Portugal seems to like hosting Christmas villages. They are these sweet little markets everywhere all decked out for the holidays. Lights, crafts, wine…really what could be better?
Everyone talks about the Christmas village in Obidos. It is about an hour away from Lisbon along a mega fast toll highway (€6 one way). The village of Obidos is a walled medieval fairy land. You enter the town through a gate. The inside of the gate house is lined with Portuguese blue tiles. I cannot get used to how much I love these tiles, even though they appear on the outside of my own house and on the inside, I still love seeing them. Projected on the fortress entrance are falling snowflakes. It is truly magical.
Entering the town is free. Lights are strung across the narrow streets. Vendors sell hot chocolate and this unbelievably dreamy drink called ‘ginja,’ which is a delicacy from the region. It is a sour cherry liqueur that they serve in an edible chocolate cup. There are no words. I could have drank a hundred of them, but I wouldn’t have been able to walk my kids around the village…thank you to my daughter who repeatedly reminded me of this fact. This drink from heaven was €1. How people are not stumbling around this town is beyond me.
Christmas music is coming out of every store and kids are in awe of the window displays. Further into town, you are struck by the enormous walls of the inner fortress. Here you must pay €6 per adult and €5 per kid to enter. Inside these walls is a kids paradise. This place would never exist in the US or Canada, because it is poorly lit and the pathways have not been fixed up for centuries. Huge boulders and rocks are everywhere. Dangerous is an understatement, but no one seems to care. My kids didn’t even take notice of the fact that the top walls of the fort (which kids could climb) had drop offs of about 60 feet. North American families would be panicked. Not one parent seemed to even care that their kids were playing near the wall of death…that made all the worrying fall on my capable shoulders. I worried enough for everyone.
The village has a snow hill with sleds, ice skating, small rides, a zip line, Santa and countless booths filled with sweets that left us all on a complete sugar high. One such treat was a giant marshmallow. You could choose from a range of flavors and each marshmallow was covered in chocolate. I forced the girls to give me a bite of each of theirs and I strategically chose a flavor they wouldn’t like…score one for me!
My southern daughters are not used to snow, so the sled ride was a dream come true. I opted out of letting them ice skate. I didn’t want to watch them kill themselves or others. It would have been ugly.
Overall, this is a must see. This gorgeous town on a hill with thick walls of stone and quaint winding streets. Just like a Tuscan hill town…but in Portugal and don’t forget the chocolate cups of wonder!