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Spain and Portugal Vacations
Review Highlights
perfectly organized and fun trip to Spain

Greg and Jennifer set up a trip for us. Knowing very little about Spain we let them do everything... read more

Review collected in partnership with this attraction

Reviewed January 31, 2019
Michael L
A Fascinating Personalized VIsit to a Beautifull Portugal

Our tour was characterized by a combination of the coastal cities and interior world of wine... read more

Review collected in partnership with this attraction

Reviewed December 21, 2018
baywoo2016
,
Manitou Springs, Colorado
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Reviewed July 25, 2013

I have had the pleasure of working with Greg many times over the last decade, and I have always found him to care very deeply about the needs and desires of each of his clients. Instead of a cookie-cutter approach to his business, he employs an highly individual approach, and he works very hard at realizing it. Much of his work goes unseen by his clients, especially the research. His easy going character belies the many hours of preparation that goes into creating the kind of experience that is amazingly suited to each client. Unlike most tour operators, he is willing to change his plans as a client need or desire arises during the trip. This in itself is very unusual. I can't recommend his services more highly.

Date of experience: March 2013
2  Thank Pruneprince
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 20, 2013

I was going to Lisbon to embark on a Mediterranean cruise with friends. But what on earth got into me to take a car and drive into the northern parts of Portugal for a week beforehand? And how fortunate I was to have located Greg Arvoy, an American resident in Lisbon for years, to accompany us as our guide.

Dare I say that I simply liked the idea of sightseeing, enjoying the local food, and staying in old monasteries and convents known as pousadas? And, as we were going to be near Fatima, we should go visit the shrine to Our Lady.

Well, that’s the sum of it.

Little prepared was I for stories . . . of battles . . . of Portuguese Kings . . . of the Discoveries . . . of so many UNESCO World Heritage sites . . . of apparitions of the Blessed Virgin in Fatima and earlier in Reguengo de Fetal . . . let alone for visiting these fascinating places of historic interest with a walking encyclopaedia, Greg, an expatriate living in Lisbon . . . The Michael Chronicles would not be complete without some references to gastronomical delights and you won’t go wanting.

Of battles . . . . where Commanders fell on their knees and prayed to the Blessed Virgin for victory and then in thanksgiving built magnificent Gothic monasteries in Alcobaça and Batalha, which we visit. The Commander of the 14th Century Battle of Aljubarrota, Nuno Álvares Pereira, later became a mystic and was canonised as a saint by Pope Benedict XVI while we were in Portugal.

Of Portuguese Kings . . . who believe that the Blessed Virgin Mary was the physical reigning ‘Queen of Portugal’ and not just symbolically the Patroness. Since the Coronation of King John IV took place in Vila Viçosa in the 14th Century, the Kings of Portugal never again wore a crown. We visited the Palace of the Dukes of Braganza in Vila Viçosa where all this was brought to life. In Casa Alta, in the walls of the Castle of Ourem, we stayed with the Royal Chaplain to the Dukes of Braganza.

Of ‘the Discoveries’ . . . where more than 500 years ago, the Portuguese reached Congo in Africa and Vasco da Gama discovered a sea route to India thus giving the Portuguese supremacy in the lucrative trade of silks and spices that had previously been the domain of Venice and Constantinople. We see these voyages commemorated in the Monastery of the Hieronymites in Lisbon.

Of UNESCO World Heritage . . . where we see seven of Portugal’s twelve sites. In the museum-city Évora, with roots back to Roman times, we stayed in the Pousada dos Lóios which stands next to the 2nd Century Roman Temple to Diana. In the historic town of Guimarães, a well preserved and authentic example of the evolution of a medieval settlement into a modern town, we stayed in a Pousada that was once a home for the poor. Guimarães is referred to as the ‘birthplace of the Portuguese nationality’.

Of gastronomy . . . Both the Douro region and the city of Oporto are on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Our visit to the Douro region, where wine has been produced for more than 2,000 years, Greg had arranged for us to lunch with a local wine-making family, who have been growing grapes on terraces of the Douro since the mid-18th century. Their white Port Wine made a delicious aperitif before the roast goat that was specially prepared for us. In the city of Oporto, where huge Port Wine storage warehouses with tiled roofs line the hillsides overlooking the Douro River, we enjoyed special grilled octopus for lunch at the famous Taylor’s Port wine cellars high on the hill.

