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Hiking & Walking Along Portugal’s Douro Valley

Program Number: 21157RJ
Start and End Dates:
10/5/2013 - 10/14/2013; 4/11/2015 - 4/20/2015; 10/24/2015 - 11/2/2015;
Duration: 9 nights
Location: Portugal/Spain
Price starting at: $2,799.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; River Boats; Walking/Hiking Activity Level: t (see description)
Meals: 22; 8 Breakfasts, 6 Lunches, 8 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

Flowing through northern Portugal and Spain, the Douro and its river valley are the backbone of the region’s spectacular scenery, quaint villages and thriving wine industry. Experience the essence of Portugal during this river voyage along the beautiful Douro, and enjoy walking adventures as means of exploring the region’s idyllic countryside, thriving vineyards and historic architecture.




Activity Particulars

Hiking up to five miles; walking up to two miles at a time over uneven terrain and cobblestones; standing up to 1.5 hours at a time.



Itinerary At-a-Glance

Porto, 1 night; aboard MS Infante don Henrique, 7 nights.



Day 1: Overnight flight from the U.S.A.


Days 2-4: Arrival Porto (Portugal) / embark MS Infante don Henrique / Regua:

Join an art historian for a lecture on the history of Portugal, followed by a walking exploration of the Old City of Porto. Then, via coach, explore Porto further, taking in the Pàlacio da Bolsa, Clerigos church and tower, Liberdade Square and the Town Hall. Lodging: Four-star hotel.



Day 5: Vila Real:

Hike along the Natural Park of Alvão and marvel in its mountainous scenery and deep valleys.



Days 6-7: Salamanca (Spain) / Barca D’Alva (Portugal):

Experience the Roman, Arabic and Christian architectural treasures of the city of Salamanca, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Sample Spanish cuisine and enjoy Flamenco entertainment in Barca D’Alva. Hike to Vulture’s Cliff in Douro National Park and take in its magnificent panoramic views.



Day 8: Ferradosa / Regua:

Walk along the vines of São João da Pesqueira and enjoy a picnic lunch in this beautifully preserved region.



Days 9-10: Porto / disembark / departure:

Enjoy a scenic nature walk along the Douro estuary, and take in spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean.



MS Infante don Henrique

At 246 feet long, the ms Infante features several public areas on its three decks, including a lounge, partially covered sun deck with pool and one-sitting restaurant with excellent cuisine. Its 71 cabins accommodate 142 passengers and all have a shower, TV, radio, internal phone, hair dryer, air-conditioning, safe and large panoramic window.



Road Scholar Instructors
These instructors are participating on at least one date of this program. Please note that changes may occur.
Helena Baltazar

For more than 15 years, Helena Baltazar has been leading and lecturing on Road Scholar programs and taking participants into the heart of Portugal and Spain. Through her engaging lectures and charming personality, she is able to create excellent group dynamics and learning opportunities for everyone on the program. Her vast travel experience and wealth of knowledge about the history and cultures of the Iberian Peninsula contribute tremendously to the enrichement of the educational content of the programs she leads and provides an unmatched perspective about the region. She holds a master’s degree in museum studies from the University of Porto, and has researched a variety of topics related to Portuguese culture, particularly focused on Northern Portugal and the city of Porto, as well as Sephardic history. Helena is currently pursuing her Ph.D.
 
Meals and Lodgings
   Mercure Porto Centro
  Porto, Portugal 1 night
   MS Infante
  Porto, Portugal
MS Infante - Porto River, Portugal
Porto, Portugal
7 nights
 Mercure Porto Centro
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: This 4 star hotel is located in the city centre, in the historic heart of Porto, beside the Sao Joao Theatre. Just 17 km away from the international airport, the hotel is within easy reach of several forms of transport. The hotel has been fully refurbished and decorated with an understated theatrical theme.
  Contact info: Praca da Batalha 116
PORTO,  4049-028 Portugal
phone: +351 22 2043300
web: www.mercure.com/gb/hotel-1975-mercure-porto-centro-4/index.shtml
  Room amenities: Rooms are equipped with minibar, satellite/cable TV, air conditioning, wireless Internet and hair dryer.
  Facility amenities: At your disposal in the hotel are meeting rooms, a bar, restaurant, laundry service and porter service.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights prior: see below Please contact the program provider for special rates and reservations.
  Check in time: 2:00 PM

