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Activity note: As this is an Independent program, transfers are not included. We recommend using the official cream colored taxis located outside the terminal building. Hotel check-in available from 2:00 p.m. The official start of the program is at 6:00 p.m. with orientation in the hotel meeting room.
Afternoon: Upon arrival at the hotel, check in and take some time to freshen up and relax before our Orientation session. Orientation: 5:30 p.m. In our hotel meeting room, the Group Leader will greet everyone and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer questions. This is a Road Scholar INDEPENDENT program. It is designed for participants who want high-level Road Scholar instruction, a few group activities, and who are capable and comfortable setting out on their own for a significant part of the day/night. There will be several hours each day of educational content, most meals on your own (excluded from the program cost) to enjoy what you like, and substantial free time for personal independent exploration. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Our Group Leader and instructor will accompany scheduled field trips. Extensive use of public transportation; the Group Leader will also provide everyone with a travel pass that will cover public transportation within the city and can be used on any day of our stay in Lisbon. We will also be given full information and assistance on how to successfully use public transportation during free time. Periods in the schedule designated as “Free time” and “At leisure” offer opportunities to do what you like and make your experience even more meaningful and memorable according to your personal preferences. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Program activities, schedules, personnel, and indicated distances or times may change due to local circumstances/conditions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.
Dinner: We’ll have a 3-course plated meal plus water and complimentary glass of wine; other beverages available for purchase.
Evening: At leisure. Continue getting to know your fellow Road Scholars, settle in, and get a good night’s rest for the day ahead.
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking about 2 miles throughout the day; standing during field trips; some uneven ground, steps, cobblestones.
Breakfast: At the hotel, have what you like from the breakfast buffet that offers a hot choice, cold cuts, cheese, yogurt, cereal, fruit, bread and pastries, milk, juice, coffee, tea, water.
Morning: Led by a local expert, we will set out on a field trip and ride to the Belém district, one of the most historic areas in Lisbon. It is intimately related to the Age of Discovery from the 1400s and into the 1500s when Portuguese explorers led the way to new sea routes and new lands. Vasco da Gama (1469-1524) sailed from Belém on his momentous voyage around the Cape of Good Hope in Africa and on to India. Opening up this sea route for trade brought unbelievable wealth. The Tower of Belém, built in 1515, was a fortress protecting the harbor and a monument to da Gama’s expedition. The Tower and the nearby Jerónimos Monastery are a UNESCO designated World Heritage Site. We will also see a massive modern edifice inaugurated in 1960, the Padrão dos Descobrimentos — Monument of the Discoveries — that commemorates Portuguese explorers. Continuing our exploration, we will visit the church of the Mosteiro dos Jerónimos — Jerónimos Monastery — dedicated to Saint Jerome who is credited with translating the bible from Hebrew into Latin. The monks of St. Jerome, called Hieronymites, were a small order. The incredibly elaborate complex we see today was funded in large part by a 5% tax on imports from Portuguese colonies. The monastery, considered a masterpiece of the Manueline style of architecture, became a focal point of Lisbon and even withstood the 1755 earthquake. Vasco da Gama, King Manuel I, and other notables are buried here.
Lunch: This meal has been excluded from the program cost and is on your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.
Afternoon: Our Group Leader will show the way on a walking field trip to the city's Bairro Alto, an area that developed outside the old city walls in the 15th century. You are also welcome to take this time for personal independent exploration. Late afternoon, we will gather in the hotel lounge with our Group Leader for a drink and an opportunity to share experiences of the day in a relaxed atmosphere.
Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: Use of public transportation. Walking about 2 miles throughout the morning; standing during field trips; some uneven ground, cobblestones.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: We’ll be joined by a local historian who will give us an overview of Lisbon and its people. We’ll then take public transportation to the outskirts of the city for a field trip with our Group Leader through the Gulbenkian Foundation. The foundation sponsors diverse activities in the fields of art, charity, education, and science. The museum — one of the most comprehensive private art collections in Portugal — includes the Founder’s Collection and the Modern Collection, a total of more than 6,000 works. It was bequeathed to the city by Calouste Gulbenkian, a Portuguese oil magnate of Armenian origin.
Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions.
Afternoon: Free time. This time has been set aside for your personal independent exploration to see and do what interests you most. Please refer to the list of Free Time Opportunities. The Group Leader will be happy to offer suggestions. Late afternoon, we will meet back at the hotel and take public transportation to dinner with a local family in their home.
