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September 16 - Visit to Coimbra

Our Pousada was just across the river Mondego from the city of Coimbra and we took the bus there with Elena at 9:15 for a tour of the University of Coimbra, which is the first in Portugal. King Dinis founded it in 1290 in Lisbon and it moved back and forth between Coimbra and Lisbon until 1537. We passed by more modern buildings and we went to the earliest ones, grouped around a square (232) on the highest point of the city (233). We visited various ceremonial rooms and the Capela de Sao Miguel (234 - 242) where we had our introduction to altars with a series of steps leading to heaven, presumably (239). Finally we went in to see the Biblioteca Joanina, an 18th C masterpiece of decoration containing 300,000 books (243 - 250).

After that we went back across the river to the Church of Santa Clara, founded in 1131 and filled with examples of early 16th C art and a lot of gold (251 - 254). After that we got a good view of Coimbra and BMB got a chance to use one of the new automatically self cleaning street potties (257). Then the bus took us back across the river to Coimbra for a free afternoon. We walked up the main shopping street and bought batteries to make up for the failure of most our ac adapters. Then we went into a multi-floored cafeteria/restaurant and up to the second floor for a lunch of good pizza and beer. After that we did a short stint at an internet place and then on to the Church of Santa Cruz (258 - 263). We toured the church, the sacristy and the cloister. Then we started to walk back to the pousada, hoping to visit a museum on the way, but we got caught in a thunderstorm and were forced to wait it out under the awning of a tourist shop and then walked on to the pousada. Fortunately, BMB was able to take advantage of the wait in the shop.

At 4:30 FDB went to a wine tasting at the pousada which told us all about the wines of the Douro river region, the first region anywhere in the world to be a demarcated wine region. Dinner was soup, roast lamb with potatoes, carrots/cabbage, chocolate cake.


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