A picturesque setting, the cobbled floor, a maze of narrow streets, the stonework of the doors and windows of the whitewashed houses edged in colour, the centuries-old but well-preserved castle towers, the aroma of the orange trees that invades the air... the ridged-tile roofs with corners composing a canvas worthy of children’s tales, the maternal wall that embraces the village, the pots of geraniums (“sardine plants” in Portuguese – pretty but not smelly!), the iron lamps that illuminate the night…
And then again, breathing space, because Óbidos is so much and everything!
The pink bougainvillea giving a colourful dimension to the space, the steep stairs and the baroque gate to the town under stone arches, offering an eighteenth-century tiled entrance with scenes of The Passion of Christ wetting the appetite for the dish that follows.
From the top of the wall, the view is superb, so get your legs to work and forget vertigo. From the top of the wall that encloses the city it is possible to see the immensity of the valley as far as the sea and imagine what lies beyond the horizon – Óbidos will always be an inspiration! But walking the length of the walls deserves a feast. Intense in taste, but light and refreshing to ensure energy for the much that there is yet to discover.
On the town’s main street, Rua Direita, the stones of the sidewalk lead to a conservation library because Óbidos never ceases to amaze. Among the representation of conservative literary works, and with an erudite appetite wanting to turn the page, they are idealizing gastronomic combinations. It is the Comur store, an unexpected space with details to savour with plenty of time. Hundreds of books line the ornate shelf of green and gold painted ironwork and present the splendid Canning of Portugal. Part of UNESCO's Creative Cities Network and with bookstores in such unusual places as churches, cellars, and markets, there are few places where the Library concept behind Comur stores fits in as well as here.
And all of a sudden, the eyes are drawn to a tin can of mackerel in olive oil and begin to mentally build a refreshing salad of tasty mackerel fillets, slightly bitter and crispy endives, red apple sliced into thin strips with the peel and sprinkled with lemon juice, nuts and quail eggs. A composition doused in a fresh sauce of creme fraiche, Dijon mustard and walnut oil. And a good white wine, obviously. A terrace shaded by pink bougainvillea, a table that insists on being crooked because the paved floor demands it, and a smile widens in view of the setting; the banquet is set for a reality that is so contemporary after all.
And from the Cannery Library you return to the streets, because the bell marks the time for a longer visit to the castle. All that's missing is the digestive. There’s ginjinha (Morello cherry liqueur) at every corner marking the middle of the afternoon, already drawn out, because Óbidos transports us to a medieval imaginary where time has stopped.