Dinner: In the home of some local Lisboetas, we will share a light supper and learn about life in Lisbon today.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach. Walking 2-3 miles throughout the morning; periods of standing during field trip; steep slopes, many steps, cobblestones in Alfama district.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: We will be joined at the hotel by a local expert for a lecture on contemporary Portugal. We’ll then board a motorcoach and ride to the Museu Nacional do Azulejo — the National Tile Museum — housed in an ancient monastery. In Portugal, “azulejo” is an important art form and an expression of national culture. A member of the museum staff will tell us how the art began and how it developed. We will also see beautiful examples of tiles from the 16th century through today. Next, we’ll head to the fascinating Alfama district. These historic neighborhoods are known for their maze of steep, narrow streets, winding alleyways, and ancient buildings. A local expert will lead our walking field trip through the southeastern slope of the hill where we can see St. George's Castle.
Lunch: At a restaurant in downtown Lisbon, we’ll have a 2-course lunch with mineral water and a glass of wine included; other beverages available for purchase.
Afternoon: Free time. Take this opportunity to see and do what interests you most. Late afternoon, we will gather in the hotel lounge with our Group Leader for a drink, to share experiences of the day, and discuss additional free time opportunities.
Dinner: On your own to enjoy what you like.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 70 miles total, approximately 2 hours. Walking about 1 mile throughout the day; standing at farmstead; uneven ground.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet.
Morning: We will see a very different part of life in Portugal on a field trip to Companhia das Lezírias, the country’s largest farmstead for agriculture, cattle, and forests. As a local expert leads us through wooded groves where olive and cork trees grow, we will learn what’s involved in maintaining the delicate ecosystems of the area. We will also have an opportunity to see the farm's beautiful Lusitano horses. Originally bred for war and bullfighting, they are now highly regarded for their skills in the equestrian sport and art of dressage. We will end our morning at the farmstead with a wine and olive tasting before returning to Lisbon.
Lunch: On your own to explore local fare.
Afternoon: Free time. Late afternoon, we will regroup at the hotel for a beverage in the lounge and meet local professionals who will tell us about the opportunities and challenges faced by the Portuguese people today. We’ll also have time for Q&A.
Dinner: On your own.
Evening: At leisure.
Activity note: Getting on/off a motorcoach; driving about 25 miles, approximately 1.5 hours. Walking about 2 miles throughout the day; standing during field trip; uneven ground, cobblestones, steep slopes around Sintra.
Breakfast: At the hotel.
Morning: We will board a motorcoach and drive out of Lisbon through the forest of Sintra to the Palace and Park of Monserrate. The lush gardens and grounds provide the perfect setting for the unusual “palace” that was the summer home of a wealthy English merchant. The Park is part of an area defined by UNESCO as a World Heritage Cultural Landscape. A local expert will lead our exploration of the palace and gardens. In 2013, the Park of Monserrate was awarded Europe's “Best Development of a Historic Park or Garden”. Displaying distinctly medieval and oriental influences, the decoration of the Palace makes it one of the most important examples of Romantic architecture in Portugal. The estate’s appearance was a source of inspiration for the poet Lord Byron, who sang of the beauty of Monserrate in his poem “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage.” We’ll then drive into Sintra. Those who wish to stay on and explore independently are welcome to return to Lisbon by train (at your personal cost).
Lunch: On your own to enjoy what you like.
Afternoon: Returning to Lisbon, the remainder of the afternoon is free. You may wish to take time to prepare for check-out and departure tomorrow as we will be returning late this evening. Late afternoon, we will gather in the hotel with our Group Leader for a wrap-up session before heading out by motorcoach for dinner and our evening’s activity. Share favorite experiences with new Road Scholar friends.
Dinner: At a traditional Fado House in the Alfama area of the city, we’ll have a 3-course farewell dinner with beverage choices of mineral water and wine.
Evening: As we linger over dinner, enjoy the expressive, often melancholic Portuguese musical tradition known as Fado, authentic folk music sometimes called the Lisbon Blues. Fado means “fate” and songs are often nostalgic or sad. UNESCO has inscribed Fado as part of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Activity note: Hotel check-out 11:00 a.m.
Breakfast: Hotel buffet depending on flight times. This concludes our program.
Morning: If you are returning home, safe travels. If you are staying on independently, have a wonderful time. If you are transferring to another Road Scholar program, detailed instructions are included in your Information Packet for that program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Don’t forget to join our Facebook page and follow us on Instagram. Best wishes for all your journeys!