An early start today from Santiago as it’s a Sunday and some trains aren’t running we think due to engineering works. We leave our hotel by 7:30am in the dark and have time for a small breakfast and also buy lunch before boarding the train to Vigo.
At Vigo we have to take a bus over the border into Portugal and the town of Valenca.
Once we suss out where the train station is we have time for a drink before boarding the train to Porto.
It’s a change at Porto where Mark finally after two tries and issues with his phone, manages to get our rail reservations sorted for the rest of the trip!
Onto the train in Porto to take us to Aveiro where a cold beer each is bought before boarding our final train to Coimbra. We gain an hour crossing the border so it’s now around 3pm and by the time we’ve walked to the hotel we’ve been travelling nine hours.
The hotel is lovely and we have a short break to shower and change before heading out to explore Coimbra. The city is famous for having the oldest university in Portugal where it’s students still wear black suits and gowns.
It’s a very busy warm and sunny Sunday afternoon. Our first stop is the Santa Cruz monastery where we see it’s lovely tiled walls. It’s closing in ten minutes so we can’t take a tour.
Up on through the city along pedestrian streets enjoying music provided by buskers, until we reach the Almedina Arch which was was built during the 12th century by King Afonso Henriques to mark the entrance to Coimbra’s old Moorish castle.
The steps start here to take us up through streets lined with restaurants and bars and shops and theatres where you can listen to Fado. Coimbra is the second home of the music after Lisbon.
Up many steps to the 10th century Old Cathedral which is closed for renovation. It was built when Prince Alfonso Henriques declared himself King of Portugal and chose Coimbra as the capital.
Up up even more steps to the New Cathedral which is almost 500 years old and where mass is in progress. We sit and enjoy the cool and the choir for 10 minutes before heading to the university buildings.
The large courtyard is surrounded by impressive university buildings and the area is a world heritage site with panoramic views over the city.
Down again now to a cafe close to the Almedina Arch and some Fado theatres where a queue has formed. We enjoy a cold drink, a meat and cheese platter and a lovely local sausage called Linguica.
A couple of students pass in the street. It must be very hot in their suits and cloaks in the summer.
We then wander around, back and forth trying to find a restaurant and eventually decide on one called Dux which isn’t far from the hotel. Even though we only order a plate full we get ‘free’ starters and far too much food.
All getting a bit tired now so back to hotel to bed or a final beer after a long but enjoyable day.