144 + 24 hours in Aveiro
144 doesn’t sound like a lot, but most tourists barely spend even 24 hours here. Aveiro is dubbed the “Venice of Portugal” but after spending some time here, we think Aveiro is its own city with its own character and personality. Imagine if it was your city was only known to the world as a reference to another city, i.e., Toronto is the New York of Canada. Ouch.
Six days in Aveiro sounds like a lot. And it is. Even our Airbnb host recommended only 1 or 2 days when we asked. And we didn’t have a car. We booked the six days anyways, excited to be back along the coast. Looking at travel bloggers’ photos of Aveiro, we were excited. It looked like a beautiful place. But we were a bit sad to find everyone’s take on the city to be the same. Spending only an afternoon there, mentioning the same ONE restaurant, seeing the striped houses and the boats. I went in eager to discover more. There HAD to be more.
Our first encounter with our host, she asked, “What are you going to do here for 6 days? I guess you can drive out and take day trips.” We didn’t have a car. “What are you going to do here for SIX DAYS?”
Honestly though, it was almost not enough, and it was not because we packed our schedule. It was because we left it so open. And I know that it sounds odd or so unnatural to do. From day 1 our host was so super nice to us. She drove us to a grocery store and we talked on the ride there. When she found out we didn’t have a car, SHE OFFERED US HER CAR. This was one of the most hospitable offers we have ever had. We didn’t take her up on it but WOW. The next day, we were just lounging around and she asked us if we wanted to check out a boat festival with her. We didn’t have anything planned so we went, happy to be invited. After getting to board some ships, she remembered that there was a seafood festival happening near by. So we headed to Costa Nova visiting the beach and town of colourfully striped homes. The seafood was fresh and the boardwalk to the beach was beautiful. After a quick visit to the local market and a not-so-quick coffee and pastry break, we were also invited to go see an outdoor concert featuring a famous Portuguese band – Deolinda. We received backstage passes, because she also just so happens to manage the band. Okay, play it cool – look like we belong (Mike was just so proud of the pass). All of this happened in one day. You just can’t plan for it and I’m really happy that we were open minded and left our schedule open for something like this to happen. The music was still in my head days after.
Throughout the time we were there, we were able to talk and talk and she told us little things like where she liked to buy her fish in the market and her favourite cafe on the beach. She also taught us a lot about Portugal: the government, the language, the culture, and the food. We were able to exchange a lot of information about everything over home cooked meals (she learned how expensive a house in Toronto would cost $$$$$). She cooked us a traditional cod dish for dinner and Mike cooked chicken adobo, giving her, her first taste of Filipino food ever. She also told us to try the local sweet treat tripa, which we knew nothing about. We thought it was tripe like in Porto when we saw it in random stands in the city. But no, they were pillowed crepes with various filling inside and they only really existed in Aveiro. Little did she know, her suggestion would lead Mike to eat 4 of them in 3 days, much to her horror – where does Mike put all of it??!
In all honesty, we complete lucked out here. We met an amazing Airbnb host that just about made Aveiro for us. Not everyone is going to experience Aveiro the way we did. Our host became more than a host to us, she became a friend. The title of this post is 144 +24 hrs because we had originally booked 6 days in Aveiro but we ended up staying an extra day because we were just having too much fun hanging out and getting to know our new friend. We have found through our travels that Portuguese people are very friendly as a whole but she was our first real connection. She took us out to see her city, to meet with her friends, and to experience life and food. We became fast friends and know we will meet her again one day somewhere around the world. I could not imagine what our experience here would’ve been if we had listened to all the other blogs and only spent 1 day here. Aveiro has a lot to offer and we were especially lucky to have back stage access to it all.
If you ever go to Aveiro, have a tripa for us!