Date:   September 18, 2000
Location:   Salema to Obidos

It rained overnight. This time, we took in all the clothes before dark, though! And Brig enjoyed the soothing patter on the open-beam roof, in the middle of the night.

We spent most of the day on the bus, stopping around 45 minutes south of Lisbon, for lunch. I had a salad from a salad bar. Unfortunately, I waited too long to get to the salad bar. There's only a few tomato slices left, mostly green. I take 'em anyway. And some unattractive lettuce, and three kinds of beans, and corn and cukes. Brig takes a roll, a bowl of bean soup, and a slice of melon. The soup and the melon were good.

Vasco da Gama Bridge We pass through Lisbon on the Vasco da Gama bridge, which is 14 km long and brand new. The suspension segment is also a cable-stay suspension bridge, like many of the other suspension bridges we've seen and used in Portugal.

Obidos is about an hour north of Lisbon. We pass lots of cork oak trees along the way, plus a stack of what initially appears to be hollow logs. I quickly realize that they represent a cork harvest.

The hotel in Obidos has a wide aspect ratio Sony TV in the living room, and it's tuned to the Olympics. While awaiting the shuttle carrying our bags, several folks settle in to watch. Meanwhile, Tooraj goes across the street to purchase some porto and snacks for us to sample. When he returns, as he is passing the living room, he trips. The Olympic viewers turn instantly into sporting judges, and rate his fall a "9.9". He manages to save 2 of 4 bottles, but his pants and sweatshirt are a total loss...

The castle-turned-parador, with a very un-medieval picture window.

The landscape around Obidos is beautiful

Obidos is a very small town, with the same limestone cobble streets we saw in Salema. No basalt designs as in Lagos, though. The city is surrounded by a reconstructed wall, which you can walk on, if you're not an acrophobe (there's no railing on the inside). We find a craft shop with some very pretty lace work, done by the store's owner. We buy a few nice pieces.

And another chimney top

...and yet another style

...and another

...and still more styles.
Okay, I've gotten this Portugese chimney cover thing out of my system, now.

Ok, those are clearly hand-made sausage.

How's this for minimalist architecture? It's a bar, silly. Without the "bar".

Brigid poses with the lace artisan

The group gets back together in the hotel, to taste porto. We try three kinds: "extra dry", which is dry only in relative terms; "tawny", which ages in oak for a bit longer than standard port, and is really sweet; and "ruby", which is a little sweeter than "tawny". I find that I'm not terribly fond of any of them. We also try Ginjinha (zheen-zheen-yah), which is a cordial made from sour cherry (or, perhaps from "ginja" berry). It's very cherry flavored, but excruciatingly sweet. Brig likes it. I figure it would go well on ice cream.

Susan explains about porto

Tooraj, after the Olympic porto-smashing event

Afterwards, we take Tooraj's & Susan's suggestion to eat at A Ilustre Casa de Romero, a fancy restaurant just outside the city wall. The food is excellent, but the service pace is leisurely. We probably overwhelmed the staff by dumping 20 customers on them without reservations. We started with garlic shrimp (similar to Caravella's shrimp in Lagos); I choose fish chunks wrapped with bacon and grilled, served with mashed potatoes and string beans; Brig orders the "duck rice", which is herbed rice with shredded duck meat, baked. Both dishes are specialties of the restaurant. Both are very good. Dinner cost 8,700 esc. ($40).

The hotel room, by the way, is our least favorite (it evens things out, after our palace in Salema). The room is damp and smells musty. It is filled with flies. And, we are warned, the folks across from our window have a rooster who announces the impending dawn -- at 4:00 AM. Oh, and the bed is extremely soft. Oh, well. Time to try to sleep among the flies. Ick.