Saturday, 23 July 2016

Figueira da Foz and Coimbra

The anchorage in Sao Jacinto / Aveiro was calm, which we later learned was lucky for us, as friends who arrived the day after us complained of noise from the local disco.  It’s clear that this is not a river to be entered in anything but calm to moderate conditions, and a few days later when the fog rolled in, we heard a navigational warning that Aveiro was closed.  We left with moderate northerly winds and flew the genakker for several hours until the wind strengthened to 19 knots.  Curiously, with the full main and the genakker, we were only doing about 5.5 knots of real speed over the water.  I suppose we may have been blocking the genakker too much with the main and probably should have poled it out, but it stayed full so I never thought it was a problem.  Normally we roll up it up when the winds get up to about 15, but as we were sailing downwind, we really didn’t feel that much “stress” on the sails or the rigging.  When we went to roll it up, it whipped around like mad even though we tried to shelter it behind the mainsail. We still have a bit to learn about our dear genakker. 

We finished with 25 knots and flat seas as we rounded up into Figueira da Foz, a nice town and marina (although the visitors’ docks are beginning to be rotten and somewhat dangerous.)  Fig da Foz has a wonderful covered market just across from the marina and we loaded up with fresh fish, meat, fruits and veggies, and were even treated to a 10-minute show by a Korean dance troop visiting the area.  We can’t say we really saw much of Fig da Foz since our interest in going there was to use it as a staging ground to visit Coimbra.

Coimbra skyline.
The city of Coimbra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the scene of Muslim and Christian clashes from the late 800s onward, a roman stronghold, the first capital of the Portuguese monarchy, and the site of one of the oldest universities in the world.  The thing we wanted to visit most, the library, was amazing…and taking photos was forbidden.  You’ll have to take our word for it and look it up on the internet.  Interesting fun facts: it was designed to maintain a constant temperature of 18-20 C, no small fete in the Portuguese summer.  The walls are 2 meters thick, the door is made of teak wood, and the interior is made of massive oak, both good for resisting humidity and for giving off an odor that insects don’t like.  An added measure to keep down the insect population was to cultivate a small colony of bats that live inside the library.  (Nope, didn’t see them or their droppings…). 

University of Coimbra Library entrance.

Entrance to University square.

University Palace and Tower.

Chapel, tower, and palace.
Wandering through the old town, you become quickly overwhelmed by the number of cathedrals, stone arches, and winding cobblestone streets.  All of the cathedrals and religious monuments start to blend together in your mind and we began to get a bit saturated.  I took numerous photos of various religious sites only to realize later that, without any sort of context, they become pretty meaningless.  But I’ll just throw up a bunch of photos here and you can experience it the way I did…no context !

Baptismal font, St Mary's.  Dead guy in the background...

Giant clam shell from the Portuguese Indian Ocean expeditions used for holy water.

Rest break in St. Mary's cloister.

St Mary's, founded 1139.

Organ, University of Coimbra Chapel.

Ceiling, painting on wood, University of Coimbra Palace.

University of Coimbra Palace hall.

View of UC palace tiles from the tower.

We left the next day for a 35 mile hop down the coast to the fishing town of Nazare, then to the Berlengas Islands, and then to Cascais.  I’m a wee bit behind in blogging.  Will post as soon as time and connection permit.  Tomorrow we’re off to visit Sintra and then we’ll move up the river a bit to a cheaper marina for a few days in Lisbon.  Stay tuned !


Astrolabe Sailing said...

Gorgeous pics as usual. Loving living vicariously through your journey.

Sailing Mareda said...

Thanks Astrolabe. Hope your winter is mild !