A Sunday Drive into a Fairy Tale

One of the reasons we made this move to Portugal was so that in our retirement we could see and experience things we never could on a regular basis, if at all, had we stayed home.

So when I saw the below link on Facebook, screen-shot-2017-02-05-at-6-53-18-pmI eagerly clicked on it, ready to catalog some of its featured destinations for a future trip. Lo and behold, the second one on their list was in Portugal! I searched the town name of Óbidos in Google Maps, and discovered it was only an hour away from us!

In fact, the very first place they listed was in Salamanca, Spain, which is about a five hour drive away and certainly doable as well, although we’d probably want to spend the night instead of making it just a day trip. I think that will be next on our list!

Anyway, this day seemed like a good day for a Sunday drive, seeing as how it was Sunday and, well, Sunday drives are best when they’re done on the day they’re named after. If we tried a Sunday drive on Monday, I’m sure the Portuguese would really think we’re weird, and throw metric-measured tomatoes at us as they passed us by on the freeways.

So we hopped into the car and input the city name in our Waze app in order to listen to the dulcet tones of one of the Top Gear guys guiding us to our destination. By the way, Waze is a much better app for driving directions than either Google Maps or Apple’s Maps. Plus the Waze voice says funny things –sounding all the more amusing in their chipper British accent– such as: “Make a U-Turn, which means turning your car around in the completely opposite direction,” and “Congratulations! You have now reached your destination! Although, to be honest, I did most of the work.”

The town of Óbidos is located on a hilltop, and is encircled by a fortified wall from medieval times. We immediately hearkened back to our vacation last year when we delighted in seeing castles of all sorts throughout Ireland and London. We like castles!

So here follows a bunch of pictures we took while wandering about. To be honest, the cobblestone streets were not as much out of a fairy tale as we’d hoped. I think TripAdvisor oversold the fairy tale aspects of the town, and I’d certainly never want to stay in a hotel there just to be inside an area that can all be viewed in a couple of hours. Still, due to the castle itself, and the rest of it certainly being charming, we enjoyed ourselves immensely. We hope you do too:

 

img_4254
On the way there, one can see dozens upon dozens of wind turbines. It’s a naturally windy area, so they’re able to generate clean, natural energy. However, I think they may make the earth spin faster, which may be contributing to climate change. Just sayin’.
img_4260
This is the view you see when you come ’round the bend, as opposed to going ’round the bend, which I clearly have.
img_4263
Most of the castle-y bits are actually just the wall surrounding the town. But as soon as you see the battlements, you’re transported to an age of knights and dragons and faeries and hurled insults from the French such as: “Your mother was a hamster and your father smelt of elderberries!”
img_4264
Once you park in the parking lot, you get to stand by this sign and have your picture taken.
img_4265
You can also get your picture taken again next to some steps. All of the picture-taking is free, mind you. Actually, other than parking, you can explore the whole area for free.
img_4271
These stairs lead to the outer wall. It is not a good place for anyone suffering from acrophobia, or for anyone whose body would accurately be described as “fully splatted” after falling onto pavement from fifteen meters up, or about fifty feet for you American luddites.
img_3744
So that’s maybe wide enough for two people… if the one on the left is either completely non-acrophobic or just plain insane. The drop is, well, let’s just say it’s fully splatworthy.
img_3745
The stairs were surprisingly large. The Portuguese may have shrunk over the eons, because they’re almost all shorter than I am, and these steps were a bit of a stretch for me to climb.
img_3749
Forget splatworthy, that’s simply just a bottomless pit. You have no idea how hard I had to work to get over my own acrophobia to get these shots for you, dear reader.
img_4272
But once you make it up there, you’re treated to some magnificent views.

