On May 16th2011, my first day of vacation, we visited the portuguese students’ city, Coimbra. We caught the Regional train in Aveiro Train Station and, 55 minutes later, we arrived at the terminal Station of Coimbra.
As we arrived at almost midday, we went directly to Forum Coimbra, a Shopping Center where we can find many restaurants. We crossed the “Ponte de Santa Clara” (Santa Clara Bridge) and we walked along the Mondego River until we reach the Forum. The Forum offers an extraordinary view of the city and of the Mondego.
After lunch we walked towards the “Mosteiro de Santa Clara-a-Velha” (Monastery of St Claire-the-Old). We passed in front of the “Portugal dos Pequenitos” (Portugal of the little ones), a learning-through-play park built to the scale of children. Here, children can learn about the different styles of Portuguese houses from North to South and also from the former colonies, the monuments, castles, palaces… It’s a great place to visit with or without kids.
We were next to the “Quinta das Lágrimas” (Estate of Tears), but we couldn’t visit it, because it’s closed on Mondays and it was Monday… When we arrived at the “Mosteiro de Santa Clara-a-Velha” we had the same problem, it was also closed. Next time wehave to keep in mind that the day off of the monuments is Monday.
A little bit disappointed, we looked for the bridge to cross the river. When we arrived near the bridge, I felt like a child with a new toy. Next to the river, before crossing the bridge, there’s a small park which has several training machines. Of course I had to try all of them.
The pedestrian bridge is very colorful and offers an amazing view of the Mondego and of the riverbanks. When I was crossing the bridge, I even forgot the sun burning my skin, because of that view. This is, for me, the most beautiful part of the city.
On the other margin there’s another park along the river, the “Parque Verde do Mondego” (Mondego Green Park). We found a giant bear there! It was so hot that we took a rest under the shadow of a tree. It was a very relaxing moment. We were listening the sound of the water and of the ducks, admiring the river… I would have stayed here longer if we weren’t going to meet my brother at 16:00 in the Faculty of Engineering.
We walked along the park, then we had to walk on the sidewalks of a very busy road. That was not so pleasant.We turned left, to a calm street, with some trees, nice houses…Much better to walk there. We passed by the Hotel School (now I finally know where it is). And we arrived at the the Faculty of Engineering which looks more like grey cubes. Except for the surroundings, everything looks so grey there. We didn’t like that place very much , it’s not appealing. The only good thing there were the newspapers for free!
While we were waiting for my brother (yes, we arrived very early, the Faculty was nearer than we expected) we took a snack and read the newspaper. Just thinking that we could have stayed longer in the park…
We met my brother and he told us about some nice places to visit and how to get there.
We went to the “Penedo da Saudade” (Rock of Nostalgia), a garden and an viewpoint. This is a place related with the academic life of Coimbra. There are many poems from several generations of Coimbra students carved in stone.
To arrive there we had to climb a huge slope and it was so hoooottt! When we finally arrived, covered in sweat, we just sat on the first place we found. Meanwhile, a lady approached us asking for money to pay her house rent. Poor woman! We explored the “Penedo da Saudade” only after we have had a small rest and had taken a snack. We noticed then that we just had to walk a few more meters to have rest in a much more pleasant place instead of that one where we were, next to a road… Concerning the view, I don´t think it’s an amazing one, but it’s a nice view. We could see the mountains around, full of wind turbines, the Stadium…
After we left the “Penedo da Saudade” we passed by the “Jardim Botânico” (Botanical Garden) and then we passed under the “Aqueduto de São Sebastião” (St Sebastian Aqueduct), best known by “Arcos do Jardim” (Arches of the Garden). From there we went to the “Jardim da Sereia” (Mermaid Garden).
Then we started walking around. We stopped next to the “Elevador do Mercado” (Elevator of the Market) to appreciate the view. We also saw three cats eating there. Two of them were afraid of us, but the other one didn’t care about us and didn’t stop eating.
We passed by the “Sé Velha de Coimbra” (Old Cathedral of Coimbra), by the house of Zeca Afonso, a political musician whose music had an important role in the military coup of the 25th of April 1974, and we continued walking along the narrow cobbled streets with no destination until we realize that we were arriving at the Train Station. Meanwhile, the sky was getting darker and darker, promising rain.
We went back, trying to reach the University historic centre. We found it, one of the oldest Universities of the World, dated from 1290!
We went into the courtyard of the University, where the “Biblioteca Joanina” (Joanina Library) and the University Tower are located. The Biblioteca Joanina is a Baroque library from the 18th century and I stongly advise everyone to visit it. It’s a very beautiful monument. The University Tower has a clock bell called “Cabra” (Bitch) by the university students. This is because this bell was meant to awake the students and to mark the begining of classes, so they started calling it “que cabra!” (what a bitch!).
We saw the buildings of the Faculty of Medicine, The Departments of Physics and Chemistry and also the main Library.
While we were walking back to the Train Station, we passed, for the second time, by a “República” (Fraternity House) called “PráKisTão” which seems to be collapsing.
At that moment the sky was even darker and it started raining when we were arriving at the Train Station. We were very lucky!
You can check the general course of our trip here.