Coimbra (Santa Cruz)

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    • Day 15

      Day 11: Rabaçal to Coimbra

      May 15, 2022 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

      I started out shortly after 6:00 am from Rabaçal knowing I would have to make up the 3.9 kms that Anita & Ernie had walked yesterday when they continued onwards to Zambujal. I thought I would be trailing them until we got to Conimbriga, the site of Portugal's largest and most impressive Roman site that Ernie was keen to see. As it turned out, they had gotten off to a later start than anticipated so I caught up with them just as they were leaving of Zambujal.

      On our way to Conimbriga, we crossed paths with an oddball barefoot "priest" who gave us our scripture reading for the day. The passage urged us to love our family, love our friends, love the people we work with. In essence, the importance to love others. We weren't sure if this was the priest's shtick to ask us for money, but he continued to say that happiness was found within us, not the outside world, and that we should be tortoises and not hares on our Camino journey. He then got us to each ring a bell 3 times for luck and we continued on our way. We weren't sure what to make of him, but he didn't ask us for anything in return, and his words certainly resonated true with me.

      We stopped at a cafe in Conimbriga for our first break of the day only to discover that we had already overshot the Roman ruins by 1.1 kms. I hesitated to retrace my steps, adding extra mileage to a day that was already proving to be a scorcher. In the end, I couldn't resist, nor could Ernie so we went back to see the ruins while Anita decided to carry onwards.

      When we got to the ruins, we were so disappointed that we wouldn't be able to access the site until 10:00 am so we had to content ourselves by touring what we could from the exterior.

      As a result of our desire to see the Roman ruins, Ernie and I ended up playing catch-up with Anita for most of the day. We finally met back up in Antanhol for the last 6.3 kms into Coimbra.

      We arrived tired and hot and as we walked through town to our accommodations, we saw a sign telling us it was 14:45 and 35 degrees. With the backtracking we did, I walked about 32 kms today. It was a real sense of accomplishment, and the cherry on today's cake was when I saw Roch hiking up the hill to our guesthouse.

      Distance covered since Lisbon: 252 kms.
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    • Day 314


      February 13 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

      Einige Kilometer im Landesinneren, am Fluss Mondego, liegt die Großstadt Coimbra, der ich heute einen Besuch abstatte.
      Sie ist vorallem für ihre geschichtsträchtige Universität bekannt. Hier treffen schöne Barockbauten auf die monumentale Architektur aus der Mitte des 20. Jahrhunderts und ergeben ein skurilles Gesamtbild. Der sehr schön angelegte botanische Garten gehört ebenfalls zur Universität und auch wenn hier noch nicht allzu viel Grün zu sehen ist, sorgen die Magnolienblüten bereits für etwas Farbe.
      In der restlichen Altstadt gibt es, abgesehen von den schicken Einkaufsstraßen, relativ viel marode Bausubstanz und Leerstand.
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    • Day 17

      Day 13 Rest Day

      September 21 in Portugal ⋅ 🌧 64 °F

      Day 13 Rest Day in Coimbra, Thursday, September 21. 9.5k/5.9m

      Saw quite a few churches today. Most were within 300m of each other.

      Also climbed the hill up to the University. It is the oldest in Europe. Wow, to be able to study in such a historical setting.

      I went on a Food & Wine Tour that included visiting three places.

      Tomorrow I resume my walk to Santiago!

      Enjoy. Photos & some captions. Bom Caminho.
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    • Day 14

      Day 9 - to Coimbra

      May 4 in Portugal ⋅ 🌙 64 °F

      Another cooler (70s) but mostly sunny day that made it feel warmer. We hiked about 18.75 miles. While there weren't at many elevation changes as the two previous days, there was enough to keep us challenged.

      Our first cafe stop was at the museum at Conimbriga, 7 - 8 miles into our day. There are remains of a Roman settlement there. We stayed at the cafe longer than we should have, closed to an hour - which included a delicious sandwich. While there we spoke with Alex (German) along with Dan and Heather (USA). The Siberians also showed up while we were there. Really haven't spoken with them much and don't know there names - so i (Jeff) decided to nickname them Boris and Natasha.

      Surprisingly we didn't see our Mexican travelers after we left the hostel this morning, and they appeared to be ready to leave shortly after us. Just before heading into our room in Coimbra this evening, we did see one of them on the street, although she was on a phone call so we didn't talk.

