Solo Travel: Jampacked Coimbra (part 2 of 2)

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.

JK coimbra day cherryblossoms

JK coimbra day al fresco cafe
Cafe in the middle of Praça da Republica

JK coimbra day cafe

JK coimbra day breakfast
coffee with milk and  pastel de Tentugal (puff pastry stick with custard filling)

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 😉

JK coimbra day street

JK coimbra day tree shadow

JK coimbra joana

JK coimbra day green

JK coimbra day green wall

JK coimbra day cherry blossoms

JK coimbra day shadow tree

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.

JK coimbra day stairs
Rua Quebra Costas (Backbreaker stairs)

JK coimbra day wall

JK coimbra day stairs2

JK coimbra day university 4
Statue of João III, who turns his back on a sweeping view of the city and the river. It was he who re-established the university in Coimbra in 1537 and invited big-shot scholars to teach here.

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JK coimbra day university 6

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.

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JK coimbra day university 2
The centerpiece of the campus area is the Paço das Escolas, a former Portuguese royal palace, repurposed centuries ago as university space.

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JK coimbra day university 3

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.

JK coimbra day university 1
Biblioteca Joanina (Joanina Library)

JK coimbra day university 8

JK coimbra day university 9

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.

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Students wearing uniforms as dictated by “praxe,” a centuries-old system of tradition and custom at the University of Coimbra.
image from pam-patrimonioartesemuseus.com

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).

JK coimbra day

JK coimbra day church
Sé Velha old cathedral
JK coimbra day church 2
considered to be one of the finest examples of Romanesque architecture in all of Portugal
JK coimbra day church 4
Halukatdat car trying to fit in that small alley

I really love the architecture here in Portugal, the decaying beauty of the buildings for me gives its texture and its soul.

JK coimbra day yellow 2

JK coimbra day yellow

JK coimbra day tiled street

JK coimbra walk 9

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!

JK coimbra walk 8

JK coimbra church 7

JK coimbra church 3
St. Michael’s Chapel
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Azulejos (hand-painted tiles)

So I decided to go inside the chapel to rest a bit and also to give thanks to the higher up for everything…

JK coimbra church 5

JK coimbra church 1

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JK coimbra church 2

JK coimbra day church 5

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! 

JK coimbra street art 2

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JK coimbra walk 1

JK coimbra walk 10

Gratefully energized, I continued my exploration of its labyrinth of lanes.

I even saw some locals setting up for a weekend street market.

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JK coimbra walk 6

JK coimbra walk 5

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!

JK coimbra last meal
Arroz de Tomato and Sardinha

JK coimbra last meal 3

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…

JK coimbra walk 3

JK coimbra walk 2

JK coimbra street art

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