When the talk is about Portugal, the only buzzing words are Lisbon, Ronaldo and Port wine. Literally that is where everyone starts off at. I did so too. Another one or two of those sunny walking tours and soon you realise it is not after all that tiny teeny of a mark on the planet Portugal is. As much as Lisbon, Porto and Sintra have vast choices for the most savvy and picky travellers, there are places that you do not necessarily get to visit in a short term vacay. I thought I would escape the city for a day or two and land at some rather hidden gems of Portugal.
Obidos town is 2 hours train ride North from Lisbon. On the way there, it's nothing but farms, forests and overly a scenery that's worth napping through. Though it's a good idea not to miss the Obidos train stop since trains go every few hours only. You especially feel lost when you look around after getting off the train at Obidos. Nonetheless, the passing chain of wagons is what truly blocks the sight. As soon as you cross the rails, climb a hill or two through narrow, yet paved road you get truly surprised. What's hidden behind rather poorly looking wooden arch thing and further up past what seems to have been an open air stage you come to the tall cobble stone/brick looking wall. It's remains of medieval castle and the wall that used to serve a defensive purpose. Castle of Óbidos truly charms once you wander your way through the one of the entrances in the wall. You'd feel like entering Utopia of some sort. Dwellings are built in such a comforting yet random order which makes some streets hardly walkable whereas others just take you from one sight to a better one. Walking around the town on the top of the wall is a must to do. You experience a 360° in real life. Stroll along the cobblestone streets, get lost, find your way out, do it again. This small town is destination to wonder about. Yet not spoiled, you will receive a very welcome hospitality from the people living there.
If surfing is the keyword that burrs your extreme then catch the bus to Peniche. But make sure to do it during the season, though I'm not a surfer I very much enjoyed empty beaches and rocky cliffs on my own, without having to queue for taking a pic or two. Imagine standing a this massive rock solid island that's just connected to the land with a narrow boulders foundation. Biggest advantage is you can be as weird crazy idiotic as you wish and no body in a near future would find you there. On the other hand you deal with strong winds and quite a bone stinging cold. Sure it's not much dramatic if one is dressed well enough. Anyhow, nature and ocean is all there is. Few charming, but very much empty towns, that just awaken closer to the summer. Ferrel was the one I found myself crashing at. All in all great escape to find your next summer party and surf spot before it's booked out.
When doing my research on the surroundings there I came across the town of Caldas da Rainha. My itinerary was just so tight, I only had over an hour to spare. But oh boy it was worth hitting the Dom Carlos I Park. Actually I wasn't much into the park itself. The one and the only reason I made my way there and was overly stoked, was the massive architectural stand out. It's Pavilhões do Parque D.Carlos I that could easily remind you of Hogwarts.
Caldas da Rainha being a stopover point before I reached Coimbra - the city buzzing with life. I did not however spend more than an evening there, but the city itself will receive a two days stroll around next time I'm on the road.