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The Douro’s hillsides are lined with stepped terraces built over the centuries, and more modern large, smooth terraces, with vines planted in vertical rows.

An endearing slice of Portugal is the Douro River Valley, the winding, terraced region that produces the country's beloved port wine. This is Portugal's answer to Germany's romantic Rhine River Valley. But unlike the Rhine, the Douro was never a strategic military location. So, rather than castles and stony ramparts, visitors encounter farms and sleepy villages. The only thing fortified here ... is the wine.

The Douro region...

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Ancient ruins on Scotland’s Orkney Islands include these 5,000-year-old homes at Skara Brae.

On a recent trip to Great Britain, I decided at the last minute to snip two days off from my time in London and go somewhere I've never been before: the Orkney Islands. Perched just an hour's ferry ride north of the Scottish mainland, these islands are remote, historic, and -- for the right traveler -- well worth the effort.

Orkney has two draws unmatched elsewhere in Scotland: some of the finest prehistoric sites in northern Europe,...

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Coimbra University’s King Joao’s Library, in Portugal, has a spectacular ceiling and is one of Europe’s best surviving Baroque libraries.

When touring any city, it's fun to drop in on the local university. But in Europe, universities can be essential sightseeing, as some are home to great architectural, artistic, and cultural treasures.

One of Europe's top university sights is the Book of Kells, tucked away in the library of the venerable Trinity College in Dublin. This famous illuminated manuscript is a 1,200-year-old version of the four gospels, elaborately inked and meticulously...

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Countess Alwine Federico toasts tour group members in her home, Palazzo Conte Federico — one of the oldest dwellings in Palermo, Sicily.

Many of Europe's time-warp houses -- sights that bring you back to a bygone era -- get only a few thoughtful travelers, overshadowed by big-name museums. Some of the ones I highly recommend may make people say "Huh!?" But they're the sights that might just make your day.

For example, Glasgow's Tenement House offers a chance to drop into a perfectly preserved, 1930s-era, middle-class residence. The National Trust for Scotlandbought...

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Kutna Hora’s Gothic cathedral was funded by the town’s once-lucrative silver mining and minting industry.

Few cities can match Prague's over-the-top romance, evocative Old World charm ... and tourist crowds. To escape the masses and experience more of the real Czech Republic, take a bus or train ride outside of the city to see a rich medieval town, a sobering concentration camp memorial, or a grand Czech castle.

Kutna Hora, a beautifully preserved and down-to-earth town, is just a one-hour direct train ride from Prague. With a current population of just 20,...

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Karen Wagner (right) shared copies of ITN with passengers on the Eurodam.

Dear Globetrotter:

Welcome to the 522nd issue of your monthly foreign-travel magazine, the one our subscribers — you! — help write.

Speaking of subscribers, during a round-trip cruise to the Mexican Riviera on Holland America Line’s Eurodam in November-December 2018, Karen Wagner of Monarch Beach, California, attended a Cruisecritic.com Roll Call meet-and-greet organized by another passenger.

She wrote, “I just asked for some time at the...

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British subjects, even those outside of the UK, who celebrate a 100th birthday or 60th wedding anniversary get a personalized card from the ruling monarch, a tradition dating to 1917.

At Basque-style tapas bars, pintxos are already laid out, so you can simply point to or grab what you want. Photos by Cameron Hewitt

When it comes to eating in Spain, I love gathering around the table or bar for tapas, a parade of small dishes served family style. I never tire of them. The experience is like an edible scavenger hunt, where I collect small portions of seafood, salads, meat-filled pastries and deep-fried tasties and piece them together for a light evening meal.

My tapas memories are vivid. In the heart of Spain’s Andalucía region, on a warm summer evening, I elbow up to a Granada tapas...

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