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davidx Obidos - A travel report by David
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Obidos,  Portugal - flag Portugal -  Leiria
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davidx's travel reports

Obidos and its Palm Sunday procession.

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I was there in 1999. On Palm Sunday there were not the crowds of visitors that bedevil this fully walled town in the main season. It was splendid. We spent two night there after six in Lisbon and five in Porto.

Down from near the Pousada
Down from near the Pousada
My introduction to Obidos was not fortunate. We had to change trains from Porto twice, the second time being at the Bifurcación of Lares. There’s nothing there [meaning NOTHING] but there was a group with a ghetto-blaster and was it blasting? My implanted ICD machine got a bit over-excited [opposite to a pacemaker] and we looked for a taxi when we arrived at Obidos. Nobody about! Eventually we found someone running a group orienteering activity, who was kind enough to phone. End of problem. We had initially meant to have a first look at Obidos that night and try to see Nazare the next day but clearly I wasn’t up to that so we decided to stay in Obidos. We were delighted to find that there would be a procession to watch, that it would pass ‘our’ house and that there was a sort of roof gallery from which we could have a fine view. In the morning we set off to have a look at the town. It really is a delectable place, not very big but the walls are great. We were just outside the second and slightly subsidiary gate to Obidos, which gave us a shorter but much steeper walk to the top of the town than if we had used the main gate. At the top is the old castle, now the Pousada [like a Spanish Parador]. From here there is a street running right down to the main gate and on the way you can see the church and the old village stocks. Just outside the main gate is an aqueduct, on its own sufficient to commend the town to me. I gather that the walls on the coast side once gave directly onto the sea – but no more. The coast is some few miles away. That morning the streets [or rather the street and the steep little routes up and down from it were being laid with ‘palms’ for the procession. Look at my photo. You may think they have an uncanny resemblance to Cupressus leaves!

Favourite spots:
Ian near the Pousada
Ian near the Pousada
The town is not really big enough to pick out favourite spots. I suppose it must lie between the castle garden and the view from the wall [where you can fairly easily scramble up at the top of the town]. We went into a delightful little cafe on the main street – whose name I forget. There was one comic episode here. My friend, Ian, sadly deceased since, had a massive aversion to certain types of food – I used to act as his taster. Here we bought what we thought were sweet goodies to accompany our tea or coffee. The first bites were just a bready substance and Ian commented that they appeared not to have a filling after all. I was about to agree, took another bite and gulped it down – shouting ‘no – don’t touch’ and almost causing myself a mischief in my fervour. Other visitors looked distinctly alarmed. Sweet? No way. The taster had detected garlic, had to eat both goodies and to make sure the replacement one for Ian really was sweet.

What's really great:
Head of Procession
Head of Procession
That procession was both interesting and strange. Ian, a priest in the C of E [though not practicing] confirmed my distant memory that Palm Sunday was a day of celebration in the church calendar [‘hosannah’ and all that]. However this procession was led by a figure, who was clearly meant to represent some sort of penitent, [N.B. The lead figure in the photo will enlarge but don't try for a face - he's masked!] followed by all the things one expects in a Roman Catholic country. Everything was wired so that we were able to [forced to!] listen to the prayers and speeches each time there was a stop; that is, each time they came to a shrine They took about forty minutes altogether to reach us and there was a shrine almost opposite so they stopped and gave us a close-up. After this we chickened out of any further broadcasts and retired to our room for a rest.

We stayed at the Casa de Relógio [House of the clock] in the Rua da Graça. This was formerly a mansion, built in the 18th century, and its ‘clock’ is a sundial. The entrance gives onto steps either up or down to the rooms and there is a separate staircase up to the breakfast room. I have already commented on the roof terrace.
Rooms are en suite but small. There was not really room for our luggage and that could put me off a longer stay there. However, I see Obidos as a ‘short-stay’ town and te Casa de Relógio is ideal for that. We paid well less than the price shown in the room so perhaps we gained from phoning ahead.
You may feel drawn to the restaurant next door. See below.

Pousada entrance
Pousada entrance
I’m not at all sure how a Pousada would react to being put down as a pub. Of course it provides both accommodation and food but we neither ate nor slept there. However there may be members who don’t realise that you won’t occasion any hostility from either Pousadas in Portugal or Paradors in Spain, if you only go in for an alcoholic drink, fruit juice or coffee/tea. We enjoyed the last of these and it’s a way of getting into some interesting buildings.

On the station
On the station
We used different restaurants on our two nights.
The first was the Casa de Ramiro, next door to where we were staying. You only need to step through the door to realise that it’s NOT cheap, exotic decor and uniformed staff giving the game away. Frankly, we should have looked about more had I not still been decidedly the worse for wear.
However the meal was splendid and the starter of cabbage soup, [a local delicacy but there was quite a choice], was actually cheap as well as delicious. Only the second adjective applied to the meal as a whole.
The second was the Cafe-Restaurante 1° de Dezembro, near the church. The Rough Guide made the service sound dodgy but we had no complaints about either that or the food and the bill was under half that of the previous evening. We were not the only ‘refugees’ trying to avoid growth of the hole of our pockets and there was general agreement in a tower of Babel like way that it had been a good move.

Published on Thursday January 13th, 2005

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Sat, Oct 22 2005 - 02:55 AM rating by toribio


Sun, Jan 16 2005 - 02:59 PM rating by mtlorensen

Sounds like a delightful town to visit for a day or two! Great report, David.

Fri, Jan 14 2005 - 02:48 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

nice report and interesting place too

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