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Portugal and France river cruises, flying out Aug. 31 2021


terry&mike
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As foreign travel is a bit of a wild card still, I will try to post my experiences as I go along on this journey, to provide some insight to others. 

To start, a bit about us - my husband and I will be traveling on this trip, and it is our first "big" international trip since Covid; we are 61 and 56. While we have traveled to both Cancun and to Cabo in the past year, all of our other trips have been in the U.S. during the pandemic. Before the pandemic, we were frequent travelers taking a trip every few months, and have been to more than 90 countries on all 7 continents.  We actually debarked the Diamond Princess in Tokyo on January 20, 2020 after a 2 week Southeast Asia cruise - the sailing just before the quarantined sailing. 

Our current plan for this trip has us flying out of the U.S. on August 31, transiting through London, and arriving in Lisbon, Portugal in the early evening of September 1.  We will spend 3 nights in Lisbon, and then head up to Porto where we will be board the AmaDouro for a 7 night river cruise.  We then plan to fly on to Bordeaux, France from Porto, and have a brief stay in an Airbnb and then board the Scenic Diamond for a 10 night Beautiful Bordeaux itinerary.  Afterwards, we will fly on to Paris for a night at an airport hotel, and then fly home to the U.S. Of course, this is if all goes to plan.....

These sailings are a combination of rebookings and reworkings of trips cancelled due to Covid.  We are using United miles for our flights, which I purchased as 2 one-way tickets - Sarasota to Lisbon in Premium Economy, and Paris to Tampa in Business, with an Easyjet flight from Porto to Bordeaux in the middle.  

We have been monitoring the different country requirements, and referencing United's Travel Ready Center, to make notes for entry requirements of testing and documents, and have a sheet of different dates and items needing completion.  We have a PCR test scheduled for the day before we fly out at a facility in Tampa that provides same day results; it is about an hour drive from our home and the cost is $179 per person.

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Looking forward to following along!  Sounds like a great trip.  My husband and I will be doing a Tauck Douro cruise next year tagging onto an SS Southampton to Lisbon itinerary.  I would love to add on a French river or canal cruise after that but we already have another month-long trip earlier in the year plus a few domestic trips.  Would be interested to know where you’re staying in Lisbon, how are you planning to transfer to Porto and any other observations and activities in Lisbon especially.  We also have 3 nights planned in Lisbon and we’ll probably hire a guide to drive us Porto with a few scenic detours along the way.

 

Enjoy your trip!

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Terry&Mike,

That sounds like a wonderful trip! Thanks for offering to post about your experiences! My wife and I are leaving September 30 for a 14 night trip on the Saone and Rhone rivers in France. Since we are touring entirely within France, I expect to have fewer problems.  We are mid-seventies and live in Venice, Florida (possibly neighbors of yours 😉.)

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23 minutes ago, Gourmet Gal said:

Would be interested to know where you’re staying in Lisbon, how are you planning to transfer to Porto and any other observations and activities in Lisbon especially.  We also have 3 nights planned in Lisbon and we’ll probably hire a guide to drive us Porto with a few scenic detours along the way.

 

Hello GG, 

We are staying at the Be Poet Baixa hotel in Lisbon.  (I also have a booking at an Airbnb named Tram 28 Chiado Apartment, but because we had to change our dates the apartment was already booked for the new dates I needed - now I'm waiting to see if that person cancels their booking so I can move my dates, if they do not cancel, I'll need to cancel my booking by next weekend.)

While in Lisbon, we will start with the Lisbon Chill Out free walking tour to get oriented, and then spend the rest of the time DIY, probably to some of these places: markets, National Azulejo Museum (tile), tram or funicular, lunch at Time Out Market, Sao Pedro de Alcantera viewpoint, Bairro Alto neighborhood, Carmo Church, Santa Justa lift, try Pastel de nata, Alfama neighborhood, fado music, Comercio Square.

We are taking the train from Lisbon to Porto, 3.5 hours, 27 euros each, first class.  As there are random strikes happening through September 16 on the train network, we also purchased bus tickets, 3.5 hours, 5 euros each, as a back up plan. Transfers from Lisbon to Porto with some stops along the way via car and driver were running about 475-500 euros when I checked them for our planned trip in 2020, so should be similar for your trip. 

We will use the metro while in Lisbon from airport to hotel, from hotel to train, and around town. We will Uber or taxi from train station in Porto to ship.  

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28 minutes ago, tsklag said:

Terry&Mike,

That sounds like a wonderful trip! Thanks for offering to post about your experiences! My wife and I are leaving September 30 for a 14 night trip on the Saone and Rhone rivers in France. Since we are touring entirely within France, I expect to have fewer problems.  We are mid-seventies and live in Venice, Florida (possibly neighbors of yours 😉.)

Sounds like a great trip - we always love France! Yes, you are not far from us, we are in Bradenton. We often bike between Sarasota and Venice on the Legacy Trail. 

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12 hours ago, Gourmet Gal said:

Looking forward to following along!  Sounds like a great trip.  My husband and I will be doing a Tauck Douro cruise next year tagging onto an SS Southampton to Lisbon itinerary.  I would love to add on a French river or canal cruise after that but we already have another month-long trip earlier in the year plus a few domestic trips.  Would be interested to know where you’re staying in Lisbon, how are you planning to transfer to Porto and any other observations and activities in Lisbon especially.  We also have 3 nights planned in Lisbon and we’ll probably hire a guide to drive us Porto with a few scenic detours along the way.

