portugal: aveiro & costa nova

The morning we leave Porto to head south, rain and gloom are forecast all day. The coast of Portugal isn’t on our itinerary, but Mike urges me to come along to explore Aveiro and Costa Nova. I am not keen to get involved in his scheme. After all, what good is the sea if you can’t bask in the sun and enjoy the surf?

Aveiro is all about the sea and its bounty.  It hugs the edge of a shallow coastal lagoon, the Ria, and has been sporadically dubbed the Venice of Portugal due to its small network of canals, humpbacked bridges, and high-prowed boats.  Prosperity is evident in the art nouveau houses that line the streets of the old town.

We wander along the canals, amused by the painted prows of the boats. One boat is painted with a voluptuous woman, her skirt pulled up revealing garters; she’s ready to bob for apples in a barrel with her bright red lips. A bare-chested man stands behind her. In Portuguese are the words << Jasús…O Fruto Proibido!!! >>  (Jesus, forbidden fruit!!!).

Another boat prow pictures a woman with her breasts bursting out of a white bra-like dress; she’s holding a plate of eggs.  In Portuguese: << Que rico par de ovos moles! …. >> (What a rich pair of soft eggs! ….).

On another prow: a blonde woman sports a curvaceous body, small eyes, and a huge beak.  This woman has caused a crash; the drivers must have been gawking.  In Portuguese: << olhinhos… olhinhos! … >> (little eyes! little eyes!).

Other boats are painted with faces of Jesus, pink flamingos, flower bouquets and saints with halos.  The Royal School of Languages sits alongside the canal, promising other cultures and lands.

The street art initiates us into Aveiro’s fishing culture. Mosaic sidewalks are inset with images of seahorses, fish, and circular motifs. Adorning tiled walls are scenes of fishermen and clam diggers; Portuguese women carrying baskets atop their heads; fishing boats, nets, ropes and anchors; boatbuilders and menders.  Dolphins porpoise among scuttling crabs.

We wander the streets, enticed into a store beautifully displayed with canned fish: ovas de bacalhau (cod roe), linguado fumado (smoked sole), atum (tuna fish), and sardinhas (sardines). Some of the cans are dated with years, commemorating special events and celebrities born in that year; they are collector items, so we must collect.  We buy one can for each person in our family for each birth year: 1954, 1955, 1984, 1991, 1992.

  • Mike’s – 1954: Opening of “Estádio da Luz”, Benfica Stadium.  John Travolta e Oprah Winfrey.
  • Mine – 1955: The civil rights movement for American black people begins.  Bill Gates e Steve Jobs.

We dip into the Baroque Catedral de São Domingos, a Roman Catholic cathedral founded in 1423 as a Dominican convent.  It has been on the register of National Monuments of Portugal since 1996.  We’re awed by its interior tiled walls.

Later, as we walk through town, we find more stores with colorful cans of fish: Salmão em Azeite (salmon in olive oil); Filetes de Atum (tuna) and Filetes de Cavala (mackeral). Cans have name brands such as Minerva and Briosa.  Colorful glass fish and ceramic fish-shaped dishes grin at us from store windows.

A shop all about Fado displays CDs of fado, a music form of mournful tunes and lyrics, often about the sea or the life of the poor, and infused with a sentiment of resignation, fatefulness and melancholia.  In the window are Portuguese guitarras and steel-strung classical guitars, even shiny black grand pianos – all in miniature.

Once it seriously starts raining, we dip into a cozy pastelaria for pastry and coffee, and then we return to our car, parting ways with Averio to drive 13km west to Costa Nova.

It is pouring rain by the time we arrive in Costa Nova, but we drive through the quaint streets lined with picturesque candy-striped cottages. These were once the famous haystacks, traditional structures used by fishermen to store their fishing materials.  They have been used as beach houses throughout the years, their façades painted in bright colored stripes.

Tired of being battered by the rain, we drive south to Óbidos, our destination for the night.



streets of Aveiro


streets of Aveiro


Aveiro & fancy sardines


Cans of smoked sole, tuna fish and sardines


Aveiro’s street art


Aveiro’s street art


sidewalks of Aveiro


Aveiro’s street art


walking through Aveiro


town hall

The Catedral de São Domingos displays some beautiful tilework, both inside and out.

Costa Nova


striped and tiled buildings of Costa Nova


striped and tiled buildings of Costa Nova


stripes of Costa Nova

*Wednesday, October 31, 2018*

Steps: 10,960 (4.64 miles)


“PROSE” INVITATION: I invite you to write up to a post on your own blog about a recently visited particular destination (not journeys in general). Concentrate on any intention you set for your prose.  In this case, one of my intentions for my trip to Portugal was to pick five random verbs each day and use them in my travel essay: 1) involve, 2) initiate, 3) urge, 4) part, 5) cause. √

It doesn’t matter whether you write fiction or non-fiction for this invitation.  You can either set your own writing intentions, or use one of the prompts I’ve listed on this page: writing prompts: prose. (This page is a work in process.) You can also include photos, of course.

Include the link in the comments below by Monday, June 10 at 1:00 p.m. EST.  When I write my post in response to this invitation on Tuesday, June 11, I’ll include your links in that post.

This will be an ongoing invitation. Feel free to jump in at any time. 🙂

I hope you’ll join in our community. I look forward to reading your posts!

the ~ wander.essence ~ community

I invite you all to settle in and read a few posts from our wandering community.  I promise, you’ll be inspired. 🙂

Thanks to all of you who wrote prosaic posts following intentions you set for yourself. 🙂