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Portugal Day 6: Batlioteca and the Footsteps of the Romans

overcast 69 °F

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Walking up to the University of Coimbra was a bit of a climb, but we were able to get there pretty quickly using a direct route up stairs.
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Many of the buildings at the university date from the mid twentieth century, and were built under the rule of António de Oliveira Salazar, the dictator of Portugal who had been a professor at the University. These buildings, our AirBnB host told us, are controversial because houses were demolished to build them. They have a very uniform feel, and seem to form an imposing entry towards the old square of the University.
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Views of the old square, which is located in a former royal palace.
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Us in the square.
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The first part of our tour: knocking on the door of the chapel.
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Inside São Miguel chapel. It was a royal chapel but is now used by the university. They have masses regularly, which prevents tours from going through, but we were able to go in.
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A striking picture of the courtyard.
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The Joanine Library, which also includes the Academic Prison. The prison was used when students and faculty were convicted of crimes in order to prevent university scholars from having to associate with “common criminals.” The lower level of the library is used for storage of older books. The upper level is the room where students would have studied, and where there are beautifully decorated shelves and paintings. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take pictures in that room. It is also famous because there are bats that eat the insects that could damage the books. The bats live behind the shelves and eat moths and other insects at night. Pieces of paper are set down on the tables to protect them from bat guano.
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The inside of the royal palace. One large room is used today for students who are defending dissertations: there was a student doing so when we toured.
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Some last views of Coimbra before we left. Also, a couple pictures of our car and our AirBnB.
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Next we visited the Roman ruins of Conimbriga. Coimbra is named after Conimbriga (in Roman times Coimbra was called Aeminium, and was renamed when Conimbriga was razed by the Suebi and the residents fled to Aeminium.
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The ruins are fascinating: baths, houses, mosaics, and other buildings.
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The Roman influence continues, in the form of gelato.
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We then drove to Porto. We are staying at the House of Sandeman, located immediately above their tasting room and port cellars. Our room is very nice and comfortable, despite the somewhat creepy painting.
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Porto is beautiful. At night, it feels like a city for making plots and schemes.
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We went out for dinner and a couple drinks. Catherine tried bacalhau com natas (cod with cream) for the first time, and really liked it. It was a beautiful night of talking and walking near the river. We can’t wait to see more of Porto tomorrow.

Posted by danielcatherine 12:40 Archived in Portugal Tagged palace bridge university port royal porto library bats chapel romans coimbra gelato conimbriga sandeman Comments (0)

Ireland Day 9: Patrick's Footsteps

sunny 80 °F

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Croagh Patrick is probably the most climbed mountain in Ireland: according to legend, it is where St. Patrick fasted for forty days and forty nights. There is an annual pilgrimage on "Reek Sunday" (a "reek" is a mountain), which is in July. People climb it at other times as well, particularly in the summer. Since we were heading to Galway, and Croagh Patrick was so close to us, we decided to try to climb it. Daniel's parents had tried to climb it when they were here, but had not finished the climb. Thus, we were prepared to only go so far.D386910EDDF5E69DA47E171996245A54.jpegD397747DFD80EF89208FD4BCBBA5FE7E.jpeg90_D3AFD373C7E7141FD01EF774363B9737.jpeg90_D3BCA456E6D0CC2E8D0178D9D8A3DC0F.jpeg90_D3C9AF8CEBF0A0E761CFAEB531CCF97A.jpeg
Some pictures of the low part of the trail. There is a beautiful stream that runs down the side of the mountain, and the path at this point is mostly rock and dirt.
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When we had climbed some of the way, Catherine started to feel like she needed to turn back. We had a discussion about what we should do, and she said she wanted Daniel to climb the rest of the way if he wanted to. She said she would go back to the visitors' center and wait, read a book, etc. Daniel continued on his own.
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Daniel: I will write this part in my own voice since Catherine wasn't with me for most of the climb. The pictures show some of the beautiful scenery from the climb towards the ridge. It was actually a very warm day: the warmest of the year, and fairly sunny. In some ways it was a perfect day to climb, but it was uncomfortably hot. Catherine is actually in some of these pictures, making her way down as I climbed. I can't find her in them but I know she would have to be.
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One of the cairns along the way. There are prayers that are traditionally said at these "stations."
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More views from the mountain.
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People seem to have climbed down to write messages using rocks around the pond here. Many messages are unclear, as if people have removed stones from them. I didn't see anyone climbing down to add messages, either.
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There are a couple of small buildings with toilets and sinks. They aren't particularly clean but it is good they are there.
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Some more views of the climb.
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Some graffiti on the rocks. Advice, encouragement, and Eastern European rivalries.
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I took this picture with my camera exactly at eye level facing forwards. It shows how steep the climb is at this point. This is the cone, the final part of the climb.
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A glorious moment: my first glimpse of the chapel on top of the mountain. I was there!
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St. Patrick's bed and a cairn. Both have many small objects (rosaries, crosses, ribbons, etc) that people have left.
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There is such an incredible view from the top of the mountain: I am very glad I decided to go to the top. It is beautiful in every direction, and there is a great sense of accomplishment.
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The beautiful chapel at the top, where I lit a candle for a variety of intentions.
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I have to prove I was there, and didn't just download these pictures online.
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This appears to be some prayers in Cyrillic writing. Perhaps the Russians that graffitied the rock? It is nice to see the wide diversity of people who come here.
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More pictures of the church, including another selfie.
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And another.
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I took this picture accidentally, but it was a good picture to show what the trail is like.
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From the path going down.
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I took this picture also at eye level straight up and down. It shows how steep the path is.
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As I went down it seemed both easier and harder. It was quicker, but more painful and more frustrating. It truly is a "whole different muscle group."
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Back to the statue.
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Catherine had waited at the visitors' center while I climbed. She purchased a book about the 1916 Easter Rising and learned some Irish history. At one point, a man came down from the mountain bruised and bloody. Is frightened Catherine, so when she saw me she was very happy. We took this picture of us with the mountain in the background. I bought an "I Climbed Croagh Patrick" T-shirt, and thought about buying the one that said "'I Climbed' Croagh Patrick" for Catherine. I was happy to have achieved it, but exhausted from having done such a long climb.
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Both:A delicious dinner at an Italian restaurant in Westport.
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We drove through Connemara on our way to Galway. It was getting dark so we didn't take many pictures. However, when Daniel was studying in Ireland eleven years ago he took a picture in Connemara that was published in a magazine called Dappled Things. The picture is called A Connmara Landscape and is one of the first Google Image results for "Connemara landscape."
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Killary Fjord, the only fjord in the Republic of Ireland. It is a beautiful spot and we took several pictures even though it was starting to get dark. From there we went to Galway.

Note to Readers: we are now back in California, where we have our own internet connection. It was often hard to blog from Ireland as we would get in late, and also sometimes have spotty internet coverage when staying in rural locations. We plan to finish the blog, as we have pictures from each day and would love to share them with all of you. We also use this blog as a kind of photo album, and often use it to show people what we saw on our trips. Stay tuned for updates: we should be posting one or two posts per day.

Posted by danielcatherine 23:00 Archived in Ireland Tagged islands history statue views book stones climb chapel fjord shirt connemara westport saint_patrick 1916 croagh_patrick reek killary a_connemara_landscape Comments (2)

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