Foreigners impressions on Portugal

When I was a child my mother instructed me to write letters to my baptism godmother. Then I would go with her to the Post Office building, in Braga, and buy stamps like this one to stick on the envelope. This stamp from 1972 shows the University of Coimbra.

"Linda and I had Portugal on the back burner for many years. A mistake! Had we not procrastinated, this would have been a return trip. Portugal is booming. With a strong economy and funds from the EU, the transportation and telecommunications infrastructure is being upgraded at a record rate. Restoration of old and historic buildings and homes as well as new construction can be seen everywhere. Portugal is a country on the move while at the same time preserving its old-world culture, traditions, and lifestyle - its heritage. Language is not a barrier. In addition to Portuguese, the younger generations speak English and at least one other language. There is always someone nearby who is more than willing to help you if you are having trouble communicating."The Travelzine

Don Freedman, a retired marketing executive, and his wife Linda are from Canada but they really love Portugal. They documented their 9 visits to my country in a very detailed way. It's amazing how they really got to know the way we live and our culture. I think that they spent all winter in the Azores Islands. Maybe they already left the moment I am writing these lines. I found their site accidentally and asked permission to quote what they wrote about Portugal in the Spring of 1997. I enjoyed reading that particular opinion. But soon my thoughts turned into sad ones. In fact, when Don and Linda visited us for the first time Portugal was kicking. Now along with Greece and Ireland the country is one of the most affected by the European sovereign debt crisis. That along with years of misgovernment by leaders that had not the capacity to invest adequately the money Don mentioned determined Portugal to lose the Euro challenge. The European leaders granted a bailout loan only after Portugal signed up for huge spending cuts. As a result, the economy is in recession for a second straight year. The unemployment rate is at 14.8%, and that's a record. Reforms will take some time to make any positive effect and I don't know how long can companies and people handle it...

But while exchanging emails with Linda we end up writing about Coimbra. This city has one of the most relevant educational institutions in Portugal and abroad. The University of Coimbra was founded by King Dinis and confirmed by Papal Bull of Nicholas IV on the 9th of August 1290. It's Portugal’s oldest and largest university and one of the oldest universities in continuous operation in the world. With approximately 20,000 students, Coimbra hosts one of the largest communities of international students in Portugal, with more than 1000 a year.

I visited Coimbra this week and took some photos of the city. So you can expect several postages about this city and some of its traditions for the next few days. Meanwhile, take a look at this old stamp. This is Law school. I got my Law degree there. Yes, I had the privilege to attend classes at a precious national monument!
Coimbra's old University - Portugal zazzle_postcard