Our 43rd week of waltzing we spent on the island Madeira. An absolute dream…
But first things first. This time we could hardly drive by car. We had to fly. That meant that we had to reduce once again our amount of luggage. With your own car you tend to take some additional stuff with you. One small bag here and one pair of shoes fits in here. You have space. On the plane that does not work. Everyone has only one suitcase and one piece of hand luggage…
That was somehow adventorous; but worked out in the end. Even Achim’s tripod fit in his suitcase. Though the suitcase afterwards was too heavy. But it works anyway.
To the airport we went by train. The travel papers said that the train ride (rail & fly) would be included. So the day before our departure we went to fetch our tickets at the vending machine. Once you understand the system it is quite easy. But first we stood there in front of the machine completely stupid. Because the trains tend to be late very often we decided to go to Düsseldorf main station and change there to a train to a airport. At the main station the trains leave every couple of minutes there. Our check-in was very relaxed. That was easy. But unfortunately we did not have any view during our flight. The landing at Funchal airport is spectacular.
The pre ordered rental car we got also without any problems. A very good car with a strong engine and good brakes. You need that on the island.
The drive to the hotel gave us a short preview to the roads on Madeira. On each side of the car were only some centimeters space and there were cars approaching from the front and the side. And all that on a steep road. Pff! The hotel itself had no car parking. Maybe we should have checked that before. Later we learned that this was only because of a football game. During our week on Madeira we always found a parking place.
Our first dinner we had at the hotel; and started dircetly with the national food ‚Bolo do Caco‘ – a rustic bread with some kind of garlic butter. Very yummy! We ate that in some variations during our week on Madeira. We spent the rest of the travel day on our balcony with a glass of wine.
The next day we drove around the island to get to know first impressions. The toilets were strange though. Some restaurants do not have rest rooms and the public ones are mostly dirty or do not have any toilet seats…
The second day began with a meeting to discuss our program on the island. After that we went to the old town of Funchal, visited the market hall. But there was not much to be seen. Maybe it was too late. But you could see some interesting sort of fish and a few exotic fruits. The merchant were a little bit intrusive though. Each and every one holds out a fruit to you and asks you to try it.
For lunch we went to a very small fish restaurant directly beside the market hall with georgeous food. All the menus you will get in different languages and also the waiter speak several languages. We could have coped without the language app…
A part of the afternoon we spent at an alternative market hall. Here we found a nice place to work and do some office stuff. It is this time of the year where the tax declarations are due. And we have some to do…
After all this seating we wanted to move a little bit and started towards a hiking trail at the Levadas. On our way there we found a stunning view point over Funchal. And of course we had to stop several times to take pictures.
The hike to Balcoes is kind of Levadas for beginners. A short way, which is marked with 1,5 hours walking time. But even we – who need always twice as much time – were there quite quickly. The way is wild and romantic. Sometimes in the shadow and with a small brook at the side. And at the end the path opens to a incredible view. At least for us it was. The spanish travel group gapped all the time. And we were happy when they finally had left.
So that we could enjoy the view in silence. The Levadas hiking trails you find everywhere on the island. From very easy to extremely difficult. But nature and hiking fans will surely love it.
On our way back we passed by the Pico de Aieero. Here we have been above the clouds, but it was so stormy that we only spent a couple of minutes there. Weather is completely different on each corner of the island. It can rain and some minutes by car away there is bright sunshine. Or it is stormy on the mountain top and some meters down you grill in the sun. Really diversified.
For dinner we went to Funchal to the harbour promenade and got into a tourist trap. The tuna fish was very well done and tough like leather and the Bolo do Caco was just normal white bread. Shit happens…
The end of the day we celebrated on the viewpoint we found hours before with a night shot of Funchal. Really a geourgeous place!
On the third day it was all about work: View the photos, sort them, edit them, export and so on. And writing the first blog posts…
For lunch we drove along the east coast and stopped at the very first snack bar that we saw. A real discovery! Only natives and a parrot, plane spotting and hardly any English spoken. Great! Food was very good and again cheap. You can eat on the island really low priced. Sometimes we asked ourselves how the restaurants calculate. But it seems to work…
We went on to Santa Cruz and passed by the airport. It is really incredible how near you can get to the runway. As mentioned above the landing is spectacular.
