Having woken early to get the best of the sunlight in this fantastic campsite, we ventured out to explore the wooded site with the girls... this Orbitur Vagueira campsite is neatly tucked inbetween one of the many estuaries/deltas that have created this interesting and varied region... It houses some fantastic sanitary facilities ,excellent campsite-wide wifi (a great positive when road schooling across Europe and maintaining a website!) & a good quality, decent sized pitch... The site's wooded glades give a brilliant amount of shade in the summer, but also offer a peaceful, natural environment... we're fans!! So with the girls fully 'schooled' in the Roman History of the UK, basic French grammar and a little maths! we headed out to explore what the region had to offer between Costa Nova & Aveiro
Costa Nova's colourful wooden houses reminded us almost instantly of some great fun in both Bergen and particularly Nyhavn in Copenhagen.... this pretty riverside town is only 7km from the campsite and easily accessible by bike... orginally these fishermen's brightly coloured 'haystacks' were used for just that... housing fishing equipment and catches... but now they make the town a bright, fun & colourful spectacle... In fact we even started to quite enjoy being surrounded by 'candy cane' coloured building... a little like Granna in Sweden
These fishermen's huts are actually called Palheiros... and around the 19th Century these started to become quite fashionable (even some prominent politicians built/bought some!)... so the fishermen spotting a chance for a bargain decided to rent them out during summer months.... this has now turned into a fully fledged business and the town has prospered... the colourful aspect of this region wasn't to stop in Nova Costa... as Aveiro hosts its own unique brightly coloured Moliceiros... but more of that to come, as a fantastic, white sanded beach beckoned just a few km's up the river (even if it was only 15 days to Christmas!)
In fact, it even has it's own claim to fame.... the 'lighthouse at 'Barra' that guards this part of the coastline is in fact one of the tallest in the whole of Europe!! Standing some 60m tall, it is Portugal's highest lighthouse too!
If you love a decent beach where sand simply flows through your toes as if it doesn't have a care in the world! then is the type of beach you'd love! Add to that the chance to actually paddle, surf or body board... it really was a great lunchtime picnic spot!! (and a chance for Libby to do some more gymnastics whilst we tried to match her... sadly she beat us all!!!)
With paragliders and microlights overhead, we sadly left this lovely, quiet beach and headed for Aveiro and a chance to see how similiar it really was to Venice... having seen France's equivalent at Coulon, Belgium's equivalent at Bruges... what would we find here?
Aveiro was once a great sea port, harvesting the salt pans from all the way back to 959AD. As it grew in prosperity, its town folk became richer and hence the cultural pursuits of the city increased... but a terrible storm in 1575 silted up the estuary and led to many years of decline and poverty... until a solution was proposed and built in the 19th century that allowed Aveiro to thrive again... The 'ria'/ canals certainly give Aveiro it's unique character but perhaps also the decadent, brightly coloured boats do too... so we had to get onboard one!!
We managed to get quickly onto a 45mins tour with Edi (our guide) who enjoyed telling the story of a city that is growing due to it's student population, can boast of a student 'cape/gown' that JK Rowling decided to use for her Harry Potter characters... or the history the ceramics factory that now houses the town hall/civic offices, an important part of Aveiro as the city's residents use ceramic tiles to protect their houses from the sea! There's an old quarter, a regenerated quarter (due to the football competition, Euro'96) and a shopping centre that was once voted the prettiest in Europe! The history of the boats is equally interesting, as they were once used to collect seaweed to make fertiliser... it really did suprise at each and every turn!! But sadly the tour came to the end and we collected our gift from Edi (a small bag of the salt from the salt pans in the 65 sq km lagoon)
With the sun starting to set, we briefly looked at the famous Museum of Arts near the Grand Canal... took in a chance to sample some more of the local pastries.. before setting off back to the campsite as the sun burned itself to a finish... in a hue of bright golds, reds and yellows!! A fantastic day that was finished off by a little help when we re-entered the campsite from their superb staff... we'll all sleep sounndly tonight before we head north yet again for Portugal's second biggest city, Porto and a chance to enjoy the 'World of Discoveries' experience!
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