Local experts will give us wine tasting sessions in charming old family estates adorned with exquisite hand-painted tiles. For our tour finale, we'll enjoy the unusual beauty of the Douro river landscape from the two new perspectives: a historic steam engine and a panoramic river boat.
- Salamanca - plaza and cathedral.
- Spectacular scenes of nature and terraced vineyards along river.
- Port and Douro regional wine tasting, on several occasions.
- Workshop on port wine production and tasting.
- Tours of historic winery estates.
- Hand-painted tile work in generations old estates or quintas.
- Historical steam engine ride and panoramic river boat tour finale.
Day 1: Salamanca, Spain. We gather in the World Heritage city of Salamanca, with its sandstone buildings, massive plaza and lively university ambiance. Following a welcome reception and briefing at the Palacio San Esteban, we'll fit our bicycles and take a walking tour of this historic city with a local guide. Special dinner to kick off the tour.
Day 2: Zamora, Spain. After breakfast we transfer to Tordesillas, the town notable for hosting the 15th century meeting to divide the world between Spain and Portugal. From Tordesillas, we'll cycle through golden farmland interspersed with stands of shady poplar trees and the occasional stone church, to our charming and historic hotel.
Zamora was originally founded by the Moors who fought many fierce battles against the Christians, meaning the town changed hands many times between the 8th and the end of the 11th centuries. Perched on a rocky hill, the Duero River (Spanish name for Douro) traverses this fascinating city. This town has been called a living museum of Romanesque art, due of its twenty four Romanesque churches, all belonging to the 12th and 13th centuries. Distance: 30 or 51 miles / 48 or 82 km.
Day 3: Miranda do Douro, Portugal. We'll pedal through tiny villages to the unique border town of Miranda do Douro. Flanked on two sides by the Douro Natural Park, this town has managed to preserve its historic center and still speaks its own dialect (mirandes). The town is renowned for its 16th century cathedral with a tiny Christ child, and the local bird life which includes giant black and white storks, Egyptian vultures and eagles. Tonight, we'll dine on the local specialty: succulent steak from a local breed of cattle, accompanied by the regional wine. We'll stay at the Hotel de Turismo Miranda do Douro. Distance: 29 or 34 or 50 m / 46 or 55 or 80 km.
Day 4: Macedo de Cavaleiros. Set between two mountain ranges and rivers Macedo boasts endless viewpoints from which to admire the spectacular scenery. Rest in comfort at the Estalagem do Cacador, a tastefully renovated aristocratic property. Distance: 31 or 60 m / 50 or 96 Km).
Day 5: Pinhao. A gracious 19th century town, Pinhão sits at the confluence point of the Douro and Pinhão rivers. Due to its perfectly balanced climate (midpoint between the dry climate towards the east and the more humid climate due west) and its rocky schist soil, the area sits at the heart of the Port wine making region making it a mecca for lovers of fine wine. Although generally quiet, the town comes to life in September, during the vindimas or grape harvest. We will rest in style at the lavish Vintage House Hotel, originally built in the 18th century as a wine estate. The hotel will provide us with both wine and port wine tastings and a course on local wine-making. Distance: 33 or 57 m / 53 or 92 Km.
Day 6: Porto. This morning we'll take a short hike or a steam train short ride through the vineyards. For keen cyclists we have an optional loop ride. Of course if you prefer, feel free to dip in the hotel pool or play a game of tennis. After lunch, we'll cruise on a rabelo, a traditional Douro river boat used to transport casks of wine downriver. We arrive in Vila Nova da Gaia at dusk, the perfect time to attend a port wine tasting session at one of the many adegas (wine lodges where the wine is aged in barrels) located across the river from the city of Porto.
We'll be able to enjoy the spectacular sunset views of the many granite monuments in Porto, Portugal's second largest city and World Heritage site. If you have a hankering for tripe, this is the place to try the great food and red wines from North Portugal. Otherwise, there will be many other less daunting specialties available at our goodbye dinner. Tonight we lodge at the centrally located Dom Henrique hotel.
Day 7: Porto. Time to exchange contacts and to say adeus (goodbye) to our friends. Transfer to Porto airport or time to begin the rest of your journey. Its been a pleasure showing you around!
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Europe Spain Portugal Outdoor: Land Rambler Bicycle Touring Cultural Journey
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