My River Cruise on the Douro: Spotlight on Salamanca

Menopause & Aging Well

"Tomorrow we rise early for our excursion to the golden city of Salamanca," said our program director, Jorge, on our Viking river cruise on the Douro in Portugal.*

"We're going to Spain," I said to my boyfriend L. "You'll finally be able to get an authentic paella. Are you going to join me for this excursion?"

"Yes, yes," said L.

Our Trip to Salamanca
We boarded the bus for a very long two-hour ride. L slept while I looked out the window at the beautiful views of the countryside.

During our free time in the morning, we walked around the city streets:

We went to Museo Art Nouveau where there was a special Coco Chanel exhibition. L stayed outside while I toured the collection of Coco's fashions—a fun fashionista experience.

We headed to see Catedral Nueva (the new cathedral), Catedral Vieja (the old cathedral), and Plaza Mayor.

We wandered around the mercado food market and several other food shops in the center of town.

Plenty of Paella and Flamenco
Lunch was at Hotel Alameda Palace, where we dined on paella and smoked ham carved by a certified master cutter. "Pick up the ham with your fingers. Silver utensils will change the taste," said our host. L and I obliged. The ham was salty but cured to perfection and quite addicting.

After finishing our tasty lunch, we were entertained with a traditional Spanish show of flamenco. Unlike Portuguese fado, which tells a story through song and guitar, flamenco consists of song, guitar, dance and hand clapping.

A Tour of Salamanca University
The afternoon sun was very hot. L would have preferred to take a nap, along with the rest of Salamanca. Like many other European towns, shops shut down for lunch and siesta until around 3 p.m. But no rest for weary L (or for me), as it was time to explore the old city with a tour of Salamanca University.

"Salamanca does not have much industry," said our guide, Carmen. "It is a university town. The university was founded in 1218 and is one of the oldest in Europe."

Dinner On Deck
"We have a wonderful surprise for you," said Jorge, after we returned to the Viking Hemming. "We have a Portuguese barbecue up on the deck tonight, and you will have a chance to dance the night away under the stars."

It was a lovely evening with a variety of favorite local dishes, including vegetable salads, green cabbage soup, blood and chorizo sausages, grilled sardines and other grilled meats and burgers. Wine, fresh mountain air and glorious river views—who could ask for more?

Our river cruise was coming to an end. Only two more days to go, and, in true Viking style, they saved the best villages for last. Stay tuned for my grand finale on the Douro.

P.S. For more posts about my trip to Portugal, visit my Travel and Leisure page.

*Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a sponsored post. Viking River Cruises provided me with a complimentary press trip river cruise on the Douro. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will be good for my readers.

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