Roman Ruins and the Knights Templar

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We’re here – N39.60234 W8.40902

Weather – sunny!

After a day off yesterday we headed out for a night on the town in Coimbra with Marc and Jacqui, Chris and Tina, and Mike and Liz from Wales who were also stopping at the Aire.

First stop was an Irish bar (where drinks got more expensive after 10pm!) , but when the band kicked in we all agreed it was time to move on. We made it into the town centre but it was deserted, guess all the cloak wearing students have gone home for Christmas. We found a posh bar next to the monastery, so posh that you had to be buzzed into the toilets by someone behind the bar, ordered a bottle of vinho verde and settled down. Just after 10pm, two men started playing guitars, then two old men in cloaks started singing – it was a fado. J was transfixed by the fingers of the man on the 12 string Portuguese guitar, the rest of us were starting to feel a bit down. The fado is usually sung about something sad, and while we couldn’t understand the words we got the sentiment. A few drinks later and we were ready to hang ourselves from the ornate roof, so we paid up, politely declined a CD of fado music, and headed back towards the river. We found a rock bar and stopped for a few in there to use up the kitty then headed back to our vans around 1am. It was really cold so we hopped straight into bed to save on heating gas.

It was sunny when we woke, we packed up our stuff, tried to fill up with the slowest water tap ever – gave up at half full due to boredom. We then headed a few kms south to the Roman ruins at Conimbriga. I was really impressed at all the old mosaics, statues and tools in the museum, many of which could have been from today. The ruins were quite amazing as you could see the layout of houses, their mosaiced floors, the baths and a great big wall built right through the middle of the town (made of some of the houses that were left on the outside – how mad would you have been if you’d just finished having your dining room floor done?).

After a couple of hours we admit we got a bit roman ruined out. So we set off for Tomar which is home to the Convento de Cristo – former headquarters of the Knights Templar. We made a quick stop off at Penela as the sun was setting on the hill top castle above the white houses and it looked lovely. We also got some interest in our blog stickers so expect a Portuguese visitor soon.

When we reached Tomar it was dark and concerned about satnav taking us up some dodgy streets we saw a sign for an Aire in the town centre so headed for that. Unfortunately it was only services which were in a campsite. As we were manoeuvring to get back on the road Marc and Jacqui drove up. They’d been to the car park at the Castelo only to find it closed for repairs, so we found a suitable car park in the town centre. Chris and Tina have just joined us too, so we’re all together in a town, on a Saturday night – a town that’s playing Christmas music from the lamp posts – it could get messy.

Ju x

Tomar: Crusading Knights, Twin Hobo Pooches and a Meat Feast
Van fever in Coimbra!
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