 MS Infante
Type: Riverboat
  Description: All cabins are located above water level and offer panoramic views of the scenery. Spacious and comfortable, they have twin beds or a double bed, with a bathroom (shower, WC and washbasin) and towels provided onboard. They are also equipped with satellite television, radio, hairdryer and safe. There is also a lift. All cabins offer the same equipment and are of the same size. Some of the cabins on the upper deck have large picture windows. The Sun Deck is equipped with recliners and deck chairs. There is a small external swimming pool
  Ship Information: Length: 75 / Width: 11,40 Drag: 1,77 / Horse Power: 1500
  Contact info: 12 rue de la division Leclerc
Strasbourg,  67000 France
phone: +NOTAvailable
  Room amenities: Accommodation is in 2 berth lower deck cabins with shower, wc and large window. All cabins are equipped with TV, radio, safe and hairdryer and air conditioning.
  Facility amenities: Sail in complete comfort on the MS Infante Don Henrique, operated by CroisiEurope. Large partially covered sundeck, lounge, with TV/Video and a restaurant. Lift between the main, middle and upper deck.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Bathroom: Shower only
  Elevators available: Yes


Travel Details
  Start of Program:
This program begins on Day 2 with orientation at 5 PM at your hotel in O Porto, Portugal. You will be staying at Mercure Porto Centro that night.
  End of Program:
This program ends on Day 10 after breakfast onboard the ship in O Porto. All must disembark by 9 AM You will be staying at MS Infante the night before.
  Required documents:
The Road Scholar Health & Safety Form is required.
  Parking availability:
N/A
Transportation (For Independent Travelers)
  Train or bus availability: Metro and bus transportation is available to/from the airports in both Porto and Lisbon.
To Start of Program
  Location:  Porto
  Nearest airport:  Porto
  Transportation to site: Independent travelers may take the metro, the bus, or a taxi to the hotel. Metro: Line E (violet) of the Metro de Porto connects the airport to the city center in about 25 minutes. Bus: There is an airport shuttle bus that leaves the airport for Porto every 15 minutes from near the taxi rank just outside the airport. It takes about thirty minutes to get into Porto ending on Avenida dos Aliados in the centre of Porto. Taxi: Taxis are available from the airport and are equipped with a meter on which the fares are displayed. During Saturdays, Sundays and holidays, and on all other days from 9.00 pm at night until 6.00 am in the morning, a surcharge of 20% is automatically added to the fare on the meter.
  From End of Program
  Location: Porto
  Transportation from site: A taxi from the city center to the airport costs about 15-20 euros.
    (Additional transportation information same as above)
Equipment Requirements: It is essential that you bring a back pack with you it should easily hold a sweater, waterproof clothing, picnic items, a water bottle and sun protection Your choice of bag will have a great influence on your comfort, bring a sturdy bag of an appropriate size which has padded straps. Good hiking shoes / boots must be comfortable above anything else and must not rub or damage your feet. We advise you choose shoes fitted with shock-absorbing soles which will help you to avoid sore feet. It is essential that a walker’s kit always include: lightweight trousers that dry quickly, a fleece or woollen pullover, a cagoule or rain cape, a hat or cap and late season lightweight gloves. You should consider bringing the following items: sunglasses, a water bottle, toilet paper and telescopic walking poles for those accustomed to using them (recommended for the Douro).
The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.


Daily Schedule

Day 1: Individual Departure from the US
(Saturday, October 5)
   
 Depart From: Overnight flight from the US

Day 2: Arrival in O Porto and Welcome and Orientation
(Sunday, October 6)
   
 Arrive To: Flight arrival in Porto, Portugal from USA
 Afternoon: Check in at your hotel in Porto and attend an early evening orientation meeting with your group. Please meet in the lobby at 5 PM.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner in O Porto.
 Evening: Evening at leisure to rest and relax.
   
Accommodations: Mercure Porto Centro
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Walking Discovery of O Porto
(Monday, October 7)

Note: Walking up to 4 KM over cobbled stone streets, expect some mild inclinations and hills.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel
 Morning: This morning you will have your local Art Historian give an introductory lecture on the history of Portugal. Afterwards you will leave the hotel for a lecture/field trip discovering the city of O Porto. Check out of rooms by 12:00 Noon and store luggage at the reception.
 Lunch: Lunch on your own in Porto.
 Afternoon: Continue the afternoon on your own. We meet again at the hotel in the late afternoon to transfer to the ship with our luggage. We overnight onboard the ship in O Porto this evening. Check into cabins around 5 PM, and have an ship orientation before dinner.
 Dinner: Dinner on the ship.
   
