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

Program Number: 15893RJ
Start and End Dates:
4/11/2015 - 4/23/2015; 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: $3,297.00 - 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 Europeís 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 regionís 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 DíAlva 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 cityís 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 Portugalís glorious past as a superpower of the sea at Lisbonís National Maritime Museum. Lodging: Comfortable Lisbon hotel.

Vasco de Gama

Refurbished in 2009, the comfortable Vasco de Gama river barge is 75 meters long. Across its four decks the public areas include a lounge, bar, dining area, sundeck, giftshop and an elevator. Its 71 cabins include modern amenities such as en-suite facilities, hairdryer, satellite TV and a safe. The ship can accommodate up to 142 passengers for an intimate river experience.

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 masterís 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
   Grande Hotel do Porto
  Porto, Portugal 1 night
   CroisiEurope MS Vasco de Gama
  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
 Grande Hotel do Porto
Type: Hotel
  Description: Grande Hotel do Porto is a charming hotel which maintains a dramatic, nineteenth-century charm which has been recently modernised. The hotel is within walking distance of shops, services, theatres and monuments.
  Contact info: Rua de Santa Catarina 197
Porto,  4000-450 Portugal
phone: +351 22 207 6690
  Room amenities: All 94 guestrooms are non-smoking. The rooms decor follows contemporary design trends with simple, timeless lines.
  Facility amenities: Amenities included: restaurant, bar, banquet halls and meeting rooms, garage, fitness and wellness room and a terrace overlooking the city.
  Smoking allowed: No
  Elevators available: Yes

 CroisiEurope MS Vasco de Gama
Type: Riverboat
  Description: The MS Vasco de Gama sails on the Douro.
  Ship Information: Year Built: 2002 Year Refurbished: 2009 Length: 246 feet Width: 37 feet Cabins: 71 cabins Passengers: 142 passengers Cabin Size: 129 sq. feet
  Contact info: 12, rue de la Division Leclerc
Strasbourg,  67000 France
phone: +0033 3 88 76 44 44
  Room amenities: All cabins have individual controls for AC and heat. Cabins are equipped with satellite television, a radio, a hairdryer and a safe for your valuables. The private en-suite facilities include a shower, toilet, sink, and are provided with towels, but not washcloths.
  Facility amenities: Amenities include: lounge-bar with a dance floor, bar, dining room, sundeck with deckchairs, gift shop, and free WiFi on board. Also included: central heating, 220V electricity, air-conditioning, radar, and radiophone.
  Smoking allowed: No
  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 Grande Hotel do Porto 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 6 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
(Saturday, April 11)
 Depart From: Overnight flight from the US

Day 2: Arrival / Orientation / Welcome
(Sunday, April 12)
 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: Grande Hotel do Porto
Meals Included: Dinner

Day 3: Porto / Embarkation
(Monday, April 13)
 Breakfast: At the hotel.
 Morning: This morning you will have a local historian give a lecture: "Introductory lecture on the History of Portugal." Afterwards you will leave the hotel (with luggage) for a lecture/field trip discovering the city of Porto.
 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: On board.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope MS Vasco de Gama
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 4: Guimaraes / Porto Barroco
(Tuesday, April 14)
 Breakfast: On board.
 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: On board.
 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: On board.
 Evening: Evening at leisure to rest and relax.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope MS Vasco de Gama
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 5: Wines of the Douro
(Wednesday, April 15)
 Breakfast: On board.
 Morning: This morning discover the city of Porto at your own pace.
 Lunch: On board.
 Afternoon: This afternoon your guide will present a lecture on board the ship: "History of the Douro's terraced hillside vineyards and the Great Port Wines."
 Dinner: On board.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope MS Vasco de Gama
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 6: Vila Real
(Thursday, April 16)
 Breakfast: On board.
 Morning: This morning explore the town of Vila Real, famed for its religious architectural styles.
 Lunch: On board.
 Afternoon: Attend a lecture on board the ship: "Portugal in Present day's: economy and finances."
 Dinner: On board.
 Evening: Evening at leisure as the ship passes the border into Spain.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope MS Vasco de Gama
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 7: Salamanca
(Friday, April 17)
 Breakfast: On board.
 Morning: Upon arrival to Salamanca enjoy soem free time to explore at your own pace. Your guide may assist in suggesting sites of interest or find your own way to discovering the city.
 Lunch: At a local restaurant in Salamanca.
 Afternoon: Led by your expert guide, discover the city of Salamanca, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Learn about the Roman, Arabic and Christian architectural treasures found in this historic city.
 Dinner: On board.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope MS Vasco de Gama
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 8: Wines of the Douro
(Saturday, April 18)
 Breakfast: On board.
 Morning: This morning enjoy a lecture by your study leader: "Social Development in Portugal."
 Lunch: On board.
 Afternoon: Visit to a local winery for a behind-the-scenes look at the production of regional wines.
 Dinner: On board.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope MS Vasco de Gama
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 9: Lamego
(Sunday, April 19)
 Breakfast: On board.
 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: On board.
 Afternoon: Enjoy this time to pack, rest and relax.
 Dinner: On board.
 Evening: Evening at leisure to rest and relax.
Accommodations: CroisiEurope MS Vasco de Gama
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 10: Coimbra / Lisbon
(Monday, April 20)
 Breakfast: On board.
 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: At the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Mundial
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 11: Sintra / Lisbon
(Tuesday, April 21)
 Breakfast: At the 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: 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, Dinner

Day 12: Lisbon
(Wednesday, April 22)
 Breakfast: At the 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: At a local restaurant.
 Afternoon: A chance to discover Lisbon at your own pace.
 Dinner: On your own
 Evening: Enjoy a talk with locals at the hotel.
Accommodations: Hotel Mundial
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch

Day 13: Departure
(Thursday, April 23)
 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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