least one meal a day in advance in a good place, and outside of the touristed areas. You will not likely be able to “wander” into a place that has good food. Don’t feel the need to eat only in “Portuguese” restaurants. We had some of the best Lebanese and Mexican food we have ever had in Lisbon. Cabs and Ubers were very inexpensive and handy to get to restaurants outside of the heavily touristed areas, where we were welcomed with hospitality and relaxed service. Fresh shellfish in the beach town of Matosinos was a highlight. In Lisbon, we took advantage of the numerous “Tuk Tuk” drivers to take us around and show us some of the sights in a compressed space of time. No, they do not compare with the expertise of an experienced, qualified guide, such as you would want to have in Sintra. But for fun cross-city jaunts to tick off all the sights it’s loads of laughs, you see a lot, and you can negotiate a very good price.
We used drivers sorted by the agency for transfers between airports and train stations and hotels—so worth it on a short trip, especially during a heavily travelled season. We are very adept at public transportation but it wouldn’t have been worth the hassle and it would have eaten up a lot of time. There were plenty of other opportunities to experience the local transit.
The train ride from Lisbon to Porto and back again was an easy and restful way to change cities.
This is not for everyone, but I recommend getting up at daybreak to walk around Lisbon and Porto. It is the only way to see the cities without crowds, and they are stunning in the morning light and with empty streets. This would be especially important during the high season, which I understand now extends into Autumn.
The central food market in Porto is buzzy and a great place to have lunch and a glass of wine.
We rented a car and drove from Lisbon to the Alentejo region for the last portion of our trip, and I strongly recommend having a car to get out of the city centers for at least part of your trip. It’s very easy to drive in Portugal and any navigation app (Waze for example) will do the job.
Goncalo and team found us great hotels in Lisbon, and outside of Evora. In Porto, they placed us in a hotel of our choosing but clearly they had the pull to put us in spectacular rooms with unforgettable views. (The reception who checked us in said “Wow, you have great rooms.” Our final two days in a remote spa-like hotel outside of Evora (Octant Hotel) was an expected highlight of the trip. We never would have come up with this place on our own. After the hustle and bustle of Lisbon and Porto, it was great to relax into this oasis. Also, skip the town of Evora (it’s amazing but too congested) and drive to Monseraz.
If you can get to Portugal any other way than TAP, do so. Be sure to leave plenty of time to get through the airport in Lisbon on the way home—it’s very disorganized, hectic even if you are traveling first class, and there are many layers of security to get through.
During the course of planning our trip, there was a change in personnel at the agency. Our trip planning was continued seamlessly without missing a beat. They responded immediately to a concern we had at one point in the trip (even tho it was a national holiday), and were professional to respond at every stage of planning the trip. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend working with them.
My husband and I spent two wonderful weeks in Portugal and returned home September 19, 2022.
We were extremely pleased with the overall itinerary and happy that we used Goncalo and his team. We have used WOW List agents before and this did not disappoint. I don’t think we would ever plan an overseas trip without the benefit of one of these agents. The benefit of Goncalo‘s planning with us made it a very stress-free trip. The hotel recommendations (with the exception of one) were outstanding. The Bario Alto in the heart of Lisbon, The Quinta Nova winery, so charming with amazing views, and our absolute favorite, The Yeatman in Vila Nova de Gaia neighborhood of Porto. It was easy to get to the old town of Porto from here, with a little relief from the construction and crowds of the main part of the city. They provided excellent guides, with our all-time favorite Tiago in Lisbon, who is brilliant and funny and made the history come to life. He was with us on our day outing to Sintra, not sure why the agent recommended the Peña Palace as there are hordes of tourists and long lines to get in. We decided to tour the grounds instead, which are beautiful, and got interesting views of the outside and the history. A great experience was the winery near Estremoz, Herdade dos Coelheiros. A private Jeep tour through the winery, including olive and cork groves and lunch at the winery, lovely and informative (though not with the owner as it was portrayed, he lives in Brazil). But no matter, as the tour manager was wonderful. We stayed in Evora for 2 nights and do not believe the M’Ar de AR Aqueduto is any place close to a 5-star hotel as it was represented. Our room needed painting, part of the ceiling had water damage and plaster would fall when we closed bathroom door. There was no doorman or anyone to help with luggage, one of the mattresses was old and lumpy, etc.
This, however, did not impact the good time we had in this old city.
There was one day that I found their planning to be extremely poor, as well as their communication and response to my feedback. They arranged a driver to take us to the town of Pinhao for a noon, 1-hour cruise on the Douro. Then we were to have lunch on our own followed by a private wine tasting. However, the winery was right next to the boat dock (which we didn’t know) and since there is nothing to see in the town nor even a nice are area for walking, a three-hour window was simply too long to hang out waiting for our wine visit. The driver called the agency but a different time could not be arranged. It would have been appropriate if they offered suggestions of alternative spots and being so unfamiliar with the area we simply went back to our Quinta. The email response of “sorry the booking was made due to consideration you had a driver at your disposal and could explore during lunchtime” didn’t cut it. While the roads in the Duoro offer fabulous views, they are winding, narrow and mildly terrifying and we had already been on them for hours the prior day. As I am reading this back I realize that I have mentioned a few negatives, but valued their service for the well-organized, interesting experiences, great guides, drivers and flow of the itinerary.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Goncalo and his team planned a Portugal trip to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary. They secured one of the few very best rooms with the best view at our resort on the Algarve, which we could not have obtained ourselves. Very few rooms at the very large hotel had ocean views, so this was a big deal (we even had two balconies facing the ocean). All of their recommendations as to where to stay were great and took into account our preferences, which we discussed in a planning call. They planned great activities, like a lovely large private sailboat from Sintra back to Lisbon, a visit to an observatory (at night of course), and a private cruise along the cliffs of the Algarve. We would not have known about the lovely hotel converted from a farming village in the Alentejo if we hadn’t used a Portugal expert, and we wouldn’t have known which towns to visit. We loved the itinerary they planned and will use them again if we return to Portugal!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We had a great trip to Portugal this August, thanks to Goncalo and Patricia. Prior to the trip, Goncalo walked me through the various options, highlighting the areas that would be the most crowded during August. We came up with a great customized itinerary—I wouldn’t change a thing about it! We appreciated that the week before we left, Patricia reached out to let us know that one of the palaces we were supposed to visit was experiencing 2-hour wait times, even for those with tickets like us. We quickly pivoted and chose a different palace to visit. We were also pleased with all 3 tour guides we had, and all the restaurant recommendations. Highlights were San Lourenco du Barrocal hotel and a special lunch we had in Cascais on the water. The team in Portugal was very responsive to our questions during the week. I would absolutely recommend them to anyone planning a trip to Portugal or Spain—we hope to use them for a Spain trip at some point in the future.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Gonçalo Correia and his team put together a first trip to Portugal for our group of 11 multi-generational family members—initially for travel late summer 2021, then we elected pushed out to 2022 due to Covid. The curated experience included four lodging destinations within Portugal—Lisbon (apartments), Obidos (eco-resort), Paço de Sousa (manor house) and Porto (hotel). Gonçalo did a great job picking destinations (advising against the summer heat/crush of the Algarve) and the experiences. While follow-up lagged toward the end of our planning due to the post-Covid and “Portugal Golden Visa” travel, which I’m sure slammed all Portugal travel agents, our experience was amazing due to the little gems Gonçalo found. It wasn’t unusual for family members to ask: How did you find this wonderful place?!? The minimal additions/changes we requested while on our trip were well handled by his team. Would definitely use Gonçalo and his team again and hope for an improved service experience in less extreme times.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Our trip was great however it’s a very busy time in Europe and it was extremely hot! My wife and I have decided that in the future we will travel to Europe in September, October or the late Spring. We were very happy with the planner, especially the suites at all the hotels. We especially enjoyed the hike with the guide to Cape Roca, it was fantastic and he was terrific and knowledgeable, always watching out for our safety. We also enjoyed the lunch and cooking class that was arranged for us at Casa de Juste, as well as the lunch and wine tasting at Quinta do Crasto. I’m certain that Goncalo and Madalena added value and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend them. Thanks !
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We had a great visit to Portugal. Goncalo and Madalena did an incredible job. We would use them again. They put us in awesome hotels and provided drivers and guides that were attentive, knowledgeable and just great as tour companions. We are very picky and requested changes to our itinerary at least 4 times before the trip. All of our changes were handled without any problems. While on the trip we needed certain dinner reservations; they handled it with ease. We got to do everything we wanted on this, our first trip to Portugal.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL My husband and I just returned from a wonderful trip to Portugal. Our trip planning began with a Zoom call with Gonçalo and Madalena where we discussed our ideas and goals for the trip. After our call and a few tweaks to the plans, we booked the trip.
As we had previously visited Lisbon (pre-Covid), we stayed only one night in Lisbon before heading south and east into the Alentejo region of Portugal. We loved this area as it was uncrowded and allowed for easy travel between the hotel and the various towns that we visited. We stayed 3 nights at Torre del Palma Wine hotel. A high point for us during this part of the trip was our guide, Sophia, who provided us with a personal tour in Evora. We also enjoyed the private lunch at Herdade dos Gros, a beautiful winery, that Gonçalo and Madalena arranged.
After our 3 nights in Altentejo, we drove south to the Algarve region. We stayed in the spectacular Vila Vita Parc. Our main goal while visiting Vila Vita Parc was relaxation. Goal accomplished. While in this region we experienced a boat trip that allowed us to view the cliffs and caves of the Algarve region. The boat company and captain that Gonçalo and Madalena chose was great.
While I do wish that Goncalo’s office was a bit quicker with email responses prior to the trip, when we experienced a mix up with the delivery of the rental car to our hotel, another member of their team jumped in quickly to assist. We also reached out to them as we were running late for a tour and our concern was quickly addressed.
We are glad that we chose a trip to Portugal, which offered us both outside activities and outside dining. Staying south of Lisbon also kept us away from crowds.
We are also glad that we used Gonçalo and Madalena for travel planning assistance. In these wacky and unsettled times, my husband and I felt confident traveling with the knowledge that we did have local contacts in the area should there be an emergency.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL I enjoyed Portugal immensely. I am happy I traveled in June of 2022 after the long pause due to COVID. Goncalo did a good job of coordinating hotels and transportation. Everyone was punctual and organized. The tours and guides were fair (except one who was outstanding), but I did feel more than once that I had been over-scheduled. The day trip to the Douro Valley from Porto was unnecessary and felt like a gimmick to get tourists to spend money there. The walking food tour and guide in Lisbon were terrific. The main issue with this agent was the lack of responsiveness and my need to prompt him or his assistant to do everything to get this planned. There was no follow-through at all. Even after the itinerary had been finalized, I kept having to send emails asking whether train tickets had been booked, hotels finalized, etc.
Response from Wendy:
No doubt this has been a challenging time for travel planners, who have gone from 25% of pre-Covid business to 110% almost overnight (the very same problem that has made airline travel so frustrating this summer). Last spring, as soon as Goncalo saw that the sudden sky-high demand was compromising his responsiveness to travelers, he began limiting what additional trips he would take on. There are challenges inherent to traveling at a time when so much pent-up demand has been released all at once, and our WOW Listers are minimizing hassles wherever possible.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We’ve just returned from a wonderful trip to Portugal that Gonçalo and Joana organized for us. Our itinerary of nearly four weeks began with a short restful stay in Comporta to recover from jet lag, then continued to the Algarve, Alentejo, the Douro Valley, Porto and the surrounding area, Coimbra, the West Coast and finally five days in Lisbon. With the help of Gonçalo and Joana we experienced places we could not have discovered on our own, and we came away with an appreciation of how varied this beautiful country is. Gonçalo and Joana planned the itinerary with attention to our interests and needs. We’re still very cautious about Covid exposure when we travel, and they made sure to help us avoid crowded indoor spaces without isolating us from people and places. Some of the most memorable stays were in small places like Belmonte, where we explored living connections with Portugal’s Sephardic Jewish legacy, and Marialva with its haunting solitude. In the Douro Valley there was a private river cruise, and a highlight in Lisbon was a private sailing on the Tagus. Our driver throughout the trip, João, was marvelous – thoroughly professional, accommodating, helpful in countless small ways, and an excellent driver. Our local guides were all knowledgeable. We especially appreciated Claudia, our guide in Lisbon, who helped us get a glimpse of life in the city beyond the usual tourist sites.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Lisbon: Hotel Lumiares excellent and staff extremely helpful. Food for lunch or dinner less than average. Breakfast good.
