(More pictures: https://picasaweb.google.com/pts.gmunden/Portugal_Erasmus_Teil1# and https://picasaweb.google.com/pts.gmunden/Portugal_Erasmus_Teil2)

The third project meeting within the Erasmus+ project „In The Paradise Garden Of Europe“ took place in Portugal, to be precise in Torres Novas, pronounced “Torresch Novesch” ;) !

1st day, Saturday 13th June 2015:
Arriving at the airport on Saturday night, Lisbon didn’t greet us very friendly: It was raining cats and dogs! So, as we had packed ours suitcases thinking of Portugal as being hot and sunny all the time, some worries came up about having to wear the same pair of long trousers and the same pullover every day of the upcoming week…

2nd day, Sunday 14th June 2015:
Fortunately Sunday morning presented itself a little bit more welcoming. Sightseeing could start! We saw several columns with statues, beautiful patterns made out of cobbled stones, the “castelo” with its amazing view over the river Tejo and many other interesting places and buildings. At midday we met Giannis, our Greek mate, at a famous café – “Brasileira” – before we continued our stroll through Lisbon. At least until it started raining and we had to seek rescue in a shopping mall!
In the evening we met up with some of the other participants at the airport, in order to travel on to Torres Novas.

3rd day, Monday 15th June 2015:
On Monday, the expected Portuguese weather finally came up: Sunshine, sunshine, sunshine!
In the morning all the participants met up at Torres Novas Primary School: “Jardim escola joão de deus”. There a surprise was waiting for us: The pupils welcomed us by singing beautiful songs, some were even playing their flutes!
Later we were allowed to watch different lessons, such as mathematics as well as Portuguese grammar and reading.

Afterwards Ramona, our Romanian colleague, conducted an English lesson about being “Friends Of Nature”. It was really heart-warming how interested and eagerly the Portuguese students followed the lesson!

After having delicious lunch, the rest of the afternoon was devoted to discussing project matters.

4th day, Tuesday 16th June 2015:
On Tuesday, we had to get up early in order to go to Fátima, where we visited one of the most important catholic shrines in the world, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, who is said to have appeared to three shepherd children there. Fátima’s sanctuary welcomes millions of pilgrims every year, who come to pray (for themselves, for a family member e.g.), and to make their promises. They also ignite candles (either normal shaped ones or else shaped as little figures). Some even slide down a smooth pilgrim’s path on their knees in order to do their prayers!

After visiting the sanctuary, we went to Coimbra. There, we had a guided tour at Santa Clara-a-Velha-Monastery. The monastery was built in the 14th century on the bank of the Mondego River. But it was flooded repeatedly by the river. The nuns of the monastery responded by elevating the floor levels of the monastic buildings to reduce the damage caused by the floods. Still, the site of the foundation proved to be unsuitable, so the monastery had to be abandoned and a new one was built nearby on higher ground.

After having visited the monastery, lunch was scheduled. But if you think now, this had to be something light and easily digestible – considering the temperature of 34°C – you are wrong! Pigling was on the menu! But one must make sacrifices now and then, so we tucked in!

After lunch we visited Coimbra University with its AMAZING library.  Rows and rows of wooden shelves with hundreds of books! The smell of ancient paper, the feeling of cool air, we were standing there, looking up in awe. And what’s more, there is a funny fact about the library: It is inhabited by bats! They sleep during the day and hunt at night, so there are no problems with bugs or other insects in the library! And in order to protect the ornate wooden tables from the bat droppings, the tables are covered with leather cloths every night!
Our guide showed us the other part of the university as well and we could even watch a student defending his master thesis in front of the jury from a window above the examination-hall!
Another height this day was the “Fado”-concert we heard in the old town of Coimbra. Fado is a traditional Portuguese form of music, characterized by mournful tunes and lyrics. It is sung solely by male students (or former students).

5th day, Wednesday 17th June 2015:
As the day before had been crammed with sightseeing, we were very happy about our trip to Nazaré on Wednesday. Nazaré is one of the most popular seaside resorts in Portugal. It is famous for the high waves (> 20 m) that build up there in October/November. Though, when we were watching the sea from up at the lighthouse, we could hardly imagine such high waves!

Furthermore, it is hard to tell what was best about our program on Wednesday: Sunbathing at the beach of Nazaré or having delicious lunch in a seafood restaurant up the hill, with an amazing view over the beach?
Whatever, it was a perfect day!

6th day, Thursday 18th June 2015:
Back to Lisbon, we did a short sightseeing tour by hop-on-hop-off bus, before leaving for the airport and starting our homeward journey.

What else is there to say, except: It was a wonderful, interesting, mind-opening journey we will never forget! We are looking forward to meeting our friends again in October, in Italy and WITH STUDENTS this time! And we are looking forward to their visit in Austria in April 2016 – we are intent on showing them all the beauty of our country!
See you!