The sights, sounds and tastes of Spain

You’ll love the colours… traditional flamenco dresses at a house in Andalusia.
You’ll love the colours… traditional flamenco dresses at a house in Andalusia.

A seven-night cruise along Portugal’s beautiful Douro River is a highlight of a 21-night tour of Spain and Portugal being offered in April and September next year.

The fully escorted tour, conducted by The Senior newspaper in association with Travelrite and Evergreen Tours, will take travellers to a special corner of Europe cherished for its historic cities and towns, lively cafe culture and stunning scenery.

The land and river tour, to be escorted by The Senior’s well-travelled tour leader, Lyne Hirsch, will take in Madrid, Granada, Cordoba, Seville, Vega de Terron and Salamanca in Spain, and Lisbon, Porto, Pocinho and Regua in Portugal.  The departure dates are April 30 and September 3.

This will be a leisurely tour with three nights spent in Seville and two-night stays in Madrid, Granada, Cordoba and Lisbon.

Travellers will get to know each other at the welcome dinner in Madrid, which will be held at Sobrino de Botín, the oldest continuously operating restaurant in the world.

The next day the group will travel by train to Granada, first on the AVE high-speed train, covering nearly 500 kilometres in a little over two hours, and then on a more sedate regional train to take in the views of the Andalusian countryside.

Plaza de Espana in Seville.

Plaza de Espana in Seville.

Over the next few days the group will visit the Alhambra Palace in Granada, which is a castle, a fortress, a royal palace and also a town, and Cordoba, capital of the Arab kingdom of Al-Andalus, a seat of learning and home to the magnificent Cordoba Mosque Cathedral.

Then it’s off to Seville, famous for its flamenco dancing, bullfighting and myriad cafes and tapas bars. There will be time to explore the charming barrio Santa Cruz, the old Jewish quarter of Seville with its narrow streets of whitewashed houses, glorious balconies and hidden squares shaded by flowering orange trees.

The Andalusian landscape is littered with white villages and the tour will visit Ronda, which is regarded as one of the most beautiful, before travelling to Lisbon, the capital of Portugal, a city steeped in history.

The highlights of Lisbon will be enjoyed over the next two days with free time to explore the culinary delights of this fascinating city.

The unhurried pace continues with the cruise along the Douro River from the city of Porto. The newly launched Emerald Radiance carries only 112 passengers, promising an intimate way to travel. Riverview Suites, a spacious new cabin, are located on the Horizon Deck. The suites feature panoramic vistas from the drop-down windows and a separate bedroom and living area with a flat-screen TV with infotainment system.

Go shopping at Salamanca Markets.

Go shopping at Salamanca Markets.

Not that guests will be spending much time looking at television as the views along the river while dining al fresco will far surpass anything seen on the small screen.

The Douro Valley is a UNESCO World Heritage site sparsely populated with quaint villages, working vineyards and small farms.

Days of relaxed cruising will be matched by interesting shore trips such as the baroque village of Lamego to see the remains of a Roman sanctuary and battlements before an afternoon sailing to Vega de Terron, gateway to Spain.

Travellers will be taken to the city of Salamanca, home to one of the oldest universities in Europe and a lively student town. With its grand squares and medieval structures, the walking tour will feel like a step back in time.

The tour is priced from $11,215, which includes flights, accommodation, guided sightseeing, tours, meals and entertainment with no hidden extras.

The tour caters particularly well for those travelling alone. In fact, a third of those taking river cruises travel on their own and find it easy to make friends on tours like this with a small and convivial group of fellow travellers.

For a full colour brochure phone 1800 630 343.

This story originally appeared on The Senior