Friday 8th December 2017
After a boozy and lazy day in the sun topping up the tan and a BBQ yesterday we woke to heavy fog this morning. We decided to go and see the walled village of Obidos just down the road and arrived to a mass of cars and people everywhere. Not quite believing why a Friday would be so busy in a tiny village we thought that there must be a special event going on. We found a small spot, squeezed Sunny into it and headed into the village by following the trail of people.
I had a quick romp up the very steep staircase to the top of the battlements to see if I could get the lay of the land and I am sure that the views are amazing on a clear day but as it was a bit of a ‘pea souper’ I could not see much but I took a quick shot of Angie who didn’t fancy joining me on the walls and stood with Molly about 30ft below.
As we entered the Main Street it became a crush of humanity all gradually making their way up hill. If you had lifted your feet on occasions you could nearly have been carried there. We nipped into one of the many shops and brought a sticker for the back of the motorhome and asked why it was so busy. It is always this busy in Óbidos was the reply. Really!
Having never heard of the village it appears to be one of the big tourist attractions in this area and there was a Christmas market on which perhaps added to the occasion. We wandered the side streets and were able to escape the crowds of families who stuck to the Main Street. Small children were clasping their parents hands as if their lives depended on it. Pushchairs were being rumbled up the cobbled steep street and umbrellas narrowly missing taking an eye out here and there. The village was prepared for Christmas with lights draped over the narrow streets and around the castle battlements.
We returned in the evening to see the illuminations and it was very Christmasy and the crowds had died down very slightly.
Saturday 9th December
We bumped into a young British couple on the site today who are taking a year out and traveling with their two young sons. We had met them briefly at our Aire next to the lighthouse in North Spain a few weeks ago where we had a quick chat before they left and said (as you do) we may catch up again on the road at some time. This time we had more time to linger and talk and are envious of them being able to spend the summer in Europe, and impressed with their bravery to take a whole year out to tour Europe with a 6 year old and a toddler of 18 months.
An hours drive took us out of the cold and misty weather to sunny Lisbon the Nations capital. Our guide book had over thirty pages dedicated to Lisbon so it had to be worth a visit.
Tricky junctions, traffic jams and irritate Portuguese drivers made for a lot of horn blowing at two stupid brits in a silly smart car doing mad things like giving way to oncoming traffic, jay walking pedestrians, avoiding collisions and the like. After driving into the square and realising that it was traffic free except just us,Trams, Tuk tuk’s, sight seeing buses and pedestrians we made a hasty retreat out of the tramlined cobbled plaza and back on legal roads. We parked in an underground car park and walked to the grand square Praça do comèrcio on the waterfront. It looked like it had been lifted from St Petersburg or Venice and was a very impressive waste of space with a huge man made Christmas tree adorning one side.
The 18th century architecture and road design behind the square however used every inch of space. Narrow streets lined up in rows and uniformly headed north only broken up by the occasional square. Old fashioned trams crisscrossed the cobbled Surfaces, their rails like scars in the stones for others to follow.
Beggars seemed to be on every corner and it became upsetting to see. Many had ailments, withered limbs, blindness etc and it made us wonder what type of social care Portugal had to offer these poor unfortunate people who all seemed to be old and disabled so different from the homeless we see in the U.K. Every statue we saw along the main predestined streets suddenly moveed when a few euros were thrown in their pot and some brass effect performers were quite stunning in their reality.
We found the Santa Juster elevator, another iron construction designed by an apprentice of Eiffel but the queue was massive so we decided to give it a miss. After a bite to eat we walked / climbed up to the castle through the narrow steep alleyways but on reaching it once again decided to not go in as it was €20 entry and the queue for tickets was daunting.
We wandered the tight and sometime graffiti painted streets and watched abstract painters at work in a small studio with its windows open to public view before Heading back down to the main town again. The whole city was very busy and to be honest not really our cup of tea as there are only so many cafe lined shopping streets you can take in in one day. We decided to go and have a quick look at the Belém Tower and their “Golden Gate Bridge” before the sun set and then head back to the motorhome.
We had intended to spend a couple of days seeing Lisbon and although there is so much more to see we think that one day is enough for us and in our opinion it’s not as visually stunning as Porto.