Today was a short day planned with lots of free time to enjoy this part of coastal Portugal and hopefully the beautiful beaches. We left our castle in Porto heading south for the city of Aveiro. After an hour or so, we entered the area and followed the signs to the beach and its great sand dunes. Sadly, the weather was not really cooperating with some very low clouds. We did get out of the car and walk up the boardwalk over the dunes to check out the beach. There were a lot of people claiming spots on the beautiful sandy beach (it was only 10am after all) but not many in the water. The waves were a little high and clouds very, very low. I decided to move on and maybe come back later in the afternoon if the weather clears.
We headed into town, to locate our hotel and start discovering the town of Aveiro. As soon as we parked the car, we were accosted by a young girl selling us tickets for a boat ride along the canals. Aveiro is called the "Venice of Portugal
", so of course we needed to visit the canals, so we did just that! It was a ride of about 40 minutes which took us to the salt fields and on the other end to the old ceramic factory now the Convention Center. Some of the bridges were quite low and offered no visibility, so one of our boatmen would stand on the bow and blow a plastic horn (similar to the ones used at the world cup) as a warning sign of our approach. Quite funny!
As we anticipated, it was too early to check-in to the hotel, so we returned to the car and decided to make way for the Sand Dunes National Park, but alas, it can only be accessed (easily that is) via boat with advance reservations. :( Oh well, we continued down small country roads discovering the area and always hoping the low clouds would lift and offer a beautiful day. At the one end, stands a majestic lighthouse, one of the largest in the world.
At the other end, is the small resort town of Costa Nova with its small wooden houses painted in vertical colored stripes. I imagine this is a bustling town in the heat of the summer. Today, it was mostly filled with young children in summer camps being taken to the beach or to the nearby forest for their picnic lunch.
Later on that afternoon, we walked the streets of the city finding many, many strange statues of block heads. Some even had feet - yes, heads and feet only!! Strange, but quite fun. We concluded our day at a small local restaurant with a very nice host who spoke french. A nice relaxing day in cool weather which was a nice relief from the last few days of lots of activity and extreme temperatures.