Tiago is an excellent guide – we felt quite fortunate. Would reduce Lisbon to 3 days. Evora excellent history, cork, etc.
The cooking lesson at Casa de Juste, the old manor house, was FABULOUS. Ana, the chef has a welcoming and wonderful personality and we had an amazing time. This is a MUST.
Six Senses: A must. Fabulous location, gorgeous scenery and so much to do. Therefore, we would recommend the following: On the 2nd day of arrival, spa is great but do the river cruise for an hour around 5 p.m. so you can also enjoy the activities on the 2nd and 3rd day. We had a really difficult day. It took an hour to get to the winery, our tour was NOT private – 2 others who asked waaay too many questions and the tour was an hour after the guide told us it is a half hour. Food was excellent as well as the ambiance. Then it took at least 35 plus minutes to get to the boat – didn’t arrive until a little before 5 p.m. so we cut the river cruise to an hour. Then another 40 minutes to get back to the Six Senses. Waaaay too long a day and no time to enjoy the hotel which is why we would break up the day as above.
John is a fantastic driver, truly the best BUT there has to be a wonderful winery a lot closer. If not, clients should know how winding and bumpy it is to get there and it took an hour. Two of our group of 5 were not well and even I who has never gotten car sick felt uncomfortable.
Porto: Carlos the guide: very much went by the script, even said “ladies and gentlemen,” and we were only ladies. Didn’t ask anything about our interests, etc. – just went on about whatever we were seeing. Nice person, helpful as my sister was having a little mobility issue, took me to a mall to find a lock for my luggage and to buy food for our companion who had COVID and was isolating. This was not on his ‘list” of things to do. Appreciated but would not use him again. Didn’t really need a guide in Guimaraes but charming city and nice to walk around.
Very sorry to have missed the dinner with the family but because our friend had Covid and even though we tested negative we didn’t want to take a chance. (I tested negative 3 times with the at-home test and then positive for 1 day with the PCR).
On the way to Cascais, Aveiro is a charming city and we enjoyed walking around there and “being on our own” up to a point. John met us at the wonderful porcelain store and took us to the Albatroz. Fine hotel, super helpful staff. And then we got to see Tiago again – great stories and lovely day.
Pedro who is the emergency contact has been extraordinarily helpful to our COVID friend and to us.
And, would be good to know that there is a national holiday towards the end of our trip – could have moved the trip a few days earlier to avoid that and actually get to see Sintra which was a BIG thing for us. Tiago DID arrange another palace but we didn’t get to go to the top or even walk around the city as too many people due to the holiday.
The above is mostly the good stuff and suggestions. Now for the critique: the total lack of quick response and the continuing excuses by Goncalo’s office cannot be forgotten nor forgiven. We are all in the service industry and know what it is like to be overwhelmed. Yet, we work on weekends and evenings. Too many times Goncalo was away for 5 days or Joana was away at the same time. It should not take until a few days before departure to receive our final itinerary. Efficient and timely response are expected when one is paying for the privilege of an organized private tour. We did NOT have that experience and would NOT use the company again or recommend it. AND, one would have thought the company would have sent an email asking about the trip, etc. Nope.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Gonçalo was wonderful in planning my trip to Portugal in early May. We planned a 10-day tour around the country focusing on food, wine, and cultural attractions that covered a diverse range of towns big and small. Lots of castles on hills and good wine along the way. Gonçalo knew the out-of-the-way places that made Portugal come to life, and the local knowledgeable tour guides to properly show them.
What’s even more impressive is he put together an amazing itinerary with little direction. I just told him I wanted to get the feel for the different regions of Portugal, only a month before my departure, and he put together an itinerary that was exactly what I was looking for. They even put together a list of restaurants I should dine at in each town I visited and gave me recommendations for where I should rent an apartment in Lisbon for the next part of my trip. I’d highly recommend him and his team to anyone who wants to experience this great country!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Thank-you to Goncalo and Magdalena for a wonderful trip to Portugal! We visited Lisbon, the Alentejo region, the Douro Valley and Porto and loved every moment. The accommodations were beautiful and the staff at all our hotels were extremely helpful. I had a small toothpaste accident while at the Pousada de Lisboa and the staff laundered my clothing for free and very quickly. Highlights of our trip were a visit to the Quinta de Santa Ana Winery & lunch in Ericeira, a visit to Sintra, a wine tasting/pairing with lunch at Herdade do Esporao and a visit to Monsaraz castle. There were many wonderful experiences and we appreciate that Goncalo arranged such a stunning trip which suited our needs for wine, food & culture in one trip. Thank-you Goncalo!!!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL My family of 14 travelled to Portugal the last week in May. Our group consisted of my wife and I, our four adult children and five grandchildren 3 1/2 and younger. We also took one nanny with us.
Our travel advisor did a wonderful job of choosing a Quinta (villa) for us with a private chef and server. The accommodations were beautiful and comfortable. The chef was fantastic. So was the rest of the staff. The transportation, a 16 seat brand new Mercedes minibus, was also very comfortable with a great driver. Our guide, though a bit confused at first with a group such as we had, nevertheless adjusted and provided everything we could have wanted. For example, when I advised the guide that we could not sit for a 2 hour restaurant lunch with young children he then called in our order in advance and we had 1/2 hour lunches all prepared when we arrived.
Our travel advisor also chose a wonderful part of Portugal to explore-the area around Porto. I would call the area very traditional and full of tourist attractions.
On the other hand, our travel advisor left a few things to be desired. Although we planned the trip a year ago we didn’t hear from him until about six weeks before we left. We had one half hour phone call and then he disappeared. We had many subsequent questions which were not answered. He failed to promptly respond to emails. He claimed he was inundated with work and that he would be very available once we arrived. This was not acceptable. We had Covid questions, questions about unplanned days and other items. It took a complaint to your office before he finally responded to us. Perhaps he should not have taken on so much work and rather taken better care of his existing clients.
Once we arrived in Portugal he did respond to our emails. I had to be very firm to get what we wanted though.
All in all, we had a great time because we were with our entire family. Also, it helped being a sophisticated traveler and knowing what I could and should be getting from the travel advisor. I just wish it could have come from him first rather than me requesting.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Gonçalo and Joana put together an excellent trip for us throughout Portugal in May 2022, identifying hotels that fit what we were looking for perfectly and different parts of Portugal that we would not have explored on our own. We especially loved the activities they arranged for us at the Torre de Palma Wine Hotel and an amazing stay in Marialva, where we felt like we had the town to ourselves. While Gonçalo and Joana were fantastic before our trip, they seemed overwhelmed by the sudden huge travel demand coming of the pandemic. They were not terribly responsive to questions or concerns before we departed. However, during our one issue on the trip, they were in touch within minutes and got it solved quickly. While I do hope that they can improve their pre-trip response time, I would absolutely use their services again, as we would not have had such a great trip without their expertise.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Our trip to Portugal qualified as a WOW. We worked closely with Goncalo to plan all aspects, starting with an itinerary of where to go and for how long, and then proceeding to accommodations, experiences, and dining. All aspects were customized to our requests, including a private guide and driver for the entire trip.
My husband and I were taking our granddaughter (for her high school graduation). The trip was as wonderful and exciting to her as it was to us. There were just too many special moments to capture in this review. Goncalo, together with his associate Joana and our Guide Valter, created a never to be forgotten memory. Thank you to all.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We have just returned from a 10 day trip to Portugal planned by Goncalo Correia and his assistant Joana from May 6th to the 16th. The trip was amazing in every way. We began in Lisbon where we spent 3 nights and then progressed on to Alentejo, the Douro valley, Porto and finally Cascais. The city hotels were centrally located in convenient areas. The hotels in Alentejo and the Douro Valley were gorgeous. The scenery was exquisite in both places. The seaside hotel in Cascais was quite beautiful and we wished that we had more than one night there. Our driver John, was a total professional. He was always on time (usually early) and was completely accommodating even with some last minute changes to our itinerary. Having a private driver was was very reassuring and we felt more comfortable and safe than we would have on a group tour. The tour guides were all wonderful but our favorite was Tiago. He had a wealth of knowledge on every subject and was able to impart it in a very engaging way. Our tours in Lisbon were more enjoyable because of him. The highlight of the trip for us was a private lunch and wine tasting in a beautiful estate winery. It was definitely a once in a lifetime afternoon.
We had given a deposit a few months before our trip and were told that the remainder was due 30 days before. They did not ask for the balance until 2 days before our trip. This may have been due to the recent uptick in Covid cases.
Joana arranged for a lab technician to come to our hotel room for Covid testing before our return to the US. This was so convenient and saved us quite a bit of time.
I would highly recommend Goncalo and Joana to anyone planning a trip to Portugal. They will tailor the trip to your specific needs.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Our trip to Portugal was incredible. Goncalo and Joana did an awesome job planning our extensive itinerary. They kept us moving – which we love to do. From Lisbon to Douro Valley, with much in between. From Douro Valley to Porto, with much in between. Four days in the Azores was a different experience than the mainland. Enjoyed exploring the volcanic lakes, hot springs and the lushness. Then back to Lisbon to explore for our final two days. Our guides were fun and knowledgeable and our driver Luis was terrific! We felt safe the entire time. Covid testing was seamless. We needed to test on a Sunday to return to the U.S. As Portugal is a religious country, many places were closed. Tiago figured it out so as not to lose any time running around to find a testing place.
We would not recommend the pottery class. We did not get to take it, however, as when we drove up, one of the artists mentioned to Luis that one of his staff had tested positive for covid. Never relayed this info to Goncalo. (we did get reimbursed) Stargazing was not what we expected. Perhaps it was the time of year. They were the only two snafu’s.
Our trip would not have been the same without planning through your recommended tour specialist in Portugal. Highly recommend Goncalo and his team. Much more to see in this beautiful country. We will be back!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Gonçalo arranged a two week tour of Portugal for our family of four over spring break 2022. We spent six days in Lisbon, five days exploring the hilltop Templar castelos of Central Portugal, and then three nights in the Azores. Gonçalo and his team were very responsive and provided great support during the trip. We had difficulty finding the meeting spot for one activity and Gonçalo’s team solved the problem for us promptly (not only on the phone but our previous guide personally came and found us to make sure we were ok!) Gonçalo’s hotel recommendations were spot on. We loved Hotel Bairro Alto in Lisbon — luxurious, great balcony for drinks and dining, fantastic location. And São Lourenço do Barrocal in the Alentejo is now up there with one of my favorites in the world — think a Portuguese Meadowood. Just an exquisite property, and I’m already dreaming of a return trip there. Gonçalo arranged many unique experiences for us — a graffiti workshop, dinner in a Portuguese home (the best food we ate the entire trip), rail biking outside Mervão (my 16 year old’s favorite), stargazing in Dark Sky Alqueva (my 14 year olds favorite), and guided hiking in the Azores. For me, the highlight of the trip was a picnic lunch in a nature reserve outside Sintra after braving the hordes at Pena Palace. We spent the most delightful two hours in a sunny flower filled meadow sipping vinho verde, enjoying delicious homemade food and laughing and talking with Lara (the chef and foodie tour guide) and Tiago F. (our walking guide and one of the smartest and most entertaining guys we’ve met), discussing everything from the Oscars to Queirós. I felt like I was experiencing the best of authentic Portugal and its people.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We just returned from a long awaited trip to Portugal. The trip was rescheduled three times due to Covid and throughout this process Gonçalo and his team were patient and through.
We had a fantastic trip in spite of rain throughout the 10 day trip and a once every 20 year sand storm that blanketed the country for 3 days giving all our photos a yellow/orange haze.
Our trip began in Porto where we stayed a beautiful hotel walking distance to shops and good food. We had a great tour guide who spent two days showing us the sites and history of this beautiful city. We had an amazing cooking class at an estate outside the city that had been in the owner’s family for 18 generations. Unfortunately weather did not permit enjoying the beautiful grounds.
Next we spent time in Algarve where Gonçalo booked us at a wonderful resort on the beach. We spent the afternoons exploring nearby towns. Our boat trip to the caves was a bust due to weather, but now we have an excuse to return to this beautiful part of the country.
Lastly we spent the end of our trip in Lisbon. We had an amazing tour guide Matilda who was able to engage our three teenage girls and keep all of us interested in the history and sites. We did an amazing Coasteering activity along the coast the girls loved. It involved cliff jumping, rock climbing and swimming. We were freezing but adrenaline kept us going, and the wetsuits helped a bit.
