The area down Rua Visconde da Luz which turns to Rua Ferreira Borges is a pedestrian only area, full of little shops, bakeries, and other businesses. Yes, it's touristy, but there are also a lot of students and locals milling about. We saw students walking along, on what appeared to be a architectural tour, stopping at various buildings taking notes.
Heading toward the Mondego River, Rua Ferreira Borges ends at a square named Largo da Portagem. Like most of Rua Ferreira Borges, it's a nice place to have a seat and people watch.
The statue in the square is of Joaquim António de Aguiar, three time Prime Minister of Portugal who was born in Coimbra. He's obviously much beloved, right? I mean there's a statue of him overlooking the Mondego River......well ask any local who's statue this is and they'll say it's "Mata Frades", aka the "Friar Killer.” Apparently "Mata Frades" was the Minister of Justice during the reign of Peter IV and issued a law in 1834 which shut down all religious orders and took over their assets.
The views from across the Ponte Santa Clara are the things postcards are made of.
There are also sites to see on this side of the river as well.
After a short nap we headed back up Rua Ferreira Borges and through one of the many gateways of what was once the city walls. The most well known is the Arco de Almedina. See the square hole in the ceiling? This was used a part of the defense system; soldiers would pour hot oil through the holes on enemies who tried to breach the gate.
We headed up the hill to Fado ao Centro, which celebrates Coimbra's unique version of Fado, which I call the soul music of Portugal. Every evening there's a 50 minute show, which we loved. Each number and the history is presented in both Portuguese and English, there's about 40-50 seats, no food, it's about Fado. The folks are very laid back; they let some folks actually videotape the show!
In contrast to the Lisbon melancholic "saudade" Fado sung almost exclusively by women; Coimbra's version is sung by men and tell of social issues, college life, and the such......
The show is well worth it. Instead of grabbing some of the gratis wine after the performance we decided to get dinner. We didn't have anything in mind and just wandered around.....
And no, we didn't eat here....though it was super cheap. We found the specials sign entertaining, "Arroz Chau-Chau" anyone?
I know that diária means daily, but it sounds too much like another word to me.....
It's not surprising that we ended up back here.....
Yep, Ze Manel dos Ossos. We stood in line and waited for the place to open. The guy seated here had dinner here the night before as well.....not sure, but I think he might be a local. He also had the same thing the night before as well which is what we ended up with.
Of course, we started with the gnawingly wonderful "Ossos", simmered pork bones.
We had originally wanted the stew pork with mushrooms, but the had run out, so we went with the classic "Feijao", basically beans, in this case Stewed beans and rice....
Loved the beany flavor, didn't care much for the rice. A nice, hearty, soulful dish. This came with bread (of course) and pork cutlets that had been grilled over hardwood charcoal (I saw the bags of charcoal). I expected this to be tough, but though it was chewy, the flavor was just perfect, nice salt, good garlic flavor, smokiness form the charcoal, doused in olive oil. Simple, but so nice.
Ze Manel dos Ossos
Beco do Forno 12
We slept well......
The next morning we arose, walked over to Pastelaria Palmeira and had some espresso and pastries.
We went back to the hotel, packed, checked out, walked the one block to Train Station A to catch the short train to Train Station B....what seemed a bit confusing two days ago made perfect sense now! While waiting for our train to Porto, we went and had a nice cup of espresso....standing up of course!
Soon enough we were ensconced in our seats and headed to our next stop....the land of Port Wine, Porto!
Thanks for reading!
In case you wanted a bit more Fado; the late Amália Rodrigues is known as the "Queen of Fado" - you can see why here:
Here's a short video with some performers of Fado ao Centro: