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Welcome to Lisbon
Welcome to Lisbon! Where better to begin our journey to Portugal than in the country’s vibrant capital city. We’ll stay at the spectacular Tivoli heritage hotel, ideally located on the prestigious Avenida da Liberdade. Relax in the secluded poolside garden, take in unparalleled views of the Tagus River from the rooftop patio or stroll the mosaic pedestrian boulevards to luxury boutiques, historic landmarks and local restaurants.
On your first full day in Lisbon, you’ll have the choice of three custom-designed guided tours of the city, each offering a unique perspective. Informed by our local hosts and tailored for you by our journalists, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the city through its history, architecture or local cuisine. In the afternoon, enjoy Lisbon at your own pace, or look to our Globe curated list of recommended activities and sites. That evening, we’ll celebrate with our first formal dinner at the stunning Eleven restaurant. Perched high at the top edge of the verdant Parque Eduardo VII, with the Avenida and Old City literally at your feet, you’ll be treated to the seasonal Mediterranean cuisine of Michelin-Starred chef, Joachim Koeper. Expect a masterful interplay of traditional recipes and inventive techniques, with exemplary wines to match.
In the morning, we’ll head outside the city centre. Either visit the seaside towns of Estoril and Cascais, once the gathering places of nobility, exiled aristocrats, and later spies and the rich taking refuge from WWII. In Estoril you’ll find a festive, resort destination with cosmopolitan flair, and the extravagant casino that inspired Ian Fleming. A short distance away is Cascais, a historic fishing village that became fashionable as the summer retreat of King Luís I. Today, the lavish villas remain, along with Baroque churches, posh boutiques, a bustling marina, and glorious beaches. Alternatively, travel to the Sintra mountains to Pena Palace, one of the seven wonders of Portugal and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wind your way through its lush gardens and forest, which boast a staggering 500 species of trees gathered from the four corners of the Earth, leading to the vibrant castle, a major expression of 19th-century Romanticism with its blend of Moorish and Manueline styles. Back in Lisbon for the afternoon, you’ll have time to explore the city’s museums, galleries, shops and restaurants. That evening, we’ve closed the Palacio Nacional in Sintra for a private dinner and tour and what will surely will be a night to remember.
Coimbra and Porto
We depart Lisbon for Porto, stopping briefly in the medieval city of Coimbra, home to the historic University of Coimbra and the twelfth century Romanesque cathedral Se Velha. You’ll have time to stretch your legs and explore the city that once served as the nation’s capital. Arriving in Porto that afternoon, our ship’s crew will welcome you aboard in comfort. Settle in to your cabin, meet your butler and unwind on deck before an early dinner and our first port talk. Later that evening, join your Globe and Mail hosts for a late night snack.
Today, you’ll be spoiled for choice. In the morning, there is the option of two city tours, one with entrance to the British Factory House, an exclusive and private club for port-industry insiders. The other will take you to Palácio da Bolsa, the Stock Exchange Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage site and once the centre of trade in Porto. In the afternoon, get a privileged look at other facets of Porto’s industry. Visit the Amorim Cork Factory or go behind the scenes of one of the country’s most famed products and visit a family-run sardine cannery. Alternatively, if wineries pique your interest, travel to Quinta da Aveleda, known for its luxuriant gardens as well as its wines. Or explore the ancient Ducal Palace in the charming historical city of Guimaraes, considered the birthplace of Portugal and once the seat of the country’s linen industry. That evening, enjoy traditional Fado music at the Sao Francisco Church, followed by dinner on board.
Porto to Régua and Pinhão
As we set sail to Régua, we kick off the first of our interactive onboard forums with Globe journalists. After a light lunch on board, we dock in Régua to visit the Museu do Douro for an introduction to region’s port and wine history. We’ll then travel further into the heart of wine country to the picturesque town of Pinhão, known for its views and historic train station with painted tiles dating back to 1937. Today, you’ll have plenty of time to relax and enjoy the scenery and comfort of the ship. That evening, join Globe journalists for dinner and evening entertainment.
Pinhão and Vega Terron
In the afternoon we move up the Douro to Vega de Terron, but not before some notable excursions. The first option is Mateus Palace; the country estate depicted on the iconic bottles of Mateus Rosé, the country’s most famous wine export. The palace is an impressive example of Baroque architecture at its decorative climax. Alternatively, you’ll have the opportunity to travel to the stunning Varosa Valley. In the town of Tarouca, we’ll visit the Abbey of São João de Tarouca, the first Cistercian abbey founded in Portugal in 1124, then walk across the bridge of Ucanha, likely dating back to the 13th century, and which straddles the Varosa on four mighty piers. Or, visit Quinta do Tedo, an 18th century wine estate offering beautiful views and a vineyeard tour and tasting. Lunch is on board followed by interactive forums with Globe journalists and dinner in the ship’s Crystal dining room.
Vega Terron and Salamanca, Spain
As we journey overland from Vega de Terron to Salamanca, Spain you’ll see the spectacular Douro International Natural Park, the second largest natural park in Portugal and home to dozens of species of birds, an ancient landscape of granite, quartz and schist, and cork-oak trees. Once in Salamanca, we'll hit the market for a taste of the famed cured meats, olives and cheeses of the Iberian peninsula. From there, we’ll visit the Plaza Mayor, regarded as one the most beautiful squares in Spain, the city’s university, and the impressive, adjoined Old and New Cathedrals. You'll then have a chance to explore the old city at your own pace, find a comfortable lunch spot to indulge in the Spanish tradition of tapas or pick up some food souvenirs in the market. We’ll be back on board in Vega de Terron in plenty of time for dinner and some evening entertainment.
Vega Terron to Pocinho
On our return route to Porto, we stop first in Pocinho to explore the Côa Valley, one of the most significant paleolithic sites in the world. Again, you’ll have the opportunity to see this important region in a way that suits you most. Those interested in history can visit the Museum of Art and Archaeology, a monolithic triangular structure, that aims to put the Coa Valley drawings within the early history of mankind. Adventurers can explore the Sabor River, a tributary of the Douro, by canoe. And foodies will love the Côa Valley Tasting, a chance to savour local products such as olives and almonds, jams, marmelades and jellies. Back on the ship, relax and join Globe journalists at the on board forum discussion as we make our way to Pinhão. That evening, we head to the cellars of Quinta da Pacheca, one of the first properties to bottle wines under its own label. There you’ll be spoiled in a most enchanting setting, with a seven-course dégustation menu and carefully considered wine pairings.
Pinhão to Porto
Our final full day is a special one, capped off with a spectacular final dinner. In the morning, we travel to the village of Provesende. While all of northern Portugal has its fair share of charming towns, it might be argued that none are as lovely as this unique hillside settlement where time has seemingly stood still for a century. That afternoon, you’ll have a chance to rest and relax on board, before our final dinner at Graham’s 1890 Lodge, set in a prized location in Vila Nova de Gaia, across the Douro River from Porto. To make our final night extra special, we’ve closed Graham’s to the public and designed a dinner menu just for you. You’ll have a chance to tour the museum, look for your birth year amongst the mould-encrusted bottles in the family cellar, try their renowned port wines in the tasting room, and take in the views. It will be an evening you won’t soon forget!
Today marks the end of our journey. Let the ship’s crew assist you as you disembark and set out on your next adventure.