Linda's International Trip Journal travel blog

View from my room in Coimbra at the Astoria Hotel. The Mondego...

Astoria Hotel on the left, very Romanesque and a beautiful Bank on...

My room with a view was fine but very creaky floors. And...

Early Cathedral where the first Queen of Portugal, Isablle was buried until...

Church of Santa Cruz. Where the first and second kings of Portugal...

The shopping street up hill and behind my hotel.

In the church many artifacts include these with a place for a...

In tribute to the 1100 virgins. Since my Virgin Islands are named...

See #12. I'm often entertained by odd bits of information.

Part of the Roman ruins from their Forum around the first century...

A beautiful Pieta carved from wood, done by a Portuguese artist.

Many items made from cork besides wine stoppers. Cork a product of...


On Friday I took a taxi from Obidos to ? not sure where, but the nearest bus station. Taxi cost E$14, and bus ticket to Coimbra was also E$14. Easy transportation, but arrived in Coimbra after dark. I chose to stay at the old Astoria Hotel ($49 nightly). It has certainly seen better days but the outside facade is very Rominesque, and the location is perfect for me. My room had a river view of the Mondego River and I could even see the submerged church Built in 1060, and later begin to sink below the river level. The city center is directly behind my hotel. More narrow alleys and a wide central shopping center.

Traveling for a month, I have to be somewhere over the weekend that puts me in Coimbra (pronounced Queem brah) so some things were closed. Most disappointing was that some of the old churches were closed. I tried pushing on every door to be sure. But there was still plenty to see. I think my top pick was the “The National Museum Machado de Castro” considered one of the best art museums in Portugal. It is housed in the old Bishops Palace and underneath in a fairly spooky, dark area are the remains of Roman structures dating back to 4-5 hundred BC. They gave me a flashlight to descend to this area that was in some places in total darkness and only one guide/guard at the entrance. Above there is also 4 floors of Portuguese art, statues, artifacts and an entire rebuilt church facade from the 9th century. Anyone visiting Coimbra should be sure to spend time here.

On the way I visited: Marcado, a huge indoor fresh food market much like the ones in Panama and Ecuador

I also saw; Se Nova Cathedral, Sao Salvador Cathedral, Manga Garden, Cathedral of Santa Cruz, and the University that is as revered as any Cathedral and includes an amazing Library (Bibliotheca) housed in another Bishops Palace with so much gold leaf work it could have been a Cathedral. Hundreds of ancient books from12th century available for studies. Most unordinary, they have a small family of bats inside that they say help preserve the books by eating any insects. A symbiotic relationship!

But as a University town it seemed strangely quiet. I set out Sturday night about 7:30 PM, to see what I could see, which was nothing. Even the pastry shops were closed up tight.

Sunday morning at breakfast I met two ladies from the US who were also moving on to Porto and hopefully we will meet up tomorrow for a walking tour of Porto. They convinced me to return to the Coimbra University that I had missed Saturday for a visit before taking the bus to Porto. On Saturday I was in the University area but spent all my time at the Museum.

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