by Di Blackwood, October 2014

After a year of planning and some fun pre-departure get togethers, our group of 14 amazing travellers flew into Madrid, a stunning city and I highly recommend a visit.

First night was a shared Paella at a local restaurant that set the standard for all future dinners, a fun night with amazing food.

A guided walk around Madrid took us to some amazing squares, cafes and iconic  buildings. The food markets in Madrid are glorious and so tempting. The Prado Museum is a must and just being in this city gives you a strong feeling for its history and culture.

A day trip out of Madrid to Segovia was a culinary masterpiece and featured an amazing aquaduct and castle. Lunch was a surprise with the tour leader being presented with a suckling pig for lunch, I managed to smile and make the moves of eating!!

Another day tour to Toledo was a highlight of our trip with scenery to die for. Some of our travellers took the night train to Lisbon (not recommended by all who did this) the rest of us flew and enjoyed the luxury of our Lisbon Hotel and a meal on the rooftop overlooking another stunning city. We travelled by coach around the city – Lisbon is famous for custard tarts and I must say they come highly recommended. Lisbon’s port is vibrant and beautiful with iconic sculptures, an amazing cathederal and monestary, outside cooking is common and tiles everywhere were truly beautiful.

Porto was the next destination and port for the commencement of our much anticipated 7 day river cruise on the Doro. Porto has hints of Venetian style and is also the home of port so some great opportunities to taste local product. The Doro River cruise is very different from the German and French River cruises as it is very rural and quiet  with most days requiring a coach tour from the ship to visit vineyards, historical towns, local museums and food markets. All amazing and well worth the drive. We experienced Fado singing and a visit to the world famous Coimbra University as well as  Spanish dancing at  Salamanca.

More custard tarts , local wines and an 85th birthday celebration onboard our boat. – a visit to the home of Mateuse Rose was a stunning surprise at the end of our itinerary.  We flew home via Dubai  – all in all an amazing journey with even more amazing travellers.