Eastbound tour 26 Oct 22

After waiting almost 2 years we arrived this morning in Lisbon for our Gift of Time pre cruise day. Weather predictions had been full of rain which we had on landing at about 7:30am. Lisbon airport has few actual gates so most planes were parked on the tarmac and we took buses. Customs was crowded but moved rapidly with electronic screening. Our bags arrived and a group of about 8 of us had a slow ride in traffic to the hotel. By that time skies were clearing and the sun coming out.

Sadly our room wasn't available yet so we stored bags and headed out. We opted to enjoy the sun and walked down Ave Liberdade wandering around until we got to Commerce/ Trade Sqr where we found a restaurant with outdoor seating. Nice place to enjoy a beer, cod cakes and people watching. Took a tuktuk back to the hotel. Our room was ready at 2 and we were happy to have an excellent view of both the park and river from the corner windows that the Intercontinental has in their rooms. A nap then some dinner and we were.ready to call it a day. 13k steps.

Of note, I expected Lisbon to be hilly and it is. I also expected cobbled stone streets. The surprise was the many cobbled stone sidewalks that make for tricky walking.



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    We’ll be traveling through Lisbon airport in a couple of weeks. Your comments are helpful. Have a great time.

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    Don't you like the designs in the cobblestones on the Ave Liberdade? You'll see them throughout Portugal.

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    Yes, the designs are quite interesting but the uneven surface and not infrequent missing cobbles make walking a hazard I'd you aren't paying attention.

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    Have a great time Claudia !!!! I'm going on this cruise next year, just the cruise as I've already been to Lisbon and Madrid

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    Have a wonderful time. We did this trip in late June and simply enjoyed it! Porto on a Friday night will be hopping. Music everywhere. Marvelous memories.

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    It looks like a wonderful trip so far Claudia, have a great time.

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    Day 4 Porto

    First I need to explain that this is our 5th Tauck River cruise and the first time in a cabin in the lower deck which is partially below the waterline. Last night we were generally happy with the room size and storage . The bathroom was a bit tight mostly with knee space but we could easily put up with it for a week. The smaller windows not really a problem since its late Oct - sunrise is late and sunset early. What we didn't expect was how close the ship is docked here to the Atlantic Ocean and the affect of the tides and waves. At about 4:40 this morning a loud recurrent screeching and banging started. It sounded like we were in a shipyard that was building a steel ship. Nope. Just the ship rubbing against the dock. Hopefully this morning was an aberration but I'm prepared with earplugs tomorrow.

    The day started with steady rain as we suited up for our Land, Sea, and Air tour of Porto. The the rain stopped just before our land part which was riding vintage trams into the city. Then a short walk thru some sights near the river followed by a water taxi to the other side of the river. From there a gondola ride up to the Dom Luis bridge. After refreshments we headed back to the ship for lunch.

    The smaller dining room without the double sided buffet on the larger ships caused some congestion on the serving line I'd not seen on prior trips. It seemed most people got in line at the same time backing up into the area between the tables causing the servers problems accessing tables on that side. This didn't happen at breakfast so it may be that too many waited to order and then eat soup before getting in line. The food was good though.

    The afternoon offered an excursion to a port house for our first lesson on port and tasting. We liked a couple of them and were glad to know Total Wines carries them. Then back to the ship where we caught a hint of sunshine. Dare we hope for better weather tomorrow?

    For those who care about laundry on board - I put one pair of jeans in the designated bag on our bed before leaving for the morning's excursions and they were back in our room at lunch. Price 6 euros.

    Another excellent dinner and there was a planned local.music group but we skipped it . Too tired. Daylight savings end tomorrow.
    Another good day.

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    In Porto was the boat docked at Vila Nova de Gaia or the Ribeira?

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    Vila Nova de Gaia.

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    Day 5 - the sun returns.

    Happy to report that the weird screeching noises of the morning before.did not recur this morning. I think it was a bad combination of weather and tides. The day dawned foggy but burned off quickly as.we were.setting off in the bus for our walking tour of Guimares. Pleasant town with interesting history on a sunny quiet Sunday morning.

    From there we headed to the Aveleda winery for a tour of the garden and a delicious lunch. The gardens were amazing even at this late date but the lunch not so delicious. The garden structures and layout were unique plus the peacocks and goat tower. When I can transfer my pictures I'll post a photo.

    Back to the ship which had started up river without us. About an hour later we arrived at the Carrapatelo lock - deepest in Europe at 115ft. Wow.

