Douro, Porto & Salamanca River Cruise - Travel Agency in York
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Douro, Porto & Salamanca River Cruise

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Your Itinerary Douro, Porto & Salamanca River Cruise

DAY 1 – ARRIVAL IN PORTO

Fly to Lisbon or Porto, where we’ll meet and transfer you to your fivestar cruise ship in Porto. From the moment you board, the welcoming
crew are at your service. In no time you’ll be settled into your luxurious,
thoughtfully furnished accommodation and familiarising yourself with
all the first-class aspects of this floating boutique hotel.

DAY 2 – PORTO
Strategically sited overlooking the Douro as it empties into the Atlantic,
Portugal’s second largest city was originally a Roman town, but its
wealth is derived from its knowledge of the sea routes to India, with
fortunes made from trading spices, silks and other fine goods. This
morning our guided tour of this interesting city unveils some of its
major and more surprising sights. You’ll experience the tangled lanes of
the medieval quarter, the splendid Praça da Ribeira square with its
characteristic tiled townhouses and fine views to the wine lodges across
the river. Gustav Eiffel designed one of the bridges, and you can
immediately see the connection with his more famous Parisian creation!
You’ll gaze up at the city’s imposing fortress, its fine cathedral and
Baroque Clérigos Tower. Porto is wonderfully free of the chain shops
prevalent elsewhere, and it’s a joy to see what the many traditional
traders have to offer, from fine art, antiques and ceramics to some of
the most wonderful cakes you’ll ever taste.
We return to the ship and there’s an air of expectancy on board as
during our first delicious lunch, we’ll slip our moorings and begin our
stately passage upstream. The Douro is one of Europe’s most
captivating rivers and you can enjoy a leisurely afternoon up on deck or
watching the glorious scenery drifting by from the comfort of your own
cabin. Tonight, as you enter the restaurant for the Welcome Dinner, feel
free to choose your table. All are expertly set with four or more seats
and have excellent views through the large panoramic windows. Later,
we will see a celebratory vintage port wine opened in the traditional
way. We are moored overnight in Porto Antigo at the confluence of the
River Bestança.

DAY 3 – CASTELO RODRIGO
As dawn breaks, early risers can witness the ship’s graceful departure.
Relax over a leisurely breakfast whilst the ever-changing scenery idly
slips by through the restaurant’s superb panoramic windows.
The Douro was once a wild river, notoriously challenging to navigate,
especially for the traditional flat-bottomed boats, which often
foundered in its waters. Today it has been tamed by a system of dams
and locks, which have raised the water level to produce a topography
reminiscent of Scotland’s lochs that enhances the valley’s charm. As we
cruise into ever more rural territory towards the Spanish border, the
river here is at its most peaceful. It’s the perfect time to take a
refreshing dip in the Sun Deck pool – a rare treat on a cruise ship – or
catch up on some reading, perhaps with a cool pre-lunch glass of vinho
verde, the local, gently fizzy white wine. Portuguese wine is simply
outstanding but production is low, so the best is rarely exported. Our
on-board wine list includes some excellent regional wines and the
friendly and attentive restaurant staff will gladly guide you through
them. Do experiment a little and you’ll be greatly rewarded.
This afternoon we visit Castelo Rodrigo, a delightful 12th-century walled
village tucked away in the picturesque highland ranges bordering Spain.
Its church was a resting place on the pilgrimage route to Santiago de
Compostela and it is said that Saint Francis himself stayed here. The
views are simply stupendous, stretching across almost-deserted ochre
hillsides. This evening after dinner head up on to the sun deck to listen
to the unmistakable sound of crickets and breathe in the scents from
the surrounding valley slopes that pervade the warm evening air.

DAY 4 – SALAMANCA
Today we visit historic Salamanca, one of the many UNESCO World
Heritage Sites on this journey, regarded by many Spaniards as their
nation’s most beautiful city. Founded by the Romans, who erected its
389-yard-long bridge, Salamanca is mostly built from local sandstone
that emanates a gorgeous rose-coloured glow in the sunlight. Perched
on a hill on a bend in the serene River Tormes, the city is a picture of
tranquillity but its history is turbulent, having been successively fought
over by Hannibal, the Moors, then the Duke of Wellington and
Napoleon.
Salamanca is dominated by its two cathedrals and its university.
Founded in 1218, the university is the oldest in Spain and was one of the
civilised world’s most important seats of study for over 400 years. The
Spanish Inquisition’s records are still kept here, and as early as the 16th
century it boasted some 12,000 students. Seeing its immaculately
preserved lecture halls with their vaulted ceilings, it’s easy to conjure an
image of Christopher Columbus addressing the learned men of the day
or legal experts constructing the international laws that originate here.
Over lunch you enjoy a traditional flamenco show, then you are free to
explore Salamanca as you wish. You may choose to linger, admiring the
ornate interiors of its cathedrals – the more recent dates from the 16th
century – or explore its tiny streets, medieval squares, traditional shops,
gardens and marketplaces. The main square, the Plaza Mayor, is
unmissable. Possibly Spain’s finest public square, it was built in the 18th
century in Spanish Baroque style with colonnaded walkways all around
at ground level, ideal for finding a shaded spot to sit and watch the
locals go about their daily lives.

