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:: Coimbra

Honestly, the big city aspect of Lisbon caught us off guard this weekend. We found ourselves wanting to be somewhere a little smaller and less hectic, so we charted out a side trip to an inland town called Coimbra. Coimbra is about 2 hours north of Lisbon, and known for having the oldest university in Portugal. Secretly, Amy hoped the college town feeling would yield the Portuguese equivalents of the Taco Stand and the 40 Watt. I was just happy to take a short train trip and see more of the country. (see our Coimbra pics)

A waterside park.. Must be nice in the summer.

We had guidebook coverage of Coimbra, so we winged it and brought all our bags with the intention of staying the night. Sure enough, finding a hotel was easy, and we even got one with a balcony for cheap (40 Euros). We ditched the bags, got a quick lesson in Portuguese numbers from the super-nice hotel owner, and set out to explore the streets. We wandered all over the place before realizing that we were starving. It was beyond the lunching hours (3pm), but a local pizzeria along the river took us in. We would have felt worse about eating so late, but there were several European couples there as well, downing their lunch wine.

Let's see.. as for what we got out of Coimbra.. Well, we walked all around it, and then took a funicular up the hill to the University at the top (see their cool 360 pics). It was kind of interesting to walk around campus- especially since there was a bit more anti-USA graffiti around there than we'd been seeing in Portugal. And for those of you who couldn't guess, yes, there is a fair amount of anti-USA graffiti in Portugal, and it did feel like we got the cold shoulder more than a few times because we're obviously Americans. This could all just be in our heads, or simply an artifact of Portuguese culture which has traditionally been somber to strangers.

Up at the University. Reminds me of the Hall of Justice

The wind was pretty fierce on top of the hill, and the walk down was pretty cold. A nice view though, and it's always fascinating to wander down crazy crooked European streets. We went back to the room to warm up and rest after the long walk. When we went back out for dinner (8pm), the streets were deserted in all directions. It took a lot of searching to locate a restaurant. We wound up at a place that the guidebook said had traditional Portuguese Fado, but we decided against it when we heard a juke box playing 80's love songs. We opted for a Chinese restaurant nearby for something more familiar. A long walk home in the cold and empty streets and we called it a night.

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