We said goodbye to our friends from Celorico, they gave us another bottle of wine, so it's nice.
We take the cars to visit Amarante. To drive on Portuguese highways and freeways you have to register on a platform where you enter the license plate of the vehicle, even so you have to take the ticket at each toll. By the way, the only cards that work at the tolls are credit cards or cash.
Sao Gonzalo Monastery
Amarante is a beautiful town located on the banks of the river Támega. It has an interesting historic center in which the Monastery of San Gonzalo and the Church of San Gonzalo stand out. The Renaissance portico is decorated with statues of the eighteenth century, the best way to see it is up the nearby street that goes up to the square of the tourist office.
San Gonzalo Monastery
The Ponte de San Gonzalo is the main attraction of Amarante although the original one sank, the current one is from the late eighteenth century. The banks of the river Támega are perfect for strolling or renting a boat.
Sao Gonzalo bridge
Crossing the bridge we had a coffee and a delicious dessert at the Confeitaria da Ponte, it has a terrace with spectacular views of the bridge and the Monastery. Totally recommended.
Coffe and sweets
We walked around again, passing the Officina Noctua, great for shopping, art and design, until we reach the Solar dos Magalhã, a manor house from the mid 16th century, symbol of the resistance of Amarante against the Napoleonic invasion.
Solar dos Magalhã
Back to the car, our next stop is Coimbra.
Coimbra is the Portuguese university city par excellence. It was the capital of Portugal for over a hundred years.
The largest University in the country is located in Coimbra on the banks of the river Mondego, the Santa Clara bridge links the oldest and most modern parts of the city.
Our flat is located in Largo da Portagem, there is a thirty minute courtesy area where we leave our cars to take our backpacks. The guy at the flat shows us a car park where we can leave our cars, as most of the nearby parking spaces are blue zone.
We left the car in the Bragaparque car park. The most expensive so far.
It's lunchtime so we go to the restaurant Bodega Paço do Conde, a traditional steakhouse but it's closed, it's already four o'clock.
Bodega Paço do Conde
In the end we eat a menu at the Praça Velha restaurant in the Comercio square. They are very friendly and funny, they tell us stories and we laugh a lot. Just as we were finishing our meal, a downpour of water came down and our umbrellas beat us. What a laugh.
We begin to take the pulse of the city. We see the Santa Cruz Monastery Church and the Sao Tiago Church. We go up to the Upper Quarter through the Almedina Arch (Moorish gate) via the steep stairs of Rua Quebra Costas until we reach the University.
Sao Tiago Church
Between the covid and the storm that doesn't let up when we arrive, they are closing the University. We are allowed to visit the square and the surrounding buildings but not the Joanina Library, the star of the complex. Entrance fee: 12.50€/pax.
We walk down to the 12th century Romanesque Se Velha cathedral and go into a nearby bar, the Oasis bar, the most expensive so far, €2.50 for a glass of Portuguese red wine, it keeps raining.
It seems to be easing and we walk to the Se Nova (new cathedral) and then to the Sub Ripas Palace or Contenda Tower with its renaissance façade. We continue to the Torre do Anto where the Núcleo da Guitarra e do Fado de Coimbra is located.
Ripas Palace or Contenda Tower
Ripas Palace or Contenda Tower
We enjoy strolling around this city, the streets are decorated although there is not much atmosphere. We suppose that in the middle of the academic year and without a pandemic it must be different. The students are probably holed up in the republics (student housing).
Down Lisbon's Rua de Couraça is the botanical garden and wonderful views of the new area, the Convent of Santa Clara and the banks of the Mondego River.
Bank of Mondego river
We are warm so we have dinner in the flat.
Confeitaria do Ponte in Amarante: 9,40€ 6 coffees and 5 pastries.
Motorway tolls from Celorico to Coimbra: 11€/car.
Restaurant Praça Velha in Coimbra: 6 menus € 48 with half a litre of wine or beer.
Bar Oasis. 2 €/cane and 2,5 € glass of red wine.
Accommodation: Apartment for 6 pax Apartment Coimbra Portagem 76,50€/night 6pax.