14–21 March 2018
THE SCRATCH® RIVER OF GOLD
Portugal’s breathtaking ‘River of Gold’: the Douro
About the Douro
Portugal’s Douro River tends to be off the beaten river-cruising track in comparison to the popular Rhine, Danube and Rhone, yet a week spent cruising this scenic river is full of unforgettable experiences. As well as time spent in the wonderful UNESCO city of Porto (known for its historic centre, graceful bridges and world-famous port-wine houses), there are long, blissful spells on the water without seeing other boats, cruising narrow stretches of the upper Douro between steep, rocky slopes on which thousands of hectares of port-wine grapes are cultivated. With little urban development, the Douro is wonderfully photogenic – bring your camera!
What we will see
A Douro cruise sets a pretty leisurely pace with some unique experiences along the way. We start and end in Porto, with a chance to see its medieval quarter, the 12th-century cathedral and the impressive Moorish Hall (now part of the Stock Exchange). Further upstream, you can wander around medieval hilltop villages that have barely changed over the centuries, and visit vineyards in Pinhão and Lamego, and the cellars of some of the big port-growing dynasties whose names grace the steeply terraced vineyards along the river. And you will also have the chance to venture outside Portugal, spending a day across the Spanish border in Salamanca: this amazing and ancient university town, with its exquisite beauty and history, is one of the best-kept secrets in the whole of Europe. Download the full itinerary.
The musical side
With a musical team comprising cruise regulars Brian Kay and Maria Marchant, you are assured of a first-rate week of singing. Bob Chilcott’s Dances of Time was written to celebrate Brian’s 20th anniversary as conductor of the Leith Hill Musical Festival, and has already proved its popularity among choral groups since its 2015 première. We will also explore music from four centuries earlier in the shape of a collection of madrigals: familiar pieces for many singers, no doubt.