Our last day we were rewarded with a chilly but sunny day…..we took a sailing trip and explored some cities outside Lisbon.
Gonçalo arranged a trip exactly as requested: some history, some culture and some active adventure. If only he could have controlled the weather it would have been a perfect trip!
As usual Wendy’s Wow List did not disappoint!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Gonçalo and Débora helped us organize a trip to Portugal and Madeira from late November 2021 to January 2022. This was a different sort of trip: we needed more unscheduled time to recover from a gruelling year, and we wanted to minimize our risks of contracting Covid–the reason we had chosen Portugal to begin with. Gonçalo and Débora suggested wonderful properties in the Alentejo region for our first 2+ weeks that would allow for deep relaxation with some outdoor adventures to enjoy the natural landscape, cultural history, and local wine. Memorable and highly recommended: the horseback ride across the dunes in Comporta, birdwatching and stargazing adventures further inland. All guides booked were first-rate. At all locations accommodations were made for our vegetarian, gluten-free diets. We enjoyed a final stretch in Madeira, beginning in a quiet resort on the west coast before moving to the busier city of Funchal, where Omicron caught up to us, forcing us to isolate and extend our stay. From the moment we had symptoms Gonçalo was in touch with us daily to see whether we wanted to consult with a doctor and to support us through all aspects of the situation. The hotel he and Débora selected for us could not have been a better fit given the circumstances, and we felt secure and well-cared for every step of the way. We cannot put a price on what that meant to us. We would not hesitate to recommend Gonçalo and we hope to book another trip to Portugal with him in the coming years.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL When my husband and I decided to travel to the enchanting city of Lisbon, Portugal to watch our son participate in a marathon we immediately contacted Wendy Perrin and team for an outstanding travel specialist recomendation and we were not disappointed!! Goncalo and his team made our trip amazing and memorable!!
I cannot imagine traveling during these uncertain times without the assistance and knowledge of the spectacular travel specialists that work with Wendy Perrin and her team. Goncalo proved invaluable in planning our trip and making sure we were in compliance with the covid rules that were continuously changing. He made sure our vaccine records were properly registered, informed us of any changes in covid rules, and also arranged for our covid pcr tests to be administered in the convenience of our amazing hotel room. Also, the results of our tests were texted to our phones in time for our departure to the United States. The entire process was easy, stress free and hassle free too!
In regards to our trip, Goncalo continued to add tremendous value! We began our trip planning with a zoom call in which Goncalo covered everything from hotels, tours, restaurant reservations, airport transfers, etc.,, He listened to our expectations for our trip and truly exceeded them! After our zoom call, Goncalo put together an outstanding list of recommendations and helped us put together an incredible itinerary that included several private tours, a wine tasting at a local vineyard and an excellent cooking class that covered some of our favorite portugese dishes.
The tours were incredible and highlighted the rich history of Lisbon and some surrounding coastal towns too. Every tour was outstanding and our knowledgable guides provided deep insight into the wonderful history of Portugal. I would also recommend the cooking class and market tours provided by Goncalo’s group. It was simply perfect and provided us with an unmatched perpective that we could never experience on our own! We really loved it all and will never forget our last day in Portugal that ended with the wine tasting tour of a local vineyard. It was truly a wonderful way to end our day of tours.
We cannot thank Goncalo and his team enough for all their hardwork and preparation in making our trip to Portugal so very special. Goncalo and his team were very detailed and provided exceptional value to every aspect of our trip. Every recommendation was spot on! We also appreciated their welcome basket on our arrival to the hotel. It was obvious they were there to please and they certainly achieved it! Thank you Wendy Perrin and all for helping to make our trip to Portugal unforgettable!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL My wife and I took a 10 day trip to Portugal in November 2021 upon the recommendation of Wendy. We gave some parameters on the trip we were looking for and dates, and Portugal was the recommendation and it was a fabulous one. Wendy recommended we use Gonçalo Correia and Joana Silva to guide us and they were terrific. We had an introductory call with Goncalo and Joana and several email conversations iterating on the itinerary. It was a relatively tight planning window complicated by limited availability but they worked their magic and everything came together without any issues.
We did two nights in Lisbon, 4 in Douro Valley and 3 in Alentejo. I personally don’t love hyper planned itineraries or doing a lot of tours but they balanced the schedule very well and the tours they arranged were the best parts of our trip. In Lisbon, it felt like we were accompanied by a college professor. It was a very efficient use of our time and allowed us to avoid the crowds. In the Douro Valley we had a private winery tour, lunch and tasting. It was relaxed yet educational and luxurious. In Alentejo we did another private winery tour and lunch and tasting but accompanied by the owner, which was wonderful. We would simply not have had, or even really known where to begin, in scheduling experiences like this.
They also arranged delivery of the rental car to the hotel in Lisbon and drop off at the airport. This was seamless and allowed us to avoid going to and from a rental counter, worry about parking, etc.
This was our first experience using Wendy’s service and it will not be the last. It is highly worth it and this is coming from a skeptic that is used to planning all travel. If you are visiting Portugal, we highly recommend Goncalo and Joana – they made the trip exceptional and easy for us, all the way down to the 36 page custom and detailed itinerary (including all contact info, directions, background, history, etc). Hard to go wrong with Portugal, it is the perfect mix of natural beauty, incredible food, warm and welcoming people and very easy to navigate.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Goncalo and his assistant, Debora, organized a wonderful week in Portugal for us in early November, 2021. We explored the region while based in a wonderful, historic hotel in Lisbon. Because of covid, we did not want to spend too much time indoors and so did not plan to see museums or other things we might have done pre-covid, but rather explored the region through history and architecture. Goncalo understood our concerns about traveling whilst still in a global pandemic and assured us that the hotels were taking all precautions and that guides would all be fully vaccinated and would wear masks while in the car with us. Each morning we were picked up at our hotel by our driver (Louis) and guide (Tiago). They were both great companions for our explorations. Tiago was absolutely fluent in English (American and British as well as five other languages!). He was very well versed in Portuguese culture, history, politics, and geography and was entertaining as well as informative. Goncalo engaged a guide for us the day we wanted to hike along the coast and we had a great day out with him. He was also very knowledgeable and a good companion – and kept us safe on some challenging trails.
Goncalo had made lunch reservations for us each day and not only chose wonderful restaurants but seemed to get the best table for us. We had spectacular views as well as delicious meals.
In the course of planning our trip we had to make several scheduling adjustments and Goncalo and Debora responded quickly and graciously to our requests.
I plan to work with Goncalo and his assistant, Debora, when we return to Portugal – which I hope will be soon.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Goncalo and Joana were just fabulous — so grateful for them and for Wendy!
We had such a wonderful week in Lisbon and Alentejo – I can’t thank Goncalo and Joana enough for arranging a lovely trip for us. Cristina is an amazing, engaging, and such fun guide. Our morning with her was fantastic and top of our list. Sao Lourenco do Barrocal was fabulous – gorgeous architecture, wonderful food, and such friendly staff. And Lumiares was the best location; just five minutes from where we needed to be and right in the heart of everything. Perfection. We wouldn’t have had nearly the trip we did without Goncalo and Joana’s expert guidance, advice, and support at every step. Thank you, thank you!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Our trip planner, Goncalo, created a wonderful itinerary for our visit to Lisbon and the Douro valley. Our guides were awesome and showed us some amazing churches, museums, and wineries. They really gave us a sense of the history and culture of Portugal. Their suggestions on a few special places to eat were spot on. Our cooking class was fantastic. The hotels were each quite special in terms of their architecture and location. When we had a problem with a train ride on a Friday evening, we called the emergency number provided to us and received immediate help. That was very reassuring. Overall, this was a terrific vacation.
PANDEMIC TRAVEL We had been planning our trip to Portugal now for over a year, as Covid put initially a dent in our plans. Therefore we were highly anticipating this trip. Goncalo was awesome. He picked the perfect places with the perfect guides for us. He picked great hotels with great locations in historic districts. We enjoyed cooking classes, market visits, historic walks and nature hikes. Two things stood out for us. The first one was a visit to Tomar and the Templars Convent of Christ, as we find the history behind it fascinating and the other was Joao, our hiking guide in Algarve who was fantastic both in his knowledge of the environment and his caring attitude. I really cannot say enough good things about our trip. Thanks to Goncalo and his team!
PANDEMIC TRAVEL Goncalo and Joana were very responsive to our trip goals for Portugal. They were happy to make adjustments when we requested a combination of inland and coastal destinations and when we had to reverse our itinerary due to changing flight availability. They were helpful in providing information re COVID-19-related paper work and trends in Portugal. We also appreciated that they secured upgrades to our accommodations as well as securing one driver for the entire trip, at no increased costs. The 2 main guides they provided for our city tours were excellent. We were delighted to receive personal welcome notes and tasty treats upon our arrival at each lodging. We originally explored the services of Goncalo and another trip planner but we decided to go with Goncalo because he was more targeted to our goals and timely in his communications. The special winery experiences and arranged lunches would not have been possible without them. We recommend him and his company with enthusiasm.
Goncalo and his assistant Joana were available when we had a few glitches.The guide for the walking tour did not show up. Goncalo was so apologetic and he arranged for another guide immediately. He refunded the cost of the walking tour. When our rental car did not arrive at the hotel on time due to the Lisbon Marathon closing streets, Joana worked with the company to figure out a way to to get the car to us which involved the hotel porter transporting our luggage through the streets of Lisbon for a number of blocks. Our cooking class was amazing. We went to the home of a former master chef of Portugal and prepared a fabulous meal. Gonçalo’s suggestion that we spend a few days in the Alentejo was perfect. The property Sao Lourenco do Barrocal was beautiful and a very peaceful way to spend a few days after days of sightseeing.
Debora and Joana did an amazing job planning our trip to Porto and its surrounding areas. I was only in Portugal before and after my business trip for a total of 4.5 days while my husband was staying in Portugal for 10 days. Debora planned a trip to accommodate both of our time and ensured we both had a diversified and wonderful experience. The driver and guide provided were excellent and all the hotels were amazing and well located. Debora also made wonderful restaurant recommendations. The restaurants were highly graded by the local people, reasonably priced, and provided attentive service. We couldn’t have asked for a better agency to spend our trip.
He gave us an itinerary that was very good in every respect. The hotels he picked were all very good. We had one issue with the time for a pickup which was handled perfectly. The drivers and guides were truly excellent. Amelia in Lisbon was excellent. Our driver, Tiago, was beyond terrific. He also acted as a guide when we did not have one. Wonderful young man.
We wanted to travel to Europe via the Azores. Goncalo and Joana were very helpful in preparing our itinerary. All went very well. We had a great time
Goncalo and Joana listened to my wishes for the type of travel experience my husband I were interested in for Portugal and delivered! They crafted a thoughtful itinerary that included great hotels, great guides, great special moments, such as a private wine tasting and lunch at an amazing Vineyard in the Duoro. They provided detailed information about arrangements for transfers, pickups, driving directions and even parking suggestions. They called to check in on us during our vacation. Best of all, they had little (big!) surprises for us at every hotel welcoming us to their beloved country. I would highly recommend them to anyone!
Gonçalo Correia and Joana Silva planned and executed a fabulous trip for us to central and northern Portugal, along with Santiago de Compostela and Salamanca in NW Spain. They listened carefully to what we were interested in, taking account of our previous travels in Portugal and Spain. For example, when Gonçalo heard that we were interested in prehistoric art, he suggested that we visit the Coa Valley, accompanied on a private tour conducted by a fascinating archeologist, which turned out to be a highlight of the trip.
Each of the private guides that Gonçalo and Silva arranged for eight tours (in the Coa Valley, in each of the cities we visited, and on Madeira) was fabulous. This contributed tremendously to the success of the trip. It was great to have the full attention of each of the guides, given all of the questions that we have, and because of health constraints one of us had (walking up stairs or steep slopes was very difficult) it was invaluable to have guides who were totally flexible about adapting the itineraries and pace appropriately.
The hotels Gonçalo and Joana selected for us were excellent, and in particular were interesting in their own ways. Hotel breakfasts were wonderful throughout.
