Woke up to a nice sunny day in Coimbra. Good thing because I didn’t really have much rest in my hostel. I had noisy roomates, stinky communal bathroom and bad breakfast so I decided to just go out, walk around and enjoy the sun.
Coimbra was the capital of Portugal for much of the 12th and 13th centuries. Now it is known as the city of students because of its famous university, which is one of the oldest academic institution in Europe. But it looks like I will have Coimbra all to myself this Saturday morning, the students might still be snoring because of last night’s partying 😉
I only have a day here so I immediately head up to see the Universidade de Coimbra. To get there, I need to take the “backbreaker” stairs up ahead. I am not exactly what you call “fit” so I have to stop once in awhile to gasp for air, hahaha, olats! I blame the pastel de natas that I consumed on this trip.
Established in 1290, the Universidade de Coimbra is one of the oldest universities in continuous operation in the world, the oldest university of Portugal, and one of its largest higher education and research institutions. It is organized into eight different faculties according to a wide range of fields, granting academic bachelor’s (licenciado), master’s (mestre) and doctorate (doutor) degrees in arts, engineering, humanities, mathematics, natural sciences, social sciences, sports and technologies. The University of Coimbra has approximately 20,000 students, and hosts one of the largest communities of international students in Portugal, being the most cosmopolitan Portuguese university.
I actually met students who came all the way from Brazil just to study here. I was told that it’s not really easy to get in.
Whew! This University is very impressive! The backbreaking ascent to get here was worth it 😀 This place looks like a set straight out of a Harry Potter movie, too bad there are no students in their black cloaks floating around the school grounds.
I actually saw a flock of them in Lisbon, I thought they were monks or part of a religious cult or something, but I was told that the black cape is a traditional attire for the students of Coimbra. It must be so cool to leave home with your cape on, “So long parents, a bright future awaits!” (swooshes cape and then exits frame).
I really love the architecture here in Portugal, the decaying beauty of the buildings for me gives its texture and its soul.
Coimbra also have a lot of steep alleys that are covered in polished cobbles and can be slippery even when dry. I’m not really wearing any sensible shoes right now, all I have is my killer studded boots that looks cool but is not really meant for long walks. Note to self: comfort over japorms!
So I decided to go inside the chapel to rest a bit and also to give thanks to the higher up for everything…
It took some time before I rose from my seat. I am just in awe of the interiors of this Chapel. It is as equally impressive as the University, with its wall of decorative hand painted tiles and a 3,000-pipe organ protruding from the wall. Talagang huwow halukatdat!
Gratefully energized, I continued my exploration of its labyrinth of lanes.
I even saw some locals setting up for a weekend street market.
All that walking and exercising made me hungry, so I went back to the same old resto where I had my dinner. I ordered some fish and rice but I wasn’t sure how it’s going to be prepared. When it arrived, I was surprised to see a big happy meal. Lo and behold, I finished almost everything except for one piece of fish. Yes, it was that delicious!
Now I have to say Tchau Coimbra, thanks for the nice weather and the wonderful structures.
It was too short for me to fall in love with you, but now Porto awaits…