It was a lot milder this morning, with little wind and a clear-ish sky. Getting out of Condeixa was a bit of a chore because we left by a different route to that by which we had entered, and it was off the camino route so there were no arrows to follow. We had to think hard about what direction to take and ended up walking along a very fast road, although it was only one lane in each direction the cars were going at a great speed. Fortunately there was a very wide shoulder to walk on and after about 1.5 km we found ourselves back at a spot that we recognised from yesterday.
We walked on paved roads for many km’s, but they were quiet country lanes passing through various villages and it was quite pleasant.
The sun became warm and then hot quite early and we continued walking until around 11:00am (from a 6:20 am start) before we found a cafe to rest in and take a cold drink and a boots-off break.
And then we weren’t far from our destination and as we rounded a bend we had an impressive view over the ancient city of Coimbra.
And as we got closer I could see the great aqueduct that had been sliced in two in order to run a major road through it. What sacrilege! As we were passing alongside it I could see that the waterway had been enclosed, I would have assummed that there would be an open channel of water (not any more, of course, because it would now just flow directly onto the traffic below!
There is a very steep descent into the city, which was quite hard on the feet and knees. Still high above the the town centre we passed the convent of Santa Clara. It is an impressive building and we went inside to take a look. The church was very decorative, with the remains of the first queen of Portugal, Santa Isabel who died in 1336 (if I remember correctly) encased in a crystal and silver tomb. But it was the cloister that took my breath away – a beautiful and peaceful area where I could happily have stayed in the cool of the arched walkways for the rest of the day.
There is a very newly opened albergue within the convent, with 8 beds for 8 euros per night. We had decided we would rather stay in the city so that we could explore without having to worry about the steep climb back to the convent and the early lock up.
We called into the tourist information office to enquire about available inexpensive accommodation and settled upon the ‘Residencial Larbelo’. A twin room cost us 35 euros, and it is a lovely room right in the heart of the city. We have a balcony overlooking the mighty Mondego river and down onto the lively street below. Excellent value for such a very good position.
After showering we set out to discover the streets of this university city, and found that we were once again in cake heaven, although I resisted the temptation for the time being. We strolled around the narrow cobbled streets, climbing steep hills, and came across the cathedral where we were offered a carimbo for our credencials. There are lovely carvings and magnificent doorways and artworks wherever you look.
We took the advice of the receptionist and had an excellent meal for next to nothing and then watched a Fado show, consisting of a guitarist, a lute player and three singers – all male. Most entertaining, except that finally late nights and early mornings are catching up with me and I felt myself nodding off during the performance. Definitely time for bed!