We are so thankful for Goncalo and his amazing team who helped plan our 87 year old mom’s bucket list trip to Portugal. Our trip was everything my mom could have hoped for and she enjoyed every minute! (we did too!). The memories began with treats in our room, her dream of visiting Fatima, and ended with the kindness and thoughtfulness of our guide Tiago and driver John. It was so easy to work with Goncalo and his team. He responded quickly to our questions and took great care to plan our trip taking into account some mobility issues. Goncalo’s suggestions as to what to see and do were perfect. He did a great job making this adventure special not only for our mom but also for her three daughters who travelled with her. Everyone had their day and special adventure in Portugal. We enjoyed our visits to vineyards, villages, and most importantly Fatima. Our guide’s knowledge of each area and especially of Fatima was greatly appreciated. We also enjoyed our cooking class at the home of chef Aturo. Additionally, the restaurants that were chosen for us were delicious and allowed us to explore different neighborhoods.
Tiago and John (Our guide and driver) could not have been more kind, thoughtful, and knowledgeable. They took wonderful care to ensure my mom had an experience of a lifetime. Tiago’s knowledge was second to none. We loved listening to his stories and learning more about his beautiful country, its people and culture. Both John and Tiago made my mom feel like she could see and do everything. They helped her out of the van, they walked at pace where she could keep up, and they always seemed to know when to take a break. They also did a wonderful job rearranging sites when they were closed on our schedule day. Additionally, when in Sintra, Tiago knew that the cave would be difficult for my mom so while my sister and I toured, John took my mom and another sister on a drive through the town sharing with them the history and stories of the area. At the end of the drive, he brought them to a lovely café where they could try some of the local sweets, people watch, and enjoy talking to John. We highly recommend and would definitely use Goncalo and his team again on our next visit to Portugal
Goncalo designed and created an extraordinary unforgettable adventure.
Yes, they quickly solved the problem of an unsatisfactory hotel room, and they did it on a Sunday morning when their office was closed.
We suggest that travelers should not attempt to visit a historic church or cathedral during a local holiday. We were scheduled to do that, but could not get near the cathedral because of the huge crowds.
Goncalo and Joanna did an amazing job of planning for us. We had a very limited time available and they were able to help us make the most of it. The driver and guide provided were excellent and the hotel was lovely and perfectly located.
I contacted Goncalo several months ago after seeing his name on Wendy’s WOW list. My husband and I wanted to organize a trip to Portugal in September, and had only a rough idea of where we wanted to go. Goncalo and I spoke on the phone, initially, so he could get a better idea of what we were after. Goncalo listened to what we had in mind and suggested a few places we hadn’t thought of. Within a few days, he sent me an amazing itinerary.
We decided on 4 different places over 10 days. We began in Lisbon, followed by the Alentejo, Douro Valley and Porto. We loved all of the accommodations he suggested. In addition, he organized guides and drivers, some meeting us along our road trip. He organized the car drop when we left Lisbon and pick up when we arrived in Porto.
He recommended restaurants and reserved them for us. (one concierge was very surprised at one since it is very desirable and must be booked far in advance). He organized 2 private visits before/after opening/closing. We had 2 private boat rides, one on a sail boat and one on a power boat along the Douro River. We had 3 visits to wineries, with private tours and tastings.
There were at least 6 or 8 times, when we had questions, or wanted to tweak something along the way. Joana, his colleague, was available all of the time and got back to us vey quickly.
We were beyond impressed with our memorable holiday and will not hesitate to call Goncalo again. I understand he can organize trips to Spain as well.
Goncalo’s help planning our trip was invaluable. We submitted the Q&A from Wendy’s form and then had a very substantive call with Goncalo to talk about what we particularly enjoyed about prior trips and specific likes and dislikes. Our travel dates to Portugal were totally inflexible because they were dictated by our kids’ summer camp schedules, which meant we only had 7 nights during mid-July, high tourist season in Portugal. Our goal was to somehow thread the needle between exploring a country we’d never visited, having deep and personal experiences, avoiding tons of crowds, not bouncing around too much and relaxing. Got it? Among other things, we told Goncalo that we preferred smaller boutique hotels, one deeper experience (like at a winery) to lots of quick stops, and didn’t love spending time in museums.
Goncalo put together an itinerary that fit exactly what we were looking for, including staying at 3 different unique, small boutique hotels — Areias do Seixo (on the coast an hour north of Lisbon), Barrocal in the Alentejo and Santiago de Alfama in Lisbon. Each of the hotels really enriched our experience in the location. When we second guessed three destinations in the country to two, he provided great advice and encouraged us to keep the Alentejo visit, which turned out to be our favorite stop during our stay. We would highly encourage others to include the Alentejo in their plans. It’s much less visited than Lisbon, Porto and Douro Valley, but beautiful, serene, has very special medieval towns and is extremely welcoming to visitors. Barrocal — a converted farm turned 5 star hotel — was a phenomenal home base for our time there. Our single favorite experience in the trip was visiting Herdade de Esparao winery nearby where we somehow spent almost 6 hours on a sweltering 104 degree day — private tour, followed by a private tasting and then an amazing 5 course lunch with wine pairings (probably the best meal we had in Portugal).
Another extremely valuable element of working with Goncalo was the logistical ease of the entire trip. For example, he had the car rental agency meet us outside of baggage claim at the Lisbon airport and then we were led to our car in the garage and quickly drove away. We heard from others that the car rental experience at the Lisbon airport was a two hour nightmare; we had none of that. We didn’t want or need the car in the Lisbon, so Goncalo had the car rental company meet us at our hotel to get the car. Again, this was a 5 minute process instead of a couple of hours. The advice and planning of Goncalo and our excellent guide, Pedro, also made our visit to Sintra a great experience (including by avoiding the palace that is packed with hordes of people).
We needed limited help while we were in Portugal, but Goncalo and Joana were very responsive when we reached out, including to push back the timing of a walking tour so that we would have time for massages before leaving Areias do Seixo (talk about first world problems). Goncalo also made sure that Pedro, our guide in Lisbon, knew that we were more interested in a cultural tour than historical/museums, which led to an experience that fit what we enjoy.
In short, Goncalo proved out the value proposition that Wendy’s trusted traveler list is supposed to be about — a trip tailored to our particular likes and needs, finding hotels and other experiences we wouldn’t have found on our own and making it all happen with remarkably little effort on our part and logistical ease once we were in Portugal. Thank you!
I have so much gratitude for Gonçalo Correia, Joana Silva and their team for planning an amazing and seamless trip for myself and my 19 year old daughter.
My daughter was studying in London for the summer and we had discussed having a “girls trip” when she finished the semester. We decided on Portugal as our destination. A colleague from work suggested I use a specialist from Wendy Perrin’s list. I submitted my initial e-mail request for information and received a response the next day from Goncalo. We coordinated a time to speak over the phone and we discussed the length of our travel time, budget, types of activities and preferred accommodations. The itinerary they created was fantastic! We began our adventure in Porto. Our accommodations at the Torel Avantgarde Hotel were amazing – the hotel is relatively new with beautiful funky art work and a view of the Douro River from the restaurant patio! Divine! My daughter and I had a wonderful walking tour with Isabella who shared her vast historical knowledge or Porto and Portugal, as well as, some great hot spots to visit on our own! (So wonderful to spend morning with you, Isabella!) The following day we were picked up by Raul and taken to the Douro Valley for two wine tours and a private boat ride down the river (WOW!!!!!) Can’t say enough about Raul….we felt so very well cared for…and his grasp of history was astounding! The next few days were spent in Obidos. Our accommodations at the Rio do Prado were amazing! A visit to Quinta do Sanguinhal was our favorite! Ana, the granddaughter of the original owner, was our guide. She is absolutely lovely and the wine is fabulous. Our final destination was Lisbon. We spend 1.5 days with our guide, Taigo, He is brilliant! We enjoyed every minute in his company. He possesses a wonderful sense of humor and is a terrific storyteller! We were treated to a private tour of the Jerónimos Monastery before opening hours (WOW!!!!) which was the highlight of my vacation! Thank you Taigo….you made our visit to Lisbon a memorable one!!
So although this was our first experience using a Wendy Perrin destination specialist and we have not earned our WOW certificate yet, I feel as if we did experience several WOWs during our trip.
Thanks to all!!
Gonçalo and Joana worked with us to plan an outstanding trip for our family of four, including two older teens. After an initial phone call to understand our preferences, they developed an itinerary for us that kept us away from the high season crowds to the extent possible, and provided us with a wonderful, varied experience throughout our holiday. Special mention goes to the fantastic accommodation (which, outside of Lisbon, we would not have found on our own), and our Lisbon tour guide who was above and beyond. The only disappointment was a hike in the Arrabida Natural park…not much to see there in August, and the time would have been better spent elsewhere. Overall, this was one of our best family trips, and I would not hesitate to recommend Gonçalos services.
We spent two amazing weeks in Portugal, traveling on our own to Santa Cruz, the Douro Valley and Porto, after which we were joined in Lisbon by our kids (19 and 16) and moved on to the Alentejo and the Algarve. It was a near-perfect trip and we wholeheartedly and enthusiastically thank & recommend Gonçalo and Joana. They very quickly came to understand the way we like to travel and the kind of experiences we were looking for and matched us up almost perfectly with accommodations and an itinerary that fit the bill. In addition to great planning, they were available and responsive throughout the trip with help, advice and a few last minute changes on our end. A+!
Goncalo and his team were outstanding. We planned the trip on very short notice and had particular needs. We’re experienced travelers (lots of developing world travel with backpacks, and for one of us time spent in active conflict zones for work) and don’t usually use travel planners. We had little time to pull this one together and wanted a great trip. Goncalo delivered with great restaurant tables at interesting restaurants we wouldn’t have easily found on our own, suggestions for under touristed sites and places to go in Portugal, cool hotel recommendations, wonderful tour guides only when we really needed them and some neat moments I wouldn’t have thought of (such as a morning sailing on the river in Portugal on a private boat). We had a couple of small glitches, such as a hotel room in Lisbon where a prior occupant had been a smoker that was pretty unpleasant. The hotel thought a can full of air freshener would fix the problem. The next morning Goncalo arranged for a change to a very nice alternative room and would have gotten us a suite upgrade for our final night if we had wanted to move again. All of his support people were excellent and responsive, with a cell phone number we could call when any kind of issue popped up. We called a couple of times and they jumped right on the minor issues. I would say that given Portugal isn’t a terribly expensive country he certainly charged a generous price for his service, perhaps a bit more so than I would have expected. The trip ran roughly $1,000 a day and Goncalo’s costs couldn’t have been much more than 75% of that. That said, we really loved the service and his team. My wife and I thought this was one of the best trips we’ve ever taken, and you can’t put a price on that. Thanks for the excellent referral.
We just returned from Portugal and had a great time! Goncalo and Joana did a great job planning the trip and executing. We had a driver named Pedro that was with us for 5 days – driving from Porto through the Duoro valley and then Alentejo and then to Lisbon. Pedro was wonderful – always early and very knowledgeable about where to go and what to do plus he was professional and personable and friendly at the same time. He made the trip very enjoyable. Goncalo suggested restaurants that we wouldn’t have found on our own – the Restaurant Adega de Sao Nicolau in Porto – the best octopus I’ve had in a long time, Restaurant Vallecula on the way from the Duoro to the Alentejo was such an unexpected surprise – delicious local food served with a smile in the middle of the countryside. They were able to get us a reservation at the last minute to Belcanto – one of the top 50 restaurants in the world. The sidecar tour was really fun, and something I wouldn’t have thought about doing. As a WOW moment, we were surprised with a before opening hours tour of the Monastery Jerome – one of the sites we had read about, but always came with the caveat that there were large crowds, and there was always a line. We don’t do lines very well, so we weren’t going to visit. It was really fun to be able to tour the monastery by ourselves with our guide and linger and take pictures without a crowd around us. It was very special! Our local guide in Lisbon, Tiago, was super knowledgeable – he could discuss any topic, Lisbon related or otherwise. I would recommend him. I would highly recommend Goncalo and Joana for planning a Portugal trip – In fact, I had recommended him before I used him to a friend, and she took her trip several months ago and really liked his itinerary as well.
We recently returned from an incredible two week trip to Portugal and there are simply not enough words to describe our appreciation and admiration for Gonçalo Correia, Joana Silva and their team who planned this amazing, seamless trip. The four of us have travelled all over the world together over the last 16 years, but we all agreed that the attention we were given by Gonçalo’s team was unparalleled…from the welcome messages and delicious treats upon our arrival at our wonderful hotels to the incredible, knowledgeable guides and drivers who were wonderful ambassadors for the Portuguese people. It is obvious that the meticulous care Gonçalo gives to choosing his guides and drivers reflects the amazing attention to detail with which he runs the business.
