Wednesday, June 17, saw us at the end of the part of the Douro that is navigable: Vega de Terron. At this point, the river forms part of the border with Spain and our day’s excursion was going to take us deeper into Spain to Salamanca, another city with an ancient university.
I wasn’t looking forward to the excursion because it involved a two-hour coach ride going and returning and I have been having some difficulties with the coach aspects of this journey . . . just mild queasiness, but not pleasant. But, I wanted to see Salamanca and, so, I went. I’m very glad I did as it is a beautiful city. Our cruise director did not oversell its beauty or its charms. The golden stone that makes up most of the buildings gives the city a lovely glow. And it is so clean it was a pleasure to wander its streets.
I write a blog about the city itself when I have a better internet connection. For now, I just want to comment on the men of the day and other odd creatures.
I am always aware of how Michael makes all the experiences we have just that much more enjoyable than they would if I experienced them on my own. But, for some reason, I got to thinking how other, usually unnamed (at least to me, presumably not to their mothers), men also put a spark in my day.
Ricardo, who has driven the number one excursion coach, has done a great job of keeping us on roads that weren’t necessarily built to accommodate a tour coach and he always has a smile when helping us infirm oldies off the coach. The guy behind the tapas bar at lunch time was amazing filling orders from locals and tourists alike with a pleasant unflappability that was enviable. And I cannot not mention the two crew members who, when I threw open the curtains of our cabin when we returned from our excursion, were standing on an inflatable right outside the window painting part of the hull. They were a nice treat at the end of a long drive.
“Odd creatures” was inspired by our brief walk through the Mercado in Salamanca before our walking tour began. The market was mostly fish, with meat taking a second seat, and everything else coming in after that. We have had so much good fish in Portugal: Sea bream, sea bass, monk fish, sword fish, sardines, shrimp, octopus, mussels, and, of course, baccalhao (dried, salted codfish) served many ways: Grilled, baked, fried in balls, sauced in casseroles, and layered with potatoes. This is a great country for a fish lover. So, I include a few close-ups of some of the fish we encountered in the market.