Sunday, February 6th

Beautifully tiled facades in Nazare

Fountain in the "no car" zone (this is where we had to make a u-turn)

Reluctant to leave this warm, sun-drenched town, we took another walk before packing up to head to Coimbra, the “University” city.  


Driving through the highways and backroads, we’re continually amazed at how much Portugal looks like California.  The scenery on the road out of Obidos was very much like the Monterey area; Nazare felt like Santa Cruz and the countryside on the way to Coimbra reminded us of the rolling hills and meadows near Sacramento.  Not that Portugal isn’t beautiful, but could it be that the people who wax eloquent about it’s beauty haven’t yet been to the Golden State?


Two hours later, we arrived in Coimbra.  We easily (and surprisingly) found our destination, the Hotel Astoria. 

The hotel was an absolute delight. 

Room with enclosed terrace overlooking the river

Dining Room

It opened in 1926 and has maintained the style and furnishings of that by-gone era.  As soon as we walked in, we felt like we were starring in a 1930’s movie…..two madcap grandparents running away from home in chase of a dream.  

"Friar Killer" Statue in Largo da Portagem

After checking in, we walked around the corner to one of the main plazas (with a statue honoring Joaquim Antonio de Aguier, known as the “friar killer” because he closed down the monasteries and nunneries in Portugal), found a cafe still serving still serving lunch (Yay!  A definite improvement over France) and sat at an outdoor table to enjoy the wonderful, warm sunshine.  

Unsure of what to order and eyeing what was being served at a nearby table, we ordered the same thing…..a thin steak topped with a poached egg and served with french fries and rice.  Not haute cuisine but, with a beer on the side, it was the perfect meal for today. 

Coimbra is hill town built on the bank of the Mondego River.  Our hotel and the Largo da Portagem are near the river on the low side of town……the rest of the town is uphill.  Up cobblestone streets.  Up cobblestone stairs.  Up, up, up. 

We walked up the main street of the city…..

past the Art Nouveau buildings…..

past streets leading to the upper old town (Alta)….

past the impressive Church of Santa Cruz…..

….past plazas, past the mercado (market), past lovely gardens…..

walking up, up, up…..and finally reaching a glass elevator….that took us up to a funicular…..

that took us up…..

to the top of the city. 

Then we had to walk down.  

Down…..past the republicas (fraternity houses) with their interesting grafitti.

Down…..past stark, fascist-designed boulevards

Down…..past the University with its Iron Gate and stately 14th century buildings 

Down….past the Se Velha (Old Cathedral)

Down….a steep stairway

that lead to Rua Quebra Costas (the “Street of Broken Ribs”)

Down…to the Arco de Almedina (an archway that was part of the original town wall).

Down….to the Largo da Portagem….. for a well deserved pastry. 

After a late lunch and a sweet snack, we weren’t hungry for dinner so we sat in the plaza enjoying the ambience of this university town until the sun went down.

With due respect to Green Day….                                                                                                    I walk this empty street on the boulevard of broken ribs

About Languedoc Lady

I'm a newly retired woman from California getting ready to spend a year (or more) with my husband living the good life in Languedoc in the southwest of France.
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