I came to Coimbra with the idea of living in a peaceful place for some short 3-month period, somewhere in the middle (or almost) of Portugal.
And I am glad I did not leave disappointed.
The scope of my project, as previously planned between my home (Bari) and host institutions (Coimbra), involved training on post-mortem processing and triglyceride purification from liver tissues of rats, which had been administered with deuterated water, in order to quantify the enrichment in specific positions of liver triglycerides from deuterated water using nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR).
The feeling I got at the very beginning was that I was about to experience something similar to my two-year stay in Norway, where I did plenty of exercise outdoors and enjoyed its surroundings during my free time.
However, it was later that I realized I was not going to be that lucky, since the weather did not allow such thing for some part of my stay. We even had a tropical storm coming from the Atlantic Ocean earlier in October.
View from Mosteiro de Santa Clara-a-Nova. The shot was taken the day after ‘Leslie’ landed in Coimbra.
Surprisingly, the weather improved towards the end of November, with early December sparkling and even reaching 20º in some days. It was then that I took the occasion to step out.
View from Miradouro de Penacova. A short bike trail from Coimbra (50km).
But if physical activity continued to be an important component of my life in Coimbra, so was food. And in the latter, Portugal has so much to be renowned for.
Indeed, one thing which made my everyday in Coimbra was the canteens’ system, with such a large variety to choose from (up to 15 different ones spread all over the different Polos). Not only the variety, but also the fact you could pay by card, made it all so much easier. Furthermore, protein is one of the most prominent macronutrients of every Portuguese main dish, something I truly appreciate given my daily energy demands.
View to Alta de Coimbra from Museu Nacional de Machado de Castro. Here you can enjoy a relaxing meal with views to the old part of the university.
And no place can be left without referring to its historical legacy; and for that, Coimbra is one of the most outstanding living reminders in Europe, with a university dating back to 1537, when it was finally settled. It was however only five years ago that UNESCO added it to its World Heritage List.
Biblioteca Joanina is one of the most ancient and ornamented libraries worldwide. It accommodates over 70,000 volumes and several other historical academic documents dated until 1800.
As the song by Amália Rodrigues states, ‘Coimbra é uma lição’ (Coimbra is a lesson), and for that ‘Conimbricences’ take a lot of pride, since their university literally traps you between its walls and immerses you back in history.
I want to conclude thanking my supervisors for all their constant support and help: John Jones, Paulo Oliveira and Vilma Sardão. Special recognition for their contribution to my work deserve Ludgero Tavares, Raphaël Santamaria and Getachew Debas Belew, along with the rest of the people working in the Metabolic Lab at UC-Biocant. To every member of the football team, for such enjoyable evenings. And to all the people of Coimbra, whose kindness made of my stay in their city a peaceful one.
Emilio Molina Molina was born in Granada, Andalucia, south of Spain. He is currently working under the supervision of Prof. Piero Portincasa in Bari, Southern Italy. His project focuses on studying the adherence of fatty liver patients to lifestyle interventions and assessing liver function tests. He is also pursuing a PhD in Soil and Food Sciences at the university of the same city.