Postcard from Aveiro
Earlier this summer, my boyfriend and I embarked on a trip to Portugal for the start of a 4-part break that would see us take in the colourful sights of Aveiro and the west coast of Portugal, before tracking the beautiful Douro river and its boundless grapevine terraced mountains back to the vibrant city of Porto, culminating the trip with some much needed R+R in the Algarve.
We started our trip in the relatively unknown city of Aveiro, just an hour south of Porto. Following our visit to fabulous Riga earlier in the year, which left us keen to discover more about Art Nouveau architecture in Europe, we were instantly drawn to visiting Aveiro, touted as the 'Venice' of Portugal and famed for its elegant Nouveau-style buildings.
Aveiro art nouveau buildings and moliceiro
While it doesn't hold the romance of Venice, Aveiro is immensely charming. Set alongside the Ria de Aveiro lagoon and connected by a network of waterways, it's populated with extravagant painted long boats or barcos moliceiros that were traditionally used to collect seaweed for farming.
Barcos moliceiros of Aveiro
Aveiro has the most picturesque of streets, brimming with local independent shops and cafes selling lots of traditional fare unique to this region, from bags of high quality rock salt to the quirkier 'Ovos Moles', a sugary egg-custard treat encased in rice paper and moulded into the shapes of seashells, all inspired by the fruits of the lagoon.
Traditions in Aveiro
A traditional Portuguese city, you'll find plenty of the typical decorative tiled facades that show off the prosperity the city has enjoyed throughout its enterprising history as a bustling commercial port. The Art Nouveau elements were brought to the city by rich emigrants returning from their exploits in Brazil and there are some really beautiful buildings everywhere you look.
Views around Aveiro
The Art Nouveau Museum in Aveiro is one of the most spectactular examples of this style, with its stunning curved windows and the most decorative of wrought-iron balustrades I've ever seen. At night, the venue conveniently doubles up as a Gin palace, arguably the hippest joint in town judging by the crowds it drew. We enjoyed sampling a G+T or two, admiring the facade and dreaming of being able to live within such splendour.
The Art Nouveau museum in Aveiro
Also worth seeing is the original train station at Aveiro, no longer used, but still standing proudly at the end of the long thoroughfare that leads into the city. It's home to a significant collection of azulejos, or painted tiles, in striking white and blue that depicts stories of everyday life in the region.
The old railway station in Aveiro
Another reason to visit Aveiro is undoubtedly the abundance of beautiful beaches with fine white sand situated close by. We drove down the west coast, taking in the pink lighthouse at Barra beach and the vibrant stripy houses along the Costa Nova.
Sights along the Costa Nova
It was a real pleasure to feel the soft sand between your toes as these gorgeous sandy beaches stretched out for miles in front of you, backed by stunning wild sand dunes and grasslands. I have never seen such beautiful (and clean!) beaches, which were inexplicably all but deserted as we found a rare break in the weather. As we were soon to discover, Portugal would be experiencing some unseasonably heavy rain this particular June!
Stylecamp's Marlene Jumpsuit at Barra beach
It felt particularly apt to wear the Marlene jumpsuit whilst strolling the stunning wooden boardwalks that meticulously lined every beach. The inspiration for this design came from the enigmatic beach pyjamas that would have been used to parade the walkways back in the 1930s. This was the perfect outfit for keeping cool in the heat and the low breeze, not to mention making me feel very glamorous for the occasion.
It was also a great opportunity to unveil my latest print!
Introducing the brand new lemon-print Marlene jumpsuit
I have to recommend the lunch we enjoyed at the seriously good beach bar Bronze on the Costa Nova. This is no greasy spoon, a chic and elegant beach bar with cocktails and a superb menu (especially if you like seafood). We tucked away a juicy veal steak sandwich and refreshing quinoa salad washed down with a cold beer, whilst overlooking the crashing Atlantic waves and golden sands of this relatively secluded spot.
An enjoyable lunch on the Costa Nova at Bronze Seafood & Lounge Bar
WHERE WE STAYED
Our AirBnB in Aveiro
We were lucky to stay in the centre of Aveiro in João & Patricia's pristine AirBnb rental, which was modern, clean and stylish, whilst retaining a bit of Portuguese charm. It was set on the top floor of a traditional Portuguese building which had two little balconies flanking the main living quarters where we could watch the swifts dive-bombing through the air in the evenings.
O Bairro restaurant in Aveiro
I also have to highly recommend the unassuming looking O Bairro restaurant in town for their exceptional hospitality and modern-Portuguese cooking that told stories of the dishes' origins.