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Duoro River Lisbon to Porto July 2019

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I can’t tell you how much we enjoyed the dinner at the wine estate. The scenery driving up to the top of the mountain was simply breathtaking. When you arrive at the estate you are met warmly in the Portuguese fashion. The winery produces Moscatels which are stomped by feet!  The host is hysterical and entertaining. You will have a great time. You will be a served traditional meal family style. It’s country style food not Michelin Star cuisine. There’s a running gag which I won’t spoil but for the rest of the cruise we were saying this aloud on other tours. The photos speak for themselves. 

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Posted (edited)

Day 7– At the end of yesterday’s scenic sailing we docked in Pinhão. This morning we’re off to our excursion. We have the choice of either Quinta do Seixo visit and wine tasting which involves a coach ride up the mountain. The scenery and picture taking opportunities are reported to be magnificent. 

 

We chose the Quinta do Roeda visit and wine tasting which is a walking tour through the vineyards. We’ve had the pleasure of visiting several wineries out in Napa, CA,  Long Island, NY and Alsace Lorraine but this is our first opportunity to actually walk through the vineyard and we are very excited. The walk was around an hour. Both excursions focused on making the specialty of the Duoro Valley — Port. 

 

We loved loved loved this experience! At this vineyard they produce Croft brand ports. Est. 1588! Oh and again they stomp the grapes by foot!! If you visit during the month of September you can participate! After the tour there is a wine tasting. If you care to purchase there’s a little shop but nobody pressures you to purchase. The port is delicious and most pax purchase some. The other group visited the winery that produces the famous Sandeman ports. We purchased a bottle at the airport duty free shop because we wanted some of that to take home too. Anyways, the photos speak for themselves. 

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Edited by Got2Cruise

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Between Pinhão and Vega de Terron sails past the magnificent UNESCO protected landscapes of the Duoro River Valley. Some more sipping cocktails in the pool while going through deep locks too. Amazing. 

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Beautiful sailing shots! We're going to have to find a day boat trip while we're in Porto. Trouble is, Chris has about 4 days' worth of day trips already planned for the two days we're staying in Porto. Decisions, decisions! 

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Day 8 - Excursion to Salamanca, Spain from Vega de Terron. Today unfortunately it was hot and humid 95F. The city of Salamanca is a lovely little city dating back centuries. If you’ve ever been to Madrid the Plaza Major and surrounding streets are very similar. We had plenty of free time plus a walking tour through this lovely city.

 

The city shuts down for 2 hours for Siesta and that’s when we ate lunch. We found a sandwich shop that makes the black ham sandwiches and found a bench in the shade at a quiet plaza. We also walked to the Roman Bridge. I’m glad this was the only day it was so hot during our entire trip. We enjoyed our visit to Salamanca despite the heat and were glad we visited. 

 

PS. Lots of stork nests in the area. Loved to see the storks and the nests. 

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12 minutes ago, jpalbny said:

Beautiful sailing shots! We're going to have to find a day boat trip while we're in Porto. Trouble is, Chris has about 4 days' worth of day trips already planned for the two days we're staying in Porto. Decisions, decisions! 

Some of the wineries take you by the old fashioned boats to the wineries. Look into that. lol. 

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22 minutes ago, jpalbny said:

Beautiful sailing shots! We're going to have to find a day boat trip while we're in Porto. Trouble is, Chris has about 4 days' worth of day trips already planned for the two days we're staying in Porto. Decisions, decisions! 

 

Here's an idea for your planning:

https://rotadodouro.pt/en/cruzeiro/porto-regua-porto-upstream-by-boat-2/

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Memories, what memories! Thanks for bringing them back (from 2013). Same Uniworld, same Pilar, same Quinta Da Avessada. Still my favorite river cruise itinerary.

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50 minutes ago, CanEcosse said:

Memories, what memories! Thanks for bringing them back (from 2013). Same Uniworld, same Pilar, same Quinta Da Avessada. Still my favorite river cruise itinerary.

I was so nervous booking this tour. That’s why I decided to post all the photos. How can you not love it! You’re in Portugal, having Portuguese experiences, drinking wine from Duoro Valley with an all Portuguese staff.  I kept on thinking something terrible was going to occur based on past reviews.  Lol. 

 

 

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Great pictures.

 

We had the opposite weather.  Rainy in Lisbon and bright in Porto.  Here are some from Porto.

 

 

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Wow!  That second picture is so bright it bore holes through my eyeballs!  :classic_biggrin:  You were very lucky in that weather.  I am currently planning a two-week DIY in Portugal leading into a Windstar cruise from Lisbon – I hope we get weather like that!  

