Trip Region: Western Europe
Partners Trek? No
Airfare Estimate: $1400
Structure: 3 • Lodging: 3 • Nightlife: 3 • Activity: 3
Lis-bon up PortuGuys and Gals, this is im-Port-ant. As you can probably portu-guess, this trip is venturing to the majestic and magical country of Portugal, home of port wine. We’ll eat, drink, and port-y our way down the Portuguese coast from Porto to Lisbon then to Lagos, stopping along the way for funtivities like wine tasting, hiking, food sampling, clubbing, boat cruising, and sunbathing. Because this is business school, we’ll incorporate some action-based learning opportunities – like learning about the nuances of grape stomping and realizing that Portuguese is not at all Spanish. Lisbehonest, this will be the best 10 days of your life.
Day 1 — Friday, Aug 18
Say “adeus” to Ann Arbor and “olá” to your glorious Portugal vacation adventure. Congrats! You've just learned your first Portuguese words. Tonight you'll leave on a red eye across the Atlantic Ocean. Take your sleep meds, you'll want to be rested upon arrival, because in business school we don't take breaks or naps.
Day 2 — Saturday, Aug 19
Welcome to Porto, Portugal’s most romantic city. It’s the perfect place to get drunk in love with your new MTrek besties. Porto is home to majestic bridges, medieval riverside districts with cobblestone streets, and “fortified wine” aka port aka that weird liquor your quirky aunt drinks when she orders an aperitif. After you arrive, we’ll check into our hotel, then take some time to explore before a dinner filled with Katie’s infamous would-you-rathers and Anna’s awkward icebreakers. If you slept on the plane over, we’ll test out the Portuguese evening scene and try to figure out why the NYTimes recently labeled Porto the “Portland of Portugal.”
Day 3 — Sunday, Aug 20
Eat, drink, explore, repeat. On our first full day, we’ll embark on a food and wine adventure to sample some of Porto’s local specialties, like coffee and codfish. Not together, that’s gross. We’ll work on our beach bods by trying a “francesinha” or a Portuguese sandwich made with “wet-cured ham” covered with melted cheese and tomato beer sauce (yes, apparently that’s a thing). The tour ends with a port tasting, because wine not? The afternoon is your own - walk through the Bolhão Market, take a boat cruise down the Rio Douro, or if you need a shot of adrenaline, the lady leaders will lead a climb up the Ponte da Arrábida bridge. We’ll reconvene for a group dinner and then bar crawl, hopefully stopping for a local specialty not sampled on our food tour - boozy gelato!
Day 4 — Monday, Aug 21
Be on your best basic behavior because we’re going wine tasting! Today we venture to the Douro Valley aka port wine country. After taking some door selfies in the cute villages of Sabrosa and Pinhão, we’ll visit two port wineries for tastings and Port 101 lessons. By the end of the day, we’ll either be port production experts or real tipsy. Return to Porto in the afternoon for naps or more exploring - you do you. Photographers should head to Torre dos Clerigos for sensational views. Nerds can check out Livraria Lello - the bookstore JK Rowling frequented while she wrote Harry Potter. Or grab a beer and head to the beach. Once the sun sets, we’ll gather for group dinner and likely, more port, before Joe takes us to the club with the best dance floor. Do you know “the seal” or “the kayak” dance moves? Tonight you'll find out...you trekkers are in for a treat.
Day 5 — Tuesday, Aug 22
Chug Portuguese Gatorade and kick that hangover quickly because today we’ll head south to Lisbon. After a breakfast in Porto, we’ll drive down the coastline to Portugal’s capital where we’ll get our bearings with a walking tour of the Lisbon’s churches, taverns, town squares, and mosques, and other architectural structures that don't exist in Ann Arbor. We'll tour neighborhoods like Mouraria, Bica, and Chiado, learn a bit about Fado (Portuguese folk music, see day 7), then stop for a round of libations at a viewpoint in Bairro Alto. Next on the tour, we travel to the Tagus River where we'll hop a ferry to Cacilhas to try Portugal’s famous green wine. (We googled green wine and apparently it was wine developed when someone messed up some part of the fermentation process so we can call it either mistake wine or rose wannabe).
Day 6 — Wednesday, Aug 23
Can’t stop, won’t stop. Pack your sneakers and your swimsuit for a day trip to Sintra and Cascais where we’ll be treated to cliff-top palaces, mountain views, and much-needed beach time. In Sintra, head to the Pena Palace, a bright yellow hilltop castle straight out of a Disney movie for a taste of lifestyles of the rich and famous ala Portuguese 19th century. These people had #views. Hike the Santa Maria trail through the enchanted forests, or opt for the bus up to the palaces; we’ll let you decide. To round out the Sintra edition of architecture you won’t see in our beloved Ann Arbor, we’ll also check out the 8th century Castle of Moors. After working up a sweat (or not), we’ll head over to the nearby beach town of Cascais, the summer playground for the Lisboêtas (that’s Portuguese for people from Lisbon). So trekkers, do as the Lisboêtas do - play and frolic on these beautiful beaches for the afternoon before heading back to Lisbon for the night.
Day 7 — Thursday, Aug 24
Today you have a free day to explore Lisbon, or if you prefer, sleep in, call your parents, day drink, whatever. Go to the top of the Arco da Rua Augusta, stop by the Praca do Comercio on the water, hike up to San Jorge Castle, or head to Miradouro de Sao Pedro de Alcantara to get a full mountaintop view of the city and ocean. You could even take the train back to Cascais. Still curious about Fado? We have a whole evening devoted to learning about and listening this Portuguese folk music. And because we're always hungry and thirsty, we're combining the Fado performance with a tapas tour and liqueur tasting at sunset. Tapas, tipples, and tunes, need we say more?!
Day 8 — Friday, Aug 25
Lagos time! Free day to explore the wonders of Lagos. Top hits : explore the grottos that are line the coastline by kayak (especially, Ponta de Piedade), grab a bike and cruise along the coastline with dramatic cliff views, or hit the beach. Lagos is your oyster, trekkers! By night, we’ll clean up nice and see what the Lagos night life scene has to offer, hint: it’s a lot. And it’s Friday, aka your lucky day, you’ll be getting your first introduction into Joe’s infamous Funky Fridays.
Day 9 — Saturday, Aug 26
Bless this day, it's freaking BOAT TIME or as you will describe in future tales to your section, the best day of your life. We'll cruise around the Algarve coastline, drinking copious amounts of rose, beer, liqueur, and port, and singing about how alive we feel with the salty air whipping our hair back and forth. We might even be able to convince Ryan to forgo his gel for the day. This day will leave you praising the decision to get your MBA. Snapchat your friends back home, they’ll love it and won’t envy you at all.
Day 10 — Sunday, Aug 27
Rise and Shine and get your last dose of the sprawling Lagos coastline. We’ll be heading back to Lisbon for a final night of Portuguese revelry (but don’t fear, there will be plenty to come in Ann Arbor).
Day 11 — Monday, Aug 28
The sad day has come, we’re saying tchau to Portugal and heading back to Ann Arbor. But as they say, as one door closes another opens and you’re about to start the wonderful thing called Ross!