Gonçalo understood after just a few conversations exactly what we were looking for in terms of accommodations, activities and learning experiences. It felt as if Gonçalo and Joana were beside us throughout the trip…communicating with our guides throughout, taking care of last minute adjustments immediately. When one of our group had a bicycle accident not only did the bicycle guide insist on staying at the hospital, but Gonçalo was on the phone in no time to check in and see how we were and if we needed anything. When my husband wanted to watch the Toronto Raptors basketball games at 2am at the Pousada do Lisbon, the manager and concierge worked to set up a sofa and tv in the ballroom to accommodate him. We are sure that this is the result of the extra respect the hotels have for Gonçalo and consequently his clients.
We so appreciated the special activities that the Team arranged for us…the bicycle tours, the last minute visit to the Jewish community in Belmonte, the after hours private visits to the Stock Exchange Palace in Porto and to Jeronimo’s Monastery in Lisbon, the visit to the market and cooking lesson followed by a wonderful lunch! How we felt about our wonderful, seamlessly planned adventure in Portugal was represented by the tears we almost all shed upon leaving our wonderful driver, Joachim who treated us like family, worrying about us throughout his time with us, hovering over us like an attentive parent. This reflects the incredible team Gonçalo manages to put together, all of whom go well beyond the call of duty. If you are planning a trip to Portugal or soon Spain, it is definitely Goncalo’s Team that you want behind you.
Our trip to Porto, Lisbon and Seville was thoroughly enjoyable, thanks in no small part to the efforts of Goncalo Correia and his staff in Lisbon. Our introduction to Goncalo began with a telephone call from him to our home in Boston where we discussed what we hoped to achieve on our trip. The final itinerary was the result of several subsequent discussions via e-mail. Each of the three hotels in which we stayed- Pestana Vintage Porto, Pousada de Lisboa and Hotel Alfonso XIII in Seville- were wonderful, being ideally situated and with beautiful accommodations. As an added benefit, we were upgraded to a suite in each hotel. The guides whom Goncalo assigned to us were a pleasure to deal with, as they were personable, very knowledgeable and a delight to spend time with. We had to make some modifications to several of the days’ itineraries “on the fly” as my wife was experiencing some discomfort. They were very accommodating and creative, allowing us to continue with minimal disruption. On our prior trips to Europe, we usually made our own restaurant reservations. As Goncalo offered to make reservations, we took him up on his offer for several dinners that were superb. The food in each of the cities was wonderful, particularly the fish and seafood. To sum up, Goncalo and his associates listened to what we hoped to achieve on our trip, were very patient with the modifications we requested and assembled the perfect itinerary. Kudos to Goncalo and his staff.
Goncalo is THE BEST! Don’t hesitate one second, Goncalo and his associate Joana planned an incredible trip for us. Before discovering country specific agents, I used to do all the trip planning myself. Believe me, using Goncalo is the greatest gift you can give yourself. He is, by far, the easiest and most responsive agent I have ever used. We are just back from 12 exceptional days in beautiful Portugal and our trip went off without a single hitch. He responded immediately to my initial inquiry through Wendy Perrin and continued to respond immediately throughout the planning stage ( a telephone call and then lots of emails) right through the last day of our trip, when I wanted to revamp our schedule for that day. Most importantly, he put together an itinerary that perfectly matched our interests. We love hands on and learning experiences. We love beautiful hotels in country settings. We enjoy the ease of having a driver. Throughout the planning stages, he would make suggestions, I would read up on the suggestions, and our final itinerary was spot on! Highlights include an amazing multi course dinner at the home of local ( just us with Carlos and Sofia. ), a visit to a cork factory, hands-on days making tiles and trying at our hands at pottery, a cooking class and lunch at the most gorgeous country estate, a private boat ride along the Douro River, visits to wineries and olive oil makers, and walks around jaw dropping castles and small villages. We had no idea the same driver – Luis M – would remain with us for 6 days, this was a huge bonus. Luis should be a history/culture/food/agricultural professor. He was so knowledgable that spending time with him really enhanced our travels. He knew just the right restaurant for lunch, just the right roads in the Alentejo and Douro regions to travel for insanely gorgeous views. We started in Lisbon, ended in Porto and now I need a second trip to explore the southern coast. Pousada de Lisboa, São Lourenço do Barrocal, The Vintage House and Hotel Infante Sagres – four superb hotels. At each hotel, you are greeted with a goodie and hand written welcome note from Goncalo and Joana. Their attention to detail is remarkable. Normally I research and take care of my own restaurants when we travel, but this time I asked Goncalo, and wouldn’t you know, back came a detailed list of suggestions and links. I made selections and he took care of all the reservations. All the experiences we had … there is no way EVER that I could have arranged them without Goncalo. Eating octopus at the home of a local couple, sitting at a potters wheel at a tiny family pottery company while the owner helped me smooth out my bowl, hand painting a tile and then having it appear a week later when we checked into our hotel in Porto, learning all about cork trees and the many uses for cork – these are experiences we will never forget! Thank you Goncalo and Joana. To any future travelers perusing these reviews, trust me, Goncalo is your guy!
We used Goncalo and his team to help us plan a trip to Portugal. They were outstanding. We visited Porto, the Douro Valley, and Lisbon, with a couple of side trips from each. Goncalo and Joana started off by having a Skype call with us to get a sense of our travel preferences. (This was our first experience planning a trip with an agent like this; in the past it has been all me and a Lonely Planet Guide, boring my wife and daughter to tears.)
The hotels they chose for us were excellent, especially the one in Porto and the amazing Six Senses Resort in the Douro Valley. The hotel in Lisbon (Eurostar Museum) was also very nice, but note that it is directly across from where cruise ships dock so you need to get away from that area if you want an authentic dining experience where everyone in the restaurant isn’t a fellow tourist. (Note: don’t trust the restaurant reviews on Trip Advisor, at least for the Bairro Alto area of Lisbon; we were sent seriously astray our first night, presumably by cruise-ship passengers who never venture too far from the ship and don’t know any better.)
The half-day side trip from Porto to Guimaraes, with a driver and guide, was a high point. The town is chock-full of history and our guide (Sara) brought it wonderfully to life. The trip included delivery of a rental car to our hotel (highly recommended) for our drive from Porto to the Six Senses resort. A recommended stop along the way in Amarante was only so-so, but that may have been because we were so spoiled after our guided walks through Porto and Guimares that visiting Amarante without a guide left us just kind of going, “Oh, yeah, cute bridge.”
The Six Senses resort was, to repeat, unbelievable. Understated, yet perfect in every way. We had a view of the river from our room; the gym was excellent; the restaurants were fantastic, the service impeccable, and the private port tasting we arranged (this was on our own, not through Goncalo) with sommelier Mario Claro was worth every penny. (Skip the group tasting offered by the hotel: at 33 euros it’s not worth it–or at least it wasn’t with the sommelier who led it, as his English was not up to the task.*)
*To be clear, this tasting was not something Goncalo’s group arranged, so its quality is not on them.
Goncalo and Joana also arranged a private boat ride on the Douro (highly recommended) and a private tour and lunch tasting at one of the wineries in Pinhao. We had a great lunch at a table overlooking the river, with three wines and a port to go along with the food–wonderful.
We drove from the Douro Valley to Lisbon with a recommended stop in Coimbra, which is well worth the visit. Note: if you can get tickets to see the Biblioteca Joanina in advance, you should. One small misstep for us was that, when we went to get our tickets, the next available time slot to see the library was not for another hour. That would have been cutting it too close to get the rental car back in time (ironic, as you will see in a moment), so we were not able to visit the library but did see the other main University attractions. (This would also be a great town to visit with a guide.)
From Coimbra we drove to Lisbon, where the rental car company was supposed to pick up the car at the hotel. (As it happened, they didn’t show up until the following afternoon, which left us kicking ourselves that we’d skipped a visit to the library in Coimbra, but whatever . . .)
The following day we had a walking tour of Lisbon with Tiago, a fantastic guide who works for Goncalo. (The other guides we had were independent contractors.) Tiago was amazingly knowledgeable and a fascinating person: he speaks five or six languages and knows more history than most professors. He’s also just a great guy, and highly engaging. (If you are lucky enough to get him, make sure to ask him to do his Southern U.S. accent–it’s priceless!)
The next day we did a half-day trip to Sintra. It was nice, but the site we visited, the Quinta da Regaleira, didn’t really float our boat. Our guide, who was very nice, tried to get us excited about the “mystical symbolism” of the so called “Initiation Well,” but we found it all to be more idiosyncratic than impressive. (We like history, and this 20th century property didn’t have much of that–though it is very pretty.) The high point was a visit to the old city center, where we stopped for coffee and pastries from the justly famed Casa Piriquita, and the drive along the coast back to Lisbon.
One thing to highlight about Goncalo’s team: they are there to support you throughout the trip; they don’t just plan an itinerary, take your money, and wish you a bon voyage. Examples: they took responsibility for dealing with the rental car company when nobody showed up to retrieve the car in Lisbon. Joana even gave us restaurant recommendations on the fly–and made the reservations for us–when we contacted her to see if we could find something more authentic than the touristy places near our hotel. She gave us two fantastic recommendations (which I will not name here for fear of turning them into tourist destinations as well), and she must have asked them to treat us well–either that or the service in non-touristy Lisbon restaurants is just off-the-charts good.
If you want to save a little money–we spared no expense on this trip (not our usual practice, but this was a Special Occasion)–consider foregoing the driver to meet you at the airport in Porto to deliver you to the hotel; Uber would have sufficed just fine. (That said, having a driver deliver us to the airport at the end of the trip was a nice luxury.) Also, the guided tours are not cheap: we paid for the half-day trip to Sintra separately (it was a last-second addition to our itinerary) so we know exactly how much it cost: over $500, for the driver and guide. That one we would not do again, but three of the four guided tours we did (or four of five, if you count the boat ride) were totally worth it.
In sum, we highly recommend Goncalo to anyone considering a visit to Portugal. His company also covers Spain, and even though I know that country a lot better than I did Portugal, I would definitely contact them before visiting Spain again. Goncalo, Joana, and Tiago are fantastic. We cannot recommend them more highly.
Finally, we flew from NYC to Porto, business class, using another website we found on the Wendy Perrin website: Award Wallet. You tell them how many miles you have on which airlines or credit cards, give them your travel dates, and they do the rest. You only pay them ($185 per ticket, I think it was) if they find an itinerary you like. In our case, they put us on Swiss Air flights from JFK to Geneva, and from Geneva to Porto, for 70,000 United miles per ticket. (I’d tried booking through United directly and got nowhere.) I would absolutely use these guys again. (Note: Goncalo does not, I don’t think, arrange airline travel; their itineraries begin once you arrive in country.)
Goncalo and Patricia were FANTASTIC. We loved our itinerary, they carefully planned every detail. If we hit a snag, they stepped up to fix the issue and make sure our trip was not impacted. The selection of hotels was sublime. Our drivers and tour guides were all excellent. We had a few really WOW moments. The tour of the Douro Valley and the cruise was a WOW! We were spoiled. I’d highly recommend them both. Additionally, the recommendations regarding restaurants were very good. Portugal is a beautiful, friendly country with much to see. We plan to come back!
From the moment Goncalo contacted us, we knew we were going to have a wonderful trip. We were three couples going to Lisbon for three and a half days and were then going on a cruise up the coast of Portugal. Joana, Goncalo’s colleague, arranged the perfect itinerary that included our interests along with their expert suggestions as to what to see, eat and experience. We were extremely pleased! Arriving in Lisbon at different times of the day, we were picked up by John, our driver, who would be with us for our tours in Lisbon. We met Diana, our guide, a delightful young lady who was so very knowledgeable with a wonderful ability to relate information and answer questions. We bonded with John and Diana! On the final half day, we met Mathilda, “Maddy”, who completed our tour in Lisbon; she, too, was a perfect match for our group. The guides and driver that Joana and Goncalo arranged for us made our time in Lisbon exceptional.
Goncalo was also able to arrange tours in ports that we were going to on our cruise. Our time in Porto was well spent with our guide Fernanda and our driver; again a perfect match. Our comprehensive tour of Porto and private tour of Taylor’s wine cellar and port tasting, ending with lunch at a local restaurant, provided a fun filled day. We also had a tour planned in El Ferrol, but due to a change in the ships itinerary, we needed to cancel the tour. We contacted Goncalo and he readily handled cancelling the tour and secured a refund.
Goncalo and Joana’s expertise and wonderful communication made our trip to Portugal one that will be remembered for years to come. Our trip was truly extraordinary!
