While exploring the crooked streets of Óbidos, you will most certainly run into some local specialties. Try a bit of pão com chouriço (bread with sausage baked inside). Found at almost every bakery and breadshop, it is a tasty little snack. For drink, try the popular alcoholic beverage ginjinha. Ginjinha is a liquor made by fermenting ginja (similar to cherries) in brandy. Ginjinha is served in a shot form usually with a piece of the fermented fruit on the bottom of the cup, although it can also be served without the fruit. Although a little too sweet for my tastes, it is certainly something unique that visitors should try.
Crikey, my accents are not showing up, so if you cannot read what I just wrote, it is "pao com chorico" without accents.
While the other belly dancer wearing red was strutting her stuff in the hot sun for hours, this one in yellow was a lazy little gal. Her counterpart would dance about 95 per cent of the time, while she put in a mere 5 per cent. I don't know if it was because she was lazy or because they didn't think she was good enough to do the bulk of performance. Her counterpart was certainly a lot better.
So you might be thinking, "What, belly dancing is a local custom?" Well, I was attending a medieval festival in Obidos, and Portugal was ruled by the Moors (of North African descent) from the 8th to the 13th centuries. Hence, much of Portugal's culture has been influenced by their long presence. With that said, they were showcasing belly dancers as part of Portugal's mixed heritage, and the lady is supposed to represent one from that time period of their ruling. Yes indeed, the Portuguese have adopted belly dancing into their own culture.
This photo shows a hilly sidewalk scene in Obidos, illustrating some of the features common to the houses of this part of Portugal. The whitewash on their walls performs a number of functions, including protecting the walls from pests and deflecting the heat of the summer sun. It is also the custom to decorate the buildings with either blue or yellow highlight paint.
Another carryover from the years of Moorish occupation can just barely be seen in the chimney of this house. Its decorative construction is common in these southern parts of Portugal, all the way to the Algarve, because this is where the Moorish occupation lasted the longest.
I like windmills and always want to take photos of them. However, on this trip, we had passed by a few early on in our jaunt around the country and, for one reason or another, I did not make the time to stop for a shot. I thought I had blown my chances until, as we were almost finished our trip, they started popping up on the hillsides in the Estremadura region northwest of Lisbon!
This particular windmill, located just outside the town and photographed as I stood on the ramparts of its defensive walls, is representative of the type that you will mostly see in mainland Portugal. However, there is another style used in the Azores, with more Dutch flavour to it. The windmills in mainland Portugal were mostly used to grind the grain that was harvested from the fields.
This windmill has a solid cylindrical base, made of either bricks or stone. The upper wooden section is able to pivot, allowing the sails (normally made of canvas) to catch the ocean breezes prevalent in this area. I recently saw an internet advert for the sale of a windmill exactly like this one (in fact, I think it is this very windmill) going for E135,000 for conversion into living quarters!
On the right side of main street, close to church Santa Maria, you will find the post office. Post office in Portuguese is Correios. This particular Post Office is located on a mannor house. The opening hours are:
. Weekdays: 9am to 12.30pm; 2.30pm to 6pm.
Miradouro is the Portuguese word for belvedere or viewpoint. While strolling through Obido's main street you will notice this sign several times. If you follow the sign you will go into a belvedere and enjoy great views over the village and its surroundings. Be sure not to miss, as they can be quite pleasant on sunny days.
If you need or want to stay connected while visiting Obidos, you will find an Internet space in main street (Rua Direita). On photo you may see the main entrance to this space, which is identified with the yellow sign showing the Town Hall's website: www.cm-obidos.pt. This Internet space is opposite to church Santa Maria.
Azulejos are traditional Portuguese tiles. If you notice carefully the houses and churches in Obidos you will see some beautiful examples of this ancient arts craft. Some of them are covered in azulejos, either inside or outside, and some of them will have smaller or bigger panels depicting some scene. Azulejos are hand painted tiles and can be found in blue and white shades or coloured, depending on theme, epoch and place.
Well, maybe this is not a real local custom, but I had to find a place for this "strange" cat I found in Obidos. As you can probably see, the cat was full of dust... And it was a kind of wax statue, standing still... Mmmm, I was curious to find out what had happened, but it didn't say even a MEOWWWWWWWWW! :-)
Detail on one exterior wall of a private house located in Óbidos:
Hand painted Portuguese blue tiles depicting the Baptism of Jesus Christ.
Right after the Town Gate, visitors enter Rua Direita, the main shopping street. Hand-painted tiles, ginga, folk art, ceramics, etc, are on display for the delight of the various visitors.
There are plenty of beautiful azulejos in Óbidos, as there are in all Portuguese towns. This one tells a little about Gingja, which I described in my nightlife tip.