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Belo Portugal: Wine, History and Landscapes Along the Douro River

Program Number: 15893RJ
Start and End Dates:
4/29/2014 - 5/11/2014; 4/9/2016 - 4/21/2016; 4/30/2016 - 5/12/2016; 5/14/2016 - 5/26/2016; 8/10/2016 - 8/22/2016; 8/13/2016 - 8/25/2016; 9/3/2016 - 9/15/2016; 9/24/2016 - 10/6/2016; 10/15/2016 - 10/27/2016;
Duration: 12 nights
Location: Spain/Portugal
Price starting at: $3,495.00 - Price may vary based on date, departure city
Program Type: Adventure Afloat Study Cruise; River Boats; History & Culture
Meals: 30; 11 Breakfasts, 9 Lunches, 10 Dinners    
Meal Options: Vegetarian; Gluten Free    

Widely considered Europe’s most beautiful river, the Douro meanders through almond groves and gets you up close to the unspoiled charm of the Portuguese and Spanish cities. From national parks to port wine vineyards and into villages with Roman, Arabic and Christian roots, explore this region’s Baroque and Gothic history, folkloric culture and natural splendor.

Activity Particulars

Extensive walking along unpaved lanes. Some stairs without railings. Participants should be able to walk over one mile at a time and stand for at least one hour. Two meals excluded so that you can enjoy local cuisine.

The 8/10/16 and 8/13/16 departures sail on the MS Gil Eanes and replaces the port Barca D’Alva with the neighboring port Vega de Teron, and Porto with its neighbor Pinhao. These ports are very close together, and this will not significantly affect the educational programming. Please see the daily schedule for details.

Itinerary At-a-Glance

Porto, 1 night; aboard vessel, 7 nights; Lisbon, 3 nights.

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

Days 2-4: Arrival Porto (Portugal) / embark vessel:

After a local historian discusses the history of Portugal and the Douro Valley, walk the old quarters and the historic city center of Porto. Lodging: Comfortable hotel.

Day 5: Peso de Regua:

Learn the history of the city’s grand monuments.

Day 6: Vila Real:

Explore the town of Vila Real, famed for its religious architectural styles, then visit the Manorhouse of Mateus, the most beautiful 18th-century palace in northern Portugal.

Day 7: Salamanca:

In this UNESCO World Heritage Site, learn about the architectural treasures and Roman, Arabic and Christian influences.

Day 8: Do-Pinhoa:

Visit a local winery and learn about the the great wines of the Douro Valley.

Day 9: Lamego:

Explore the regional importance of the center of Lamego, its Gothic cathedral and Art Museum.

Days 10-13: Porto / disembark / coach to Coimbra / coach to Lisbon / departure:

In Sintra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, discover the historic Royal Palace, then learn about Portugal’s glorious past as a superpower of the sea at Lisbon’s National Maritime Museum. Lodging: Comfortable Lisbon hotel.

MS Infante de 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
Do-Peso de Regua, Portugal
Do-Vega de Teron, Portugal
Do-Barca D'Alva, Portugal
Do-Pinhoa, Portugal
Porto, Portugal
7 nights
   Hotel Mundial
  Lisbon, Portugal 3 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
  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: Dock address: CAIS DE QUEBRANTÕES
VILA NOVA DE GAIA.,   Portugal
phone: +NOT Available
  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. Wifi is available on board the ship ( paid and available only in public areas of the ship).
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Bathroom: Shower only
  Elevators available: Yes

 Hotel Mundial
Type: Four-Star Hotel
  Description: Hotel has 373 rooms and is located in the heart of the city in the Baixa pombalina district with San Jorge castle as scenery.
  Contact info: Placa Martin Moniz
Lisbon,  1100-341 Portugal
phone: +351218842000
  Room amenities: Each room is equipped with AC, Safe, hair dryer, satellite TV, minibar, robes and sound proof windows. Non-Smoking rooms available
  Facility amenities: Hotel offers wireless internet in public rooms, FOC safe at the front desk, lounge, bar and restaurants.
  Smoking allowed: Yes
  Elevators available: Yes
  Additional nights after: see below Please contact the program provider for special rates and reservations
  Check out time: 11:00 AM

