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Archive for September 10th, 2017

What a fantastic city. Coimbra, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and world famous University City is perched high on a hill that just goes up and up and up some more. But the views from the University at the very top are astounding and worth the effort. 

I started out relatively early and took the 08:52 train from Porto-Campanha which is conveniently a 5 minute walk from my hotel. Within a hour we were at Coimbra-.

I walked into the city from there and enjoyed the coolness of the morning ; the temperature changed fairly soon and I got very burned and hot.

The city as I said is perched on a hill. Winding cobbled lanes lead up and up, very steep slopes, the houses balanced haphazardly one in top of the other, so close together you couldn’t fit a sheet of paper between them.

The architecture is fascinating, but I was sad to see do many wonderful old buildings in a complete state of disrepair and dereliction.

There are te dozens of churches, monasteries and a few cathedrals. I managed to visit a few, all of which were wonderful. I’m always reminded that people built these places. The minds that conceived of them… I’m left amazed.

Coimbra is an 11th century city and some of the ecclesiastical buildings go back to the early 12th century. Awesome.

There are dozens of squares each with tables and gaily coloured umbrellas, lots of quirky shops with a delightful array of goods. I bought 2 tea-towels and an oven gloves as mementos. Like I need more weight in my bag LOL

I had a cappuccino and a custard cream pastry at this restaurant. Delicious.

I walked along the riverside. The River Mondego is incredibly wide! There’s a colourful pedestrian bridge I walked across that offered amazing views of the river and city.

I discovered an extraordinary Monastery on the other side of the river. Archaeological ruins offer a tantalising glimpse into the ancient past.

 On the hill is an amazing church and what looks like another monastery. I need to do more research on that.

Before leaving I stopped off at a cafe and partook of a cappuccino and a most delicious custard pastry.

Coimbra is an enchanting city with so much to see.

 Centuries of history in those cobbled streets that play havoc with your ankles. 

And then it was time to go. I took a taxi to the station. By 17:45 my feet, after 15 kms had had quite enough thank you.

Walked 15kms. 32,419 steps from when I got off the train until I stepped into the taxi. 

I mistakenly jumped on the wrong train, but since it was headed to Porto, it was all good and the ticket inspector didn’t come by.

After paying my bill at the hotel in preparation for my early departure tomorrow, I popped in at a local cafe and enjoyed a cheese and tomato omelette. Delicious. 

Tomorrow my Camino proper begins. Wish me luck, hope that the Camino does indeed provide and Buen Camino. 

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After walking my legs into the ground yesterday and a very late goodnight, I slept till 9am today. I did wake as the sun tinged the clouds pink, but fell asleep again. Missed breakfast so bought myself two croissant on the way to the Metro. Golly, what a mission to buy a trip. It’s similar but very different to London’s top up oyster cards….which is way more easy.

I eventually got it sorted and into town. Got off at Trinidades which is meant to be close to the Se Cathedral but isn’t LOL. If I’d been paying attention yesterday I’d have realised that Sao Bento Station is a 5 minute walk away. But on the plus side I got to see parts of Porto I wouldn’t have otherwise.

Besides the amazing street art I visited an amazing church that left my mouth agape. I needed some touristy information so popped in at a nearby info centre where my questions were answered by a delightful young man, and had my pilgrim’s passport stamped….my first stamp for today. It’s amazing.

After that I went walkabout, recorded the 12noon chimes on the Avenue Liberdade and meandered about till I found the famous Lello Library that everyone talks about. I had planned to visit yesterday but thought the price a tad high. But today I changed my mind and reminded myself that I may never visit Porto again and to make the most of my time here. The Livraria Lello is famous for its staircase which is quite beautiful and an unusual design. A tad pricey at 4.80euro but worth seeing.

From there I stopped off at a small restaurant for a toasted cheese and ham. I needed some iron for energy. Sometimes when you order an old favourite, it arrives and you’re surprised at what you get LOL This is not what I was expecting. It was also very expensive. Lesson learned; check the menu for prices before ordering.

From there I finally took the first steps on my Camino. I walked back to Catedral Se popped in for a 2nd pilgrim’s stamp

 and followed through pilgrim’s route down a multitude of steps along a winding route

 to the riverfront and onto Foz do Duoro. I passed the extraordinary Sao Francisco’s Church so stopped to visit. There are catacombs.. Whoa. But sadly no skulls and crossbones, just rows and rows of coffins.

And then finally I was on my way. Wow, what an amazing walk. Just on 5kms of amazing scenery, an extraordinary bridge and typically traditional Portuguese houses.

I then had the delightful pleasure of meeting my first pilgrim. 😁😁😁 Absolutely over the moon and thrilled to have met Jasmine from Colorado USA!! I saw her walking towards me with her backpack along the pedestrian bridge that juts out over the river. As we drew near I said: “ola! Camino?” and she said “yes!” 😊😊👏👏 OMG I was so delighted I nearly kissed her. My very first bona-fide camiga. 💞💞 She’s just completed the French route from SSJDP to Santiago and then took a bus to Finesterre and a train to Porto where she’s planning to stay for a few days.

 We chatted, exchanged notes and ideas and recommendations of what to see in Porto then hugged and wished each other Buen Camino and waved goodbye.

After that I had a spring in my step and bounced along with a smile on my face. It made my day. The walk was wonderful, the scenery too beautiful – looking back upstream to Porto.

Foz do Duoro is wonderful and if I’d known just how lovely it was I’d have planned my route differently and stayed a night there.

I saw a tall ship sailing by,

watched fishermen cast their lines, smiled and waved ola at everyone,  stopped for a Nutella crepe and café com leite from Maria Limao ‘love made’… Highly recommended crepe for 3.50. In fact it was so yummy I went back for a 2nd one.

I walked to the lighthouse,

 visited the fabulous fort,

watched the sunset

and then rode the Porto City Tram back into town… Too much fun.

 I had planned on walking to Matosinhos but loved Foz so much I tarried too long.
After all that adventure I walked all over the place just enjoying the evening atmosphere,

then finally jumped on the Metro back to my hotel.

Walked 15kms. 38,500 steps+

I’ve just finished sorting and repacking my backpack in readiness for Monday. Let my Camino begin…

Tomorrow I’m finally visiting Coimbra.. If I wake up in time 😉

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