Sunday arrived and our last breakfast aboard the Scenic Azure. We said our goodbyes to the staff and our friends who wouldn’t be joining us on the land tour. A few tears were shed.
We boarded our bus and were introduced to our guide Yolanda. There were 20 of us so we could spread out a bit. Yolanda lives in Barcelona with her family but isn’t Spanish born and bred. For the life of me I have forgotten exactly where she comes from, however does that matter not in the slightest.
Our first day would take us to Lisbon via 2 stops, Coimbra and Nazare.
About 30 minutes into our road trip Yolanda got onto the microphone and requested we all have pen and paper so we can write down our intinary for the next few days. I grabbed my phone and tried to write everything down. Everyone was shocked I mean this was a Scenic Tour and we all felt a little like “what was going on”. Usually 5 star tour you just sit back and relax. To make matters worse Yolanda held the mic to close to her mouth and most of what she said was warbled. A few of our group were hard of hearing so Im not sure if they even heard a thing a she said.
Our first stop would be Coimbra. Our coach stopped to let us out right by the University and would pick us up in the main town. The University is the first in Portugal. It was first established in 1290 by King D. Dinis after Nicholas IV’s Papal bull. It was originally known as “General Study” and was established in Lisbon. In 1308 it was moved to Coimbra where eventually in 1537 it was permanently settled near the Mondego River in 1537, at a palace granted by King John III.
We had enough time to visit the toilets have a quick wander around then our guide hustled us to walk down to meet the coach/bus. There were long queues for the library however two of our group somehow managed to slip in with another tour group. I think we were at the University for about 30 minutes.
Our route down to the main part of town was tricky the cobblestone streets were steep and of course it had been raining again. On reflection we were lucky we were going downhill.
Our guide pointed out the old streets are underneath the buildings.
This was part of the old town of Coimbra, we even saw a Olive Tree that was said to be over 1,000 years old.
I would definitely recommend you wear really good walking shoes, so many steep stairs and all cobblestones. Non slip would even be better.
We walked past by the famous old tower of the original Moorish walls Torre da Almedina and the Moorish gateway the Arco da Almedina. Medina means town in Arabic.
From narrow cobblestones laneways it opened up to a beautiful wide streets full of boutiques, cafes, and bakeries.
The windows of the bakeries were filled with delicious fare. Pastéis de nata or Portuguese Tarts, Portuguese Easter Sweet Bread – Folar Da Pascoa – This is served during holy days leading up to Easter. Filled with 7 hard baked eggs, traditionally is a symbol of Christ’s re-birth to the Portuguese people.
This place fascinated me and to my utter disappointment it was a shop that sold Fish. I thought it was a tea shop! Tins of fish – thousands of tins of fish. The store is Comur and they have been trading since 1942. They have stores in Lisbon, Evora and of course Coimbra. This concept is something new and apparently its a must see now on tourists lists. It is beautiful but FISH! (I’m allergic to fish)
The students from the University were in traditional University dress singing and playing traditional Portuguese equipment. These groups are called tunas universitárias and originates from Ibeiran and North African musical traditions which date back to the 13th century.
The students sing romantic and sad songs or satiric songs about their university accompanied by traditional instruments such as the guitar, mandolin, cavaquinho (a small ukulele-like guitar) and tambourine. They also often perform a dance, often involving the tambourine.
“I will share some of the Tuna Groups in later posts that we were entertained by.”
I have so many photos of this magical medieval town that I will put up on Instagram so do look out for them. You can find us at 3sistersabroad
** Next stop would be for lunch in Nazare Portugal, a seaside town.**