Travel Details
  Start of Program:
This program begins with orientation in the early evening at your hotel in Porto, Portugal. You will be staying at Mercure Porto Centro that night.
  End of Program:
This program ends after breakfast at the hotel in Lisbon, Portugal. You will be staying at Hotel Mundial the night before.
  Required documents:
The Participant Information Form is required. US citizens require a valid US passport to visit the program sites. No visa is required to visit Portugal if you are a US passport holder. Check your passport to ensure that it is valid at least 3 months beyond the end of your stay abroad. Participants who are not US citizens must contact their consulate or embassy to determine if there are any special visa requirements.
  Parking availability:
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: To get to the hotel from Porto airport you can take the metro, the bus, or a taxi. 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:  Lisbon
  Transportation from site: A taxi from the city center to the airport costs about 9-12 euros.
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: Depart USA
(Tuesday, April 29)
 Depart From: Overnight flight from the US

Day 2: Arrival / Orientation / Welcome
(Wednesday, April 30)
 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.
 Dinner: Welcome dinner at or near hotel.
 Evening: Evening at leisure to rest and relax.
Accommodations: Mercure Porto Centro
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Porto / Embarkation
(Thursday, May 1)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet at hotel
 Morning: This morning you will have a local historian give an introductory lecture on the history of Portugal and the Douro Valley. Afterwards you will leave the hotel (with luggage) for a lecture/field trip discovering the city of Porto.
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant in Porto.
 Afternoon: Continue the expert-led discovery of the old quarter and exploration of the historic city center of Porto by foot. Late this afternoon arrive at the ship (by coach), check into cabins, and have an orientation before dinner.
 Dinner: Dinner on the ship.
Accommodations: MS Infante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Guimaraes / Porto Barroco
(Friday, May 2)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet on board ship
 Morning: The local expert guide will lead an exploration on the historic evolution of Guimaraes from a Medieval settlement into a modern town. Its rich building typology exemplifies the development of Portuguese architecture from the 15th to the 19th century through the consistent use of traditional building materials and techniques.
 Lunch: Lunch is served on board the ship.
 Afternoon: This afternoon discover the dramatic baroque style architecture of Porto, expressive of triumphant power and control. The word baroque probably derives from the ancient Portuguese noun "barroco" which is a pearl that is not round but of unpredictable and elaborate shape.
 Dinner: Dinner is served on board the ship.
 Evening: Evening at leisure to rest and relax.
Accommodations: MS Infante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Wines of the Douro
(Saturday, May 3)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet on board the ship.
 Morning: This morning discover the city of Porto at your own pace.
 Lunch: Lunch is served on board the ship.
 Afternoon: This afternoon your guide will present a lecture on board the ship, discussing the history of the Douro's terraced hillside vineyards and discuss the great Port wines.
 Dinner: Dinner is served on board the ship.
Accommodations: MS Infante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Vila Real
(Sunday, May 4)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet is served on board the ship.
 Morning: This morning explore the town of Vila Real, famed for its religious architectural styles.
 Lunch: Lunch is served on board the ship.
 Afternoon: Attend a lecture on board the ship and learn more about the economic development and historical importance of the Douro river.
 Dinner: Dinner is served on board the ship.
 Evening: Evening at leisure as the ship passes the border into Spain.
Accommodations: MS Infante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Salamanca
(Monday, May 5)
 Breakfast: Breakfast is served on board the ship
 Morning: Led by our expert guide, this morning discover the city of Salamanca, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Learn about the Roman, Arabic and Christian architectural treasures found in this historic city.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant in Salamanca.
 Afternoon: This afternoon continue your exploration of Salamanca at your own pace. The guide may assist in suggesting sites of interest or find your own way to discovering the city.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
Accommodations: MS Infante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Wines of the Douro
(Tuesday, May 6)
 Breakfast: Breakfast buffet served on board ship
 Morning: For this morning's lecture learn about the making of the wines along the Douro Valley and the historical importance of the river trade in the region.
 Lunch: On board the ship.
 Afternoon: Visit to a local winery for a behind-the-scenes look at the production of regional wines.
 Dinner: On board the ship.
Accommodations: MS Infante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Lamego
(Wednesday, May 7)
 Breakfast: Buffet on board the ship.
 Morning: The local expert guide leads the exploration of the regional importance of the center of Lamego, and the striking Nossa Senhora do Remedios Sanctuary and the local art museum.
 Lunch: Served on board the ship.
 Afternoon: On board lecture: "Portuguese writers and literature: Influence of the Douro Region."
 Dinner: On board the ship.
 Evening: Evening at leisure to rest and relax.
Accommodations: MS Infante
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Coimbra / Lisbon
(Thursday, May 8)
 Breakfast: Buffet on board the ship.
 Morning: Upon disembarking the ship (with luggage), and en route for Lisbon, take a detour to Coimbra, known as the City of Students. Your study leader will give you a tour of the university and will explain the higher education system in Portugal. The library houses over 250,000 books influencing the study of Law, Philosophy and Theology.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant in Coimbra.
 Afternoon: This afternoon enjoy a walking discovery focusing on the history and folklore of Coimbra. Once the capital of Portugal, the city is filled with archaeological sites dating from the Roman occupation through the Middle Ages and Renaissance.
 Dinner: Before dinner enjoy a sightseeing tour of Lisbon by night to discover its many monuments and city sights. Later, enjoy a farewell dinner with traditional "Fado". Fado is the song of Lisbon. Born of unique sentiment from medieval origins, with a soulfulness that cannot be explained but only felt, fado today is the most noble and genuine product of Portuguese popular culture.
Accommodations: Hotel Mundial
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Sintra / Lisbon
(Friday, May 9)
 Breakfast: Buffet at hotel.
 Morning: Visit the National Maritime Museum with your study leader who will explain the history of Portugal's glorious past as a superpower of the sea. Afterwards visit the Royal Coach museum and learn about the wealth and the riches of the royal family. This is the largest and best collection of royal coaches in the world.
 Lunch: On your own to discover the culinary delights of Lisbon.
 Afternoon: A guided tour of the monuments of historic Lisbon that bear witness to the city's past glories.
 Dinner: At the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Mundial
Meals Included: Breakfast, Dinner

