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Wedding presents

Back when people moved into their first home when they got married, wedding presents weren’t an issue. A toaster. A half-dozen wine glasses. A casserole dish. Linens. Cutlery. Anything went. But today, most people have lived together before they get married. They already have a house together (a joint 30-year mortgage is the new engagement) and so need little by way of stuff. So what to give?

Back in the 13th century, King Dinis I of Portugal set a trend. When his wife, Queen Isabel, visited the village of Óbidos, she fell in love with it. He, having the kingdom at his disposal, gave it to her as a wedding present. The precedent set, the heirs to the throne followed suit, bestowing the lovely town on their brides. Until 1883, the town was owned by the current queen of Portugal. That’s one for the sisters.

Today, it’s a popular day trip for tourists staying in Lisbon and its surrounds. The lovely medieval town is made for postcards and chocolate box lids. It’s gorgeous. At various stages it was home to the Romans, the Visigoths, and the Moors, before being taken by the first king of Portugal in the twelfth century. The castle is remarkably together and towers over the little town, with its cobblestone streets, and floral walkways.

It’s quite a hub of activity year-round with a chocolate festival in March,  its famous Holy Week festivities at Easter, and an Ancient Music festival in October. It has one of the world’s first hotels in a historical monument (the castle) and a tableau of eateries, one looking better than the next. Some 3100 people live here now and it probably gets half that again in visitors every day.  Definitely worth a visit if you’re in the vicinity. Worth going out of your way for, too.

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