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Day 2 on the AmaVida

Day 2

The morning began at 7am with an excited opening of the curtains to find a dense mist and grey start. The temptation to get back into the soft fresh crisp linen sheets in our very comfortable cabin was there but we were setting sail at 745 out of the beautiful Porto to start our journey through the winding lush river Douro wine regions.

Our first stop was of course the dining room, we chose a table for two to enjoy the sumptuous selection of hot and cold breakfast choices including, freshly made omelettes and poached eggs, along with fresh fruits, pastries, cereals, meats, cheeses and cooked breakfasts. What a great selection of juices from pineapple, orange, apple and grapefruit. The buffet is help yourself and waiter service for tea and coffee.

After filling ourselves up on far too much pastry we headed up to the main lounge to take in the surrounding rolling hills and lush greenery as we departed Porto and sailed under 5 of the most spectacular bridges, some are still in use and others are only for foot passengers. The Douro River begins its course in the Sierra de Urbion in Spain and flows for 576 miles in a westerly direction through a series of stunning gorges on its way to Porto and the Atlantic Ocean.

The Cruise Manager gave a talk on our tours planned for the afternoon, there was a choice of going for an afternoon of port wine tasting at Quinta de Seixo or an explorer tour which there is no extra charge for and included a visit to the Quinta de Seixo and a picnic lunch. Of course we opted for the port wine tasting.

It got to around 11:30 and all of a sudden the mist had lifted and left the bluest sky Alison and I have seen for a long time! There was not a cloud in the sky. All of the guests had the same idea and headed up to the sun deck to get the full true experience of meandering along the Douro. The sun loungers are cushioned with the rich colour of burnt orange and are so comfortable you cannot help but lay back, relax and with a deep breath take in the scenery which surrounds you. Over the past month, there has been a lot of rain in Portugal and this has brought the rolling hillsides to life early as this time of year they are not always as green, they are spectacular. Unfortunately for Alison and I we fell far to easily into this way of life and had a cheeky snooze on deck – waking up to a heat that was 24 degrees and a not so attractive T-Shirt tan, this has lead to lots of attention from our fellow passengers, along with us taking a very refreshing dip in the pool.

Along our journey we approached one of the 5 locks that the Portuguese section of the river has, the highest lock on Carrapatelo Dam has a maximum lift of 35 metres making it one of the deepest in Europe. I have done river cruising before but have never experienced such a vast lock. It took approx 30 minutes to pass through the first lock, at which point we then went for our lunch in the main restaurant. There are light snacks available in the main lounge if you decided not to have the full courses available.

We have a delicious pasta dish with fresh pesto which was cooked in front of guests at the cooking station. The selection of fresh salads are quite believable, from fresh octopus to goats cheese and even a selection of fresh homemade dressings. Included within the lunch it ice tea and water options, any other drinks required at this time are payable onboard. There was a special selection of ice creams and sorbets, vanilla, mango and lemon, all of which Alison tried and adored.

Our afternoon tour began with a 30 minute coach ride along the Douro where you are able to see passing railways which are still in use today and run along the front of the river. We arrived at Quinta de Seixo ready for our tour of the ‘Quinta’ this means Estate. The estate produces Sandeman port wines and works with some of the local vineyards to keep up with the demand of their very moorish port wines. After trying out the white and red options of the port wine the time had come to head back to the ship and dress for our evening onboard.

We had prebooked our evening to dine in the Al Fresco area and chose from the menu……Mushroom parcel to start, Monkfish with sautéed greens and a beetroot crisp followed by a crème caramel desert. All we can say is WOW. We recommend that all guests definitely prebook this option as it is not to be missed. Of course, all of the wines served matched the courses perfectly.

The evening was then closed with a traditional folklore show made up of both men and women from Portugal and this is not usually the way they perform, they are usually only allowed to perform with men or women, not a mixed group. The singing and music was very entertaining, Alison even lead the conga around the main lounge with the host from the band.

We have an exciting agenda for the next visits……

From a T-shirt tanned duo, we shall report again soon 🙂

To be continued………..

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