Europe 2006 Travelogue #4 From Óbidos, Portugal
Dear Family & Friends,
Since there is free Internet here in Óbidos, I will send another travelogue. This is a very picturesque walled city often called “The Rothenburg of Portugal”. We arrived here late yesterday and are staying in a very nice little private home with 4 rental bedrooms just inside the walls for only 35 Euros and each room has a private bath. This city has been occupied on this site since 300 BC by a variety of peoples such as the Romans, Visigoths and Moors and it was the Moors, who built the very extensive walls. They are 45 feet tall and since the city is also on a rocky hill, parts of it seem very high indeed. We walked almost all the way around on the wall today and enjoyed the wonderful views over the countryside. There is a Roman aqueduct running about 3 km out from the city too, and it seems even higher than 45 feet tall. The streets are cobblestone, of course, and there are LOTS of tourists
here during the day, so there are shops selling touristy stuff everywhere.
We had quite an adventure getting here. The car was a little late being delivered to us in Lisbon, and it was a bit smaller than expected, but we managed to
cram Lee & Susie, Elaine and I and all our luggage into it. Lee is the driver and I am the navigator. We got out of Lisbon without any trouble and then missed our first turn onto the right freeway! After we got on the right one, there was a toll booth which we drove through but there was no arm down and also the place where we should have paid was covered by something, so we figured it was not working and we
could just drive on. Later, when we hit the place where we were supposed to pay, and we had no ticket because we hadn’t gotten one at the first booth, they tried to charge us 40 Euros as a fine. Lee & I complained and argued for about 5 minutes and they finally let us go on without paying the fine!
We stopped for lunch at Mafra and had an English tour of the very huge palace and basilica there. Then we drove minor roads to Obidos, arriving around 6 PM. We
tried to get a room outside the wall but that place wasn’t open and the other inexpensive ones were inside the walls so we parked and walked in. The first place
we tried was OK and the lady wanted 65 Euros per room but when we said no she quickly dropped to 35 because it was late and no one was staying there. Lee and I
went to get the car and had to drive in through the very narrow gate and couldn’t even get the car through the first one because it was so steep and our tires
kept spinning on the smooth, slippery cobblestones. We got in the last gate and then drove all through the town on the very narrow streets to the right area but
when we tried to drive up to the place we had reserved, we couldn’t climb that street either. Elaine retrieved her passport from the lady and said
we had to cancel and then we found another place in a much easier location for car access. It is also one we like better and there is a sunny verandah where we
have afternoon drinks and morning coffee. Thankfully, it is also much quieter than the place we stayed in Lisbon.
Our last day in Lisbon was fun because we took the train to a nearby coastal village called Sintra. This is where the imperial court built some palaces and
spent the summers especially after the earthquake in 1755 leveled most of Lisbon. It is a delightful place and we toured one of the palaces and also the old Moorish castle and fort. The palace was rather whimsically built and was absolutely crammed with elegant furniture and paintings. Both the fort and palace were built on very high hills and we were glad there was a public bus to take us up there and then a
trolley for the final leg through the gardens and up to the palace. The road was steep and narrow and our bus driver was a magician to get us up there without
hitting a wall or a tree.
Luckily, we have had excellent weather – mostly in the high 70’s and perfect for sightseeing. Tomorrow we will leave here and head for a coastal fishing
village. They eat lots of fish here and we will go see where some of it is caught. Sending big hugs to you all.
Love, Mary & Elaine