Olá a todos,
I know I haven’t written for a few weeks now; my life has literally been a walk through many different parks, going out to eat and lying on the beach while I still have time to do so. I also visited on of the caves de Vinho do Porto, Offley’s, which was a great experience. As we went as a group with the school it only cost €5 per person and we had a guided tour around the wine making facility and got to taste some wine at the end. I’m going to be visiting another wine maker next week when my friends come to visit.
I’m still really enjoying my life at school as well, I learn so much everyday and I’m starting to feel a lot more confident with my ability to speak Portuguese. As my time here draws to a close, I realise I’m going to miss the people I’ve met here and this wonderful city so much – but I’m equally ready to come home and be with my family and friends.
This weekend took me to the beautiful city of Coimbra in the centre of Portugal – a city known for being the first university city in Portugal and home to the country’s most prestigious university. I’ve wanted to visit for a long time now and seized the opportunity while I had no other plans. I went alone and for the majority of the time there I really enjoyed myself, although I got bored with my own company. I miss the days of doing daytrips with Alice and Frances in France. Anyway, I arrived in Coimbra relatively early, around 10am and walked a while from the train station to the city centre. My first port of call was to Portugal dos Pequenitos, which is a park filled with scale models of the most important buildings in Portugal, it’s arquipelagos (Madeira and Açores) and its former colonies: Brazil, Angola, Mozambique, São Tomé é Principe, Macau, Goa, Guiné-Bissau and Cape Verde. I learned a lot about the discovery and the colonisation of these countries during my visit to the park – it was a great opportunity to learn about the history of the lusophone world. I spent a couple of hours here – admiring the buildings which were small models but big enough for children to play inside of them and learning about the history of what used to be one of the biggest empires in history.
The next thing on my to do list was to visit Quinta das Lagrimas after having heard a lot about it in my classes in Porto. We have been studying legends and we studied the beautiful love story of Dom Pedro and Dona Ines, whose love story ended at Quinta das Lagrimas. To summarise the story: Dom Pedro was a Portuguese Prince who was married to a Spanish Princess. He then fell in love with Dona Ines, who was a maid of the royal family. There love was forbidden and the Portuguese king said that Dom Pedro must distance himself from her, so the king ordered that she be killed. She was killed at Quinta das Lagrimas and it is said that the redness of the stones of from her blood. After her death, Dom Pedro vowed that when he died they would remain together for eternity. After his wife died, Dom Pedro dug up the body of Dona Ines and coronated her, making her the queen of Portugal and now they lay at rest together in the same tomb. So, Quinta das Lagrimas is a large estate of land (around 18 hectares) with gardens, fountains, a golf course and is commemorative of this Portuguese Romeo and Juliet story. There are also red ribbons tied on the trees, and engravings in the stones where couples have declared their love for each other.
I stopped for lunch briefly by the river before heading to go and visit the university and the Mosteiros de Santa Clara Velha e Nova. The university campus is located at the top of a huge hill, which provides a great view over the whole city, but is also a pain to access. The campus is wonderful, with magnificent libraries, gardens and beautiful architecture. It’s definitely well worth the visit. Afterwards, I walked round the city centre and discovered a little street market it where people were selling home-made crafts. I then went on to stroll round the park which was right by the river bank. It was so peaceful despite there being so many people around.
After having walked a lot and visited a lot of different places, I decided to head back to the train station and get the train back to Porto. I had a very long yet interesting day and was eager to return home and get ready for bed.
Today I’m going to meet a friend and then I might take a stroll round the Crystal Palace Gardens where the Festa dos Livros is taking place.
Então, até à proxima,