Viking has a cruise named: “River of Gold”.
This is a tour beginning in Lisbon with two nights in a really cool downtown hotel with Lisbon City tours. The river that runs through Lisbon almost seven miles wide at some points unfortunately does not go anywhere navigable. Since this is a river cruise they haul you up to Porto via motor coach to cruise from there to the Spanish border on the River Douro. This once very wild and dangerous river has been tamed with dams and open to navigation through the highest locks in Europe.
IMG_0691 (click for video)
We are joined at this point by four couples who were among our neighbors in Louisville. The restaurant where this shot was taken was our favorite while we were in Lisbon. It is nice to stay in a place long enough to be able to claim a “favorite”!
As this group have been house boating together for over 30 years it is fitting that we do a river cruise. We are also at this point going to be spending the next month on the boat and traveling in Italy with most of these beautiful people so compatibility is crucial. Fortunately, we actually like each other!
This is a fairly new cruise venue for Viking and the boats were designed to fit the locks. We passed a sister ship and got the photograph where we shared a pier for the night
If you have never done a river cruise you will find the boats delightfully stable. By the end of the cruise you will know a fairly large percentage of your fellow travelers. Going on a small boat with a party of ten people is a lot like growing up in Pinetta, Florida with a large family; even if you don’t know them, they know you!
One of the most memorable sights along the river was Vila Real the castle that is featured of the bottle of Mateuse Rose.
The gardens at Vila Real were very formal and perfect.
The halfway point on the trip is where the river reached to border with Spain. Here we docked to boat and did a day trip to Salamanca Spain. When the Romans built things they lasted a log time. The bridge below going into Salamanca is still in use.
Salamanca is one of the oldest cities in Spain and shows no damage from the Spanish Civil war as it was the headquarters city of Franco’s Nationalists. It is also the home to a large group of storks, some nesting in the bell tower shown below.
Many of the stops were tours of beautiful gardens, usually associated with a port winery.
One of the excursion to a port winery took the bus up a winding road with breath taking views of the vineyards.
This valley is spectacular and this photo does not do it justice. This requires a 360 degree IMax camera.