Splendid Salamanca

Come explore Salamanca, Spain with us as our 10-day Portugal's River of Gold cruise continues with Viking River Cruises! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Come explore Salamanca, Spain with us as our 10-day Portugal’s River of Gold cruise continues with Viking River Cruises! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Monday, October 6, 2015

Today is a very noteworthy day onboard Viking River Cruises’ 10-day Portugal’s River of Gold itinerary that we find ourselves currently enjoying. While our cruise aboard the 106-guest Viking Torgil focuses primarily on Portugal’s Douro River Valley, today is the day that guests are invited to journey further after – to the historic city of Salamanca, Spain.

Sunrise this morning, as seen from our docking location. It would set the stage for a fantastic full-day tour into Spain. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Sunrise this morning, as seen from our docking location. It would set the stage for a fantastic full-day tour into Spain. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Salamanca is nestled within the Iberian countryside roughly 2.5 hours away from our current docking location. I think it is particularly noteworthy that our full-day tour (which runs from 8:30 a.m. to 6:15 p.m.) is provided complimentary. Think about the cost of running three coaches all day – fuel, wages, permits and parking – and you’ll realize that if you were going to do this on your own it would cost you hundreds of Euros per person. Aboard Viking Torgil, it’s entirely free of charge.

Good Morning, Salamanca! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Good Morning, Salamanca! Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

And yet, I was surprised when I boarded the coach this morning that it wasn’t as full as it has been. Some people were put off by the duration of time on the coach (five hours in total), but the choice was entirely theirs to either participate in the excursion or stay aboard the ship. Viking doesn’t pressure you into doing anything you don’t want to; guests are told when coaches will be departing, and if you haven’t collected your boarding pass from Reception on Deck 3 and boarded the bus at the given time, staff will assume you’ve elected to stay with the ship.

They’re also honest, freely admitting that there wasn’t much to do in our port of call of Vega de Terron, Spain, which is little more than a service docking location.

Salamanca is a striking blend of old and new - and even abandoned buildings have a certain artistic charm to them. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

Salamanca is a striking blend of old and new – and even abandoned buildings have a certain artistic charm to them. Photo © 2015 Aaron Saunders

I, however, wasn’t passing up the chance to see this historic Spanish city. At 8:30 a.m., I boarded the Amazing Bus (Coach A) once again, where Maria and our driver “Jessica” (whose real name is Vladimiro) and settled in for the drive to Salamanca.

Here’s the lowdown on the drive: yes, it’s 2.5 hours long. My advice: deal with it. I know that sounds harsh, but let’s face it, most people would give their left arm to visit Salamanca. Enduring a long ride in a luxury Volvo coach seems like an odd thing to complain about – and I dislike coach journeys with a passion. However, I’ve found a way to deal with them: I bring my iPod, load up some music I enjoy, and watch the landscape pass. Sleep also appeared to be a popular option!

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Our Live Voyage Report from onboard Viking River Cruises’ Viking Torgil continues tomorrow as we visit Pinhao – and the Portuguese Mr. Bean!! Be sure to follow along with our adventures on Twitter @deckchairblog.

 

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