Our aim for the last day was the tongue Ponta do Sao Lourenço. Here it was again very stormy so that we stayed not very long. Here the island is quite meagre and you can see very well the different volcano rocks. To the real land’s end you can only walk but we could see that it must be a great hiking trail. And we assume that you might take a lot of photos.
At the most beautiful viewpoints you will find picknick tables. Some are a little bit old and weathered but there are also really nice ones with grill ovens, which are used by the natives.
On our way back we found a beach with fine black sand which will be visited a lot during the summer time. In Canical we had a short stop. There is a whale museum, which I would like to visit, but we went on because we were curious about the island.
The next view point ‚Portale‘ was completely in the middle of a cloud so that we did not see a thing. But like often on Madeira a little bit more down in Machico we had bright sun light again and another stunning view.
We had dinner in a nice fish restaurant directly at the beach with perfect fish and a colourful sunset. What else do you need?
For we fourth day we had a guide who was supposed to bring us to the water falls but it was raining quite heavily so we decided to change plans and went to the sugar cane factory instead. After that we have also been to a banana plantation. Our way back to the hotel led us along the glas platform at the steep coast. But again we were right inside a cloud which – even if she moved fast – blocked our sight. That’s Madeira.
For dinner we went very lazy to the hotel right beside. It was quite exotic but very fine and yummy. And we had a great view over Funchal.
Day 5 was all about photo editing and writing texts again. We really spent the whole day in our nice and small bar office and worked. For lunch we went to the mall to buy some stuff and to get a snack. Because of the convenience we went to the neighbor hotel again that evening.
On day 6 we went very early (very early for us) to the market hall. Here we saw considerably more stands than days before. A lot of natives are shopping here but later on all the travel groups arrive with their guides and then it gets quite crowdy in the small aisles. For breakfast we went to the old town and had a gorgeous tuna sandwich in a tiny Frutaria and drank a glass of fresh pressed orange juice. This breakfast costs us all together 8,60 Euros. For that you won’t even get two small glasses of orange juice somewhere else.
After that we wanted to discover more of the island. We wanted at last to see some flowers on the flower island. So we went to the botanical garden. But we were disappointed somehow. It was not really well-tended or planned. We have seen much more beautiful gardens or parks before.
A short glance on a webcam showed us that our aim that day – Santana – lay in a cloud. But the viewpoint at the steep coast seemed to be clear. Off we went. And – tadaaaa – this time there it was. The stunning view. Though the grid and the glas are not made for everybody. Some don’t dare to step on it or they do not lift their feet. Yes it is an impressive hight!!
In a small coffee place we tasted yummy self made cakes and regional specialities. But the toilets were a complete ripp off. There is only a public toilet. And you have to pay for it, though it is really really dirty.
Down the street you can see the platform from the side – if it is not in a cloud. Quite a view!
As we had not have enough view we went to Eira do Serrado (after consulting the webcams 🙂 ) The street to it was the hit. Our sat nav thought we had to go there so we took the Camino dos Tres Paus. This is not for drivers or passengers with weak nerves… Though even big coaches drive there. It is very nice that they have even made a ramp for wheel chairs there.
Still not enough view… So we went to a cable car at the steep cost. There is a nice restaurant with a terrace and a view and we spent the rest of the day there. We did not try the funicular. But we tried the snacks from the restaurant: Bolo do Caco and Mihlo Frito. Genious!
For dinner we played it safe and went again to the fish restaurant at the beach. After sunset we went back to the old town. Here now all the tiny alley were stuffed with tables and chairs and there were a lot of people eating and drinking. Unfortunately you will be approached by many people who want to get you into their bar or restaurant. We had a drink in a small bar full of natives. Again prices were unbelievable. You can get complete meals with three courses for 9,50 Euros and a beer or a tonic is just one Euro!!
Wow! Madeira is a really interesting island. Looks different at every corner. Has exciting roads and lots of tunnels. Food is yummy, good and cheap. And there are lovely, nice, small villages, beautiful beaches and hiking trails. One week here is definitely not enough 😉