      Coimbra is an ancient town with multiple churches dating back to the 11th and 12th centuries. Wish we were spending an extra day here to explore.
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    • Day 15

      Francesinha festival, Coimbra

      May 15, 2022 in Portugal ⋅ ☁️ 22 °C

      When we were onboard the heritage train, Roch noticed an outdoor festival taking place shortly after we passed the Botanical Gardens. Curious to know what it was about, we retraced the train route and found the Francesinha festival in full swing.

      The Francesinha is a Portuguese sandwich originating from Porto. The literal translation for its name is 'Little French Girl' but it's only little in name. It’s a rather large sandwich filled with layers of beef steak, cured meat, fresh sausages, topped with cheese, covered with a beer sauce, and typically surrounded by French fries. It is, apparently, the Portuguese adaptation of the French classic, the 'Croque-Monsieur'.

      Since the festival had stalls offering vegan versions, how could we say no? The sandwich was indeed very yummy. The vegan cured meat tasted surprisingly like bacon. It all washed down tremendously well with a cold beer.
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    • Day 24


      May 17, 2022 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 21 °C

      Coimbra is a former national capital city that is home to the oldest university in the Portuguese speaking world. Most of its economy is built around the university and its students.
      The town dates to at least the Roman period when it was known as Aeminium. It is a hill town that was encircled by defensive walls, most of which are now gone. The university occupies the hilltop today.
      Starting in the lower part of town and beginning uphill, the 1st and 2nd picture are of old city gates, and the 3rd picture is one of the old towers along the wall. It has been used as housing, mostly for students. The 4th picture is the old cathedral, and the 5th picture is the new cathedral.
      Finally at the top of the hill is where most of the university is located. The 6th picture is the old palace, originally Moorish, then the royal residence after the city was reconquered, and now part of the university. The 7th picture is the new of the academic buildings built in the fascist style during the dictatorship period. Historic buildings were demolished to make room for the new.
      The 8th picture is the old baroque library, said to be one of the most beautiful anywhere. The 9th picture is of what are called the monumental stairs. This is another part of the construction of the dictatorship period.
      The last picture is of the university botanical garden. The garden dates to the 18th century and is still used for teaching and research.
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    • Day 19

      Day 19 - An Old University

      June 29 in Portugal ⋅ 🌙 20 °C

      It was a hot night, but having separate double beds helped. At 9.30am we had our fully loaded breakfast in the garden area. After breakfast we tracked down laidback Luis & paid for the previous night’s dinner. We bought a bottle of his white wine for €10, but declined the opportunity to pay €45 for his full bodied red.

      We hit the road on a circular route recommended by Luis. Firstly we headed north to Vila Real, then headed east towards Sabrosa. On this leg of the journey, Jackie had a triple whammy of disasters. Firstly she lost my cricket commentary, secondly she sent me miles out of our way on an unnecessary diversion to the nearest petrol station & thirdly she decided to clean the car windows with a hose without realising (allegedly) that a rear window was open & I got saturated by a jet of water, whilst minding my own business sat in the driver’s seat.

      The road from Sabrosa down to Pinhao was stunning with numerous viewpoints into the Douro Valley. At Pinhao we got out to see the blue & white tiled railway station, which depicted various Douro Valley winery scenes. A train had just departed, after depositing a very diverse looking bunch of passengers.

      We followed the southern bank of the Douro River back to Peso da Regua, then headed south to Lamego, considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in northern Portugal. We parked up & had a quick liquid lunch. Lamego would have been beautiful, had it not been for the considerable amount of litter blowing through the main boulevard. It would seemed that there had been a recent festival of some sort & the clearing up process was still ongoing.

      At the end of the boulevard were 686 steps up to the Santuário de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios church. These steps are known as the Stairway to Heaven. We climbed the first three flights, then decided we would return to the car & drive up to the church. The statues at the top of the steps were impressive & the church was nice too. A sign asked that no photos be taken in the church. I did only because someone else already was.

      Our journey continued south to the old university city of Coimbra. We booked accommodation on the way & to my delight there was free parking just a short distance away. We actually parked outside the newer Coimbra Cathedral. Our apartment was down a cobbled street and on the corner was a house covered in what appeared to be anarchic slogans & graffiti with several ‘anarchists’ loitering in the front garden.

      We dumped a bags in our apartment & walked to the nearby series of buildings that make up University of Coimbra at the highest point of the city.

      Founded in 1290, the University of Coimbra (UC) is one of the oldest universities in the world and the oldest in all of Portugal. Up until the early part of the 20th century, it was also the only Portuguese-speaking university in the world. In 2013, UNESCO declared the university a World Heritage Site, noting its architecture, unique culture and traditions, and historical role.

      We walked through the Porta Ferrea, the main gates into the huge courtyard with it’s statue of João lll, Clock Tower & Royal Palace. We found that we were able to wander around some of the university, where we located the students refectory and bar.

      Afterwards we strolled through the rest of the old town & had a beer in a town square outside the old Cathedral of Coimbra. Jackie informed me that she yearned for a steak for her dinner, so we went in search of a suitable restaurant to only return to the same square & sit down at a restaurant called O Trovador.

      The waiter was a little bit too brusque for my liking, but as it turned out the food was incredible & we both agreed it was our best proper meal of the trip so far. Jackie had steak, whilst I had pork, both in mushroom sauce, with fluffy chips & a vegetable spring roll dressed in a balsamic sauce and black & white sesame seeds. It was accompanied by a basket of assorted breads & olives as well as a decent white wine.

      It was a very happy ending to another long day.

      Song of the Day : Stairway to Heaven by Led Zeppelin.
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    • Day 32

      Dinner at Fangas Mercearia Bar

      October 5, 2019 in Portugal ⋅ ⛅ 15 °C

      For dinner, we decided to go to a tapas restaurant we had seen in our wanderings, and that some people had told us was very good. Unfortunately, it was booked out so we went to another place that was recommended by our host. It was a fairly quaint place with very friendly staff. We were pretty lucky to get a table, because within about 30 minutes there was a queue, and our American friends from the previous night wandered past and decided to try it out. They were still waiting for a table when we left.

      We had a lovely red from the Douro, and shared a range of tapas plates. It was very nice but not as good as Arcada.
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    • Day 35

      Coimbra to Porto

      October 8, 2019 in Portugal ⋅ ☁️ 21 °C

      We had a slow morning today as we didn’t catch our train until 1.45pm, so we stayed in the apartment until 11 am. Our plan was to head down to the city centre, have a coffee followed by an early lunch. Once we left our apartment, we had about 200 metres of rolling our cases over cobblestones that were so uneven I was sure we would break the wheels, but the cases survived. We decided to wander down to the end of the mall and then down some narrow side streets to kill some time. We ended up doing this for about 45 minutes, and then chose a cafe for lunch - we had the best coffee so far in Portugal at this place. We then shared a small serve of crumbed octopus, and a chicken salad. Both were excellent, and we then indulged in dessert, which was also very good.

      We then headed down to the Main Street to order an Uber to take us to Coimbra-B Station, where we caught the train to Porto. Our train was running late (which we didn’t realise), as was another train that was also going to Porto via the same platform. A train arrived at the scheduled time, so we got on, but it didn’t look quite right - when checking with a staff member we were told it was not our train, so we got back off the train. It was all very confusing, as the announcements are only in Portuguese and the electronic board provides minimal information. The trains usually only stop for a couple of minutes, and it is then a mad rush for passengers disembarking and those waiting to get on! Our train finally arrived, and the trip only took about an hour. Our Airbnb hosts had arranged a transfer from the station, and our driver was waiting at the exit to take us to our apartment. As we are on the waterfront, he couldn’t drop us at the apartment, so he dropped us off about 200 metres away and the host, Paola, came to meet us and checked us in.

      Our apartment is very nice indeed, with great views of the river and all the activities happening on the waterfront. We are located in the Ribeira district, which is the oldest part of Porto. It has lots of narrow streets and lots of steep inclines, but is so full of atmosphere and colour.
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    • Day 4

      Off to Porto - Coimbra

      July 22, 2022 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 28 °C

      Today we left Lisbon behind and headed for Porto. A comfortable coach ride with a “technical stop” at the Portuguese version of an Onroute and a stop in Coimbra for a bit of sightseeing and what is believed to be the oldest university in the world. This university is also home to the most amazing library! No photos allowed of course but trust me when I say I could have spent days in there just looking and imagining the details of those ancient texts – it was incredible. In Coimbra Bailey and I also managed to sneak away from the group to find 2 more Bordalo’s – Gorilla and Baby Owl :DRead more

    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Coimbra (Santa Cruz)

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