img_4273

 

img_3746img_3748img_3741

img_4277

img_3740
This is a view of Carolyn from above. Due to her knee, she didn’t join me in my death-defying stunts. Nor would I would have wanted her to. Her urge to push me off the edge might’ve been too great to resist after one more bad joke.
img_3750
Once returned to safer ground, and after a ten minute cool-down period to get my heart rate back to normal, we meandered down these “fairy tale” streets. 
img_3751
Lots of little shops lined the streets. They were actually quite engaging, not all just touristy kinds of things. Carolyn enjoyed the many tiles available.
img_3752
You might see these in our place when you come and visit. The streetcars are Lisbon icons, and these replicas were very well made and detailed.
img_3753
This is a wall with a rectangular tile thing on it, and Carolyn. Oh, and a bush too.
img_3754
This vine is in the process of strangling the building. Which is why plants are so stupid, don’t they know that buildings already can’t even breathe?
img_3755
Lots of alleyways course through the little town. Just think, 700 years ago this was filled with people who’d never even heard of Donald Trump.
img_3756
My understanding is that the major castle is long gone, and this is some other castle-y structure. I felt rooked.
img_3758
It is still impressive, although it would look even better had I photoshopped some lightning behind it.
img_3766
Another view from a little farther away, still with no photoshopped lightning.
with-lightning
Okay, I couldn’t help myself.
img_3759
For some inexplicable reason, they felt it necessary to add these weird plastic features. They probably serve as props for a medieval village in the summer. For us, it took away from the innate charm of being inside castle walls.
img_3763
A few from atop the castle thing you just saw above. That’s Carolyn running away from the giant carnivorous rabbit you see to her left.
img_4303
I tried to wrestle the rabbit to the ground to protect her, but I lost the fight by a hare.
img_3764
More gorgeous views from atop the walls.
img_3768
A gorgeous view from inside the walls.
img_3736
Portugal’s famous blue tiles above Portugal’s most famous female from Kolbe Lane in Wilsonville, Oregon.
img_3733
Here she has gone all incognito to trick the paparazzi.
img_4310
The cars weren’t actually from that era, as any numbskull can tell you. Those are 12th century models, not from the 14th century, when much of this was built. Sheesh.
img_4306
How’d you like to try and conquer that with just a sword and a 14th century VW Golf?
img_4298
“Honey, I’m home! By the way, where’d the stairs to our front door go?”
img_4300
There was a strange man in that window playing an organ. And an even stranger one spreading his arms wide below.

img_4301

img_4292
Doing the wave.
img_4293
More building-eating vines.
img_4287
The town was kind enough to offer free guitar lessons.
img_4283
Kevin gets all romantic in front of Casa Romantica.
img_4282
On the corner of Hollywood and Vine.
img_4280
Here I am stealing something from a manikin. I figured I could outrun it.

 

img_3771
This was my attempt to act like a professional photographer. How’d I do?
img_3773
This was to make sure no one actually thought I took myself seriously as a photographer. Actually, I simply thought it was a very cool way to decorate around a urinal. It was so pretty, I didn’t want to desecrate it and so used the sink instead. Hey, I’m an American, how am I supposed to know what the customs are around here?
img_3774
Why you’d rent one of these things in such a small town is beyond me. You can drive pretty much anywhere, to be sure, but it’s a bit like renting a moped for shopping in a Safeway.
img_3777
Trust me, we took a lot more pictures than you’re seeing here. Give me some credit for editing, even if looking at all this is eating into your leisure time.
img_3781
Okay, they make these humongously large stairs but then have doorways that make Carolyn look like Manute Bol. Maybe they had legs that went all the way up to their chins? Ancient people were so weird.
img_3780
A very romantic setting for a nice meal. We of course had sandwiches and gelato in a sandwich shop.
img_3785
Outside the walls was this aqueduct that stretched all the way to infinity. Nowadays, it’s filled with Diet Coke.
img_3786
Outside of town was this huge, derelict old church. It looked like something the Munsters might’ve attended on Sundays.

img_3788img_3791img_3792img_3794

img_3790
But once you paw your way through the cobwebs and wrestle open the creaky old door, this amazing sanctuary greets you.
img_3789
I can only guess that there are two people in charge of maintenance. The guy in charge of the inside is efficient and uses the church’s money wisely. The guy in charge of the outside gambles a lot and smells of elderberries.
img_3795
The castle walls in the distance as we left for home. It looked a lot cooler in person because you could see the battlements. Just one more piece of evidence that you better come out to see us so you can see this really cool stuff in person!

img_3731

 

 

 

 

2 thoughts on “A Sunday Drive into a Fairy Tale

  1. You were right about the lightening. It was perfect. But I have to ask, what is with the hat? Did the English owner of your new house throw it in the deal?

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s