Goncalo and his colleague Patricia generally were very helpful and gave excellent advice. After several back and forths through email, they provided an itinerary that matched what we wanted (e.g., fewer guides than they typically engage). Their hotel recommendations were all excellent. The few guides they did provide were also very knowledgeable. After visiting Lisbon, we visited Evora, Coimbra, and Porto with a rental car, and the information they provided about the sights in those cities and the drives in between was quite helpful.
Their performance during the trip was marred by a problem with the car rental agency, Sixt. When we went to the pickup location, they did not have our car. We called Goncalo’s office, and the person we spoke to went back and forth with Sixt, which finally decided to drive us to a remote location to pick up a car. As a result of this, we lost half a day of our vacation. We were also told at the end of the rental that, to compensate us for this trouble, we need not return the car with a full tank of gas. However, we soon found that they charged our credit card for the gas anyway, and it took a month and several emails to Goncalo’s agency to reverse this charge. Given this kind of treatment of its customers, Goncalo should not be using Sixt. And when they first got our call that there was no car for us at the pickup location, they should have immediately reserved a car for us at a different car rental agency so that we did not lose all that time.
Response from Wendy:
I want to weigh in here because a lot of independent travelers who rent cars in Portugal encounter problems. For that reason, more and more tour firms won’t arrange Portugal trips for travelers who want to drive themselves around. These firms can avoid headaches and earn more money by having their clients use drivers. Of course, a driver costs much more than a rental car. So we are thrilled that Goncalo remains willing to arrange car rental and resolve the occasional snafu on behalf of his travelers. Typically, Goncalo uses a small, premium car-rental agency that can guarantee vehicles and face-to-face car delivery. That premium option is much more expensive than Sixt, however. For travelers who request the most affordable rental car, Goncalo uses Sixt because of its competitive pricing. He worked hard to get Mr. Weiss a refund from Sixt—and was successful. I sure hope Goncalo continues to put his travelers’ bottom line ahead of his own and continues to arrange affordable self-drive itineraries for many years to come. In the meantime, to avoid the occasional snag caused not by Goncalo but by Sixt’s computer system, I recommend you strongly consider using Goncalo’s premium car-rental option.
Wow what an experience. Although not quite what I thought. My Portugal Trip was to include fine dining hiking biking boating and a complete 11 day adventure from Porto to the Alentejo to the Algarve to Lisbon. Goncalo and Joana did a wonderful job planning my trip and got me into the best restaurants in the country.
HOWEVER, on our first day in Portugal my wife fell and broke her wrist in a museum. That’s when working with Gonçalo really became important. He not only found us a private hospital but totally rearranged the entire Vacation. And I do mean total vacation. New hotels new dates new restaurants new tours everything. I travel a lot and I’m always ready for surprises but usually not of this nature. Again I can’t tell you how fantastic it was to have a knowledgeable team to help me through this challenging vacation. They were wonderful understanding and a needed friend in a foreign country.
We were looking for a 4 day break in Europe while visiting my mother in the UK. Last year we had a great trip to Malta, this year we chose Madeira. Goncalo Correia was the travel specialist chosen by Wendy. He rapidly responded to us and we had a good discussion about our needs. The most important advice was what hotel to stay in. He said we must stay in the Reid Palace hotel and he was absolutely correct. This is a hotel with a tremendous amount of history, a great location on sea cliffs with fabulous gardens and all the amenities you would expect from a modern hotel. It has two outstanding restaurants, the William (one Michelin star) and Villa Cipriani and three minutes down the road is a 2 star Michelin restaurant, the Gallo D’Oro. We had fabulous meals in all three! He also organized two half day trips. The first was a hiking tour along the Levadas with an outstanding guide who was also a great naturalist. The second was a private Funchal tour with a private tasting of Madeira wines with another great guide. We would highly recommend Madeira for a side trip whilst in Europe.
Goncalo and Joana planned a wonderful trip for us. As we are very busy with our jobs and didn’t have the time to research this trip – we left it to the professionals. In two weeks we went to Lisbon, the Alentejo, the Douro Valley and Porto. We asked that we not feel rushed – so we stayed multiple nights in each location. We enjoyed each and every place we stayed, especially the Six Senses Douro Valley. As we were there in the middle of our trip and we spent a whole day just relaxing in the spa and exploring this property. Everything went on schedule with no hiccups. Our driver’s mother became ill and he had to hand us off unexpectedly to another driver.. and it was seamless. Goncalo and his team are highly recommended by us.
Goncalo and his colleague, Joana, recommended accommodations and activities that were spot on for our group of eight. From the terrace of our apartment we were able to watch the fireworks in Lisbon on New Years Eve. The guide they provided, Tiago, was excellent. He knew so much about so many different topics (history, literature, pop culture, sports)—he was a true Renaissance man, as well as having a great sense of humor. We learned so much from him and genuinely enjoyed his company. Goncalo also followed up with us during our trip to see how things were going. Goncalo and Joana were responsive, helpful, and really knew Portugal. Highly recommended!
Goncalo and his team overall planned a wonderful trip for us with some very unique experiences. The absolute highlight of our trip was a visit to Foz Côa for a night hike to the an open-air Paleolithic archaeological site to see the ancient wall etchings. We were with one of the original archaeologists who worked at the site. He was amazing and it was fascinating. We spent 2 nights in the most amazing inn located within the walls of a medieval castle. Unfortunately during our trip, Europe, and Portugal was experiencing one of the worst heatwaves to hit the country in year. At that time we were in Evora which was very inland and VERY HOT! Goncalo and their team were able to make some very last minute changes and recommended some of the most beautiful beaches for us to spend a few days when the temperatures elsewhere were unbearable. They were terrific and were able to change around our itinerary and reschedule things – truly wonderful service. They scheduled a truly memorable hike with incredible views. We loved the hike however we were not prepared with hiking shoes, just our regular sneakers. The trails were very challenging and rocky which was great, just not so great in sneakers with no traction. Our guide on the hike was fantastic. Our guide through Lisbon and Sintra was very knowledgeable, but he had sort of a negative cynical way about him. Our walking tour through Lisbon with him was fantastic. However, we felt that some of the other places he took us to outside of Lisbon were extraordinarily touristy like the castle of Belem (there were ATM machines in the castle!!! and the Pena palace, no historical significance, all reproductions – why see reproductions when the real things is so close by!). Overall I would rate Goncalo and his team an 8.5 and would recommend him to anyone planning a trip. He’s a super nice guy, very smart and his team was lovely and accommodating and provided amazing service and a truly unique experience for us!
In September, a group of 8 family members ranging in age from 19 to 70 spent 11 days touring Portugal and then in doing a partial walk of the Camino into Santiago de Compostela in Spain. Goncalo and Pablo did a faultless job of organizing this trip according to our interests. We wanted to see the important sights, but yet have some athletic activities. We had 3 very athletic people on this trip. I told Goncalo that having excellent, informative guides was very important to us and he delivered. Tiago, our Portuguese guide, speaks perfect English, has traveled to the US and elsewhere, has inexhaustible energy and an encyclopedic knowledge of Portugal. Teresa Oliveira, our guide for the Spanish hike, was also very knowledgeable, as well as fun and extremely accommodating to the diverse needs of our group. Most notable was the way that Teresa and Pablo accommodated a last minute schedule change at the end of our trip. Due to Hurricane Florence, 2 of our group moved their return flights up by a day, 20 hours before flight time. While driving to our hotel, Teresa et al managed to move up all the next day’s activities, ie. guides & private visit, into that afternoon so that the early departees wouldn’t miss out on anything. Somehow they got it done and later Pablo refunded people for the hotels/taxis they didn’t use! That afternoon’s private visit was to Pazo do Faramello. We did a few private visits during this trip, but this was exceptional. Beautiful place, fascinating history, charming host—go if in the vicinity. Without hesitation, I would recommend Goncalo and Pablo to anyone.
We had Pedro and Helder for 2 1/2 days in Lisbon. They were superb. Pedro managed to make changes to our daily itinerary on the spot. Helier was an excellent driver. He outdid himself the evening we went to the Fado performance, guiding us on foot at the end and hoping he would not get a parking ticket!
Pedro is so well versed on all of Portugal and a superb guide. He highlighted the important parts of all the museums and castles we visited and managed the time.
We highly recommend both gentlemen and would pass their names on to anyone.
This trip was to celebrate a special birthday for my husband so I wanted it to be perfect in every way. I’ve actually never used a travel expert before so I wanted to see what value a travel expert could bring. Neither of us had ever been to Portugal and really didn’t know much about the country but decided we wanted to work with someone who would ensure that we saw the best of Portugal. Gonçalo was amazing. He contacted us immediately and asked us what our priorities were. Food and wine were a priority. As well as visiting the major cities, we wanted to rent a car and see the countryside. After a conference call and some follow up draft itineraries, Gonçalo put together an itinerary that included wine tours, local private foodie tours, and day tours. We wanted to learn about Portugal and its amazing architecture and history so Gonçalo hooked us up with incredibly knowledgeable and professional tour guides. Gonçalo took care of absolutely everything, which was exactly what I wanted, and made himself available to deal with any issue that arose. What really impressed me about dealing with Gonçalo was that he was regularly in touch with our tour guides, on the fly, to make sure we were having the best possible experience. The value for me in using Gonçalo was the ease of planning the trip and ensuring that we saw the best of Portugal. It seems that Gonçalo is well respected by all of the hotels that we stayed at. Free room upgrades were really appreciated including an upgrade to a master suite in a 5-star hotel! Nice touch. I would totally recommend Gonçalo for trips to Portugal and Spain as well!
One of the biggest takeaways from our trip to Portugal was how kind, patient and helpful the people we met were. That description certainly fits Gonçalo Correia. From our first phone conversation with him where we talked about the type of things we wanted to experience on our trip, we knew we had the right person to help us plan. He listened carefully and asked the right questions. His patience was certainly in evidence when our original plan for a group of 6 who were thinking of self-driving morphed into just the two of us with drivers throughout our stay. Gonçalo did not miss a beat, cheerfully revising the proposed itinerary. Once in Portugal we were extremely pleased with our guides and our drivers. From arrival to departure, each gave us a great look into their country, its people and its history. Our accommodations were first rate. We especially appreciated our hotels in Lisbon, Evora and Porto which blended history with modern amenities. We were warmly welcomed at each place we stayed and were touched by the notes and goodies from Gonçalo that awaited us. We had a WOW Moment during our trip and it turned out to be just that. While we had hoped to visit a specific Port winery in the Douro, they were fully booked. Imagine our surprise on the morning of our WOW moment when we arrived at a Quinta owned by the same family but not open to the general public. Our guide was “Port Royalty,” a daughter of the family, and our visit was topped off with lunch on the balcony of the family home. A WOW moment indeed! Gonçalo embodies the best of the Portuguese people. We would highly recommend visiting this beautiful country using Gonçalo to plan a trip that will be sure to give you many great memories. He’s a perfect example of what the WOW List is all about.
Goncalo planned a wonderful trip for us. Accommodations were all lovely and relaxing and the restaurant recommendations were amazing at each stop, but best of all the outings and travel guides were excellent! They were all very knowledgeable and made the experience that much more interesting. Despite all the rain that week, we had a wonderful time and would love to go back!
For our Portugal trip, Gonçalo and Joana were extremely flexible and helpful from start to finish. We could not have easily made all the arrangements ourselves. Gonçalos recommendations for hotels and restaurants were excellent. Porto and the Douro Valley were highlights for us and less crowded than Lisbon and Sintra. We had to skip several of the planned activities due to a health issue and Gonçalo handled the changes with exceptional patience. The guides he chose were knowledgeable and friendly and our driver, Jose da Silva, was the best. It is easy to over schedule yourself (we did) so be sure to ask a lot of questions when planning your trip, know your limitations and share them with Gonçalo. I would absolutely recommend Gonçalo.
We contacted Goncalo for our first trip to Portugal, and told him that we were interested in a two-week trip that would provide a taste of the whole country. Along with day trips from Lisbon, he arranged a driving tour from Lisbon to Porto, with interesting stops along the way to the Douro. The arrangements, the guides and the drivers were all outstanding, and the trip was executed superbly.
At the time of our booking Goncalo became newly nominated to Wendy’s travel specialist list. After his incredibly able assistant, Joanna, stepped in, we had immediate contact with her, and she even suggested some appropriate changes (for example, we flew from Porto back to Lisbon instead of taking the train, which made that trip much easier on us). We cannot say enough about Joanna — some months after the trip she even tracked down a package we had mailed from Portugal that had gotten lost in the post!
