Thursday – September 21st through Saturday the 23rd.
On Thursday, I stayed on board the boat today while Janeen headed out with the rest of the ship to Salamanca Spain. Sleeping in has its advantages and a restful day was great. After we moved the boat, to the dock of the village, I took myself for a walk. Well, the village of Barca de Alva is about 3 blocks long and maybe 2-blocks wide. I saw about 20 people in total and that included two people from the Boat also on a walking tour.
Not a hot spot of entertainment that’s for sure.
I did stop for a coffee and read my book for a while and then back to the boat. It was a nice relaxing day.
While I stayed on the boat, Janeen went with the rest of the ship to Salamanca. If you ignore the winding 2-hour road ride, the rest stop WC line, and a timetable, Salamanca, Spain is a fascinating city. The University, founded in the late 12th/early 13th century, was one of the most progressive of its day; allowing students to study writings of Moor, Jewish and Christian philosophers. The only thing they consistently agreed upon was the huge temptation for the students in the form of Woman (who is represented by the frog of lust, usually poised over a skull or skeleton). However, if one can find the Salamanca frog amongst the carvings and religious figures, it guarantees a return to the city. The two cathedrals, which share a wall, are unique examples of the Romanesque (simple) and Gothic (soaring and ornate) styles form 11th century to the Renaissance.
The “New” Cathedral (15th cent.) was delayed by massive death count of the bubonic plague, victims of which are buried in mass graves beneath the floor. Today, the city of Salamanca has mostly two sources of income, tourists and students. The University will celebrate its 800th year in 2018.
Friday and Saturday was a nothing day – mostly sailing along the Douro as we made our way back towards Porto. So, nothing really to report beyond the views from the boat.
We did enjoy our evening dinners in the private dining room with all our new found friends.
Saturday afternoon, after arriving in Porto, we head out on our own walking tour visiting around the Ribera area of old Porto, and ultimately stopping in at the Church of Saint Francisco.
After paying our admission price, we walked through the place and particularly enjoyed seeing the Jesse Tree.
The Tree of Jesse is a depiction of the ancestors of Christ, shown in a tree which rises from Jesse of Bethlehem, the father of King David and grows upward from there.
This carved wood piece is quite tall with 12 kings of Judah connected through branches of the tree to the recumbent body of Jesse. On top of the tree is Joseph, under an image of the Virgin and the Child. This was made in the early 1700’s and still looks quite good.
After walking through the church, we headed outside and tried to connect with Janeen’s friend Cherlyne and her husband David. They were in Porto at the same time as us but on a tour with Tauck. After texting several times back and forth we found out they were on a ‘break’ on the other side of the Douro River so we rushed back over the river and found them! It was neat to connect, if only for a few minutes, with them – Cherlyne is a OLD high school friend of Janeen who she sees infrequently as they live in eastern Oregon.
After our ‘quick’ visit we got back on the boat and finished packing for our departure the next day.