Of Apparitions . . . I have not prayed the Rosary since childhood when, as a family, we were compelled each night to kneel in the lounge room and say five decades together. “The Family that Prays Together, Stays Together” was the Father Peyton ‘call to arms’ of that time, to beseech the Blessed Virgin to protect us from ‘the yellow masses gathering just north of Australia’s shoreline’. At that young age, I don’t think I connected it with the Message of Fatima. How can I be in Portugal though and not go to Fatima?

So there. You have it in a nutshell. You will also have noted references to the Blessed Virgin dotted throughout. It wasn’t until the end of the holiday that I started to get my head around the battles between the Portuguese and the Moors and Castillians, and also the marriages and murders of members of the Royal families, so I suppose I gravitated towards some religious references of which I was well schooled from childhood.

Greg, You brought history to life with your encyclopaedic knowledge of such a fascinating country with all the added stories that make the ‘learning’ so interesting. I have been going through your trip notes and realising that we could easily have spent twice the time and still not seen it all. I still marvel at how you came up with such interesting people for us to meet along the way. I commend you for the way you have developed and deliver this very personal approach to your travel business.
Michael

Date of experience: May 2013
3  Thank mick1001
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Greg E, General Manager at Spain and Portugal Vacations, responded to this reviewResponded October 15, 2013

Dear Michael, Thank you for taking your time in writing such a detailed review. What more can I add other than say thank you for giving me the opportunity to show you Portugal during your visit. Kind regards, Gregory

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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Reviewed July 18, 2013

I booked a week with Greg for me and my husband following a week of work in Lisbon after the International Rotary Convention. We were totally unfamiliar with Portugal, wanted to explore the country before coming home, but could not abide the thought of a bus/group trip. I found Greg here at Trip Advisor. We pretty much let him design our tour up to Porto, the Douro Valley, Ourem, and south of Lisbon. At the end of one super delightful week I thought, "Every country needs a Greg."

We loved our accommodations, especially the two nights we stayed at Casa Alta. For us this was a must-not-miss stay near Fatima. As we toured the area I was torn between wanting to see the sites and returning to simply experience the quiet and peace of Casa Alta and Ourem.

Not historians, we found ourselves slowly caught up in the history because of Greg's passion for his adopted country. As laid back travelers, we liked the the freedom to add to or subtract from our itinerary each day. Driving in Portugal seemed quite complicated and the value of being able to sit back and ride and not worry about directions was invaluable. Going where most tours do not venture was fun.

We highly recommend Greg and welcome any emails for further questions.

Date of experience: June 2013
2  Thank Lee W
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Greg E, General Manager at Spain and Portugal Vacations, responded to this reviewResponded July 20, 2013

Dear Lee, thank you for your wonderful review. It was a pleasure showing you Portugal during your recent visit. Kind regards

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Reviewed May 13, 2013

Portugal was a pleasant discovery. Greg helped enormously by the arrangements and recommendations he made, as well as his easy guidance (never overbearing) and the obvious wonder he himself felt in discovering the sites. The pace of our trip was relaxed but adequate to see the sites. If I could make recommendations they would be : to ante up the transmission of details about all the beautiful places we visited, and a better functioning aircon in the vehicle. It was pretty warm at the back. Otherwise, I would go back and recommend Greg to anyone who wants to visit amazing Portugal with an amiable and eager guide/friend.

Date of experience: September 2012
Review collected in partnership with this attraction
1  Thank NoraCManila
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Greg E, General Manager at Spain and Portugal Vacations, responded to this reviewResponded July 20, 2013

Dear Nora, we enjoyed spending time with you, your husband and friends during your Portugal tour. I remember well the places visited; especially the restaurant in Barcelos where you sampled almost all of the regional gastronomy at lunch! We hope to welcome you back on a future visit. Kind Regards.

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Reviewed May 11, 2013

Greg was highly recommended by a friend. By then he had just formed his own tour company. He recommended we start from the north in Porto and end up south in Lisbon for our week's stay in Portugal. So glad we approved of his recommendation! My husband and one other couple who were with us were surprised how beautiful Portugal is. The places we saw - Guimaraes, Ponte de Lima, Coimbra, Ourem ( stayed at Casa Alta of Fr. Mariani), Fatima, Alcobaca, Batalha, Lisbon and Sintra are all unforgettable. Greg did everything for us, from picking us up at the airport on arrival, taking care of accomodations, driving and acting as guide all throughout. And the price was unbelievably so reasonable!
We are glad to have found this American who decided he will stay in this country and passionately think that Portugal will soon be "discovered" as a popular tourist destination some day soon.
Thank you Greg, and some day we hope to be back.

Date of experience: September 2012
Review collected in partnership with this attraction
2  Thank Viviandlp
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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