Cruise on Portugal's River of Gold
My home for the week was AmaVida. The cabin was elegant with lots of storage space; the marble bathroom had top-class fittings and l’Occitane spa quality toiletries. Bathrobes and slippers were also provided and there was a balcony to enjoy nightcaps before retiring to a large and comfortable bed.
Narrow and rocky in parts, most of the hilly banks of the river are dedicated to the growing of grapes for the production of wine and port. Famous names such as Dow’s, Sandeman and Cockburn adorn its banks.
Before leaving Porto I enjoyed a city tour which included the local railway station, decorated with over 24,000 Azulejos – Portuguese blue ceramic tiles. That evening I dined at Casa de Vila Verde, bringing back memories of Vinho Verde and Mateus Rose, with which we were to come into contact again later.
Next day AmaVida moored at Regua and I visited the Douro museum before heading out to Lamego and the 18th century Sanctuary of Our Lady of Remedies. Later we drove to hilltop Quinta do Seixa where owners Sandeman treated us to another selection of ports.
The turning point of the journey was Vega de Terron, just a few yards over the border into Spain, and I visited Salamanca, famous for having two cathedrals, and its town square or Plaza Mayor, considered by many to be the most elegant in Spain.
The following morning we stopped at Pinhao and lunched at Croft’s Quinta da Roeda where I sampled pink port, before visiting the Palace of Mateus whose famous facade adorned those odd-shaped bottles of Mateus Rose many of us remember.
Then it was back to Porto for our last full day aboard. After lunch, we visited historic Guimaraes where, in 1128, a victorious Afonso Henriques declared Portugal’s independence from Spain and the new country was born.
Full of history, glorious scenery, lovely wine and rich Port, the Douro has lots to offer river cruisers.
A 7 night ‘Enticing Douro’ river cruise on-board AmaVida starts from £2,311pp including all meals on-board (with local wine, beer and soft drinks with lunch and dinner), La Chaîne des Rôtisseurs exclusive dining experience, a choice of complimentary daily tours and excursions, complimentary wi-fi and port taxes. Freephone 0800 320 2336 or visit www.amawaterways.co.uk