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Saturday, 26 March 2016

Cruise and Land Tour in Portugal - July 9th/15....

Again, we had a nice buffet breakfast at the AC Hotel Porto.  Today was a full day in which we covered a lot - I thought it was one of the most interesting days, although all the days were interesting to one extent or the other.  The first site that we visited was the Bucaco Palace Hotel, a luxury hotel located in the National Forest of Bucaco - it is now one of the great hotels of Portugal.

We did not have a lot of time, and there was no guided tour, however walking around the hotel and the gardens was very pleasant.   I regret not walking into the hotel and taking a few photos - I guess that I became mesmerized with the outside. 

The tour director had another treat for us - I do not know the Portuguese name but it was like an apple turnover -  it was fresh out of the oven and very tasty.  I skipped lunch today.

Coimbra University was the next stop.  It is one of the oldest universities in continuous operation in the world and the oldest university in Portugal.  We received a guided tour of two areas in the old part of the University - the chapel and the library - photos were not allowed inside either area. 

When J. K. Rowling was putting together ideas about Hogwarts and its students’ dress for the Harry Potter books, she supposedly used the robes used by the students at Coimbra University.  Rowling lived and wrote some of the Potter books in Oporto.

Conimbriga is the largest and most extensively excavated Roman site in Portugal.  We got to the ruins by first entering the Monographic Museum.  The Museum explained the history and layout of the site and had exhibits of Roman busts, mosaics, and coins.

The Casa das Fortes, dating from the first half of the 2nd century, is under a protective cover but walkways provide a good view.  Its pictorial mosaics and fountains, rare survivals, which give the house its name, form a strong image of the Roman taste for good living. 

Tomar was especially important in the 15th century when it was the center of Portuguese overseas expansion under Henry the Navigator.   Our tour guide gave us a guided tour of the Convent. 

Fatima was the last stop today.  This shrine was established to commemorate the appearances of the Virgin Mary to three shepherd children.  This complex is huge - at one end of the plaza is the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Fatima and at the other end is the new church, the Church of the Most Holy Trinity, which is the fourth largest Catholic Church in the world.  The capacity of the new church is 8,000 to 9,000 persons. 

This shrine draws Catholics, many in large groups, from all over the world.  There was an Italian group of well over a hundred persons staying at the same hotel that we did.  There are nightly candle-light processions around the plaza.  

We stayed at the Fatima Hotel which was a nice, large hotel directly across the street from the shrine.

We had an included dinner at the Fatima Hotel.  It was a simple but good meal.  We started with a mixed green salad and bread, the main course was roasted chicken, roasted potatoes, and mixed vegetables and the dessert was a peach-half with ice cream and chocolate sauce.  Wine was included as usual, but I had a few cokes.

Photos belong to Phil Bianco

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