We left Fatima for a day, to visit Coimbra. But maybe that was not a perfect idea. Fatima has a very good atmosphere, which is understandable, a pilgrimage town, lots of good energy. Therefore we decided to stay another night in the hotel of Sao Antonio in the very center – where we were the only guests. And the trip to Coimbra and back didn’t look a long trip. Well, it got long, because on the way back we got lost in Leiria…Completely lost in the dark of a December evening, coming and coming to the same place somewhere in the outskirts of Leiria. No signs, no directions, and the nice and helpful people in roadside cafes were useless. Whatever they told us – we did and came to the same place. It was horrible. had to go back to the highway and go to Fatima through the long way on the roads that were marked. So it goes…
On the way to Coimbra the smaller roads were marked well enough and we stopped in Pombal – named after their very big figure Marquez de Pombal, or vice verso. A cute town, a nice museum of folk art, very recommendable!
Then on the way we had to find Coinbriga – which was not very easy, but we did it. It is an ancient Roman ruin site – there was Roman city on the way from Rome to the sea shore, turned now into a museum. But because of the lack of funds, only partially is covered with roofs, lots of precious mosaics that were the floor of the mansion – are now under the elements…
While looking for Coimbriga and driving the main road back and forth we were astonished to see prostitutes here and there literally standing by the road. In the middle of the day and in the middle of nowhere, o big city around. We wondered – who are their clients?
At last we reached Coimbra, the city of the oldest university in Europe, or maybe only in Portugal. Here is the view from Santa Clara side. There is some interesting Santa Clara monastery there. but we couldn’t find a way to it…Several hours in Coimbra are definitely not enough, I would allocate a couple or three days.
So then we drove to the very center, easy to find, on the other side of the river and parked pour car immediately there, a comfortable location for university visitors. And went up the old winding streets:
The university plaza is spectacular, as well as all the corridors and halls that one can see entering the most of the doors. But some are for ticketed visitors only. Which is understandable. I saw the library in Rick Steve’s Europe. But in our case- wegot so tired. especially me, while climbing this rather steep hill, then looking frantically where they sell tickets for the visit – that when I saw where, which was on the other side of the gates, I lost interest in going all the long way back. Visitors usually come from a tram or bus stop, few of them climb, so maybe that is why they sell tickets from tat side:
The buildings there a huge and it takes a lot of walking to see the old town. So I went towards Nova Se -New Cathedral, saw it inside and also the museum there and then noticed an art museum close by, which was so worth visiting! There are many stories of different collections, from all ages and countries, but the most impressive were the cellars – the very bottom part of the museum – the ancient roman ruins,maybe of an ancient city.
Walking in Coimbra is a little more impressive than in other Portugal towns because of the spirit and creativity of young people -you never know what you see on the next corner: