Kickin’ it Old School

What is LaserLeap technology you ask?

Well … it is a project that young researchers are working on right now. It’s goal is to deliver medicine without using a syringe. This cutting edge project is well underway at the University of Coimbra (Portugal).

Coimbra is famous for one thing–more or less– and that is the Universidade de Coimbra. The locals simply refer to it as Velha Universidade or the Old University. It is the oldest academic institution in the Portuguese speaking world. It was established in the late 13 century, thereby making it one of the oldest universities in Europe as well. The campus is located on the highest point of the upper town, where the royal palace once stood. The university is the citizens’ pride and joy, and from its vantage point it stands as a perennial guardian for the entire city.

Coimbra has wonderful river views. The most popular one is of the river and University Hill (in the background). The highest point on the hill is where the university is situated. We walked along the river every day. The weather was incredible. +18 in February!

At the top of the picture is the Tower da Cabra; it is found on the university grounds. After we climbed to the top of University Hill and visited the campus, we had a lovely meal at the Italia Restaurant (bottom right hand corner). The restaurant has great river views too.

Crowning the top of the city is the university and its square. The original campus, along with the Tower da Cabra , is one of the most photographed places in Coimbra. The students refer to the tower as The Goat. Could it have this odd nickname because its bells constantly "remind" students that classes are about to start?

This panorama captures the university's original campus including the bell tower and what remains of the former royal palace. To the left, you will find the entrance to the Joanina Library. The library is incredibly ornate. Of course we couldn't take pictures. The guard was ever present! Ironically the library also houses the university's old jail. If students did something illegal they would be kept there until their trial or until they sobered up!

This is one of the city views from the university balcony (found at the back of the former royal palace). We love this picture because someone painted a message on the side of one the buildings below. Perhaps it was painted by a disgruntled student or two?

Of course there is more to see than the university itself. If you have the time, you should wander the city’s streets too. You never know what you will see … wear comfortable shoes though … the city streets are steep. As Wade says, you will earn “buns of steel” after roaming Coimbra’s streets for a couple of days . Of course Einstein loved wandering the streets because he rode in my pocket most of the way.

This is one of Coimbra's main squares. Largo da Portagem literally means "place of the gateway" and many assume it means that is the gateway to the city. If you walk by the statue and up the slight incline you will discover Coimbra's commercial or shopping street. In the past the lower city was the commercial district too.

It's fun to wander the city. So "get lost" -- let the city carry you away.

The Tricana of Coimbra literally means "wife of Coimbra". She is an important symbol in the city. In the past women like her would bring water or other goods, like eggs or bread, in her earthen ware jar from the lower city to the upper city. She provided an essential service to its citizens. The statue is placed in a spot where a typical wife of the city could rest before continuing her journey up the steep streets (under the Almedina Arc and up).

University students parade through the streets in celebration of Mardi Gras. We aren't sure what the animal skull represents! Many school groups, from kindergarten to university, dressed up. We saw turtles, lady bugs, teddy bears, crows, butterflies and ... the list goes on ...

Like Spain, Portugal has some very interesting graffiti. We took this picture while waiting for the train to take us to Figueira da Foz. There is more to it--this mural covered a very long wall--but I like Mr. Fox! Don't you?