Our Portugal and Douro River Cruise departed early last week and we are lucky enough to have a friend of Mayflower Tours aboard the ship. Carrie Stachnik has been keeping us up to date on this amazing trip and has kindly shared some highlights of her journey.
The Portugal and Douro River Cruise is an 11 day cruise and features highlights such as Lisbon, Fátima and Salamanca! Below, Carrie writes about her experience in Fátima and Coimbra, the journey to Salamanca, and her last two days in Porto.
Fátima and Coimbra
After leaving Lisbon or Leash-boa as it is pronounced here, we ventured on to Fatima for our Mayflower Douro Valley river cruise tour. I didn't know what to expect but seeing the sheer numbers of pilgrims here was very moving. We saw people crawling on their knees in reverence to the miracle of Fatima and a priest saying mass in front of the little chapel where the miracle occurred.
Then our Mayflower group moved on to Coimbra, the primary university town in Portugal. JK Rowling found inspiration for Harry Potter from the traditional college dress code that you sometimes still see here today.
Now our group has arrived in Porto, a stunning town, Portugal’s 2nd largest, which sits on the banks of the Douro River. We had an amazing dinner onboard the MS Douro Queen, the staff could not be more attentive!
Today was our much anticipated excursion to Salamanca Spain! We departed after breakfast and enjoyed the olive, almond and oak tree covered countryside on our journey into Spain. Upon our arrival into Salamanca we were met with a citywide marathon blocking normal roads but the Mayflower Staff and local staff expertly made their way around the barricades to get us to the city center for our tour.
The Plaza Mayor and university are as charming as they come. We were here on a Sunday so local Spaniards were out with strollers and entire families taking in this beautiful city. After our tour we enjoyed a wonderful lunch of local specialties and a flamenco show that was very entertaining.
Upon our arrival back at the Douro Queen we feasted on a dinner of BBQ Portuguese specialties. Some retreated to the lounge after dinner to enjoy music while others relaxed on the upper deck to embrace the beautiful evening.
We woke up to another day of amazing weather. The entire trip has been sunny and 80-85 degrees without a drop of rain. Today was a leisurely morning on the Douro Queen, relaxing by the pool while we passed through three dams on our way back to Porto. We returned to Pinhao for an excursion to Croft Estates Quinta da Roeda. We took a short tour of the vineyards while learning about their very special port production. We returned to the main building for a tasting of their port rose and their vinho do porto (port wine). It was so delicious that many in our Mayflower Cruises & Tours group bought port to take home! This was one of my favorite stops on our trip. Once back on the Douro Queen we were treated to a Pastel de Nata pastry demonstration. This is the typical egg yolk pastry found all over Portugal. In the evening we dressed up in our Sunday best for the Captains dinner, a truly lovely evening, followed by a Portuguese Fado Folk Show in the lounge. Fantastico!
Thank you again to Carrie for being a guest blogger for Mayflower Cruises & Tours! It sounds like she is having one amazing time!
The Portugal and Douro River Cruise is a truly magnificent Life Enriching Experience that you do not want to miss!. Please click here to see more details about the Portugal and Douro River Cruise!