A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about library

Portugal Day 6: Batlioteca and the Footsteps of the Romans

overcast 69 °F


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.
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.
Views of the old square, which is located in a former royal palace.
Us in the square.
The first part of our tour: knocking on the door of the chapel.
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.
A striking picture of the courtyard.
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.
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.
Some last views of Coimbra before we left. Also, a couple pictures of our car and our AirBnB.
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.


The ruins are fascinating: baths, houses, mosaics, and other buildings.
The Roman influence continues, in the form of gelato.
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.


Porto is beautiful. At night, it feels like a city for making plots and schemes.
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 2: Books, Beetles, Whiskey, and Jail (Gaol?)

"I like touring around in jackets. It makes me feel safer." -Catherine

overcast 63 °F

We woke up very early, but we rested a bit longer and ended up getting up around seven. We went downstairs and found breakfast in the kitchen. Our host asked if we had everything we needed. We had a delicious breakfast of scones, toast, tea, and orange juice. It was very good. We had the hop on-hop off pass, and so we decided to walk to Trinity College to see the Book of Kells and start our tour.
On our way we walked through the grounds of St. Mary's Catholic Church, which we can see from our room. It's a beautiful building, so we stepped inside to see it. It's over 200 years old.
Dublin has a tradition of brightly-colored doors all over the city. On our walk, we saw many of them. They are usually dark and solid-colored. Red, blue, and yellow seem to predominate.
Because we already had a tour booked at the Teeling Whiskey Distillery, and it was getting late, Catherine suggested that we take a taxi rather than walk. We found two taxis resting nearby. The one sitting behind the other had a visible driver, the other did not. We approached the one behind, and the driver (an older Irishman) told us that he could only take us if the driver ahead of him couldn't. We approached the other car and found that the driver was lying down in his seat talking on the phone. He agreed to take us. He seemed to be from Poland, but he didn't talk much so we didn't learn much about him. He also didn't want to drive in the chaos near Trinity, so he dropped us towards the back. We toured Trinity, which was a fairly quick but interesting tour. It included a lot of information about famous people who had studied or taught there. We were near a group of people from Oregon. They were loud and they knew everything. The young man said that he was going to go to college to study beetles. Catherine now describes the condition of being a noisy know-it-all as "beetle mania."
We saw the Book of Kells, which was amazing. We didn't take pictures because the signs were ambiguous about whether or not it was allowed, and the entire book is available to view online anyway at the Trinity College website. It is amazing to see how well the colors and script have held up over the 1200 years since it was made. We then went to the Long Room of the library. Daniel described it as the most beautiful building he's ever seen. The books are beautiful as is the construction of the building.
This tour couldn't have happened without Catherine's suggestion to take a taxi. We got on the next bus and headed for Teeling's.
Teeling is a new distillery. It opened in 2015, and is the first distillery to be built in Dublin in over a century. The Teeling family, however, has been distilling since 1792. The founders of this distillery are the sons of John Teeling, who founded an independent distillery called Cooley and then sold it to a larger corporation. He kept a million barrels, which his sons are using to get the distillery started. Their logo is a phoenix, which is associated with Dublin (Phoenix Park, etc) and represents their industry rising from the ashes (literally... one reason why distilling ended in Dublin was a huge distillery fire.)
The distilling room tour was fascinating. The process is complex, but basically boils down to making beer, then distilling it. At present, because their distillery is new, they haven't produced any actual whiskey there yet. They do market some of the unaged spirit as poitín, or Irish moonshine.
The copper pot stills are named after Jack Teeling's daughters.
The tour guide explained how whiskey is aged in barrels that have had other things in them. Rum barrels, red wine barrels, bourbon barrels, etc. Teeling Single Malt apparently ages in all of these barrels and more.
They gave samples for an organized tasting. We tried three of their whiskers and a cocktail. Catherine really liked the summer cocktail. We also tried a (small) amount of their poitín so that we could say we tried poitín.
We had lunch at the Teeling's cafe. It was delicious. Then, having tried poitín, we were off to the gaol.
The bus coming to take us to Kilmainham.
Kilmainham Gaol (jail) is a very dismal looking building. It was a British prison that originally housed men, women, and children. During the Famine prison food was coveted and so incarceration rates went up.
The Catholic chapel at the gaol. This is where Joseph Plunkett (a leader of the 1916 Easter Rising) married Grace Gifford hours before his execution.
Many famous people were held at Kilmainham, including most of the leaders of the rising. It is interesting to see their cells.
Grace Gifford Plunkett's cell is especially interesting. She was held here for supporting the anti-treaty forces during the Civil War. She drew this image of the Virgin Mary then.
All of these leaders of the Rising were executed by firing squad at the site where this cross stands.
Except James Connolly, who had not been imprisoned at Kilmainham and was brought in through the other gates.
The tour guide noted that Eamon de Valera was held in Kilmainham for approximately 20 years, cumulatively. He returned in the sixties as President of Ireland to open it as a museum.
The serpents over the door represent the "Five Capital Crimes": murder, rape, treason, larceny, and piracy (though when we were trying to remember them Catherine suggested "wearing socks with sandals" as one of them.
Catherine's favorite Dublin door.
Going by the bus drivers' information we thought the Guinness brewery would be open until 7. When we arrived, we found they closed at 6. We asked the cashier for a dinner recommendation, and she suggested Arthur's pub. We went there and it was perfect: we had soup, brown bread, and apple pie for dessert. It seemed like a perfect Irish meal.
Some pretty churches on our walk back to Ballsbridge.
A statue of the Virgin Mary with the Dylan Hotel in the background. We came back to our room and rested, then wrote this blog post. Tomorrow: Tara, Newgrange, and Donegal!

Posted by danielcatherine 18:13 Archived in Ireland Tagged churches bus tours gaol guinness library distillery whiskey hop_on_hop_off teeling's book_of_kells 1916 poitín Comments (2)

(Entries 1 - 2 of 2) Page [1]