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Date: September 2018

Route: Drove from Lisbon.

Half of the places we end up in we find out from random people we meet while traveling. Such was the case with Óbidos, which came up in conversation with two Norwegian couples we met in an Indian restaurant in Cascais. They were sailing around the world and happened to sit next to us and asked about what to order. They went on to tell us about this beautiful mountain town north of Sintra that must be seen. Since we freestyle most of our holidays, we decided to go the next morning.

Driving north a little over an hour, we spotted the castle walls as we came off the exit. The city itself is located below the main castle and is inside the main walls. A good start to explore the city is to take the walk around the castle walls which is about a 1.5km walk. Be careful as Portugal is not a nanny state and there are no railings or signs to prevent you from falling off. It’s not dangerous or risky but with today’s phone-addicted life, care is needed. The castle is unfortunately off-limits to tourists as its been turned into a luxury hotel but if you’ve ever wanted to stay in a castle, here is your chance.

The best part of Óbidos is to simply wander around the old cobblestone streets and explore. The main thoroughfare of Rua Direita contains numerous shops and restaurants, most of them selling local fare that is not found elsewhere in Portugal. The whitewashed cottages with blue and yellow paint harkens to the Greek Islands but that is where the resemblance stops; Óbidos is through and through a mountain town. For the best photos, wander around the side streets and explore among the stone archways, ledges and balconies overflowing with flowers. The town is best known for Ginjinha, an alcoholic drink made from sour cherries and sugar. It is one of the most popular drinks in Portugal, second only to Port. And if that wasn’t enough, it is served in a chocolate cup! You can find many local shops selling shots for just €1.

The church at the end is an interesting place as it’s been completely converted into a bookshop. There is also a good view from the belfry which looks back towards Rua Direita. One place we loved is the Livraria do Mercado Biológicowhich is a lovely combination of an old book store and a oraganic/local market. There is something cozy and comfortable about this place and we ended up buying some local soaps and liquor there. All the shelves are made from recycled fruit boxes from local groves.

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