Journey on the Road to Freedom

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Retrace the footsteps of Aristides de Sousa Mendes and the refugees of 1940 on this 11-day, 10-night guided trip of a lifetime, beginning in Bordeaux and ending in Lisbon. In between, visit sites germane to the dramatic and moving story, including Bayonne, Hendaye, Vilar Formoso, Cabanas de Viriato, Porto, and Figueira da Foz.* Optional pre-tour and post-tour extensions.  Travel in a comfortable air-conditioned coach bus and enjoy fabulous meals. Accommodations are all full-service luxury 5-star or 4-star hotels.  Space is limited, with priority given to visa recipients, descendants of visa recipients, and Holocaust educators.

Rave reviews from prior participants:  “A wonderful experience!” “Enlightening, inspiring, often emotional.” “One of the best trips I have ever taken.”  “Super!” “It went beyond my expectations.”  “Much more than I expected. It was a once in a lifetime experience.” “Inspirational and wonderful!”

*Preliminary itinerary. Program subject to change.


June 24-July 4, 2017

Price of the tour: $2800 for 10-night trip, including all hotels, sites, ground transportation and meals (excluding alcohol). Air travel to Europe not included. Brussels Airlines, the Official Carrier, is generously providing a 15% discount for air travel to all participants. Optional pre-tour winery excursion to St.-Emilion: $250 including meals, hotel, wine tasting, transportation and guide. Optional post-tour extension to Estoril, Cascais and Sintra: $250 including meals, hotel, and transportation. Discounted price (-10%) for both extensions: $450. Prices are based on double occupancy. Single room supplement: $70/night.

Schedule of payments: Deposit of $250 due on October 1, 2016 or until spaces are filled. Balance due according to the following schedule: $1250 (basic tour) plus any extensions (in full) due on February 1, 2017. Remaining balance due on May 1, 2017.  Refund policy: The deposit is non-refundable. The second payment is refundable prior to March 1, 2017. The third payment is non-refundable. PayPal transaction fees will be subtracted from any refund.

St.-Emilion, France

This optional pre-tour excursion includes a welcome dinner, a private tour of a winery in the ancient village of St.-Emilion, a visit to the world’s largest underground cathedral, and a luxurious lunch with fine wine. Arrive one day early to take advantage of this rare opportunity.

Bordeaux, France

Visit Portuguese consulate where Aristides de Sousa Mendes wrote visas in 1940 and the Parc des Quinconces where thousands of refugees camped out in the open air.  Visit Bordeaux synagogue and Aristides de Sousa Mendes bust on the Esplanade Charles de Gaulle. Visit Musée Jean Moulin dedicated to the French Resistance. Enjoy regional cuisine and fine wine.

Bayonne, France

Visit Portuguese consulate in Bayonne where Sousa Mendes ordered visas to be issued and where he personally also issued visas. See the fountain and cathedral plaza where thousands of refugees stood asking for visas. Enjoy regional artisanal chocolates and Basque cuisine.

Hendaye, France/Irun, Spain

Enjoy a gourmet basque lunch by the beach.  Travel across “freedom bridge” linking France to Spain.

Salamanca, Spain

Spend one night in the Old City, home to one of the oldest universities in the world.  Enjoy regional cuisine.

Vilar Formoso, Portugal

Travel across the Portuguese border to Vilar Formoso, where the “Frontier of Peace” museum is slated to open (we hope in time for our arrival).

Viseu, Portugal

Stay in this ancient city in the heart of Portugal’s wine region and where Jews flourished before The Inquisition. Enjoy a live Fado performance after dinner.

Cabanas de Viriato, Portugal

Visit Sousa Mendes family home “Casa do Passal” and cemetery where Aristides de Sousa Mendes is laid to rest. See “Duty of Memory” garden created by schoolchildren. Dine on regional specialties in nearby Carregal do Sal.

Porto, Portugal

This coastal city was one of the locales where the refugees of 1940 were assigned to live. Learn about their daily lives. Visit Synagogue Kadoorie Mekor Haim, the largest synagogue in the Iberian peninsula. Enjoy afternoon tea at Café Majestic. Walk through the Old City or head to the beach. Enjoy Porto’s famous wines.

Figueira da Foz, Portugal

This fishing village was one of the prime locales where refugees resided in 1940. Visit Casa Havanesa and other points of interest.

Lisbon, Portugal

Visit Shaare Tikvah Synagogue and other points of interest. Visit Ministry of Foreign Affairs to see the Sousa Mendes visa registry book, in whose pages Aristides de Sousa Mendes and his staff listed the names of the visa recipients in May and June of 1940.  Tour ends with a visit to Lisbon’s harbor as we imagine the refugees of 1940 leaving their old lives behind to embark on a new adventure.

Estoril, Cascais and Sintra, Portugal

Explore Portugal’s famed coastline with this optional post-tour excursion. Visit Estoril, Cascais and Sintra, where you’ll visit the romantic National Palace at Pena and Cabo da Roca, Europe’s westernmost point “where the land ends and the sea begins,” as described by the poets. Return to Lisbon at the end of the day.

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