We got our rental car and drove out of Lisbon without any problem.
The roads in Portugal are well maintained and the driving was very easy. On our way to Coimbra, we decided to stop at Fatima where we saw the sights and had lunch. Fatima is famous because it is the site where three young girls saw the apparition of the Virgin Mary and thus started a pilgrimage that occurs to this day. Apparently the pilgrimages occur on the 12th and 13th of the month between May and October. Luckily we weren’t there on either day but the crowds were still enormous. There were hundreds of worshipers who crawled on their knees from one end of the plaza to the basilica. The first photo is in the cathedral where a gigantic mass was underway and the others were all taken in the basilica.
Arrival in Coimbra
We then drove to Coimbra where we stayed at the Quinta das Lágrimas. Coimbra is a very old city that long ago was the capital of Portugal. It is now a thriving university town that is very proud of its history. The Quinta das Lágrimas, too, has a very important history. Over 650 years ago, Dom Pedro, Crown Prince of Portugal, and Inés Castro of Spain fell in love and their marriage was forbidden by Dom Pedro’s father the king. They murdered Inés at the hotel site, thus the name, Lágrimas (Tears in Portuguese). We were told that this true story was somehow the basis of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet – not sure how true that is. Regardless, the hotel is wonderful.As I mentioned, Coimbra is a very prominent university town and has one of the oldest universities in Europe. We took a taxi up to the top of the hill (enough with the uphill hikes) and were able to see the university and the views from above. We were then able to walk down through the narrow streets back to the center of the city. Throughout our stay in Portugal, we’ve had excellent food. It was in Coimbra, at the Quinta das Lágrimas, however, that we experienced the most beautiful and delicious dessert of the trip. The outside was a red-colored white chocolate and inside was this delicious white chocolate mousse with apples – what a treat!Porto.