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14 hours ago, jpalbny said:

Beautiful sailing shots! We're going to have to find a day boat trip while we're in Porto. Trouble is, Chris has about 4 days' worth of day trips already planned for the two days we're staying in Porto. Decisions, decisions! 

What time of year are you going jpalbny?
I have been doing some research for our planned trip next year, and unfortunately there are no cruises from Porto to the Douro Valley after early October.  Apparently the dams all get maintenance during the European Winter, so the cruises do not start again until March each year.  

We plan on going at Christmas, or shortly after, so will obviously not get to cruise.  There are day trips by both car and train though and once you get past the dams there are short cruises that run all year.

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Tonight at dinner, Ana the restaurant manager, and Esteves the head bartender, demonstrated the centuries old tradition of the ceremonial opening of vintage port. Of course all the guests were able to partake in drinking. The method involves first heating the cork, then pouring ice water over it. The cork then is removed easily. The sediment of the port then has to be strained. Then poured into a decanter to rest. (Look up the exact specifics because I know this is a simplified explanation from my memory lol) 

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Day 9 - This morning we have the choice of two excursions leaving from Barca D’Alva. The first is to the Archaeological Park Foz Coa. Here you can elect to visit the air conditioned museum, or, take a four wheel drive down dirt roads and hike Ricky and hard to access locations. 

 

The second option was to visit the medieval village of Castelo Rodrigo. We chose the Castelo Rodrigo tour. 

 

The tour had had two parts. A guided tour led by the Cruise Manager Ricardo, who is also a certified guide, and also time to sample snacks from the region and browsing the shops. The region specializes in almonds and we tried some delicious almond liqueur which you mix with sparkling wine. Of course some more cherry ginja served in the chocolate cup. We were the only group in the village is was a beautiful relaxing day. 

 

Ricardo was a very informative guide and pointed out a lot of fascinating information about the history of this enchanting village. What makes it so fascinating is that it was occupied by Christians, Jews and Muslims.

 

A very picturesque village to soak up Portuguese culture. 

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Wow! That is stunning. I can't wait until November!!

 

Thanks for making my wait so painful. 🤣

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3 minutes ago, jpalbny said:

Wow! That is stunning. I can't wait until November!!

 

Thanks for making my wait so painful. 🤣

lol. I forgot to purchase the almond candy and liqueur, but there is a large Portuguese neighborhood a few miles from my house so I’m sure I can find some of the liqueur there. 

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Day ten, last day! Can you believe it? This tour flew by in the blink of an eye. We are sailing from Régua back to Porto. We go through the same locks, but this time we’re being lowered into the river advance opposed to be raised. 

 

One thing about a relaxing itinerary where you’re not touring the entire day is that you’re not exhausted at night. We’re not arriving in Porto until 2:00 pm so no need to wake up early. Last night there was a music trivia contest with prizes. Dancing and sing a long extra points given. I’m not bragging or anything but our team won a bottle of aged port. Our team was made up of Yanks, Canadians, Brits and Aussies. Needless to say we all finished off the bottle then and there. lol. We slept in but no worries, a delicious late risers breakfast always available in the lounge. 

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We had the choice today of either the Porto shopping experience or the Guimaraes City Tour. We chose the Guimaraes tour. Guimaraes is a lovely, compact, walkable city and the birthplace of Portugal. A very fascinating history, plus this is where nuns discovered you can add the newly discovered sugarcane to eggs to create delicious treats. The bus dropped us off at the top of the hill by the castle and then we had an easy walk down. After that free time in the Square. We were lucky enough to see a wedding coming out of the church. A very interesting and enjoyable tour. 

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Day 11 - Disembarkation Day. We are welcome to relax on the ship or walk around town until our transfer arrives at 11:30. As you probably got the idea we had a fabulous time. 

 

I realized I forgot to mention about purchasing cork or port to take home for souvenirs. I’ll tell you what Pilar told us. You get what you pay for. The cheap cork from sidewalk vendors is made in China and will fall apart and crumble soon after you get home. While driving look out for the trees that are being harvested for cork. Your guide most likely will point it out. 

 

Port— the very cheap stuff is made for cooking. When you taste a port and you like it buy it. Of course the older the port is the more expensive. But remember once the bottle is opened an exposed to the air you must drink up immediately. I also ordered a Port and Tonic as my drink of choice while on the ship. White port with tonic water. Very refreshing and of course something unique to Portugal. 

