Day 3: Bus to Porto via Coimbra

On the third day of my Viking River Cruise, we were up early and had breakfast while our bags were collected and loaded onto our bus. Some of the views from the bus:

It was a bit of a haul to get to Porto, so we were happy to have a few stops along the way. The first stop was in downtown Coimbra for a short shopping excursion.

Our second stop was at University of Coimbra, where we learned so many things, some quite unexpected! One of the unexpected things we learned was that J. K. Rowling was teaching English in Porto, Portugal during the time she was writing the first Harry Potter book, and the uniforms worn at Hogwartz were influenced by the uniforms worn in universities in Portugal! Who knew!

Salazar Slytherin’s name was influenced by Antonio Salazar, a Portuguese dictator. There are, in fact, many Portuguese influences in Harry Potter, as explained in this very informative article by Chelsea Szmania. There is also a lot of ceremony around the robes. Here are a few:

  1. First years don’t wear them. You have to be a second year.
  2. You don’t have to wear it every day, but when you do wear it, your cape can never be more than six feet away from you. You can take it off, but if you, say, took it off in class and then left the room to use the bathroom and were spotted in the hallway without it…there were consequences (I don’t remember what the consequences were).
  3. Relationships are represented by tears in the robe. A family relationship is represented by a tear in the front, right – over the heart. Strong friendships are tears on the front right. Romantic relationships are represented by tears in the back of the robe. If a relationship ends, the student must hand-sew the tear using the color that represents their program (law is red, pharmacy is purple, medicine is yellow, etc.). So someone who dates around could have several sewn tears on the back of their robe!

In the photos below are the grounds of the University, which show ongoing restoration. There is a statue there of King Denis, known as the Farmer King for planting a forest to provide raw materials for royal ships and also known as the Poet King because he wrote poetry and was influential in establishing Portuguese as a literary language. There are pictures inside Prisão Académica, which dated back to when the University would hold its own court and imprison students who had broken rules. We were also able to see inside a small library, but the much larger Joanine Library has a no photos rule, so nothing to show there, but the page at this link will has a couple of pictures.

Here are some pics of St. Michael’s chapel inside the University building.

After University of Coimbra, we stopped for lunch at Republica da Saudade, where we experienced one of the robe rituals first hand! The restaurant was staffed by university students, and as we entered the restaurant, there were two students, one on each side just inside the door, holding their robes so that they fell on the floor in front of them and you had no choice but to walk on them to get into the restaurant. Having your robe walked on is an honor.

For me, lunch was a wonderful Cod casserole, ice cream and sparkling wine, while listening to Fado Music performed by the restaurant owner and friends. It was beautiful! I don’t have a recording of what we heard, but this recording is by the same group.

I had a photo bomber who stayed with me through several takes of this shot – her mother is standing behind me, just outside!
One of the songs was so full of emotion it brought tears to my eyes!

After lunch we continued to Porto where we boarded our ship and began unpacking before heading to the lounge for a welcome reception with wine and cheese and some lovely piano playing by our onboard entertainer.

From the lounge we headed to the ship’s restaurant for dinner. It was a long, eventful day, but we had to stop on the upper deck to view the city at night before retiring to our cabins.

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