Thursday, 20 July 2017

Oh, this gorgeous medieval town

Since Sintra clearly didn't want us to see its palaces and we absolutely fell in love with Obidos the previous evening, we simply decided to go back there and see it in daylight.

Spoiler alert - sorry for the massive amount of pictures. I just couldn't resist posting them...

We wanted to see its white houses contrasted with the blue sky. We wanted to see its trees and flowers in their full glory. We wanted to walk the town walls and eat a delicious meal there.

We parked (again) at a huge car park just a two minute walk off the main town gate. I don't think there's any trouble finding a free spot at any time of day. And it was really cheap (the cheapest during our whole trip).

We went through the town gate. The one with Obidos' most famous azulejos. During the day, the town seemed much more quiet. We tried to find a free spot at a restaurant. Any restaurant. It was a real challenge. So that's why the town seemed so quiet. Everybody was dining. We finally made it. We were ready to explore the town a little more now.

The town is small. Most likely smaller than old towns in many major cities. So if you're planning to get lost in the narrow, cobblestone streets... it's not really possible to get lost. But it's gorgeous anyhow. The town is just full of its own, unique charm.

And there are plenty of narrow corners to see. You never know what you might come across, but it will definitely be pretty. At least that's how I remember the town. Peaceful, quiet, pretty.

 You can also always climb the town walls and see the town from a little bit above. Or just sit in one of many cafes and restaurants to breathe in the lazy atmosphere or happen to see a camel walking down the narrow streets (that's what we actually saw during lunch).

The town was set up in 4th century B.C. At least that's when Celts  started settling down in this place. For many centuries (since 1282, to be exact), the castle in Obidos was a traditional wedding gift from monarchs to their newly married wifes. The castle was also the first pousada in Porugal, that is the first historic building turned into a hotel (1950).

In 1755 a massive earthquake hit the town and destroyed it. Luckily, the town was rebuild on its original fundaments, with attention to detail, so it basically looks a lot like it used to in the Middle Ages. You can't see any signs of, lets call it, modern civilisation in the town, such as e.g. TV satellites. That's probably why the town is so full of charm. So unique.

If we ever come to Portugal again, I would definitely love to come back to Obidos.

But if you think it's the last post on a town I loved so much... Well, don't count on it. There's one more thing about Obidos that I'd love to share with you. And I'll do it soon.

Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Cabo da Roca and Sintra, kind of.

Portugal was struggling with massive fires a couple of weeks ago. And I was really sad to hear that. To me, Portugal will remain hot and sunny, with clear blue skies, yet green, with beautiful beaches and lovely white and blue buildings. We haven't seen much of Portugal, mostly drove through it, but what we managed to see, stole our hearts. And I can surely speak for all four of us.

Having seen Fatima and Obidos in the previous days, this time we took a trip to one of Portugal's most famous spots. Mind you, we were not planning to visit any major cities like Lisbon or Porto. Spending 2-3 hours in those cities wouldn't have been enough to experience them in any quality way, so why waste the time. That was our general idea throughout the trip.

Cabo da Roca is the westernmost point of continental Europe. You can find a monument commemorating that there. And a lighthouse. But most important of all, it is a place of stunning views. Magnificent cliffs, more or less scarce plants on red rocks and the ocean in various shades of green and blue.

We took a walk along the cliff. We couldn't take our eyes off the ocean. Despite the power of wind and water, or maybe because of them, it was so peaceful and quiet there. There also weren't there apart from us. Or, at least, the area's large enough for us not to notice their presence. We did, however, meet a Polish family of five from a neighbouring town. It turned out our goals for the trip were similar, we just took different ways to reach them (and get back). But we even devoted the same amount of time to the whole trip. Anyhow, travelling with kids is possible.

We weren't in any hurry. We decided to spend as much time at Cabo da Roca as we wanted. Including a snack in the open. Not as surprising or as unexpected as having a self-cooked lunch at Cape Finisterre, but it's always nice to eat outside. Especially with views like these.

Cabo da Roca wasn't our only goal for the day, though. It was to be more like a gentle introduction to a day of sightseeing.

From Cabo da Roca we drove back to Sintra. We wanted to see the colourful Portuguese palaces that so many people talk about. We could already see them from through the windows of our car. There they were, within arm's reach. I was so excited. We just had to overcome one teeny tiny yet important obstacle. Finding a parking spot. A free parking spot. We drove (sort of, as pedestrians were faster than us) through the town twice and couldn't find a single spot. Seriously. But many others were in the same situation. Such a waste of time and energy.

We didn't drive through the town for the third time. We didn't want to waste any more of our precious time. Portugal has a lot to offer, so why waste time driving through the town that clearly didn't want us there. We were a bit disappointed, true, but we didn't let that spoil our good moods. After all, we were on holidays, we were spending time together we were exploring, we were enjoying the wonderful weather.

So instead of visiting the palaces of Sintra, we decided to time travel a little. Only a little. But more on that some other time...