April 19-20, 2012 – A day at sea and a day in Funchal Madiera
We have visited Madeira several times in the past. It is a usual stop when making an Atlantic crossing. The Madeira Islands are volcanic, like Hawaii, and belong to Portugal. They were settled ……
..relatively early, compared with the Americas, due to their proximity to Europe. They actually lie west of Morocco about four or five hundred miles. Our port of call today is the capitol, Funchal. The island is very mountainous, and one of the things that one quickly notices is the extreme use of terracing both for homes and for agriculture.
Once again, the “Hop Ons” are here and naturally we climb aboard for a quick circuit of Funchal and surrounds. Along the way we spot the cable cars which take one to the town of Monte, high up on the hill, and the flower show, both of which we note for future attention.
The bus wound through town and out to some nearby villages. Along the way we saw some very good examples of the terraced agriculture. As in Hawaii, everything grows well on this volcanic island, including bananas, all manner of vegetables, and grapes to produce the famous Madeira wines.
The fishing village of Camara de Lobos
Church of Jardin de Sao Martinho
Bananas growing on terraces
Mountains in the interior
The local Madeira Winery tasting house
Leaving the bus after one circuit, we walked a block or two to the center of town to view the flower festival, an annual event we were lucky enough to find in progress. As we walked through the center of town, we saw and remembered the beautiful stone inlayed sidewalks. All of the sidewalks are inlayed with black and white stone chips, with this pattern being repeated every few yards. Most unusual.
OK – What kind of flowers are these?
More flowers at the show
A mime at the festival
Dancers at the flower festival
A flower sculpture
After our postcard and coffee break at this nice little café, we walked to the cable car for a ride to the town of Monte – up the mountain.
Coffee House for postcards
Tram up the mountain
At the top of the mountain, is the town of Monte, and this beautiful white church.
One of the main attractions in Monte is the wicker basket sled ride. For 15 Euros, you sit in these basket sleds, and the guys with white hats push and pull you down the hill, through the city streets, back to Funchal. We did this the first time we were here, so we passed this time.
Sled guys waiting for some riders
The computer instructor from the ship and his wife take a sled ride down the mountain
We rode the tram back down the mountain and were treated to some spectacular views of the town and our ship in the harbor. The terraced homes show the creative use of land on this hilly island.
To celebrate our last port, we had a Big Tasty, Fries and a Coke at McDonalds – delicious! (and it was packed with locals). Back on board, there was a spirited “sail away” party as we pulled out.