Obidos: a medieval city!

Today I came across a nicely written piece on the website ttps://www.visitportugal.com, about the medieval city, Obidos. It describes very well what Óbidos is and what you can see there. Hence, it is definitely a must-do when you are staying with us! A small half-hour drive will take you to this beautiful village. To bring you in the mood, I share with you some information about this medieval village.

Location

Óbidos is close to the capital, on top of a mountain near the Atlantic coast. It was once of strategic importance for the defense of the territory. People lived there even before the Romans occupied the Iberian Peninsula. Obidos rose to greater prosperity from the moment the royal family chose to stay in this town. When King D. Dinis donated the town to his wife, D. Isabel, in the 13th century. Medieval Obidos became the city of the queens of Portugal, who fortified and enriched the town for several dynasties. This is also one of the main reasons why there are so many churches in this small town.

Het kasteel van Óbidos

Within the city walls, there is a well-preserved castle between a labyrinth of narrow streets and charming white houses. Between the portals in Manueline style, the flower decorated windows, and the small squares, you find different sights. All good examples of the religious and civil architecture from the golden times of the town.

Obidos, more than just a castle

The churches Igreja Matriz de Santa Maria, Igreja da Misericórdia, Igreja de São Pedro, the “Pelourinho” are within the walls. Outside the city walls the aqueduct and the sanctuary Santuário do Sr. Jesus da Pedra, with a round plan, are some of the monuments worth a visit. Like the Museu Municipal de Óbidos, where you can admire the works of Josefa de Óbidos. This famous painter from the 17th century was a woman with an idiosyncratic artistic attitude. And that was quite unusual for that time. Her paintings show the influence of great 17th-century masters such as the Spanish painters Zurbarán and Francisco de Herrera. But also the Portuguese André Reinoso and Baltazar Gomes Figueira, her father.

Obidos view from the walls around the town

You can visit the medieval city of Obidos throughout the year. The love stories that are told here and the medieval atmosphere, make this town ideal for a romantic or just a quiet weekend. If you spend a night in the castle, your stay will certainly be perfect.

Obidos small streets with an abundance of flowers

Events in Obidos

One of the most famous dishes of the local gastronomy is the “Caldeirada de peixe da Lagoa de Óbidos” (fish stew). It tastes even better when you drink a wine from the Oeste wine region. Another attraction is the famous cherry liqueur, the “Ginjinha de Óbidos”. You can taste this drink in different places, preferably in a cup of chocolate.

Throughout the year, events take place that brightens up this small town. The most famous are the Festival Internacional do Chocolate (chocolate festival), the Mercado Medieval (medieval market) and the Christmas market. In December the town transforms into a Christmas village. Other important events are the Temporada de Música Clássica Barroca (baroque music), the Temporada de Cravo (harpsichord) and the “Festival de Ópera” (opera festival) that give a special atmosphere to Óbidos. There are also many outdoor shows in the hot summer months.

Obidos overlooks the valley and was important for the defense of Portugal

In the area of Óbidos, there is the large sandy beach of Praia d’El Rey. Golf enthusiasts can practice their sport on a golf course with a view over the Atlantic Ocean. You need to pass by the city of Caldas da Rainha, whose history links closely to the Queens of Portugal. You will arrive at the beach of Foz do Arelho, which connects the Lagoa de Óbidos lagoon with the sea. An excellent place for a delicious lunch with seafood and fresh fish. Or to enjoy a beautiful sunset over the sea.

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Interesting read as well: dinosaurs in Lourinha.

Caves of Mira d’Aire

I was not immediately aware of any caves in Portugal, however, locals told me that ‘Mira de Aire’ was the place to be.  Just one hour drive north of Lourinha. A nice alternative for the extreme heat this week, because in the caves it is noticeably cooler.

Tickets

We arrived in the afternoon, therefore a good tip for anyone is to go there before noon. A huge ticket line! One lady serving the clients, in July, high season!  Once we got our tickets we waited another 15 minutes to enter the first room. Just to see a video about the history of the caves. And it was boring.  The video was all in Portuguese and although my Portuguese is not that bad, I hardly understood anything. The children were also bored after 2 minutes. After the video was finished, we finally entered the caves, with a friendly, English speaking guide.  I had a lot of expectations because the pictures that I saw were very promising.

The experience

They were right! From the moment you enter the caves, you feel the magic! Nice colorful light shows at the walls give amazing effects. All my frustration went away.  The guide gave all the information you need, in English, French, and Portuguese. There are a lot of steps, and sometimes they are a little bit slippery. But that’s the way it is in a cave, isn’t it? At the end of the visit, you see a beautiful light show, which is amazing for the kids. After that, you take the elevator to see some beautiful crystals. A short walk brings you back to the entrance.

I strongly suggest doing this trip, especially in the high season, in the morning. Afterward, you can visit the waterpark which is near the caves. You can swim and slide as much as you want!

More info: http://www.grutasmiradaire.com/

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Read also about the dinosaurs in Lourinha!

Sintra: a truly city of palaces!

From Lourinha, it is just an hour’s drive to the beautiful city of Sintra. I spent a day in the heart of the charmingly old city. And it was a fantastic way to get acquainted with some classic Portuguese history. With over ten notable historical monuments for a relatively small town, Sintra has a lot to offer for the intrigue of any visitor. And even though there are countless tour buses and guides, they are not a must. It is not too difficult to self-navigate through.

Royalty in Sintra

Sintra is truly a city of palaces, and the Pena Palace on the hilltop overlooking the city is an absolute must-see. It is a lovely stroll through gardens up to the hill to the stunning, colorful, palace with its romanticist, whimsical charm.

Just down the path, there is also a much older, 12th-century Moorish palace. That is also worth a look, especially as you can tour both for under 20 euros a person.

The 20th-century villa house, Quinta da Regaleira, is straight from a fairy tale. Its design and glamour are a popular local favorite of the attractions.

From these sights, you can see all of the city of Sintra. Overlooking the Palacio Nacional de Sintra, Parque da Pena, and 15th century Convento dos Capuchos is a magnificent view. All well worth a visit if you have the time, the city boasts an oceanfront, areas to shop, and countless little streets to explore.

Coast

For the more actively geared tourist, Sintra also is home to a beautiful cliff-lined coast. It is ideal for surfing, hiking, and some of the best rock climbing in all of Portugal. In the center of town, there are shopping streets with many places to eat or get a coffee. Explore some local shops and see some sights. We tried the Cafe Saudade, somewhat of a well-known favorite amongst locals and easygoing tourists. It’s a beautiful cafe with a terrace where you can enjoy delicious drinks, cakes, and meals. And it is within walking distance of many of the cities attractions. Important, they also offer vegan and vegetarian options, which can be somewhat hard to come by in Portugal.

The city of Sintra is notably worth the visit during your stay at Vila Oasis Verde, whether it be for rustic charm, history, or an outdoor adventure, you’ll soon fall in love with the area… and maybe even run into Madonna in her new home in the city!

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Read also about the dinosaurs in Lourinha!

Visit the dinosaurs in Lourinhã!

After waiting a lot of years for the famous Dinopark, it finally was there!  In February 2018 it opened his doors for the public! Living in Lourinha, we were a little bit prepared.  We followed all the preparations of the park through social media. Last year there were also some very nice dinosaurs in the center of Lourinha, which are now in the park.  So we really expected a lot of the park!

The Visit

End of March 2018, we decided to explore the park.  We went on a sunny Sunday afternoon and we were not the only one.  A very long row to enter the park. It seems that you can buy also your tickets online, and then you can skip the line!

When you enter the park, you first need to pass a big area where some things are explained about the dinosaurs found in Lourinha, the Lourinhanosaurus.  There is also a small lab where you see the scientist working on bones etc. When you leave this space, you immediately enter in the world of dinosaurs, a big park with a lot of trees and about 120 real-life dinosaurs!  It is a very sunny day, so it’s very good that we have the shade of the trees. A walk of more or less 2 hours will take us through the 4 different periods of the dinosaurs. My kids of 6 and 8 years old are very excited. They really like to see the dinosaurs.  Sometimes there is a little, basic play area and then we continue our walk. After 1,5 hour of walking, they get a little bit bored. They find it interesting, but it is always the same. Of course, you see dinosaurs and that’s it, nothing more than that. When we are at the end of the walk, they are happy again, because there they have a very nice playground and there is also an area where they can be a scientist themselves. They can hammer on a stone to discover some bones. A little basic, but they like it.

