A Travellerspoint blog

An Epicurean Odyssey: Aveiro and Viseu


View Iberia and Southwest France 2018 on zzlangerhans's travel map.

large_4a3d73f0-88aa-11e9-94e4-e958309228f6.png

I had originally wanted to drive all the way south to Coimbra, but our decision to include Valencia and the Dordogne forced me to shave a day from Portugal and the distances became impractical. As an alternative I chose to spend one night in Aveiro, also known as the Venice of Portugal due to its canals. It was less than an hour's drive from Porto so we arrived in the early afternoon and had plenty of time to explore. It was too early to check in to the Airbnb so we headed to the downtown area adjacent to the main canal. The area was busy and energetic with a strong vibe of domestic tourism, most of it likely originating from Porto and Lisbon. The buildings had an ornate, classical appearance and many had tiled facades, but without the antiquated patina we had become accustomed to in Porto.The most elaborate of the buildings is the Casa Major Pessoa, currently the home of an art museum and a tea house.
large_IMG_1981.JPGlarge_IMG_1990.JPGlarge_IMG_1988.JPG

There happened to be a crafts fair going on at the waterside and we browsed the stalls, some of which had very high quality ceramics and entertaining toys. We also found a place to try the local specialty, ovos moles, which consists of egg yolk and sugar within a wafer casing. It was an interesting thing to try but none of us particularly cared for it.
large_IMG_1986b.jpeglarge_IMG_1987.JPG

Venice of Portugal may have been a stretch, considering there was really only one canal that passed through the town, but they made the most of it with pretty pedestrian bridges and colorful gondolas that seemed to be constantly crammed with tourists.
large_IMG_2009.JPGlarge_IMG_1998a.jpeg

Our Airbnb was in a perfect location on the most picturesque square in the center of town.
large_IMG_1996a.jpeg

We spent the early evening exploring the old town on either side of the canal. Most of the tourists and restaurants were clustered into a tiny area north of the canal, but some of the prettiest buildings and streets were on the nearly-deserted southern side. At the end of our walk we saw a building along the canal that seemed very busy. Inside we found a movie theater and a food court. It was definitely more fast food than food hall, but it was a great opportunity to feed the kids and we took advantage of it. Later we found some more interesting food for ourselves at a crowded restaurant in the old quarter.
large_IMG_2004a.jpeglarge_IMG_1999a.jpeglarge_IMG_2001a.jpeglarge_IMG_2002a.jpeg

In the morning we checked out the two markets in town. The fish market was totally dead for some reason and the produce market wasn't much better. We'd already explored every street in Aveiro the night before so we decided to head for the beach town of Costa Nova on the Atlantic coast. The tiny town occupies a segment of the strip of land between the ocean and a short intracoastal waterway called the Aveiro Lagoon. Costa Nova is famous for the brightly-striped "haystack" houses that face the lagoon side of the town.
large_IMG_2012.JPGlarge_IMG_2015.JPG

We had much better luck with the fish market in Costa Nova. It was small but bustling and there was a large variety of fish and mollusks. Everyone's favorite was the wriggly eels and each kid got their chance to stick a finger into the slithery pile.
large_IMG_2017a.jpeglarge_b1029310-88a8-11e9-94e4-e958309228f6.JPGlarge_IMG_3202.JPG

The produce market was likewise small but very local and authentic. We were relieved not to have missed out on a market experience as Friday is usually one of the better days.
large_IMG_2024.JPGlarge_IMG_2025.JPG

Our seafood appetites had been whetted by the market and we hunted around for the most authentic restaurant we could find. The town was so small that all the restaurants were completely tourist-oriented. We found a place that was decent if overpriced, but not on a par with the best seafood we've had in Europe. We tried the fried eels, but they were so greasy and bony that we were barely able to finish our portion.
large_IMG_2026.JPGlarge_CMYJ4144.JPGlarge_BTYM2812.JPG

The logical place for a midday stop was Viseu, a mid-sized city inland city with a reputation for elegance and historic character. The old town turned out to be a great stroll through cobblestone pedestrian streets and atmospheric squares. Best of all we seemed to have left virtually all tourism behind us at the coast.
large_IMG_3211.JPGlarge_IMG_3215.JPGlarge_IMG_3217a.jpeg

After an ice cream break we walked up to the top of the hill that the old town straddles. Here we found an expansive plaza which was flanked by two of Viseu's architectural treasures, the Igreja da Misericórdia (Church of Mercy) and the formidable cathedral. The church had a beautiful and unusual rococo facade, while the walls of the cathedral looked as solid and impenetrable as a fortress. The north side of the plaza was unobstructed and afforded views over the modern town and the countryside.
large_IMG_3220a.jpeglarge_IMG_3219.JPGlarge_IMG_3222.JPG

On the way back down the hill we walked along the narrow commercial alley Rua Direita which dates back to Roman times. Back at the car we saw some interesting Portuguese street art, a highly anatomic rendition of a heart constricted by a string.
large_IMG_3228a.jpeglarge_IMG_3229.JPG

Posted by zzlangerhans 10:54 Archived in Portugal Tagged travel blog tony aveiro viseu friedman

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Be the first to comment on this entry.

Comment with:

Comments left using a name and email address are moderated by the blog owner before showing.

Required
Not published. Required
Leave this field empty

Characters remaining:

Enter your Travellerspoint login details below

( What's this? )

If you aren't a member of Travellerspoint yet, you can join for free.

Join Travellerspoint