One year – September 2015 part VIII

Picture postcard Coimbra…

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From the side streets

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To the main shopping areas

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Coimbra – a mix of old and new…

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Sunderland University wasn’t like this!

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The view from that balcony

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Same balcony, later that day

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The sun goes down…

As Coimbra was mentioned as a ‘must see’ in guidebooks and on various travel forums, we had to go and see this university city for ourselves.

Trains and accommodation had been booked in advance, so all we had to do once we alighted at Coimbra A railway station was to find our guest house and then lunch.

The advice was to get a taxi from the station to the guest house. We didn’t.

We walked. With packs. In the heat of the day. And realised why the taxi may have been a good idea…

We didn’t get lost, but we did get disorientated as we made our way towards the area where our digs were located. Once  found, our bags were stashed so we could get lunch, wander around and then go back and check in.

Cafetaria do Museu was our lunch spot. It’s next to the Science Museum and whilst there’s plenty of seating inside, we took to the terrace, scanned the menu, ordered, sat back to wait for our food to arrive and took a look at the view from the terrace.

Once lunch had come and gone, we wandered around as a way of getting our bearings as we’d decided that that was the best way to explore Coimbra.

It looked like it was newbie time at Coimbra’s University as smartly dressed students were leading more casually dressed people around the city so that they too could get their bearings.

We’d seen this in Lisbon on our first visit to Portugal back in 2013 and weren’t surprised, but it was a far cry from my days as fresher at University of Sunderland in 1994 when self and my new housemates familiarised ourselves with the centre of Sunderland by taking a leaf out of the local’s book – by going on a pub crawl…

But I digress. Coimbra city centre is fairly classy – no big name stores were spotted, but there were several more interesting locally owned places down avenues and alleyways that were spotted first and visited later in the week.

After a mid-afternoon cafe stop, it was back to the guest house to book in.

Casa Pombai is in the old town area near the University and had come with some good recommendations on booking.com and in guidebook sections devoted to Coimbra.

The small balcony near our room became a good spot to look out over the city, watch the sun rise and set, take photos or sit and read whilst one or other of us were having a siesta, shower or doing some clothes washing. Breakfast was a simple one with choices of bread rolls, cooked meat, cheese, cereal, fruit and coffee or juice.

What didn’t materialise was the flask of port mentioned in the Lonely Planet review of Casa Pombai. We knew other rooms had one, but ours? Nah…

The lady looking after Casa Pombai the night we booked in had mentioned one restaurant as being a good place to eat. As we’d seen mention of it, we gave it a try.

Our waiter was attentive, but he did seem rather nervous when Caroline ordered pork stew (I’d gone for pork escallopes).

Drinks arrived, as did the escallopes and the pork stew. This appeared to be going down well as Caroline was getting stuck into the bowl in front of her.

Then she uttered the immortal words “What’s that” as she lifted some meat out of the bowl on her fork. The conclusion we came to was that the slice of meat was a pig’s cheek and that it was a facial cheek, not a butt cheek…

Now we’d already eaten out at lunchtime so we passed on dessert, but did go for coffee and a complimentary glass of wine before tackling the route back to our beds at Casa Pombai.

And what a route it was – the evidence will be here in tomorrow’s posting!

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About Keith Rickaby

Fiftysomething writer and occasional photographer who has worked in both the tailoring trade and the outdoor/travel clothing, equipment and footwear game. Past lives include working as an outdoor instructor, managing three bands and doing PR work through an agency or my own contacts. Was a student in the mid-90s and whilst I'm originally from the North East, I'm now firmly based in't Yorkshire...
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