Accommodations: MS Infante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 4: Historic O Porto
(Tuesday, October 8)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet on board ship
 Morning: This morning we set off by coach for our second visit of Porto. We have the opportunity to visit the cathedral (a fortified church from the 12th century), the Pàlacio da Bolsa, Clerigos church and tower, Liberdade Square and the Town Hall. We also visit a port wine cellar for some tastings in Vila Nova de Gaia, a commune located on the left bank of the Douro. Later we return on board for lunch and set sail.
 Lunch: Lunch is served on board the ship.
 Afternoon: This afternoon admire the wonderful landscapes and scenery as we cruise to Regua. We pass through the Crestuma and Carrapatello locks on our journey. The Carrapatello lock, at some 36 metres, is the highest in Europe. Later in the afternoon attend a lecture led by your Study Leader: Introduction to the Douro Region, its wines and landscape. We arrive in Regua around 8pm
 Dinner: Dinner is served on board the ship.
 Evening: Evening at leisure to rest and relax or enjoy some dancing in the lounge or take an evening walk in Regua.
   
Accommodations: MS Infante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Cruising the Historic Vineyard of the Douro Valley. Hiking Alvao Park and Reserve
(Wednesday, October 9)

Note: HIKER Program: Walk of 2½ to 3 hours, 7km (4.5miles) with a climb/incline of around 320m.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet is served on board the ship.
 Morning: Today's PROGRAM FOR HIKERS(NOTE: Road Scholar will have an exclusive group and Group Leader only on the Hiking program): This beautiful walk provides an interesting route through the heart of the Natural Park of Alvão. Mountainous scenery, granite statues, deep valleys and remote villages line our route. ALTERNATIVELY for those not interesting in hiking Road scholar participants may join other ship passengers on a PROGRAM FOR NON HIKERS: set off on our trip to Vila Real, a town with a great variety of religious architecture. A little later, we have a beautiful walk through the magnificent gardens at Solar de Mateus. Both groups return on board at Pinhão for lunch
 Lunch: Lunch is served on board the ship.
 Afternoon: This afternoon we cruise through the heart of the most famous vineyards in Porto, passing alongside hills covered in vines planted in steps as high as 700 metres which cascade majestically down to the river banks. We pass through the lock at Valeira and arrive in Vega de Teron during the evening. Later in the afternoon, attend a lecture to learn more about the history of the Vineyards of the Douro."
 Dinner: Dinner is served on board the ship.
 Evening: After dinner on board, we are treated to an evening’s entertainment by the crew.
   
Accommodations: MS Infante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Discovering Salamanca a UNESCO World Heritage Site
(Thursday, October 10)

Note: Extensive walking over cobbled stone streets and uneven sidewalks. Walking up to 2.5 miles in the morning and afternoon during the tour.



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast is served on board the ship
 Morning: This morning discover the city of Salamanca, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. this morning before setting off on an excursion to Salamanca today where we have a guided visit. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, this beautiful town has many extraordinary Roman, Arabic and Christian architectural treasures. We discover the ancient and new cathedrals, the Plaza Mayor, the house of Las Conchas (whose façade is covered with the scallop symbol of the Compostela pilgrims), the façade of the University in golden stone from the Villa Mayor quarries, the Roman Church of St Martin, the Clerecia (church of the Holy Spirit) and the Town Hall.
 Lunch: Lunch will be at a local restaurant in Salamanca.
 Afternoon: This afternoon continue your exploration of Salamanca. During our excursion, the ship continues its journey to Barca d’Alva where it awaits us when we return in the late afternoon.
 Dinner: Special Spanish dinner is served on board the ship.
 Evening: Enjoy a special Flamenco Dance show
   
Accommodations: MS Infante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Barca d'Alva, Senhora da Riberira and Hiking the "Vulture Cliffs"
(Friday, October 11)

Note: HIKER Program: Walk of 3 hours, 8km (5miles) with a climb/incline of around 530m



   
 Breakfast: Our ship sails from Senhora da Ribeira early this morning, and we have breakfast on board as we cruise. Our cruise takes us past beautiful, wild landscapes and through impressive rocky gorges. We arrive in Ferradosa around 8am.
 Morning: Today's PROGRAM FOR HIKERS(NOTE: Road Scholar will have an exclusive group and Group Leader only on the Hiking program): “Vultures’ Cliff”. This walk begins in a wild mountainous setting with magnificent panoramic views over the Douro and Spain. Located in the Douro Natural Park, famous for its protected flora and fauna, the route gives us the ideal opportunity to admire eagles, vultures and kites. Binoculars are strongly recommended. Picnic lunch is provided. ALTERNATIVELY for those not interesting in hiking Road scholar participants may join other ship passengers on a PROGRAM FOR NON HIKERS: set off for our excursion to Figueira de Castelo Rodrigo. Set high upon a rocky peak, in the middle of flat cultivated plains, this village with its restored narrow streets has managed to retain much authentic charm. From here there are wonderful views of the valley. We return on board for lunch
 Lunch: Lunch is served on board the ship.
 Afternoon: Spend the afternoon gently cruising along the Douro as we head for Senhora da Ribeira. This afternoon is the ideal time to relax on the sun deck and admire the magnificent scenery along the Douro Valley. We arrive at the end of the day in Senhora da Ribeira. During the afternoon attend a lecture led by your Study Leader.
 Dinner: Dinner is served on board the ship.
 Evening: Enjoy an early evening or join in the lounge for music and dancing
   
