Tag Archives: Obidos

What? Walking Fortress Walls. WRONG.

In the awesome medieval town of Obidos, one can walk the entire walls of the fortress that surrounds the town.  We went to see the Christmas village there less than a month ago, but with family in town, I thought another trip was in order.

There are scary stone staircases with no railings that lead up to the top of the walled city’s protective barrier.  There are signs that warn that it is dangerous and young children are not encouraged to walk the perimeter of the walls.  No, really?  The top of the walls, in some places, measure 43 feet high with nothing stopping you from plummeting to your death.  Of course, after seeing this my brother thought it was a great idea to take my 6 year old daughter up there for a jaunt.

I saw him take Pippa by the hand and march up one of the steep and scary staircases.  I thought they were stopping there, but that would have been too safe.  No, he proceeded to take her to the top of the fortress, where, like the nut job she is, she leaned over the edge and waved at me.  I started to feel intense panic.  Chest constricting  anxiety.  I yelled for her to come down.  Casually, Pippa and my brother returned, but not after a few more waves from on high.  My mom said I needed to relax more.  I said I will relax when I am dead.   I tend to exaggerate.

After multiple requests by my children to climb back up to the top of the walled city, I decided I would check it out for myself.  Maybe it wasn’t so bad.  Holy crap!  It was way worse.  Like big time way worse.  Once I was at the top, I thought I was going to die.  First of all, I have permanent vertigo.  It is pretty nasty and up high like that…let’s just say, death seem imminent.  Secondly, the stones are uneven (hundreds of years old and constantly exposed to the elements).  There were also pot holes and wonky stones.  Thirdly, no railings.  Come on.  Why are people even allowed up there?  Remember…up to 43 feet high!  We would never let people even close to that in North America.  We care about safety and tourists not falling to their death and landing on top of other tourists.  Bad for business.

I clutched the wall for dear life and made my way down the next flight of stairs.  My family was waiting for me and my kids were ready to try the same walk I had just completed.  Maggie,  my 11 year old, saw the look on my face and knew instantly it was not going to happen.  EVER.  Pippa was halfway up the stairs when I got my priest to yank her back.

Maggie looked at me and said, “is this another thing we can do after we turn 18?”  Typically, anything dangerous or remotely romantic (kissing), must be attempted after 18 years of age in my world.  I figure by that time, they will have forgotten about it and I can continue to sleep at night.  I told her that even after 18 it was questionable.  Why do I have the feeling, that Pippa will sneak out in the middle of the night, get someone to drive her the hour to Obidos and start walking the fortress walls.  One kid feels my pain, the other wants to cause me more pain.   Never a dull moment.

I took pictures from up high, documenting my impending demise. Notice my family below looking like ants.

Christmas village and cups of delight.

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!