Today we spent the day driving around Northern Portugal – with the highlight being a stop in Coimbra. This quaint hillside town is situtated above a large river – with the March chill clearly evident as stiff breezes blew us across the bridge into the old town. We raced our little mini Fiat up the narrow cobblestone streets, dodging pedestrians, parked as well as moving cars and soon found ourselves at Portugal’s oldest university – the University of Coimbra. This is no ordinary University – impressive buildings dominate, there is a huge historic looking courtyard and an impressive clock-tower. Founded in 1290, this is one of the world’s oldest continuously operating universities.
The old town lies below the University – and is well worth exploring. One of the most beautiful organs I’ve ever seen is inside of the Mosteiro de Santa Cruz – an impressive small church that was founded in 1131! This is a town made for walking with its narrow streets, shopping, small cafe’s and historical churches.
Portugal is certainly known for its Port Wines – I experienced a whole new level of wine sales when dropping 58 euros to fill up our cute little vehicle at a local gas station. The lady behind the sales counter took my credit card and then pulled out a bottle of wine and presented it to me – holding it like one would present a special ring to a customer at a jewelery story. She said it was very good wine and was offering it to me to purchase. I told her, “no I am wined out at the moment” but then she insisted it was a really good wine. Then she held up chocolate bars and said, “maybe I can tempt you with these”. Heheh… nice!
Traipsing through Portugal – Video: