Wednesday morning before leaving for Obidos my dad and I got up for a run. It’s sick how much I love kicking off the day with a run. We did 4 miles together and then I did one more solo. It was a little tough given we were even more sleep deprived than the day before, but worth it to get one more lap of the city while it was still sleeping.
John & my dad left to get our rental car, which was around the corner from our hotel. The plan was for them to bring it back to the hotel & my mom and I would meet them downstairs with everyone’s stuff. We knew we had rented a car big enough for the 4 of us and our bags. What we didn’t know was that it meant a 9 seater transporter van. When John pulled around the corner in Mega-Van, I didn’t even realize it was him. And naturally, it was a stick shift. Thank goodness John had a brief stint in high school working for a moving company and driving a huge truck that was a stick shift, and that my dad grew up driving a stick. This picture really doesn’t do it justice.
After we all got over the shock and laughing about the van, we were on our way to Obidos. It was about an hour from Lisbon. Our hotel there was Pousada Castelo de Obidos – an amazing boutique hotel IN the castle. That said, believe it or not, Castles don’t generally have roads built for a van the size of a small motor home. Luckily we were able to fit the van through and got checked in. Our rooms were really cool. It was a fun experience to stay in a castle like that.
We grabbed lunch first at a spot called Tasca Torta. I had grilled chicken skewers and rice and it was delicious! We spent the next hour (maybe a little less) walking the castle walls. It’s just about a mile the whole way around & there are so many good lookout points for pictures. There are some spots where it is up pretty high and the wall gets pretty narrow! And they are all open on one side. A little nerve wracking, but just in a couple places. It was a lot of fun.
Staying nice & close to the inside wall
One thing all the guide books suggest to do in Obidos is to get a drink of Ginja de Obidos – cherry liqueur that comes in a chocolate cup. After the wine tour in Lisbon, we knew that was not for us. We did enjoy all the cool bookstores though. Apparently Obidos is known for that, and there was even a literary festival called Folio, happening while we were there.
Later that night, we had dinner at a restaurant that was recommended to us by a couple different sources, Comendador Silva. It was great food, but so incredibly slow.
We looked into a hotel that had the coolest bar before heading back to our hotel. The Literary Man has 45,000 books and a really unique atmosphere. Kind of like a library, but with wine.
I was really tempted to run the next morning around the castle. However the sun didn’t come up one bit until 8am, and that was when we needed to be ready to go. The area around the castle had no lights, and was all slippery tiles. I knew taking a day off was the right call even though I was really tempted.
The next day we had planned to drive straight to Sintra. However, we ended up making an unplanned stop at Nazaré Beach and then Porto. It took a bit more driving time, but I think it was worth it. Nazaré Beach is along the coast on the way to Porto. We all wanted to see the coast and it didn’t disappoint.
Porto is charming and has a lot of character. We parked in a garage (again driving Mega-Van down a narrow road), and had lunch in a great little open air market before taking a gondola up to the top of the bridge.
We walked over the top of the 2 layer bridge and cruised through the streets and beautiful old buildings that had boutiques inside. I picked up a pretty gold filigree necklace that is the Portuguese symbol for sun. After we walked back along the bottom level of the bridge and John had picked up a really cool Port sampler, we started the 3 hour drive to Sintra. Luckily I could stretch out to my full height on the back seat of Mega-Van and nap.
We got into Sintra around 6pm and sat in a bit of traffic. I can’t imagine how bad it would have been in the high tourism season. Sintra is an old city with narrow streets, but the wonderful people at our hotel didn’t bat an eye as they told us to pull Mega-Van right up on the curb for check in. While everyone settled in, I asked the front desk for a running route. As we were driving in, I noticed how incredibly hilly it was. I am totally game for hills with my San Francisco running experience, but these were intense!
Our hotel in Sintra – the Sintra Boutique Hotel – was awesome. The staff were so incredibly kind and helpful. And it was perfectly centrally located. There was even a “pillow menu” so that you could change the firmness/softness of your pillows – tucked into a tiny pillow, of course.
We grabbed a drink and some cheese with bread before walking around to decide on dinner. For dinner, we picked Incomum, a French-Portuguese restaurant that had the best sea bass I’ve ever tried. We hit the hay shortly after.
Friday morning my dad and I got out for a run. It was noticeably humid right away, and I regretted bringing a jacket. We ran 4 miles together and I finished off with 2 more. The hills were tough, but it was fun!
After breakfast, we got right to work on getting a combo ticket from the tourism office for the 3 big attractions we wanted to hit. It was less expensive that way and let us skip the lines.
We started off by taking a cab to Pena National Palace. Our guidebooks said you could walk, but that it was an incredibly strenuous 1+ hour hike. So we decided to take a cab to the first castle and work our way back down.
Pena National Palace was very interesting to walk through. It had so many beautiful tiles throughout and awesome views.
Next was the Castle of the Moors. It didn’t have anything to see inside it, but walking the walls and going up to the top of the towers was a lot of fun. Walking down to the castle somehow still included quite a bit of uphill walking.
After that, we walked about 45 minutes into town and had a late lunch at Paço Real. We shared pizza and I had another Caprihana.
We finished with the National Palace of Sintra. We kept calling it the Madonna building because of the two cones that were chimneys that resembled the cone bra haha! In all seriousness, it is a gorgeous building and has so much history.
We got a pre dinner drink by our hotel at a really cute restaurant near the hotel that had a very memorable statue out front. You can see the National Palace of Sintra in the background.
We had dinner at a local spot called Apeadeiro and then I convinced everyone we should get gelato to share at a different spot I had seen earlier. John convinced everyone that we should also share a Nutella crepe. It was the right decision.
Knowing what I know now, I would have driven from Lisbon to Porto and spent a day there, then Obidos, and finally Sintra. One day in each place was enough for us, though you could have a more relaxed trip doing 2 days. All of them were such great towns with great walking, shopping and eating. My kind of places!