Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Day 6, Coimbra

We ate at a shiny new McDonald's, full of university students, and then walked to our hotel near the center, which was much further than we expected.

We checked into The Moderna. It was nice, although not particularly modern, unless you compare it to Coimbra University or the churches in town. We cranked up the heat, and hung our still damp clothes to dry. JH probably re-washed them. This is not interesting to you, Dear Reader, but it is to us. Clean and dry clothes are very interesting.

We took ourselves on a mini-walking tour to get a feel for the city. It's perched on a hill. It's a compact city, with everything of interest within 15 minutes walking of Centro. For a city of 100,00 (I don't know if that includes the 20,000 students at the university), it doesn't feel crowded at all.

We checked out a couple churches and got our Credentials stamped at Church of Santa Cruz, one of the oldest buildings in Europe, founded in 1132. I don't know which part is original but the main part is Manueline style, which I guess is Portuguese Gothic. If something is worth ornamenting, it's worth really ornamenting.

Our tour continued through Arco de Almedina, the original main gate in the wall that protected the city in medieval times. It's an artsy neighborhood with boutiques, cafes, and public art. We bought tickets for a performance of traditional music, Coimbra Fado.

We had an hour to kill and walked up the hill to see the university and get a peek at the Botanical Garden. Gyu eon, who didn't want to go to a concert asked a series of stupid questions that annoyed JH. For example, "why aren't the university buildings connected?", and "how do they study in such primitive buildings?"

I'm glad I didn't have to field those questions. In his defense, it's not the type of campus that we are accustomed to seeing. There were no large expanses of grass or ostentatious entrances or Starbucks at the main gate, just old majestic buildings with a lot of history. Coimbra University, founded in 1290, is one of the oldest universities in the world.

In further defense, he's generally well-behaved and doesn't usually complain.

We got just a peek at the gardens, then snaked back down to the concert.


1 Igreja Santa Cruz
2 Igreja Santa Cruz
3 King Dinus I, founder of Coimbra University
4 outside botanical garden

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