Day 12: Lisbon
(Saturday, May 10)
 Breakfast: Buffet at hotel.
 Morning: We take a field trip to discover Sintra Vila Velha, named a UNESCO World Heritage Site for its 19th century Romantic architecture. Then explore the Palacio Nacional de Sintra and learn why Lord Byron raved about the city's "palaces and gardens rising in the midst of rocks, cataracts and precipices; convents on stupendous heights..."
 Lunch: Lunch at a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: A chance to discover Lisbon at your own pace.
 Dinner: Dinner on your own
 Evening: An evening at leisure, and time to prepare for an early departure tomorrow morning.
Accommodations: Hotel Mundial
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 13: Departure
(Sunday, May 11)
 Breakfast: At the hotel if your departure flight time allows.
 Morning: Departure for airport for flights returning to the U.S.
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 Small Death in Lisbon

Author: Robert Wilson

Description: Set in Lisbon in 1941 and 1999, this award-winning mystery intertwines a present day murder, some unsavory arms production, and smuggling in Nazi Germany. Be warned, there are some graphic passages dealing with the horrors of war and concentration camps.

A Traveller's History of Portugal

Author: Ian Robertson

Description: A lively, admirably concise survey from prehistory to the present, great for travelers to Portugal who would like an overview of the country's history and culture.

Alentejo Blue

Author: Monica Ali

Description: These short stories set in the Alentejo province of Portugal star a range of colorful expats and locals, including Teresa, a beautiful young girl from the village engaged to a suitable man, who yearns to see the world, and Vasco, a cafe owner losing business to the new Internet cafe down the road.

Baltasar and Blimunda

Author: Jose Saramago

Description: This tale of two unlikely lovers in Inquisition-era Portugal is arguably Saramago's masterwork: a philosophically charged, intellectually rigorous historical drama which is also a captivating read.

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

Author: John Pollack

Description: This endearing tale of family, loss and friendship revolves around a deliciously absurd childhood quest to build a boat of cork and sail it 133 miles on Portugal's Douro River.

Eyewitness Guide Portugal

Author: Eyewitness Guides

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

Author: Jose Saramago

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.

Prince Henry "the Navigator," A Life

Author: Peter E. Russell

Description: A complicated, rewarding portrait, and the first biography of this empire-minded Portuguese prince in more than a hundred years.

The Spanish Inquisition

Author: Cecil Roth

Description: This documents the events leading up to the Inquisition, the torment that spread from Spain to Portugal and the New World -- a fascinating exploration of the roots of the Inquisition and its effects on the country.

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