- June 19th, 2014
- Coimbra: Hotel Larbelo, €25 for a double bed, sharing with Joanna
- Weather: Lovely, 26 degrees
I didn’t sleep so well through the night with the constant high pitched buzzing of mosquitoes around me. At 1am I got up and picked up the only thing I could use that wasn’t packed away (my shoes) to try and swat at them. I found one on the wall behind the bed and hit at it twice. I missed but it left a shoe mark on the wall! So now in a sleepy daze I was washing my shoe mark off the wall with a towel and I noticed numerous other shoe marks, I kid u not!
Attributed to my lack of sleep I started following a new set of camino arrows in the morning which took me on a rather long detour to a town I had no interest in seeing, not even my guidebook was telling me to go that way! A few kilometres later I was back where I was supposed to be and on lovely country trails, however sometimes so narrow I really did have to walk one foot literally in front of the other like walking a tightrope.
I passed a roman bridge and then came to Conimbriga which has the best preserved roman ruins in Portugal. The site didn’t open until 10am and I was there by 8, so I sat on a bench, ate my breakfast roll and soaked up the atmosphere but couldn’t stay until it opened unfortunately.
Along the trail I met a Spanish couple (Anna & Antonio) who had started walking 2 days before. And then in the afternoon at the site of the roman aqueduct that had been cut in half to allow a highway to pass through, I met Joanna from Poland and we walked together the last few kilometres into Coimbra.
Before crossing the river into Coimbra there is a 17th century Convent on the opposite hill (Convento Santa Clara) that we popped in to look around. The convent cloister was beautiful and simple with a lovely garden (compared to the flashy gold of the chapel). On our way out of the convent, I asked the attendant if there were any ghosts. He grabbed me by my arm and led me a few metres away from other people before asking me why I was asking this and what had I seen? I was really just asking because I generally assume old buildings equal ghost dwellings so I told him I was simply curious and he said that yes the convent was “haunted.” He personally had seen many shadows and figures as had many of the staff and visitors there. I was now glad I wasn’t staying in the €8 accommodation provided to pilgrims by the convent! Funnily enough we also met a French man, Gigi, at the convent who had started walking from Lisbon the very same day I did, yet we had never ever seen each other until today!
Coimbra is a former Roman town, was the capital of Portugal in the 12th century, has a university founded in 1290 and the old town was declared a World Heritage sight last year.
Joanna and I went sraight to the tourist information centre to find somewhere to stay and were recommended Hotel Larbelo overlooking a lovely square. We got a pilgrim discount €25, which meant sharing a matrimonial bed, only 3 hours after meeting each other!
After checking in and laughing at the small matrimonial bed we were going to be sharing, we headed out to explore the town. Our first stop was the old university, then the cathedral, then we strolled around the streets and I caught up with Jeanie and Gerry (also staying at the same hotel) for dinner. All in all it was a terrific day on the Portuguese Camino!