Home to the oldest University in Portugal. City students. Cultural and intellectual center of Portugal. All this is Coimbra. But my Coimbra is something quite different. A mixture of love, fantasy and happiness. An endless box of surprises.
"You are looking at the Mondego, girl? Well, look, this is not just any river. Is the River of Poets'! Wise words, spoken with emotion and pride. An undeniable statement of love for his homeland.
The old man look at me curiously. "This is the first time you visit Coimbra? You will not regret. This site contains lots of surprises', replies with a wide smile.
It is then that my fascination with Coimbra - City and its people - is born. On a sunny Sunday, seasoned with the aroma and flavors of spring poetry. Cradled by the gentle voice of the Mondego River, follow the steps given by my father. A complicated task when you have only nine years. For historical paths, climb to the highest point of the City. Nod, with a twinkle in his eye, the Arc of Medina, close to Rua Ferreira Borges. After a few steps, I spot the Tower of Antonio, whose windows and Renaissance medallions of the sixteenth century to conquer my girls look. From mazes of streets and houses, I find a cluster of historic gems. The Old Cathedral. The New Cathedral. Finally, the University. "The oldest in Portugal. Many famous writers have studied in Coimbra. Eça de Queiros, for example, 'says my mother.
Fascinated by the light of wisdom, my eyes linger on the Chapel of St. Michael and his extraordinary organ. Also in the splendid Library. In the Tower, symbol of the University. There are so many magical places to feel and touch.
The morning suddenly ages. It is time to ward off fatigue. To strangle the famine with a well deserved meal in a restaurant next to the River, can not remember the name. But I remember well the simplicity of the towels, the genuine smile of the owners, many of the flowers to beautify the grounds. And of course, the food served. An octopus rice divine, true nectar of the gods. The taste still inhabits my memory.
The afternoon grows in the sky. The sun reaches its splendor and paint my world of golden dreams. Dazzled by the magic in the air, cross the Bridge of Santa Clara, heading to Portugal for the Little Ones. It is here that one of my fantasies embrace reality. I'm a princess, Portuguese, African. Proximity to crops. Happy marriage between people. Fantastic miniatures of houses and monuments. Architecture and sculpture are fantastic. I am the laughter of happy children. And the taste of my delicious strawberry ice cream, almost nonexistent.
Drunk with happiness, the conquest of other birth stories. Stories of love and tears. Quinta das Lágrimas. The Source of Love. 'Ana, here was that Prince D. Peter - future Peter I of Portugal - declared his love for D. Ines, Galician noblewoman who served as chaperone for the wife of D. Peter , D. Constance. A forbidden love ", says my father.
I spot another fontain now. The Tears fontain. "This source was named by the great Luis de Camoes. According to the story goes, this is where D. Inês cried to be murdered. " Listen, almost breathless words of my father. Later, I let myself fascinated by 18.3 acres of majestic gardens and the magnificent Palace of the nineteenth century. New impressions and strong anchor in my child's soul. I discover that love can be overwhelming. And that death is inevitable. Another Ana is born.
The soft light of late afternoon softens the strong feelings that invade my being. Now yes, the journey is about to end. I think the words of the old gentleman I met in the morning near the Mondego. This city is a veritable box of surprises. This is where I find the meaning of love, death, fantasy. And happiness. A magical paradox of impressions that will live forever within me.