“Must be up this way,” said an English group passing us. They were probably looking for the Natal Luz, Christmas lights, and it was on the tip of my tongue to say “no, it’s not on” but maybe they knew something we didn’t.
It was half past eight in the evening on New Year’s Eve. I looked at the leaflet for the last time and there it was, clear as the blue waters of Obidos lagoon printed in white on a red background. Natal Luz. Christmas Light. ‘Every day of the event 1800-2200. Exception for Dec 25 and Jan 1 1800-20.00′. Not ‘to’. Definitely not ‘to’. So according to the leaflet it should finish at ten. We checked the original Portuguese description which confirmed this. Can’t tell you how many times we re-read that leaflet. You see, we weren’t just wandering around looking for any old Christmas lights, but a particularly magnificent display on the side of a wall. Somewhere in Obidos. An attractive town with a castle situated on the Portuguese Silver Coast.
In the afternoon we had visited Obidos for the first time. We had a delightful time. We entered to the smell of hot roast chestnuts. The narrow, cobbled, main shopping street was festooned with stalls selling ginga (cherry liqueur) in little chocolate cups and local crafts in cave like shops. At the top was the Christmas village. We paid 6 euros each and 4 euros for the nine year old and went in passing reindeer foraging below us.
First stop was the ice slide which was free. We paid another euro and let him have a go at wall climbing. We passed a life sized model of Santa’s sleigh on our way to the food court. We decided to get a snack. Nothing was competitively priced so the children couldn’t believe their luck when I suggested just getting a doughnut. Christmas had come again, doughnuts for lunch! We missed the puppet show (free) to go skating. The skating rink was four euros each for twenty minutes. I went on with Jae and….what can I say about skating? It was a small rink with real ice. We had a good time.
We moved on to the charming mock Scandinavian village for the face painting (free) and the delightful exhibition by local children set in a dark room in one of the ‘houses’ and lit by neon lighting. Around us were street performers, actors, jugglers. We caught the last of the birds of prey being put away, a huge owl in one corner with brilliant orange eyes. The Vila Natal (Christmas Town) closed at four so we decided to head home, eat and come back for the light display.
In the evening we walked through the castle walls and emerged under a canopy of Christmas fairy lights. We never saw the main Natal Luz although we spotted the closed projection box facing the front of a church. Clearly it finished at eight. The stalls had disappeared with only restaurants open. We found a café and stopped off for hot chocolate and ice cream. It was still delightful, though quiet, and not a bad place to be on New Year’s Eve. I’d enjoyed wandering around the cobbled streets. We thought about driving into Lisbon to watch the fireworks but the lure of a real fire, marshmallows to toast, mulled wine, cream liquor and on British TV Jools Holland’s Hootenanny lured us home.
At midnight we took sparklers outside and made our own light show. Tonight at six, as darkness falls, we may head to Obidos again and find the light show. I will watch it holding a little chocolate cup of ginga liquor. I know it will be fantastic. If we don’t find it then…. there is always the Obidos chocolate festival in March.