Comboios de Portugal trains run on time, unlike Amtrak. The train to Óbidos from Lisbon’s Santa Apolónia station was pretty empty. The two-hour ride through the countryside and vineyards was pleasant. When we reached the small Óbidos station, it was raining. Since the station is about a kilometer downhill from the fortified hill town, one needs to call a taxi, which I did. There were about 5 other passengers who were perplexed. They were from Spain and spoke little English and no Portuguese, so I chatted with them in Spanish and invited them to ride with me. The taxi arrived within seconds and we were in the center in a few minutes and split the modest 6 EUR cost.

My hotel, Josefa d’Óbidos, was right there, so after checking in I walked up the hill to the historic walled part of town. The rain had ended and the weather turned sunny and humid. I was drenched by the time I got through Port Da Vila, the main gate into the walled town, established by the Moors before the 12th century and reclaimed by the Portuguese in 1228. I walked on top of the wall, a distance of almost 1600 meters, up and down. By this time, the sun was broiling. I found a shaded open-air esplanade, Esplanada Santa Maria, where I grabbed a tuna salad and some mineral water. The majority of the patrons, indeed most of the tourists, were retired people from Spain and France, with a few Britons, Americans and Canadians sprinkled among them. After a nice respite in the shade, I visited the historic Igreja (church) de Santa Maria, built in the XVI century. The tiles (azulejos) were magnificent, along with a Renaissance tomb in the style of the Pieta and paintings by Josefa de Óbidos, a 17th-century painter.

The main street was pretty kitschy and thronged with slow walkers. Those of you who are familiar with my pace know that I like to move quickly, so I was happy to be outside the walls again.

The town also has a 3 km aqueduct, which I walked along later in the afternoon.

I’d really hoped to eat at Tasca Torta, but, alas, it was small and all the tables were reserved. So I walked into a little place and had the freshly grilled sea bass. The service was painfully slow, but the fish and vegetables were fine.

One of my favorite things while traveling is to chat with the front desk people, who always know all the local lore and things like bus schedules. I was concerned about how to get to Santarém from Óbidos, but the receptionist showed me how quickly one could get there by bus and printed out the schedule. Happily, the stop is right outside of the hotel. She also was telling me about the nationality of the tourists who were most annoying. We both laughed about that.

Although a charming and ancient town, one night is sufficient. The hotel was excellent and the atmospheric village was great to see.

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