We arrived in Óbidos during a cold, rainy, and gloomy Wednesday afternoon in late October. Before settling into the medieval town, we drove outside of the town’s crenelated walls to explore Our Lord Jesus of the Stone Sanctuary, inaugurated in 1747, which loomed on the plain beneath the hilltop town. King João V commissioned the unusual hexagonal Baroque sanctuary in thanksgiving for his escape from an accident during which he invoked Our Lord Jesus of the Stone. Though the church seemed closed and quite deserted, we found the door open and went inside to explore.
Back inside the town’s walls, we wandered through the labyrinth of cobblestone streets and bougainvillea-adorned, whitewashed houses spiffed up with splashes of vivid yellow and blue paint. We stopped into several churches looking for the Igreja de Santa Maria Óbidos, but instead found ourselves in one that had been converted to a library.
The Moors had laid out the pretty streets of Óbidos, but they had abandoned the town by the time Dom Dinis (1261–1325) first showed the town to his wife, Dona Isabel, in 1288. When she fell in love with the town, the king handed it to her as a wedding gift.
To warm our bodies and souls, we dipped into a dark and cozy bar called Ibn Errik Rex. We sipped beers amidst arches and domes hand-painted on the walls and chatted with two Californians who had recently hiked to Machu Picchu. I told them I’d just completed the Camino de Santiago. We met a New Jersey guy who traveled often to visit his Brazilian girlfriend; they were vacationing together in Portugal. Mike had a long conversation with the owner about Portuguese history. The owner encouraged Mike to lift a wall flap on the wall to reveal a nude woman underneath. We used our iPhones not to telephone anyone, but to take photos of the atmospheric place.
At the restaurant, First of December, we enjoyed typical Portuguese food: sardines for Mike and Portuguese sausage for me.
After we woke Thursday morning, we enjoyed a huge breakfast spread in our Airbnb. The sun was starting to peek out, so we strolled around the unprotected muro (castle wall) for sweeping views over the town and surrounding countryside. The Moors created the walls, but they’ve since been restored. The castelo (castle), with its foreboding edifice, towers, battlements and large gates, was created by Dom Dinis in the 13th century.
Strolling through the cobbled streets of the town, we admired rose-bordered windows, ivy-filled bearded-man-pots, and shops selling vintage toy vehicles, bags made of cork, and all manner of enticing souvenirs. A sign advised: “Be a unicorn in a field of horses.” We sampled bright red Ginjinha d’Obidos, a sweet alcoholic liqueur in little dark chocolate cups that we ate after gulping.
On our way out of town, we stopped to admire the 16th-century 3km-long aqueduct, used to transport water into town. The project was funded by the Queen of Portugal, Queen Catherine. She sold her lands that surrounded Óbidos to pay for the construction.
With our visit to Óbidos complete, we left the town behind to head south down the coast toward Sintra, with a planned stop in Peniche along the coast.
*Wednesday, October 31 – Thursday, November 1, 2018*
“PROSE” INVITATION: I invite you to write up to a post on your own blog about a recently visited particular destination (not journeys in general). Concentrate on any intention you set for your prose. In this case, one of my intentions for my trip to Portugal was to pick five random verbs each day and use them in my travel essay: 1)
close, 2) wake, 3) telephone, 4) hand, 5) complete. √
It doesn’t matter whether you write fiction or non-fiction for this invitation. You can either set your own writing intentions, or use one of the prompts I’ve listed on this page: writing prompts: prose. (This page is a work in process.) You can also include photos, of course.
Include the link in the comments below by Monday, June 24 at 1:00 p.m. EST. When I write my post in response to this invitation on Tuesday, June 25, I’ll include your links in that post.
This will be an ongoing invitation. Feel free to jump in at any time. 🙂
I hope you’ll join in our community. I look forward to reading your posts!