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Enrichment Travel: Portugal, 2024

by Katy Yocom, Associate Director, Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing

We’re pleased to announce that Portugal is the destination for our September 2024 enrichment tour, open to Naslund-Mann alumni, students, faculty, and guests. Portugal’s history includes a long literary tradition, from revered Renaissance poet Luis de Camões to twentieth-century greats Fernando Pessoa and Nobelist José Saramago. It also includes spectacular bookshops such as the Livraria Lello, shown at right.

Current Naslund-Mann students may opt to join the tour as a way to fold non-credit travel into their creative writing studies. The trip may be especially appealing to students who attend virtual summer residency, as well as to Naslund-Mann alumni and faculty.

We’ll read and discuss a book in common by a Portuguese author, share our work in a community reading, journal about our travels, and complete writing exercises together as we explore the country’s literature and culture.

Taking advantage of the milder temperatures and lower travel costs of the shoulder season, we’ll travel Sept. 22 - 29. For our first five days, we'll explore literary and cultural sites in and near Lisbon, then take the train to Porto for an additional two days. You may fly out of Porto on September 29 to return to the States, or you might decide to continue your European travels on your own.

We’ve chosen centrally located four-star hotels to make our trip comfortable and convenient. The Avani Avenida Liberdade is located on a shaded Lisbon boulevard lined with cafés and boutiques, a short walk from Parque Eduardo VII with its magnificent view of the city and waterfront. The hotel features an outdoor swimming pool, rooftop bar, and a choice of chef-driven dining options. Next door, the Avani’s sister hotel, the Tivoli, offers a spa.

In Porto, we’ll stay at the Eurostars Porto Centro in the historical city center, designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The hotel features a bar-café, courtyard seating, and well-appointed rooms with a stylishly minimalist design.

Our itinerary

Sept. 21, 2024: Depart the U.S. on an overnight flight.

Sept. 22: Arrive in Lisbon and transfer from the airport to our hotel in the heart of the city. Take an optional orientation walking tour to get to know practical locales nearby (ATM, pharmacy, grocery, etc.). Then, we’ll gather for a three-course welcome dinner at a local restaurant.

Jeronimos Monastery

Sept. 23: We’ll gather for a welcome session, orientation, and discussion of our Portugal book in common. After a lunch break on your own, we’ll meet up again for a guided tour to discover Lisbon’s historic quarter, the iconic Belém Tower, and Jerónimos Monastery, resting place of writers Fernando Pessoa and Alexandre Herculano (as well as explorer Vasco de Gama and a few Portuguese kings). Dinner is on your own.

Sept. 24: Today we’ll enjoy a full-day trip to Sintra and Cascais. In Sintra, one of the oldest towns in the country, we’ll visit the brilliant ochre-colored Pena Palace, overlooking a view of Lisbon. Departing Sintra, we’ll stop for a lunch break on your own, then continue on to the coastal town of Cascais, once a tiny fishing and artist’s village. After our tour, we’ll return to Lisbon for dinner on your own.

Above: Sintra's Pena Palace. At right: Cascais.

Sept. 25: Today is free to explore Lisbon on your own. Grab a friend and stop by the botanical gardens on your walk to Casa Fernando Pessoa. Make a pilgrimage to the famous Café A Brasileira to see the sculpture of Pessoa, situated just outside. Or visit the Casa dos Bicos-José Saramago Foundation to pay homage to Portugal’s iconoclastic Nobelist/exile. In the afternoon, join an optional winery visit for lunch and wine tasting. Afterward, enjoy dinner on your own and a free evening.

Poets Park. Credit: Vitor Oliveira

Sept. 26: We’ll gather this morning for discussions, readings, and writing exercises focusing on the sense of place.

The afternoon and evening are free to explore on your own. You might venture to Oeiras, west of the city center, to visit the beautiful Parque dos Poetas. Its sculptures and gardens are dedicated to Portugal’s most revered writers, including Florbela Espanca and Sophia de Mello Breyner Andresen.

Sept. 27: Today, we board a train and head north for the 3-hour trip to Porto, one of Europe’s loveliest cities and home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Old Porto. After lunch on your own, we’ll gather for a half-day guided tour of the city, known for its iconic azulejo tiles and terra cotta roofs. In addition to historic streets and squares, we’ll visit the famous Lello bookshop, one of the most architecturally beautiful in the world. After our tour, enjoy the rest of the day on your own.

Sept. 28: An optional guided tour to Peneda-Gerês National Park allows you to hike to the famous waterfalls, discover the view, and enjoy a light boxed lunch in the midst of a stunning landscape.

Or stay in Porto for the day and explore it however you like. You might savor a port wine tasting at one of the traditional cellars, explore Porto’s famous culinary scene, or head to Serralves for an avant-garde experience encompassing architecture, contemporary art, a sculpture park, and an art deco mansion.

This evening, we’ll meet up for a sunset dinner cruise to enjoy the views of Porto from the water as we say farewell.

Sept. 29: Departure day. A shuttle will take you to the airport to fly home. Or you might continue your European adventure on your own.

Ground travel package

The ground package price of $3,095 includes a shared room in our four-star city-center hotels in Lisbon and Porto, airport transfers on arrival and departure days, a welcome dinner, farewell dinner cruise, breakfasts daily, guided tours of Lisbon and Porto, a full-day tour of Sintra and Cascais, transportation by train and motorcoach from Lisbon to Porto, tips for waitstaff at our welcome and farewell meals, gratuities for guides and drivers, and WorldStrides’ risk management and insurance. A WorldStrides staff member will accompany us throughout the trip.

An upgrade to single rooms at both hotels is available for one additional charge of $966. An optional Travel Protection Plan, including a Cancel for Any Reason benefit until 3 days prior to departure date, can be purchased for $279.

Some trip costs are not included. Be sure to budget separately for international airfare, meals and activities except as noted above, optional tours to the winery and the national park, and any transportation arranged on your own.

The trip requires a minimum of 15 travelers to fill. We’ll share further details, including sign-up deadlines, as they become available.

Questions? Drop me an email. I hope to see you in Portugal for the first of our shoulder-season travels!

Photo: Julia Youngblood

Katy Yocom is associate director of the Naslund-Mann Graduate School of Writing and associate editor of Good River Review. She has been planning travel abroad for the Spalding MFA program since their first trip abroad, to Paris in 2007.


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