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Day 4: Conímbriga

We didn't have quite as peaceful a night's sleep last night as we would have hoped, because it turns out our apartment is incredibly noisy. From the early evening to the early hours of the morning, we were subjected to very loud blaring music :( Initially we thought it might be coming from the apartment above us, but now that it's started again this evening, I think it's coming from one of the bars in the street downstairs. The incessant loud music was bad enough, but it was made worse by the people in the apartment next door, who seemed intent on shouting and banging things at random until late into the night as well. The walls in this building obviously aren't very thick!

We were actually getting up comparatively early today (by holiday standards) because we wanted to catch a bus at 09.30. Our aim for the day was to visit Conímbriga, one of the largest sites of Roman remains in Portugal. The pictures we'd seen of it online looked really impressive, but getting to it seemed to be quite difficult. The ruins are situated a couple of kilometres outside a village called Condeixa-a-Nova, to which there is an intermittent bus service from Coimbra which becomes even more infrequent on weekends. A handful of buses a day continue from the bus station in Condeixa-a-Nova to Conímbriga itself, and it was one of these that we were trying to catch.

I'd done my research on the internet in advance and knew that we were looking for a bus stop somewhere outside the train station, near the river.


We found it without too much difficulty and were relieved when the correct bus turned up only a couple of minutes late. The fare to Conímbriga was only €2.50 each, which seemed quite reasonable.  After about half an hour of (fast!) driving on winding country roads, we arrived.


It cost €4.50 to get into the ruins and the neighbouring museum, which didn't seem too expensive either. As soon as we walked through the entrance to the main site, we were confronted by some beautiful mosaics.


They seemed amazingly well-preserved.


We started exploring the ruins :)


The location was very scenic and we had some lovely views of the surrounding countryside as we walked around as well.


In some places, helpful info-boards told us what we were looking for. In other places we just had to guess.


These looked like they might have been the remains of some sort of drainage system.


These were definitely the remains of the old forum.


As we walked around it, we also had a nice view of the church in the nearby village of Condeixa-a-Velha.


From there we saw the remains of the thermal baths....


...and also where there might once have been an amphitheatre, although these benches looked rather new.


From the benches we could also see the remains of part of the aqueduct.


The most exciting thing though was the Casa dos Repuxos (the house of fountains), where there was a beautiful garden with tiny little fountains. There's a machine to put 50 cents in to make the fountains start working :)


Once we'd finished walking around outside we went into the museum, which had some information about Roman life in Conímbriga. There were some more mosaics here...


...as well as a model of what the forum would have looked like when it was complete.


A lot of the rest of the museum was just bits of pottery, which didn't hold our attention for too long, so we finished looking around with time to spare before the bus back was due. We decided to walk into the old village, which was only half a kilometre away.


It was a small place, but pretty.


We stopped in a cafe for a drink and I was delighted when Tim came back from the bar with one of these.


This is a pastel de nata, a famous Portuguese pastry which is basically like an egg custard, but a bit sweeter. I'd wanted to try one ever since we decided to come to Portugal and I wasn't disappointed; it was really delicious :)

After that we walked back to Conímbriga, where I was relieved to find that the one bus back of the afternoon arrived on time to pick us up and take us back to Coimbra. We had a rather late lunch in Coimbra, before exploring one of the local bookshops to get some Portuguese books for Tim. We'd been struggling to find a supermarket round by where we are staying, so Tim asked the guy in the bookshop where we might find one. He directed us to a place near the train station which we found without much difficulty and started stocking up on some essentials. We were just reviewing the wine display when I smelled one of the worst smells I've ever encountered in my entire life. I turned around and saw this....


This is bacalhau (dried and salted cod) which is another famous Portuguese speciality and appears on restaurant menus all over the place. The smell really was horrific; I guess some Portuguese specialities are more appetising than others xD

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