For some of our friends and acquaintances it’s still summer. Everyday in the social networks we find lots of pictures of nice beaches and exotic places. But for us routine is back. We are already working and I (Laura) am getting used to a new job. However, we are trying to extend the summer period with weekends of beach, drinks and swimming pool. And this has reminded us of one of the most beautiful beaches where we’ve been together: the Costa Nova beach, near Aveiro (Portugal). Its colourful houses stole my heart.
Aveiro in fact is a synonym of colour. The vibrant houses, the drawings of the moliceiros… The two big cities of Portugal, Porto and Lisbon, are easily reached by plane from Barcelona. But if you want to get lost among the beautifull villages of this country, having a car is a must. So two years ago we decided to cross the entire Iberian Peninsula with our own car to start a roadtrip that we will always remember.
Aveiro is located in the centre of Portugal, 55 km in the north of Coimbra (a university town that we also visited) and 75 km in the south of Porto. Although it’s not a big city (it only has around 78,000 inhabitants), the town is well known as the “Portuguese Venice”. This name is due to Aveiro’s system of canals and boats. After visiting Venice at the beginning of this year, we think that nowhere can compare to the most lovely Italian city, but Aveiro is definitely worth a visit.
But let’s talk about Aveiro’s kind of gondola, the moliceiro. Moliceiros were built for the collection and transport of the moliço, an acuatic plant placed at the bottom of the river. Such plant was dried under the sun and later used as a fertilizer for the sandy soils of the river. But later the bottom of the river was contaminated by the local industry and the fertilizer obtained from the moliço was replaced by chemical fertilizers. However, the moliceiro is still present in Aveiro with a touristical aim.
The moliceiros are full of colours. They have elegant ends decorated with traditional drawings that represent historical or folkloric facts. And they also have witty captains that manage to explain their history to tourists while they are taking off one of the ends of the boat to cross under a low bridge. A moliceiro tour is a must for anyone visiting Aveiro and the cost of this experience (around €8 per person) it’s not so high. At least if you compare it to a gondola ride 🙂
The colours of Aveiro are not only in its moliceiros but also in its streets. The typical white Portuguese buildings live together with vibrant houses. Aveiro is a good place to walk around and taste some fish in one of its restaurants. And this is exactly what we did after the boat ride. After lunch, and before driving towards Porto, we decided to visit the Costa Nova beach. This beach is famous for the fishers’ houses (called palheiros) and is located around 11km from Aveiro. As I said, we had our own car, but we have read that there are also some buses connecting the town with the beach, which is useful to know in case you reach Aveiro by train.
It was a really windy day and, although it was August, it was not specially hot. But anyway we decided to have a bath and relax a little bit in the sand before continuing our Portuguese roadtrip.