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Medieval Obidos

Written on: Thursday September 15th, 2011

Our now standard routine of coffee and custard pastries at Dona Helena's took on a new twist this morning: room service.  In Liz's apparent excitement of the day's excurion, she brought the try of goodies to the room as I finished getting ready.  Nice....so glad we stayed here.  What a sweet location. 

With caffeine and calories inside us we set off on a mid-morning bus North to Obidos, Liz's most anticipated location in Portugal.  The ride there took us threw sleepy towns, past vineyards and fruit groves, eventually dropping us outside the castle walls.  Finding a tourist information house we obtained a map of the grounds and set off on our way.

Orignally retaken from the Moors in 1148, this town seemed to be a dichotomy between historical beauty and modern tourism.  Relative hoards of middle-aged Europeans spewed from busses and made their way inside the walls.  We took it in stride and followed suit through the main entryway.

Initially, I felt the history of the town.  From stone houses and centuries old churches, to cobblestone streets and a very apparent lack of auto traffic within the walls.  We even stopped to sample a Ginja, the local cherry liquere served in a shotglass made of chocolate.  But soon the tour groups proved too bothersome.  We made our way off the main route and started to explore the roads less traveled.  Every corner we turned seemed to bring an even greater beauty!  Modern shop signs gave way to vividly colored flowers, cobblestoned streets turned into winding footpaths and, surrounding it all, the barrier wall loomed powerful.  We even managed to ascend to the top of the wall, circumnavigating the picturesque town within.

With every nook thoroughly explored, we headed back to Lisbon, once again making our way to the central district of Baixa.  It was here that we opted to explore the Santa Justa Lift, an outdoor elevator that brought one from city street level to an elevated lookout platform.  Seeing the city from this perspective was truly a rewarding experience.  And sadly, it made me realize how much of the city would be left unexplored on this trip.

But the night was still young and there was plenty left to experience.  Contemplating a glass of wine before dinner, we returned to our usual haunt for a refill of the Sprite bottle, which we sipped in the room while preparing for dinner.  Being our last night in the city, we wanted to once again take in a fado show.  As chance would have it, our wanderings brought us to the doorstep of one of the most highly recommended fado bars in the city, according to Liz's research.  We grabbed a seat ominously close to the performers, ordered our fish and settled in for the show.

The performance featured a dizzying array of singers, as many locals literally walked in off the street to belt out a set and inevitably try to peddle their CDs.  A significant highlight of the night was the opportunity to speak with one of the guitarists during a break in the music.  It was then that I learned about the beautiful and unique Portuguese guitar and it importance to fado.  Oh how I longed to strum a few chords on its brilliant strings!

With the music and meal completed, we ventured further into the night, ending up in an underground jazz club.  Although the hour was late, the band played on, treating us to one final musical experience in the city.

Alas, we hiked back uphill to our flat for the last time.  Despite the many experiences in and around the city, we didn't dwell on them being finished.  There was one more stop in Portugal, and the morning bus to Porto left early.

 

From HI on Nov 14th, 2011

HI

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