Secrets of the Douro
Today enjoy a full day sailing the windy turns and twists of the Douro Valley. A UNESCO world heritage site, this area is sparsely populated by small quaint villages and typical working vineyards and small farms. Your Cruise Director will host a lecture on board showcasing the history and wine culture of the region. Perhaps join a painting class of local mosaic tiles which depict typical traditional motifs. Later this afternoon arrive in the village of Pinhão which is situated on a river bend surrounded by terraced hillsides producing some of the world’s best Port.
Today visit the village of Lamego, where history stands still. Lamego is nestled in the fertile slope of the Douro Valley port wine growing region and is a great example of baroque architecture. Visit the remains of the most spectacular building of Lamego, the sanctuary dedicated to Our Lady of Remedies. Set above the town on the Monte de Sao Estevao, it is flanked by two bell towers. There are hundreds of zigzagging stairs decorated with ornate friezes that ascend out of a garden with a vast array of trees. This afternoon sail to Vega de Terron, Spain.
Salamanca was declared a World Heritage City and in 2002 was declared a World City of culture, Founded in Roman times, the city of Salamanca is home to one of the oldest universities in Europe, (said to be the third oldest in Europe, founded in 1218), the seat of the Spanish language, and still a lively student town. With its grand squares and medieval structures, a walking tour here is more like stepping back in time. Tapas bars can be found on every street and traditional Spanish dancing is practiced often. Lunch is on your own today to try out some of the many dining options featured on every street. Be sure to try the cured ham for which this region is famous. The rest of the day is at leisure. Return to your ship this evening for a relaxing night in port. Why not join your fellow passengers in the lounge for dancing?
This morning arrive in the picturesque village of Pocinho and join your excursion to the Coa Valley pre-historic Museum. This impressive concrete structure details pre-historic stone carvings made by the early inhabitants of the Douro, which were uncovered during the construction of the nearby dam. The workshop uncovers the every day pastimes of our Paleolithic ancestors. Return to your ship for lunch and afternoon sailing towards Regua. Join your barman for a lesson on how to make cocktails using white port. You’re Invited: This evening your highlight dinner will be hosted at a traditional local wine estate.
Wake up this morning in the former Roman settlement of Regua. Visit the Douro Museum for a look at wine making in the surrounding Valleys. This museum is specifically focused on the creation of the Agriculture and Alto Douro Wines, which were established in 1756 to differentiate, develop and regulate the making and the sale of the wines of the Douro region. Or book a Discover More guided excursion to the Mateus Palace, the historic icon depicted on the labels of Portugal’s famous rosé wine. Built in the first half of the 18th century, this palace is set among beautiful gardens on a large farm. It is said it’s one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture in all of Portugal. Housed within the palace are intricately carved wood ceilings, paintings from the 17th and 18th century, grand silverware, ceramics and a vast library. This evening enjoy the Captain Farewell dinner.
Located at the mouth of the Douro River, Porto is a fascinating eclectic mix of modern and ancient architecture. Its most famous export is of course fortified wine, and the hillside across from the city center features numerous wine caves and tasting boutiques in the area of Vila Nova de Gaia. Here you will notice that time has almost stood still. You will not find the latest wine making techniques or any fancy equipment. Instead, you will find a wine industry much the way it was over a hundred years ago. Yet, in spite of it, or because of it, vintage Port is one of the world’s greatest wines. While port is made in other countries, such as the United States, Australia and South Africa, only port wine made here in the Douro Valley can use the terms port or porto. Choose to take a Discover More excursion to Guimarães - the seat of the first king of Portugal, or The Palacio da Bolsa - also known as the Stock Exchange Palace or the Porto Trade Association. Construction began in 1842 and took over 70 years to complete.
Due to the length of construction, the number of architects, builders and others associated with the construction of this site, there are many architectural styles present – including neoclassical nineteenth century, Tuscan architecture, as well as English neo-Palladian.