For the last days of the trip, Goncalo had strongly suggested that we stop at Cascais before heading home. It was an inspired suggestion and definitely one of the highlights of the trip.
Everything on our trip to Portugal was wonderful. Gonçalo Correia did a wonderful job of organizing our trip for 8 people all of whom had different arrival and departure dates. The guides, both in the cities and on the trail were more than excellent. We are a highly inquisitive traveling group and all the guides were fountains of information. We soaked it right up. Transportation connections went perfectly, Our main guide, Tiago, stayed with us for 6 days and was great company. He helped everything go smoothly, taking us from place to place with ease and grace.
If you are planning a trip to Portugal, look no further than Goncalo Correia. This is the third trip we’ve taken using a travel specialist from Wendy Perrin’s WOW List, and each trip has met or surpassed our expectations. Goncalo’s support clearly falls into the category of surpassed, from the moment we started to plan our trip and throughout its duration.
My husband and I travel with another couple, and we wanted to plan a three-week driving tour of Portugal. Goncalo was exceptional from the start: his listening skill are superb. He asked questions to understand our needs, how we like to travel, the types of accommodations we prefer, the experiences we enjoy. The itinerary and travel route he created met all of our needs, enabling us to get a good sense of the various regions and local cultures. Our route took us off the beaten path to villages and areas not overrun by tourists, i.e., the Alentejo region, medieval villages south of the Douro Valley. The accommodations were excellent, with each one reflecting the culture and nuances of the particular region. He understood we have an interest in history and political context and selected guides that were well versed in these topics. An example of understanding our special interests was the visit to a couple of wineries. As we live in the wine country in California, he understood that we did not want wine tasting or winery visits to be the focus of our trip. We asked that he recommend one or two experiences that are a “must,” and he arranged two dining/tasting experiences that were off the chart exceptional.
Every restaurant he recommended was excellent, again capturing the local flavor of the region.
My husband and I lived in Europe for three years and traveled extensively, but this was our first trip to Portugal. Three weeks seemed more than enough time, but upon return, we felt we could have stayed another week: a testament to the beauty, generosity, and warmth of the people and country, and to the wonderful itinerary and pace that Goncalo so exceptionally planned.
As our travel companions said (which echoes our thoughts): “we are over the moon—one of our best trips ever”.
Great job, great trip, can’t wait to go back!
Thanks to the knowledge, experience, planning, and outstanding logistics management by Goncalo and his Spanish colleague Pablo, we had a spectacular 21-day trip to Portugal and Spain. It was everything we could have wished for. Each venue was interesting, enjoyable, different, and memorable. Highlights included Lisbon, Porto, Sevilla, Granada, and Cordoba, but we also enjoyed Coimbra, Evora, Cadiz, Ronda, and other venues.
The quality of Goncalo and Pablo’s selected guides was exceptional. All were knowledgeable, responsive, personable. The guides in Lisbon, Granada, and Seville were especially impressive. All the guides were responsive to our needs and wishes and helped us understand the surprisingly complex history and uniqueness of the sights we visited. Not surprising, the Alcazar, la Alhambra, and Mezquita will be memories for a long time to come. But less well-known venues such as the cork markets in Evora and the white-washed village of Grazalema were also enchanting.
All the drivers were well-dressed, professional, and courteous. The cars were clean and terrific. The high-speed AVE train from Cordoba to Madrid was terrific, a great choice.
We enjoyed all the recommended hotels. The Posada in Lisbon was terrific. We were so very happy we chose to stay at the Alfonso XIII in Seville. It was a highlight, wonderful in every way. The Parador in Cadiz was remarkable and our junior suite fabulous. And we were so very happy we had successfully attained reservations at the Parador de la Alhambra in Granada. It met our high expectations driven by feedback from friends. In general, the hotel breakfast buffets were outstanding… the pasteis de natas and churros with chocolate were favorites! We were also greatly pleased by personal greeting notes at each venue.
Food and wine are highlights in Portugal and Spain. We had many wonderful meals based on Goncalo and Pablo’s recommendations. The Rabo de toro stew and various suggested soups were delicious. We also really enjoyed the chosen Fado restaurant.
In terms of special arrangements, we found the boat cruise and the winery in the Douro Valley especially enjoyable. The boat Goncalo chose for us was exceptionally nice and the winery lunch delicious.
One anticipated challenge for Bill involved the omnipresent cobblestones and sometimes steep grades. Thanks to heads-up from Goncalo and Pablo, accommodating guides and drivers, along with his walking stick, enabled Bill to walk almost everywhere.
In summary, we were very pleased with Goncalo and Pablo’s suggestions, patience, and responsiveness in addressing our many questions during the planning process. They learned our wishes and needs and delivered a great trip. We also felt very good about the cost of this trip relative to the quality and pleasure we experienced.
We traveled to Portugal and Azores in September 2018 for two weeks. Goncalo provided a fine itinerary that met all our of our expectations. He listened to our pre-planning interests and crafted a travel plan that that was as smooth as the best Douro port wines.
During the trip, a minor change was needed: my email request to Gonçalo was acknowledged and implemented in quick order. Towards the end of our trip in Azores, a problem with the rental car (clutch failure) developed on a remote road on San Miguel, an email to Gonçalo brought about a quick resolution.
The service he provided was excellent and reasonably priced.
We loved our trip and had a great experience working with Goncalo. We were in the middle of an international move, job changes, and renovations and he was able to seamlessly take our feedback and interests and create an amazing tour. The hotel recommendations really saved us from spending more money on worse experiences. There are way too many options in the Algarve and he was able to expertly navigate us to the best ones. The final hotel we visited was absolutely magical and so off the beaten path, I do not think we would have been able to find it ourselves. The meal recommendations were also extraordinary. Overall, we had a great, relaxing trip without having to lift a finger!
Goncalo arranged a family trip during the summer of 2018 to Portugal. Our family includes 4 adult-ish children (21, 21, 18, 18) with diverse interests and needs.
Gonçalo was a good listener — he listened to our requirements and concerns, and went out of his way to address them in a way we felt was appropriate and thoughtful, giving us a lot of confidence. (For example, we had one son meet us later in the trip, and Goncalo arranged for an airport pickup and early arrival at the hotel so he could comfortably wait for us.)
He created an itinerary that matched our interests: starting in the Algarve with a terrific resort, time in Obidos in an unusual and cool hotel with several good day trips and a *terrific* guide; a unique visit to a sea urchin farmer and a walk around the traditional village, and several fun days in Lisbon.
Goncalo created a trip with something interesting for everyone — activities for those that wanted something more active (e.g. biking through the countryside of Evora, with stops at a vineyard), resort/beach time for those that wanted to relax (and a perfect alternative to those in my family that didn’t want to go scuba diving), and some really unique experiences (sea urchin farm, Jeronimos Monastery after hours, LX factory.)
All went very smoothly, and Goncalo’s team in Portugal was available to help — for example, we almost missed our connecting flight from Lisbon to Faro, and they were ready to help with alternatives, re-arranging transportation, etc. if it was needed.
We would certainly recommend Goncalo and his team for other family travelers.
Gonçalo and Joana did an amazing job organizing our trip to Portugal in less than six weeks. The private transfer from the airport to the private tours through Lisbon, Sintra, and Evora were fantastic. The driver was so friendly, as was our tour guide Vanessa. They were both a wealth of information.
My husband and I headed to the Alentejo in a rental car that was delivered right to our hotel. Gonçalo and Joana arranged for a GPS and driving directions for us. Our stay at the recommended resort (beautiful farmhouse in the middle of a vineyard) located in the Alentejo was nothing short of fantastic. We had a reservation for a wine tasting at a winery other than the one we were staying at. My husband and I thought the reservation was made at the winery on the property. We were contacted by Joana just an hour after the appointment time. We explained what happened and she was able to get a refund.
We then headed to the Algarve and stayed at a beautiful 5-star resort. They made a dinner reservation for us at the Michelin two-star restaurant on the property. When we arrived for dinner, we were told that our travel agent had not made a reservation. We contacted Joana. She solved the problem the next morning. The resort had made the mistake of booking us at a different restaurant on the property. After Joana’s persistence, they fit us in the next night.
We ended our trip in the Algarve with a 45-foot catamaran loaded with two kayaks. Our captain took us on a private cruise to the caves where his assistant led us, via the kayaks, on a tour through them. This was the pinnacle of our stay and one which we could not have arranged on our own.
Lastly, we very much appreciated Gonçalo and Joana’s specific restaurant recommendations (and they, of course, made the reservations for us) in all of the different areas of southern Portugal that we toured.
We would highly recommend this team of experts, and we are looking forward to working with them again.
Both Gonçalo and Pablo did an amazing job planning our trip. From the very first day when we were upgraded to the Bette Davis suite (they knew she was my idol) at the Maria Cristina hotel in San Sebastian to all the wonderful eating and drinking experiences they set up for us. Some of the highlights were a beautiful sail down the Tagus to Lisbon, a private eating club experience in San Sebastian and another amazing suite at Reid’s Hotel in Madeira.
When a friend of ours was injured on a bike trip we took in the middle of our vacation, Goncalo switched all our reservations around so that we could stay in Porto near the hospital for a few days. He canceled several hotel and activities at the last moment and we didn’t have to pay for any of it.
We are SO happy we booked our honeymoon through this team. We had Pablo Calvo and Goncalo Correia as our planning team. We did not reach out to WendyPerrin.com or begin planning our trip until the first week of March. Pablo and Goncalo set up a conference call at a time when all four of us could connect. We spent nearly an hour on the phone discussing our wants, past experiences, tastes, and etc. I also have an email stream of 75 emails working out the details and asking questions during the process. The team was excellent with communication and making sure we were delivered a valuable experience.
The itinerary and game plan they put together could not have been matched. We initially said we wanted to visit either Madrid or Barcelona, Spain and then Porto, Portugal. The team was able to put together a trip that included 3 days in Madrid (including a full day excursion to Toledo), 3 days in Barcelona, and 4 days in Porto (including a day excursion to the Douro Valley and a half day in Guimaraes), tapas and tavern tours, private walking tours, personal transportation, prepaid entrance fees and reservations, cooking experience, boat cruise, wine tastings, proper hotels, train tickets, and I am sure I am leaving something special out. We hit plenty of history, culture, food, and drink.
The trip went off without a hitch. Reservations and timing of events were seamless and perfectly positioned. The local guides were so helpful to kick off each city. We would have never known to do some of the activities and excursions that were put into place for us. The rough draft bid was around 20% higher than our initial budget, but we worked together well to alter some of the activities without compromising the experience. They warned us that they would go with the full options and best experience they could provide, and then could work it down a bit if we could not swing it. This was a special trip for us, so we wanted to know what a top-level experience would cost, and we were comfortable with this approach. Like I said in the previous paragraph, they were great with communication, and did a good job of working with us through all concerns, questions, and needs.
Utilize one of these teams! We cannot “stress” the lack of “stress” involved in planning the trip with the team. We have spent time in Asia, Africa, and Europe before, along with tons of domestic travel via long weekends. The local guides were a great way to kick off each city. They gave a great “lay of the land”, with plenty of stories of both local history and current events. The team does a great job of learning about you and putting together the best layout for your tastes. They leave no stone unturned. I suggest asking for as many options as possible to find out what you would like to do. Like I mentioned in an earlier paragraph, we exchanged 75 emails and spent an hour on the phone to arrive at our final 10 days, 5 city adventure…. totally worth it!
Knowing the most important/enjoyable activities and sites, understanding the timing and effort needed at each, hotel and transfer accommodations, there are so many different points that the team performed better than we could have on our own. The drafts/proposals were easy to sort through, and we appreciated the printable version to keep on us throughout the journey. It was also very helpful to forward on to family members for their information (and flight numbers, hotel contact, etc).
Overall we were just well taken care of; it was very appropriate. The great communication did not end when we started the trip. I had multiple questions during the journey that were answered ASAP by the team. They were a great resource before and during. As you can tell, we are satisfied. We are very thankful for everyone’s efforts towards creating and maintaining a great honeymoon.
