The pinnacle of Coimbra is the old Universidade de Coimbra, a palace like assemblage of stones and tiled roofs composed of the Biblioteca Joanina, Capela de São Miguel, and the bell tower founded in 1290. The Biblioteca Joanina holds over 300,000 medieval volumes, safe guarded by a colony of local bats in the library that feast on any potential paper destroying insects.
My favorite sight in Coimbra is the Mosteiro de Santa Clara-a-Velha, a thirteenth century monastery abandoned due to constant flooding from the River Mondego. Its free standing arches and stone walls whisper tales of sacred devotion, a seemingly sealed structure harboring ancient secrets, yet with walls open to passing winds.
In Coimbra, we finally caved and sampled a ridiculous number of traditional Portuguese pastries after seeing giant meringues in the window. We had no idea what ingredients composed the various deserts, but figured anything with sugar couldn’t be too bad! Every pastry appeared a different shade of yellow, immediately triggering “lemon” in my mind. Then the tasting came. And they all tasted relatively the same, with no particular fruity flavor or rather any flavor we could think of. It then clicked. The question of where could all of those egg yolks go after making the apocalyptic size meringues on display was officially answered.. in the lovely yellow pastries.