Coimbra, a Gem of a City

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Europe » Portugal » Central » Coimbra
May 15th 2011
Published: May 15th 2011EDIT THIS ENTRY

Hurray, we made it to our Coimbra hotel without the use of Miss GPS. To get here we took a chance with our book of Europe road maps and kept off the motorway system. As yet we have not been arrested for travelling on the electronic toll road without paying so the blogs keep coming. “Get arrested!” we hear some of you say. Sorry, we think we have a “Get out of jail” free card. All we have to do is go to a post office somewhere in Portugal and confess. We stopped at a wayside fruit stall and bought fresh cherries at 2.50 euros per kilo. We didn’t want that many and the man’s scales couldn’t register the small amount we bought, so after haggling him up from free to 2 euros everyone was happy. They were delicious. We will look out for more tomorrow.
What a gem Coimbra is after Porto. Admittedly we arrived here early on a beautiful Sunday afternoon to find the streets reasonably empty. We found a very handy “free” park with an attendant who guided us into the only spare space and in Portuguese said he would look after the car or was it “I’ll sell the tyres while you’re away” so with a monetary gesture we headed for the sights.
Like many old cities we have explored in Europe so far they start flat near the river and then rise sharply, Coimbra is no exception. The city has the first Portuguese University and is top of the list for sightseeing in the city. That will wait until tomorrow. We did enter the Santa Cruz monastery church which is undergoing restoration. Comparing what has been done so far with those parts still to be restored shows that when the work is done it will be a must on the tourist trail of Coimbra. The streets are all cobbled and rise sharply up the hill, making walking quite difficult if one is wearing flimsy sandals. By saving on the price of an elevator ride we were able to indulge in other luxuries. While eating lunch in a pastelaria we had spotted the most enormous fruit cake. One of us could not resist, so on our way back to the car we called in to the pastelaria and bought the tiniest of wedges that will last us at least 4 days. That is indulgence.
Back at the car we were pleased it still had its wheels and everything else was ship-shape, including our luggage so the gratuity was worth it. Our hotel tonight is a grand building on a hill overlooking the river and city. There is still plenty in the day’s budget for a meal in tonight. Coimbra we love you!


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