Several things distinguished this trip from all others I have undertaken using one of Wendy’s trip specialists. We traveled with a 1-year-old. I knew this meant a lot of consideration had to be given to where we stayed, how we traveled and what we did. Goncalo scored on all aspects. Goncalo has a child close in age to our Oliver and knew how to plan a trip that would include a small child. First, he selected a family-friendly hotel in Lisbon — Martinhal Chiado Family Suites — in the trendy and convenient Chiado area. We opted for a 2 bedroom apartment with full kitchen and washer/dryer. What a perfect choice this was. The apartment was great–comfortable and spacious with amenities we were grateful for in staying 4 nights there. It also had great breakfasts and a kids’ playroom. Second, when we did a full-day trip to Sintra, though my daughter wanted to see Pena Palace (I’d been to it on a previous trip), he suggested instead that we go to Quinta da Regaleira and Convento dos Cupuchos, which were both interesting and much easier to navigate with a small child than Pena Palace would have been. The weather cancelled our planned lunch picnic but no matter; the restaurant he and our personable and knowledgeable guide selected were just right. Goncalo had lots of nice upgrades for us. He personally conducted our walking food tour on our first day in Lisbon educating us about Portuguese foods (and drink) taking us to great places I’d missed entirely on my earlier trip to Portugal. When we departed Lisbon for Coimbra on our way to the Douro Valley, our car was delivered to the hotel and turned out to be a major upgrade from what we’d rented (and lots more comfortable). I was particularly grateful since I was in the backseat next to Oliver in his car seat. Our hotel in the Douro Valley was wonderfully located, our rooms were very spacious, and the private boat for our morning cruise on the Douro River was spectacular. So much nicer than I’d expected. The wine tour he’d chosen for us was the best I’ve ever done. We learned so much about the port wine industry and tasted the best (and most expensive) port wines I’ve ever had. His suggested stop on our way to Porto at Guimaraes, which I’d never visited, was spot-on and we had a great time with Oliver clambering all over it. When we had trouble getting to our hotel in Porto due to road closures, a call to Goncalo got us navigated right to it while he stayed on the phone and then got us to the luggage drop off and parking. Our guide in Porto was terrific. Suggesting we take the train back to Lisbon instead of driving also proved to be the right call, as did a last night back at the same hotel in the same 2 bedroom apartment.
In short, I can’t speak highly enough of Goncalo. This is not the trip I would have taken (or had him design) if it had just been my husband and me but it was perfectly designed and executed for travel with Oliver who not only turned 1 in Lisbon but learned to walk during our time in Portugal. Trip specialists who really listen and craft trips to meet clients’ desires — and sometimes needs not even recognized by themselves ahead of time but anticipated by the specialist — is why Goncalo is the 13th of Wendy’s specialists I’d used.
Goncalo listened very well during our pre-trip planning and then executed our itinerary based on our preferences. Goncalo did add value because not knowing the country makes it hard for us to decide which cities/activities/attractions are of interest. We gave an overview to Goncalo of what we liked and he then directed us exactly to what we liked. He was spot on.
The only thing I would recommend to make the experience even better is to include driving directions from point a to b in the itinerary, or a printed map. We used google maps and road names and directions are not accurate in Portugal. We had quite a bit of difficulty finding the different hotels mainly because of the medieval cities they were located in and remote areas off the grid.
We’re here in the airport in Portugal and even before we got home, we wanted to RAVE about Gonçalo. He absolutely belongs on your WOW List.
Although we had a few hiccups getting the trip set up (I think the hotel canceled after Gonçalo had already made the reservation, causing him to have to scramble the week before we left), the trip itself has been as flawless and lovely as we ever could have hoped. Traveling with a toddler overseas is not always simple, but he arranged the perfect balance of activities and guides to meet everyone’s interests. He paired us with super smart, kind, and engaged guides who paced things well for our little one and still made sure we saw much more (and more authentic) than a traditional “tourist” trip. He also set up seamless transfers and made the rental car as easy as we’ve ever encountered. The hotels he picked were some of the most lovely and friendly we’d ever stayed at, including a small inn in Alentejo that felt like we were staying at the country house of a dear friend.
In short, he put together a fabulous trip and we’re big fans of him, and of your service for connecting us to him.
Thanks ever much.
Excellent travel specialist for Portugal. Set up outstanding experiences. The private guides were very knowledgeable, professional and personable. The drivers safe & courteous. Would highly recommend.
Our guide (Sophia) and driver (Manuel) were very knowledgeable and responsive. The guide, in particular, discussed our interests, adjusted our itinerary, and provided detailed information throughout the day.
Our key goal was to try to track down some family history from Estoril during 1940. With limited information, Sophia made a special effort to track down the general location and history we were seeking. Together, we were able to identify the specific site we were looking for—a truly special experience for us.
The rest of the day was enjoyable and informative and tailored to our groups abilities, including Cabo de Roca, a coffee break, and some key sights and history in Lisbon, not to mention, a taste of Pastéis de Nata (custard tarts) and Ginjinha (the local cherry liqueur).
Gonçalo provided excellent advice and guidance to us as we planned our trip to Portugal. From the initial phone call, he asked the right questions, and his suggestions were spot on. We took his advice and opted to rent a car in Lisbon to travel to the Douro Valley and finally on to Porto. It was definitely the right decision. The wine tours and lunch that he arranged were lovely – particularly the one at Quinta do Crasto. Portugal is a wonderful travel destination if you want to catch your breath, not be inundated with tourists and enjoy a relaxed pace. We would not hesitate to use Gonçalo again.
Wendy calls it the “WOW” list for a reason. Gonçalo Correia and his team crafted the trip of a lifetime for my new husband and I. We worked with Gonçalo while deep in wedding planning, and he was extremely patient and responsive with us throughout the entire process, making our 19-day December 26-January 13 Portugal honeymoon the light at the end of the tunnel. I spoke with Gonçalo over the phone to kick things off, describing our interests and the cities we were wanting to visit. He was super kind and honest, letting us know what would be closed or perhaps unsafe to reach during the winter, but providing comparable options in other regions. We received the most well thought out and organized itinerary from him. It was the perfect balance of must-sees, off-the-beaten-path suggestions, and open days to relax and explore.
Over the course of the trip, we stayed at four properties, three of which were booked through Gonçalo (one was through my job as I work at a hotel company), and boy were we treated like royalty. The properties were not only extremely gorgeous and in prime locations, but we were upgraded to suites at each of them because they knew it was our honeymoon. We were also left various treats in our room on multiple occasions at each of the properties. To this day, we’re still talking about it! It was very important to us to be able to experience Portugals wine regions as its our favorite wine to drink at home. Gonçalo arranged for three private tastings and tours for us, including a very special morning at Taylors in Porto. We slept in that morning and had 5 glasses of Port wine for breakfast. Cant complain! :) To explore Lisbon and Porto, Gonçalo arranged for private tour guides to show us around in style. Ana and Tiago were quite possibly two of the nicest people we’ve met and they knew their stuff. By the end of our tours we felt like old friends. For the sheer length of our trip and all that we did and indulged in, we felt that the prices were incredibly reasonable. Now were aching to go back — we experienced a sampling of the country via this tour, from Vidago all the way in the north, to most of the Algarve region in the south and Lisbon, Porto, Fatima, Sintra, and Coimbra in between. We will absolutely be consulting Gonçalo and his team again for years to come. Portugal is a very, very special place, and we have Gonçalo to thank for showing us the best of it. A++++
Goncalo immediately contacted me via email, then set up a skype call to discuss our desires in detail. Came back with an excellent plan in the price range we had discussed. The details sent in advance were very complete. The hotels he chose were excellent. The tour guides, especially Tiago were outstanding–so knowledgeable on every facet of Portugal culturally, historically, architecture, food, etc. Goncalo called several times during our trip to inquire if all was well. There was absolutely no problems, surprises or disappointments. I would recommend highly. And Portugal is beautiful.
Thank you for making the connection.
I so enjoyed working with Goncalo. From our first conversation, I felt that we were in very capable hands and that he would put together memorable excursions for us and we were not disappointed. He was very engaging and from the results of the tours that he put together for us, a very good listener!
We were on a cruise with a finite amount of time to explore Madeira and Lisbon but wanted to get an overview of both cities and see as much as possible. Whenever we travel to a new city we love to get an overview of the city, it’s culture, how its citizens live and its politics.
Our first stop was in Madeira (Funchal). Our guide for the day was Maria, who was fantastic!
She suggested that we start our tour in Madeira with a ride on the cable car to Monte and we are so happy that she did because it gave us these fantastic views over Funchal.
She met us at the top and from there it was one wonderful experience to the next. After walking around the beautiful Monte Palace Gardens we visited the Church of Our Lady of Monte and then proceeded on to the charming fishing village of Câmara de Lobos, where soccer player Cristiano Ronaldo is much revered as he grew up just a few miles from here. We stopped at the legendary Number 2″ where we, of course, indulged in the local drink, Poncha.
We drove along the beautiful coastline and into the countryside taking in the beautiful views.
We enjoyed a wonderful lunch of local fare with Maria at restaurant Adega da Quinta. Perfect! Overall, a very fulfilling day.
Our next stop was in Lisbon. Goncalo suggested that we do a walking tour of the city which was the perfect suggestion. Our guide, Rita, was terrific and very knowledgeable. We met her in the center square in Lisbon and began our wandering, but very focused tour of Lisbon. It was perfect for us because we tend to be freelancers when we visit new cities. While it was obvious that Rita had put together a very focused day for us we knew that if we wanted to veer off from the preplanned schedule, that would not have been a problem.
We ended our tour at Café Lisboa for lunch, which was perfect. Also, a day in Lisbon would not be complete without a stop at Confeitaria Nacional for custard tarts. This is not to be missed but be aware they are addicting!
We are so pleased with the itinerary that Goncalo put together for us and without question, we will definitely work with him again.
Goncalo Correia was a pleasure to work with and I look forward to using his services when I return to Portugal! This year I was spending Christmas abroad and away from family and decided to treat myself to a trip to Lisbon, a city I’d not yet visited. I usually plan travel on my own, but wanted to be sure that I didn’t make any mistakes with respect to operations and availability of things due to the holiday. So I contacted Goncalo for his guidance and expertise. After a quick phone discussion about my budget, preferences for accommodations, and what I was seeking to get out of my trip, Goncalo came up with suggestions for me that I hadn’t considered. The proposal was well within my budget and reflected the fact that he had clearly understood what I was looking for. There was no pressure to book the trip and no pressure to agree with his suggestions. Goncalo was timely with communication but did not make a hard sell, which I appreciate. After forwarding a trip proposal, which included a suggested itinerary and details of the trip, Goncalo was patient in waiting for me to make a decision. Once I had time to consider the proposal and do my own research, he was receptive, flexible, and accommodating when I requested revisions. All costs were clearly spelled out and payment was easy (and could be made in a variety of ways). I immediately received a receipt of payment along with an itinerary and handbook with information and tips regarding Lisbon and Portugal. At the end of the trip I was provided a final invoice for my records (which matched the prior invoice that I paid) and just after the holidays, Goncalo was in touch seeking feedback.
Goncalo ultimately booked me a hotel room in Lisbon and one in Cascais, on the coast, as well as private transfers between the cities and then back to the airport, and reservations for dinner my first night in Lisbon. Both hotels exceeded my expectations and I was told by the porters in each hotel that I would be staying in “the best room of the house”. The staff at both hotels were exceptionally attentive and responsive. I stayed in a small suite on the top floor of a beautiful, boutique hotel in Lisbon and then in a sea-front room with private set back balcony and gorgeous views just a short walk from the center of Cascais. Sweetly, a bottle of Moscatel wine and a bottle of Porto, respectively, were waiting in my rooms, courtesy of Goncalo.
The private transfers that were arranged were timely. Both drivers were courteous and drove safely. The cars were impeccably clean and comfortable. I had initially thought I might use public transportation to get between cities and back to the airport. Goncalo had proposed the private transfers and after some thought, I decided to treat myself. I am so glad I did as I had spent the previous 6 months doing a lot of traveling around the EU doing all the planning on my own. It was relaxing, comfortable, and convenient. And, because Goncalos proposal was well under my budget, I had no guilt splurging (the transfers were reasonably priced for what they were, but I don’t generally “allow” myself such luxuries when traveling).
The restaurant in Lisbon was also terrific. It was super buzzy and busy, clearly a favorite with locals and required a reservation. With all of the choices in Lisbon, I am confident that I would never have found this restaurant had it not been for Goncalo’s suggestion. The service was great and the food was outstanding. Even better was that it was a short walk from my hotel.
In sum, I would highly recommend getting in touch with Goncalo if you are visiting Portugal. The entire process was easy and the trip he planned was perfect and surpassed anything I could have planned myself after hours of research. Prices as quoted, flexibility and responsiveness with personal touches. A real pleasure.