DAY 5 – MATEUS PALACE GARDENS
One of the benefits of life aboard a river cruise is the sheer sense of
relaxation it brings; our elegant ship slips its moorings during breakfast,
after which there is plenty of time for a spot of pampering in the onboard spa, or simply watch the seamless changing of the riverbank
scenery passing by from the comfort of a cosy seat in the lounge. We’re
in port wine territory, where the lush hillsides have largely given way to
a patterned landscape of terraced vineyards. Inland from the Atlantic,
the climate has changed, too; it’s noticeably warmer and drier, while the
area has a Mediterranean appearance with orangey, earthy colours
replacing verdant greens.
After another superb lunch on board, we cruise into the small town of
Peso da Régua, from where we visit the grounds of the splendid Mateus
Palace. Anyone familiar with Mateus Rosé and its characteristic
‘squashed’ bottle will recognise the palace from the label. Whatever
your opinion of the wine, it is an impressive 18th-century Baroque
edifice, mirrored in its stunning pond, surrounded by landscaped
French gardens.
This evening we take the short drive to the 126-acre Quinta da Pacheca
for dinner. Enjoying dramatic views over the Douro, it dates back to the
18th century and is simply one of the most beautiful and distinguished
properties in the region. It is also notable as being the first quinta – in
1738 – to bottle wine under the name of its owner, the aristocrat
Mariana Pacheco Pereira. You have time to wander through part of the
estate before sampling a selection of its finest wines at dinner.

DAY 6 – LAMEGO
This morning after breakfast we take a short drive to historic Lamego,
home of Portugal’s sparkling wine, Raposeira, and one of the first places
to be reclaimed from the Moors in the 12th century. Situated atop the
hill overlooking this lovely town is the ancient Sanctuary of Our Lady of
Remedies church, its stairways adorned with attractive azulejos, the
country’s characteristic painted ceramic tiles. Later we enjoy a little
indulgence as we make a stop to enjoy a tasting of local specialities.
After sampling some typical Portuguese delights you have some free
time to explore Lamego a little further.
By the time we return to our ship, our chef and his team will be adding
the finishing touches to another delicious lunch, ready to be served as
we depart for Entre-os-Rios. After lunch there’s the perfect opportunity
to take to the sun deck to enjoy the kaleidoscope of Douro views – or
perhaps a spot of reading in the lounge over a cup of tea. This evening
is the Captain’s Dinner, a truly memorable experience featuring
exquisite regional specialities, followed by a colourful performance of
traditional Portuguese folk music by a local cultural group.

DAY 7 – PORTO
There’s a perfect opportunity to avail yourself of some of the ship’s
range of five-star facilities this morning – maybe a little gentle exercise
in the fitness room before heading up to the sun deck to enjoy a coffee
whilst chatting with newly-made friends as our ship makes a graceful
arrival in Porto once more, passing under the city’s spectacular bridges.
Porto is of course synonymous with wonderful port wine and all the
famous port producers are here, such as Cálem, Sandeman and
Ferreira, so a visit here would not be complete without a tour of one of
them. You’ll learn about this fortified wine’s fascinating history and its
close British connections. Port is made from grapes still pressed in the
traditional way – by feet – then lovingly matured, sometimes for
decades, before you can enjoy its subtle flavours. Of course, you’ll get
the chance to sample various port styles at the end of our visit.
After lunch you’ll have the rest of the afternoon at leisure to explore this
truly fascinating city; so perhaps return to the terraced streets of the old
town and wander the sloping maze of winding, cobbled alleyways,
soaking up the atmosphere whilst stopping to admire the lovely
architecture, soaring bell towers, fine baroque churches, golden
rooftops and beautiful tiles of this slice of traditional Portugal. Stop for a
drink in a cosy café and be tempted by an array of delicious cakes and
pastries – perhaps sample a pastel de nata, the traditional Portuguese
custard tart.
This evening, enjoy a final dinner on board expertly served by our
restaurant staff under the supervision of the maître d’. Afterwards,
perhaps settle into the lounge to chat into the evening and reflect on
the splendours of the remarkable River Douro – over a glass of port, of
course.

DAY 8 – RETURN HOME
After breakfast, you’ll be transferred to the airport at the appropriate
time, with memories of one of the most unspoilt corners of Europe to
savour for a long time to come.
Please note: This document has been compiled based on the information available to us at the time it
was created for you, we reserve the right to alter or cancel itineraries, accommodation or other
arrangements at any time. Prices and accommodation are subject to change as they are based on
availability at the time of booking.

  • Per Person Based on 2 Sharing
  • March to November 2020
  • 7 nights
  • Full Board
    • 7 nights on a 5-star ship
    • Return flights & transfers
    • 8 visits & tours
    • Full Board
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