 

Enjoy your trip!

Thanks for starting this discussion. We are doing a uniworld river cruise on the Douro and then a Lisbon to Barcelona crystal ocean cruise. I was thinking of flying from Lisbon to Porto and the reversing the flight. You have given more to think about. 

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It’s only about a 3 hour drive with lot’s to see on the way.  Easier than schlepping luggage on and off planes, trains.  The outfits I’ve checked all do this trip with stops for around 500 euro. Obviously the trip is longer with stops so we’re planning a half-day.

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On 8/21/2021 at 8:22 AM, terry&mike said:

try Pastel de nata

Try it early! We spent about a month in Portugal, split between Sintra and Albufeira, Oct 2019. I think I had one almost everyday. Delicious. It was a daily ritual when wandering about, finding lovely cafes for coffee and a treat.

 

Yours sounds like a wonderful trip, enjoy.

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2 hours ago, travlr21 said:

Try it early! We spent about a month in Portugal, split between Sintra and Albufeira, Oct 2019. I think I had one almost everyday. Delicious. It was a daily ritual when wandering about, finding lovely cafes for coffee and a treat.

 

Yours sounds like a wonderful trip, enjoy.

Will do!

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Terry&Mike,

Sounds like a great itinerary, thanks for offering to take us all along.  I'm interested in both of your cruises-we're looking at a cruise on either the Douro or Saone for 2023.  We have a Tauck Rhone river cruise booked for next July-only 330ish days to go!

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3 hours ago, mj_holiday said:

Thank you for taking the time to post your adventures.

 

How did you find the place for your COVID test in Tampa (google or TA)?

Through Google search. Took a bit of searching, had to look at some different places and find out their details of what type of test, cost, when results back, etc.  Then called to make sure they can meet what they say, and then made an appointment for the date we needed. 

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Some things we have done to try to be prepared -

We purchased 6 Abbott BinaxNOW Covid-19 Home Tests to bring with us, by mail $150/6. They were overnighted to us, and will serve if we need a test along the way and are struggling to find a local provider.  You log in to an app for a zoom type appt, and open the box when instructed by the observer, they walk you through the steps, and results should be ready within 30 minutes, which are then provided to you through the app.  

On August 18 I applied for the French Pass Sanitaire, using a different email address for each of us, as of this morning (August 27) I have not heard anything on either application. 

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Sounds as if it was a good idea to purchase the test kits. The pass sanitaire scheme appears not to be running smoothly, at least for non-EU citizens.

 

Hope everything works out well.

 

Have a great cruise.

 

notamermaid

 

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16 hours ago, terry&mike said:

You log in to an app for a zoom type appt, and open the box when instructed by the observer, they walk you through the steps, and results should be ready within 30 minutes, which are then provided to you through the app.  


What information do they give you or do you have regarding doing that monitored test from outside the U.S.?  In other words, if you are in Europe, how are you connecting to their test observer?  And are the observers only available during specific times of the day? Thanks and safe travels! 

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8 hours ago, Turtles06 said:


What information do they give you or do you have regarding doing that monitored test from outside the U.S.?  In other words, if you are in Europe, how are you connecting to their test observer?  And are the observers only available during specific times of the day? Thanks and safe travels! 

You are connecting to their test observer through the app, so will need wifi. They are available 24 hours a day, but sometimes there are longer wait times to connect to an observer. If you follow The Points Guy he has an article on his boots on the ground experience with the testing while overseas.

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Fingers crossed, since we are trying to fly out Tuesday - the EU is expected to make an announcement on Monday on travel in regards to visitors from the US, and changes are expected due to our high rate of infection.  Uggg.

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Oh, not good. Had not heard that yet. Things are certainly not going too well. In Britain, the delta variant is raging and Belgium has just put parts of Germany back on the risk list. :classic_sad:

 

Fingers crossed, the announcement will not have too great an effect on you. How your river cruise line will react is another matter again.

 

notamermaid

 

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4 hours ago, terry&mike said:

Fingers crossed, since we are trying to fly out Tuesday - the EU is expected to make an announcement on Monday on travel in regards to visitors from the US, and changes are expected due to our high rate of infection.  Uggg.

Talk about cutting it close!  Good luck to you!!

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5 hours ago, terry&mike said:

Fingers crossed, since we are trying to fly out Tuesday - the EU is expected to make an announcement on Monday on travel in regards to visitors from the US, and changes are expected due to our high rate of infection.  Uggg.

 

Guess better the day before than the day of.  Wishing you luck.  Do you have a TA handling the arrangements?  

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PCR tests back - we are Negative!

DH and I drove to Tampa this morning for our PCR tests with same day results. The office was just a bit over an hours drive from our house. We arrived at 8:10am for our 8:30am appointments - the office opens at 8:00am, and schedule appointments beginning at 8:20am.  We were the first clients in and the tech was just getting set up for the day, nurse arrived about 8:20am

We had our tests which involved a long swap for what seemed like a very long time rubbed up each nostril. We could have chosen testing back in 2-4 hours at $179 pp, but went with testing back by end of day at $159 pp. We were out the door by 8:30am, and there were quite a few people waiting and arriving for tests by then. 

We received our test results via email with a link to follow by 9:29am, just as we were about to arrive back home. Very relieved to test Negative. 

Now to wait on the EU announcement.....

 

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