Tag Archives: Obidios

Early morning in Obidios/thoughts on Portugal

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Obidos at night

A few days late: This morning, at 8 am on a Sunday, we had the ancient walled in city of Obidos all to ourselves. Quite a change from the crush of tourists we shared it with on Saturday afternoon. Sunday morn, it was suddenly charming. We walked to the Mirrodouro, the scenic viewing spot near the city ramparts and looked out at the fields and villages stretching out to the Atlantic, about six miles away. Ancient churches, stone fortress towers lined with blue and white tiles, purple, red and pink bougainvillea spilling over white stucco cottages.

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Obidos at morn

Now we are on flight one (of three) to go home. Some thoughts:
– Portugal’s sights and scenery are well worth the trip. We spent about the right amount of time in various spots …possibly could have used a second night in Porto, especially to take in the street scene and see some of the contemporary architecture (Rem Koolhaas’s House of music, the modern art museum.)
– The food was better than expected. It’s not Italy but what is? The seafood, pork, beef were all excellent — even the goose barnicles. We grew too fond of the custard tarts (pastia de nata) and sort of like Port now. (But the gingha/cherry liquor, not so much.)
– Bathrooms are readily available and exceptionally clean in places like tourist sites, restaurants, and shopping areas. We appreciated.
– The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) clearly isn’t happening here (why should it be but….). Lots of steps to walk up everywhere with no other options. And basic safety measures like guardrails (on narrow roads high in the Douro valley or on the edge of the ramparts we walked along in Obidos)  not to be found.
– We stayed at seven places, none a dud, all with lots of character and charm, some hipster vintage, others rustic unassuming. Average price $89, with a high of $118 in Lisbon and low of about $45 in Obidos and Coimbra. Our only issue: the occasional too-hard mattress or loud neighbors.

Best breakfast hands down: The Independente in Lisbon, served (on third floor terrace with a dazzling view) by cheerful Lourdes (from Cape Verde) who made perfect scrambled eggs.
– If forced to choose between exploring north or south of Lisboa, we choose north but both are well worth visiting.

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Glad we didn’t skip Porto! Or Obidios

 

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Porto street

 

Really glad we talked ourselves into visiting Porto, Portugal’s’ second largest city.  I wasn’t looking forward to navigating the city streets to find our out-of-the-way pensione but the city was worth the occasional wrong turn(s). We ended up staying on the street known for its bohemian art scene and little designer shops, which was a pleasant surprise. Pensao Favorita, on Miguel Bombarda, is a charming place. Beyond the imposing front door is a warmly retro and minimalist 12-room place. We were warmly welcomed (with glasses of port, of course) and our room was in a pretty garden, among a small row of new brick buildings, with a wooden deck pathway lined with succulents. Next door is a cool little shopping space (Centro Comercial Bombarda) with lots of small shops, including a good place we followed people to for lunch today…a mellow cafeteria style display with excellent grilled chicken served with several sides (lentils, beans). We ate last night at Bugo Art Burgers, a fun little burger place that was so packed on a Friday night that we ate at the bar, chatting with the sweet young women working there. We picked two burgers that were made with Porto products (namely Port) and they were great.

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Porto Riberia district

 

enough about the food. The sights were dazzling too. We loved Porto’s Ribeiria district, with white-and-blue tile-fronted buildings spilling down to the river. Charming even with the tourists and glad to see the laundry whipping in the wind. Also enjoyed touring the stunning stock exchange building, walking up elegant Rue de Flores past astonishing blue and white painted tile churches  and buildings, and visiting the Mercado do Bolhao on Saturday morning (where we found russet apples, a favorite I can’t find in Iowa and have found only in Michigan and Spain). We also  sauntered down the main shopping street (no cars) with the crowds to have coffee at the elegant Majestic Cafe (recommended by our pensione folks).

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Cool Porto Hotel (felt Japanese)

Our first day we also took the rickety #1 tram out along the river to the start of the Atlantic, where we found a cool glass-walled but open air cafe, called Shis, perfect for a light snack and beer on a stunningly beautiful afternoon.

Last night we made the mistake of wandering around after dinner without our map and had a heck of a time finding our way back to our hotel in the dark. Today we tried to see the Rem Koolhaas Music Hall but tours were booked in advance until 4 pm (when we arrived before noon) so we checked out a nearby synagogue (not only closed but very secured, with a gate, barbed wire fence and a guard dog) and the elegant homes near it.

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Dirck and I both decided that if we had to choose between a visit to the north or south of Portugal we would pick north. Granted we are not beach people but we love the rugged scenery and the elegant architecture of the north.

Tonight we are in the medieval town of Obidios, about an hour from the Lisbon airport which we fly out of tomorrow. Charming old place but packed with tourists, as expected. Much quieter tonight as I type on the terrace of our rustic Casa do Regolio outside the walls of the city,which are lit up gently tonight. We skipped the restaurants inside the walls, opting instead for some cheese and fruit.

 

 

 

 

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