 

Uniworld — I didn’t go into specific details. We enjoyed our vacation very much. The wonderful Portuguese crew was a big factor. Was there room for improvement, of course, but nothing worth publishing. 

 

My advice whether you are planning a Duoro River Cruise or on other River is to remember “the devil is in the details”. Compare each detail of the itinerary very closely. 

 

Happy Travels!!

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Great review and pictures. Now I need a glass of port before I retire for the night to dream of sailing.

You get thumbs up, 5 stars and 10 forks.

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Loving your review!  We've been in Portugal twice, and have booked a Douro river tour for October of 2020 with Tauck.  You are giving us great photos and wonderful descriptions.  Some have told us that this is a somewhat "unexciting" itinerary, but you've managed to describe the reasons we've chosen this trip.  Thanks!

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Posted (edited)
21 hours ago, Got2Cruise said:

Tonight at dinner, Ana the restaurant manager, and Esteves the head bartender, demonstrated the centuries old tradition of the ceremonial opening of vintage port. Of course all the guests were able to partake in drinking. The method involves first heating the cork, then pouring ice water over it. The cork then is removed easily. The sediment of the port then has to be strained. Then poured into a decanter to rest. (Look up the exact specifics because I know this is a simplified explanation from my memory lol) 

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It’s not the cork that is heated but the neck of the bottle. The whole object in doing this is to prevent the cork, which may have been in the bottle for many years, from crumbling. When I was on my Uniworld Douro cruise the demo was in the afternoon. Special tongs are heated up and then clamped around the neck of the bottle while the bottle is slowly turned. Then cold water is poured on the neck and it breaks off cleanly cork and all. After the maître d’ and sommelier demonstrated the technique they asked for a volunteer.  I leapt to my feet and got to hold the red hot tongs while a second bottle was uncorked. I received a glass of vintage port for my efforts, but little did I know that dinner that night would feature vintage port for all. I recall that I had several glasses then as some of my table mates had no love for port at all.  This technique is only used for vintage port which is bottled soon after fermentation and aged in the bottle. Other ports, such as ruby, are either drunk young, or are aged in casks and bottled before sale, such as tawny and late-bottled vintage ports. These all come with reusable corks. 

 

 Uniworld was very generous with its ports, with a different one served each night following dinner. Thanks for the memory!

Edited by laverendrye

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18 hours ago, Got2Cruise said:

Day 11 - Disembarkation Day. We are welcome to relax on the ship or walk around town until our transfer arrives at 11:30. As you probably got the idea we had a fabulous time. 

 

I realized I forgot to mention about purchasing cork or port to take home for souvenirs. I’ll tell you what Pilar told us. You get what you pay for. The cheap cork from sidewalk vendors is made in China and will fall apart and crumble soon after you get home. While driving look out for the trees that are being harvested for cork. Your guide most likely will point it out. 

 

Port— the very cheap stuff is made for cooking. When you taste a port and you like it buy it. Of course the older the port is the more expensive. But remember once the bottle is opened an exposed to the air you must drink up immediately. I also ordered a Port and Tonic as my drink of choice while on the ship. White port with tonic water. Very refreshing and of course something unique to Portugal. 

 

Uniworld — I didn’t go into specific details. We enjoyed our vacation very much. The wonderful Portuguese crew was a big factor. Was there room for improvement, of course, but nothing worth publishing. 

 

My advice whether you are planning a Duoro River Cruise or on other River is to remember “the devil is in the details”. Compare each detail of the itinerary very closely. 

 

Happy Travels!!

Just another note on port. It’s true that you should drink vintage port within a day or two of opening as otherwise the oxidation will ruin it. However other ports such as ruby, tawny, white and late-bottled vintage can be kept for up to a month or two after opening without very much deterioration. This is why they come with re-useable corks. 

 

Got2Cruise, thanks so much for your wonderful trip report. It brings back many fond memories of my Douro Cruise with Uniworld 7 years ago. I remember many of the same excursions which you have described. I returned to the Douro last summer for another cruise with Emerald and enjoyed it just as much, although I think that Uniworld had an edge on its excursions and Emerald was not quite so generous with its Port. But then on Emerald we learned how to make the delicious Pasteis de Nata! 

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If it’s a deal breaker for some Uniworld taught you how to make Pasteis de Nata also 🤣. I knew mine would never come out right so I just stayed up on deck by the pool.  

 

I’ve looked at the day by day itineraries of Ama and Tauck and they do some of the same excursions and some different. We also saw Viking and ARosa on the river. It’s great that there are several choices that folks can find the right itinerary for their interests. 

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