Portugal for a Family of Active Explorers – Richard’s Story

The Robey family love an active holiday packed with different experiences. With different interests, it was important to create a trip that could keep everyone engaged. Richard is a keen cyclist, whilst his wife Susie is a great cook and loves exploring cultures through food, and Kathryn their daughter is an active sporty teenager who likes to keep busy. We talked to Richard about his experience.

Why did you choose Portugal?

Well, I know what Charlie does and I trust him. I have been on a couple of Saddle Skedaddle trips with him in Morocco, so had no doubt that with Epic Portugal we would be in good hands. We like to pack it in, and get as much out the experience as we can, Epic listened carefully to our interests and offered us a fantastic selection of activities and accommodation across three different locations which meant we could sample the different regions and cultures within Portugal.

Where did you go, what did you do?

Lisbon by Sidecar

We began our trip to Lisbon with a fantastic 1940’s sidecar tour which was a fun way to see the city. It was great because in the sidecar you’re treated like VIP’s! That meant we were able to sidestep the long queues at the famous custard tart baker saving time to savour the tarts and coffee in peace. The Lisbon food market we discovered in the evening had a fantastic buzz about it, you could sit down with a glass of port, chat to a neighbour while sampling local and regional delights.

Snorkelling in Arrabida National Park

Susie loves snorkelling, so we planned a half-day in the beautiful Arrabida National Park just outside Lisbon, we were picked up by 4X4 to discover the countryside and after a seafood lunch by the coastline, we visited a winery with a personal guide at our disposal.

Cork Forests of Alentejo

The next stage of our holiday was in the Alentejo region with its fabulous cork forests and world-famous pork and regional meats. We stayed in a beautiful boutique hotel with a fabulous pool, which Kathryn loved, and took in a walking tour of a cork forest with the estate manager as a guide, refreshing ourselves on the way on an extremely hot day with fresh water from a well in the forest.

Lunch was in an unassuming village café which turned out to be the most fantastic find with food, traditionally prepared including the famous pork fed on acorns and a stunning local soup, just two in an array of delicious local dishes. It really was a gem which we’d never have found ourselves. The day was rounded off with another walk and spot of wine tasting, perfect!

Porto and the Douro

From Alentejo we travelled North to take in Porto and its surrounds. Kathryn loved the half-day Buggy safari – it was right up her street, the high-octane excitement of that was complemented by a much quieter tile painting class in the afternoon. We are now the proud owners of 6 authentic Portuguese tile designs at home.

A day trip to the Duoro wine region followed which ended with a food walking tour of the city which Susie absolutely loved. The guide Maria was so enthusiastic and knowledgeable we had a great 3 hours exploring the culinary history of Porto.

What stood out to you about the trip?

We had never been to Portugal before but the people were so lovely complementing the wonderful food culture and wine. For years Portugal hasn’t been able to shake off its Mateus Rose heritage, but their fine wines blew us away they were awesome and so reasonably priced – it made me rethink Portuguese wines completely.

We loved being picked up in a Merc Sprinter with nice leather seats – things like that create a ‘wow’ moment, people want to feel special when they go away, to be treated and that kind of attention to detail really counts.

Then there were many moments to remember– like sitting on a veranda in the Duoro valley after a fantastic lunch, just taking in the view. I also loved being sat in the yard of the Fonseca Port house, after inspecting the grapes at this famous winery and chatting with the guide, a student of Oeneology at Porto University was also great, he was so knowledgeable.

What made the difference?

With Epic you really feel like you are enjoying the country in all its richness, and that you are treated with care with attention to even the smallest details. Planning the holiday, the team was open to our suggestions and requests so this holiday was absolutely tailor-made for us – a collaborative process. And it came within budget which was a big surprise considering it was such a busy, activity-filled itinerary. Nothing was too much trouble and we knew we had someone at the end of the phone in Portugal if we needed them.

The people Epic select on the ground to work with are really good at what they do, we loved them all and they really care about Portugal and their guests.

Thank you Epic for a great trip – and of course the custard tarts.