Accommodations: MS Infante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Senhora da Ribeira, Ferradosa, Pinhao, Regua and Walking the Vineyards of the Douro.
(Saturday, October 12)

Note: HIKER Program: Walk of 4 hours, 14km (9miles) with a climb downwards/decline of around 500m



   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet on board the ship.
 Morning: Today's PROGRAM FOR HIKERS(NOTE: Road Scholar will have an exclusive group and Group Leader only on the Hiking program): We transfer by coach to São João da Pesqueira where we set off on our day’s walk through the vines. For those who love walking, this is a real paradise where nature has been protected (picnic is provided). Return on board around 3pm at Regua. ALTERNATIVELY for those not interesting in hiking Road scholar participants may join other ship passengers on a PROGRAM FOR NON HIKERS: Follow the wine route and stop at a panoramic viewing point in the middle of the vines for a tasting of Porto wines in a quinta. Rejoin the boat at Pinhão for lunch.
 Lunch: Lunch is served on board the ship.
 Afternoon: From Regua, we continue our cruise to Bitetos, where we arrive during the evening. Spend the afternoon enjoying the scenery and relaxing on deck.
 Dinner: Dinner on board the ship.
 Evening: Portuguese Fado presentation
   
Accommodations: MS Infante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: O Porto and Hiking the Estuary
(Sunday, October 13)

Note: HIKER program: a flat, level walk of 2 to 2½ hours, 8km (5 miles).



   
 Breakfast: Buffet breakfast onboard the ship
 Morning: We spend this morning afloat, heading gently towards Porto, Attend a last lecture led by your Study Leader. We arrive in O Porto around 11am.
 Lunch: Lunch is served on board the ship.
 Afternoon: Today's PROGRAM FOR HIKERS(NOTE: Road Scholar will have an exclusive group and Group Leader only on the Hiking program): We walk along the banks of the Douro to its estuary, then we head south along the Atlantic shoreline. Throughout our walk we have breathtaking views of the town and the ocean. ALTERNATIVELY for those not interesting in hiking Road scholar participants may join other ship passengers on a PROGRAM FOR NON HIKERS: Enjoy an afternoon visit to Braga, often nicknamed “Portugal’s Rome”, thanks to its magnificent, religious architecture. Prior to dinner join your Road Scholar Group Leader for a cocktail in the lounge and a brief program wrap up.
 Dinner: Farewell dinner on board the ship.
 Evening: Enjoy a Portuguese Folkloric Show.
   
Accommodations: MS Infante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Departure and Return to the US
(Monday, October 14)
   
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet on board the ship.
 Morning: This morning we transfer to the airport. Transfer times are in the morning and all passengers must be off the ship by 9 AM.
   
Meals Included: Breakfast
Important information about your itinerary: Every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy and completeness of the information featured on this website. Itineraries are based on our best information at this time. Circumstances beyond our control may require us to adjust itineraries or other details. We regret any inconvenience this may cause and appreciate your understanding. Information will be sent to you from your Program Provider approximately three weeks prior to the program start date. The prices listed for commercial services and facilities that are not included in the program cost, such as airport shuttles or extra nights lodging, are subject to change without notice. Since Road Scholar cannot guarantee the accuracy of these prices, we strongly suggest contacting the companies directly for the most up-to-date information.

Suggested Reading List


A Traveller's History of Portugal


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Alentejo Blue


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Baltasar and Blimunda


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Cork Boat, A True Story of the Unlikeliest Boat Ever Built


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Eyewitness Guide Portugal


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Description: Featuring hundreds of photographs and drawings, an excellent overview of the culture and history, and good information about where to go and what to do.



Journey to Portugal, In Pursuit of Portugal's History and Culture


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Description: Jose Saramago's richly detailed account of his journey across Portugal in 1979. He combines his vivid impressions of the Portuguese landscape and people with a dose of history, fiction and meditations.



Lonely Planet Portuguese Phrasebook


Author: Clara De MacEdo Vitorino


Description: A handy pocket phrasebook for Portuguese basics, covering pronunciation, basic grammar and essential vocabulary for the traveler.



Portugal Map 733


Author: Michelin Travel Publications


Description: At a scale of 1:400,000, this fully indexed map also includes insets of Madeira and city maps.





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