Following a previous comment on this blog from my friend and former wealth creator Pete. I decided to visit Coimbra the site of Portugals oldest university founded in 1290, Not Europes which is Bologna in Italy founded in 1088, btw Cambridge is 1209.
I decided, thankfully, to leave the bike in the hotel and take the train and walk around Coimbra. My Old man’s fare was €22 return. The train was an InterCity and interestingly had space to hang two conventional bikes at the end of each carriage we smoothly went along at 200kph so the trip only took just over 2 hours.
The university sits atop the hill so a fair climb up cobbled streets initially I wandered about the geological part of the museum looking at what I guess is their first geological map some 90 years younger than Smiths UK one.
I eventually found a formal tour around the science bits of the museum. It’s like a museum of a museum, everything is as it was labelled probably 100 odd years ago! Interesting in itself but no life in the exhibits at all. I just hope when the New New Cavendish gets built we will get a decent Physics Museum in Cambridge. Wouldn’t it be incredible to convert the original Cavendish back as it was with working replicas of the original stuff, pity they demolished the original DNA lab to make hideous bike racks.
The science then moved into Zoology with there collection of stuffed animals seemingly a focus on animals with two heads!
Later I did a little tour of the ornate Baroque Library I wonder when the last time a book left its shelves.
The town itself is a retail museum with shops out of the 1950’s full of counters with drawers and boxes with I thought way to much formal garb but incredible fruitcake in the cafe.
An interesting day out especially meeting Vasco on the train home who let me share his taxi from the station in the rainstorm back to the hotel.
The main reason for staying at the stupidly expensive Bentota Beach Hotel was so I could use their river cruise through the mangrove swamps. I opted for the one hour one as experience tells me I rapidly get bored sitting in a boat 🙂
It was just me and the guide, a young chap who spoke good English and had sharp eyes. So we quickly saw a lot of wildlife: herons, lizards, crocodiles come to mind. A nice tourist touch was pulling in and a guy with a baby crocodile stepping aboard so you could have a picture taken with it, me somewhat nervous of all those teeth.
In the afternoon after a decent swim in their 35 metre pool, the best feature of the hotel, I took myself of for a walk. The touts soon leave you after 50 metres of walking and I was soon on my own. On maps.me I spotted the Siri Sumansrama Temple (interesting that Apple use the name Siri for their digital assistant) so I headed over their. The place was deserted, its quite a modest temple but soon a monk came over and invited me in 🙂 He showed me around explaining why the Buddha is surrounded by Hindu figures and also the new Buddha statue they are making under the Serpents head. All very symbolic and interesting.
I was then invited into his house for a cuppa and cake, well I am a cyclist 🙂 Where he told me his story of becoming a monk when he was 9 and staying at this temple all the time and how he learnt such good English.
The subject soon turned to architecture the next thing I know we are in a Tuk Tuk to see the totally stunning former summer home of architect Geoffrey Bawa at Lunuganga. Wow totally amazing, he was obviously a keen arboriculturist as well the selection of trees was stunning! A gorgeous tall Teak at the entrance and then planted & trained trees inside like Balsa, Ebony, Temple trees (Plumeria) and a lot more. The whole estate is cleverly designed to maximise the elevated position in a dog leg of the huge river. I just loved it and reminded me of Chris & I visit to Henry Moore’s old studio near Cambridge. Totally incredible and many thanks to my new monk friend 🙂
Finally, halfway through the year, the apartment sale is finally totally complete and I’m able to start travelling again albeit currently restricted to shanks pony as having 1/3 of my prostate removed in the HoLEP operation 3 weeks ago makes it inadvisable to do long bumpy bike rides for a while. I decided to stick locally as well until all the pain when I pee has gone away.
The Grand Union Canal walk from Central London seems a good idea as it isn’t to strenuous but long enough to take a week or so. I still haven’t decided whether to go to Birmingham or take the branch to Nottingham.
Today was a late start as I first went swimming at Jesus Green and then posting my old thermostat that I sold on ebay. So I finally arrived at Kings Cross at 2.30pm.
It was an interesting walk along Regent’s Canal to Little Venice and then along the Paddington Arm of the Grand Union to Alperton finishing today at the demolished Hovis bread factory. Very pleasant except for the constant stream of cyclists bombing along 🙂
My nephew Phillip is kindly putting up with me for tonight, although a first for me was navigating across three bus routes to reach his flat. I ended up getting the busmapper app as the fellow passengers were too friendly bombarding me with all the options. Weird at 67 my first attempt at being on the buses!
Tomorrow it looks like a huge loop and heading south for 5 or so miles to avoid the hills at Harrow.
According to Strava I did 13.6 miles in just under 4 hours. The pictures of the day are here
Sally and I decided that it was about time we gave the two wheels a rest and give the Scarpa boots & Leki poles an airing 🙂 Sally’s criteria was it had to be warm and hilly! Since Mr T would only allow her two weeks of and it was November we came up with the Canary islands, particularly Tenerife and La Gomera. So of we flew with Easyjet from Gatwick. Only to discover on arrival that Ryanair passengers from Stansted were collecting their baggage in the airport 🙁
A quick taxi ride (€30) and we were at the docks and straight on the awaiting ship (€56 each way) making it a smooth passage to our apartment in San Sebastian booked a couple of weeks ago on booking.com. We booked the rest of the accommodation as we went, invariably the night before we arrived (Yep, I’m that organised).
The walking & weather were excellent every day with some days outstanding like the walk down the Masca Valley & Las Poyatas to El Cedro (here is a cool site with trail lists)
Here is a table of all our walks with links to the GPS/GPX tracks we did and my photographs:-
I can recommend the island for walking & don’t be put of by the horrors of Los Cristianos / Playa de Las Americas ( where I ended up renting a car to make a fast escape) & Los Gigantes. The beaches behind the airport are excellent & quiet. The local bus service is also good although the first buses don’t leave until 10am from San Sebastian.
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