    Then happy hour where the TD informed us there was a very high likelihood of rain the next day making the bike ride not so fun. I believe all.10 of us planning to go on it decided not to. Dinner was.followed by a chocolate buffet so even with the marginal lunch we got our calories in.

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    Sounds like a great cruise Claudia, I doing this in in 2023

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    Also going 2023. Oct 11 eastbound.

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    Day 6 - Halloween

    We woke up to a thoroughly decorated ship with balloons, spider webs, ghosts and crew in masks. As predicted it.was.raining and no one opted for the bike ride. Lots of sleeping in and leisurely breakfasts. The CD put together a Halloween trivia quiz that was fun.

    We then headed for another winery for a tour including the granite tanks (the size of small swimming pools) where that winery stomps grapes by feet. From there we had our port tasting and cocktail making class. A very merry group by the end. Plus the skies were starting to clear. The cool temps may not be ideal for a lot of sundeck time but has resulted is lovely fall.colors along the Douro.

    Back on the ship.for lunch and a talk by one of the TDs. Dinner was.A few.steps.from our ship.at DOC a local restaurant. The food.was good.though I have to.say I'm not a big fan of the octopus starter.

    Nice weather on the horizon for.tomorrow.

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    edited November 2022

    Sorry you did not like the Octopus starter. I thought it was not only unique but very tasty as well! My wife felt as you did about it so naturally I just scooped hers right up. I have to admit that it was clearly a dish that you raved about or were willing to leave on the plate untouched. It stirred up a lot of discussion between the anglers on the boat as to whether it should be eaten or used as bait! I felt strongly both ways. 😉

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    Our plan is to eat octopus 3 times a day for the duration of our 2023 Douro trip. 😀

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    Claudia Sails
    November 1
    For lunch we had . . . francesinha -- the Portuguese version of Croque Monsieur"

    ?? fancy, schmancy (batter-dipped) grilled ham and cheese sandwich? :D:D

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    No Alan that's A Monte Cristo. Croquet Monsieur has became sauce.

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    AlanS, Claudia - It sounds like you're both saying the same thing.

    Claudia the auto correct hammered your attempt at writing 'béchamel' sauce. :D

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    Thanks, Claudia; enjoying your day-to-day. Btw, octopus in Japan & HK, at breakfast and everywhere as street food, was one of my favorites...chewier as sushi. Enjoy!

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    Enjoying your reports Claudia. Do you feel you are seeing enough of the country or is the tour heavy on wine and port tasting? At the end, can you rate the four in comparison to your other river cruises? Thank you.

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    British, no you aren't seeing lots of the country but overall probably as many places as the land tour just different ones. Lots about port wine, olives, etc which is such a big part of the Douro. I'll do a summary when I get home. I think sometimes while on tour it's harder to have perspective on the entire tour.

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    Claudia - no you aren't seeing lots of the country

    Isn't that typical of all river cruises - the stops along any given river are pretty homogenous - not much difference when each stop is typically less than 100 miles from the previous stop. As such, perhaps you get a deeper understanding or at least awareness of a given region along a given river because you make several stops within a given region.

    On land tours you can cover many more miles (especially land tours than have in tour flights), which affords the opportunity for a more diverse viewing region, but perhaps a shallower or briefer exposure to each visited region.

    I feel these are the trade-offs that one makes when selecting river cruise tour vs land tour vs small ship tour.

    In some cases tours combined more than one type of tour. As an example when I did the Berlin, Danube, and Krakow tour there was as much tour time on land (in Berlin and Krakow regions) as there was on the riverboat along the Danube.

    The combo tour types allow some of the benefits of both tours.

    For me, it is more important to base tour selection decisions on what you see vs which type of tour you see them via. A couple of examples:
    1) I wanted to see Iceland. The only Tauck option is a small ship tour.
    2) I wanted to see Berlin. The best Tauck option was the Berlin, Danube, and Krakow

    For me, how I decide on which tour (regardless of type) to take is driven by what I want to see.

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    edited November 2022

    I know I am less committed to tours or at least see-it-all-in-two-weeks ones than most here. If you want to see Berlin, then go to Berlin; Europe is a cinch for indy exploring, as I discovered on my first trip back in the '70s. My first visit to Berlin I stayed 5 days or so and could easily have stayed longer. I encourage travelers to return to their tour favorites on their own. You won't miss those 6:30 a.m. bag pulls, trust me.

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    MarketArt - Just my opinion, but I'd have a hard time justifying a trip to Europe for a 5-day stay in Berlin. I'd want more bang for the airfare buck so to speak.

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