Conclusion

My conclusion: don’t expect some fancy, interactive things in the park.  It is a basic park with nice dinosaurs, but that’s it. Personally, I find it quite expensive (9,5 EUR for children and 12,5 EUR for adults) for what it is.

More information: website dino parque.

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Read more about Lourinha.

Surfing in Praia da Areia Branca, our nearest beach

We couldn’t describe it better!  Read the experiences of a guest who stayed at our place! Surfing in Praia da Areia Branca.

‘Vila Oasis Verde is a short drive or lovely walk to the beautiful Praia da Areia Branca beach. During my stay, I took surf lessons at a local surf school, located right on the beach where there are also various restaurants to enjoy after your lesson. The surf school has lots of equipment and instructors, all of whom are very experienced. They lived and surfed in the region for years. They are personable and friendly and they do everything they can to help you get up on the board. Almost everyone stands and surfs within a matter of days!

It’s a very cool experience, especially on the Silver Coast of Portugal with the wonderful, clear waters, hot sun, and gorgeous cliff scenery surrounding the soft, sandy beaches. The surf is fantastic and fun for every age. And you get involved in the community as well because of the lessons. For instance, you hook up with other travelers staying nearby, or the locals! Since the beach area is small, you will get to know people well and become aquatinted with the lifestyle seamlessly. I made many great friends in all levels of surf ability with the school, which has made my stay that much better!

Social

The surf school works to get its participants engaged with one another as well. They offer a weekly, delicious five-course seafood meal at a local restaurant, for just 17 euros. Lessons themselves are also enticingly not expensive, at about 200 euros a week with equipment included. For an even broader experience, a package is available which includes great tours to gain knowledge about the area. Included are wonderful yoga lessons with a local teacher.

My Recommendations

I strongly recommend the surf schools of the area to anyone staying in Praia da Areia Branca, and I recommend coming for them as well! The location is perfect with a very consistent wave break and gorgeous scenery, as well as being just 15 minutes from the surfing city of Peniche and about an hour from Lisbon with easy bus transportation.

They are truly a great way to learn a new skill, get outside, and get involved with a wonderful community!’

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Read also about the dinosaurs in Lourinha!

Oceanarium of Lisbon: the place to be with kids!

Lisbon is more than statues and gardens.  That’s what the locals say. But what if you have children?  Children don’t like walking through the streets, everybody knows that.  My kids like seeing fish, in all sizes and colors. So we visited the oceanarium of Lisbon, located at Parque das Nacoes and which is one of the largest oceanariums in the world.  

Rog oceanarium Lissabon
Rog oceanarium Lissabon

When you arrive you see a very modern building, which has the design of an aircraft carrier.  My son is already very enthusiastic! Before entering, you need to cross a big bridge over the water where you, if you are lucky, can already see some jellyfish in there.   When you passed the entrance, you see immediately a big tank with a lot of different fish, from a small cuttlefish to a big shark. This tank represents the open ocean. During the visit, you visit four habitats, the north Atlantic rocky coast, the tropical Indian coral reefs, the Antarctic coastal line and the temperate pacific kelp forest, each with their different fauna and flora.  

Lelijke vis, oceanarium Lissabon
Lelijke vis, oceanarium Lissabon

Even though we visited the oceanarium on a public holiday, it was not too crowded.  It’s also perfect to do on a very hot day because the whole area is air-conditioned… The visit takes about 2 hours.  You can also take a guided tour, this will take of course a little bit longer. The price of a visit for adults is acceptable, 16 EUR/pp and for children 13 EUR (prices 2017).

When you leave the oceanarium, you can take a trip for 3 EUR/pp in the telecabine, which brings you from the oceanarium to the tower of Vasco da Gama.  You will have a very nice view over the Tagus river and Parque das Nacoes, built for the Expo 98.

Lissabon oceanarium Nemo
Lissabon oceanarium Nemo

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More info: https://www.oceanario.pt/