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Escape to Lush Green Madeira
"So, why Madeira?", "What's there?" - many asked me after taking this trip.
...yet, almost no-one seemed to know about it, thus thinking I was "nuts" to even go to some remote Atlantic piece of land....
Madeira is a quiet, friendly, lush green exotic Portuguese island off the coast of Africa. It's serene, has stunning scenery and a weird cuisine...
This was an impulse-driven trip, rather than a long-planned one.
I was considering new destinations to head to (among them the Madeira Islands) - while already on a city trip in frenetic (my beloved) Barcelona!
I decided to fly to Madeira.
I looked up the TAP Portugal office in Barcelona (site kept rejecting my bank card, I was unable to book online...) and tickets cost me a lot, but I felt like I couldn't miss out on the opportunity.
I could have flown to the USA with the price of that ticket, but the experience was so uplifting, I didn't regret overspending.
The Madeira Islands consist of Madeira, Porto Santo and the Desertas Islands, the latter being uninhabited and rocky sea cliffs, rather.
I was going to visit the main island of Madeira after arriving at Funchal - the capital of the autonomous archipelago.
The flight from Lisbon to Madeira was smooth with splendid Atlantic views - details with photos will reveal more.
Due to the beautiful views, it was one of my most enjoyable flights - ever!
I can't say the same about my Lisbon airport experience (before departing from Lisbon)...
Access my experiences in Madeira. I really hope it can help you plan your trip as well.
We were gliding in the clear blue sky, flying above the deep blue Atlantic Ocean.
Then, Madeira's brown cliffs showed up below us...
We passed Porto Santo, then we started our descent above the brown cliffs of Ponta de São Lourenço...
Dropped-in without knowing much about this island and I've found myself hotel-less shortly after having landed.
Wicked experiences from hotel insects to trying my luck at a 5-star hotel have consumed the remaining hours of my day.
Amazing! The island closer to Africa than to Europe belongs to Portugal, being there felt like Brazil, Cuba or some frenetic Caribbean island.
My photos will convince you of the Latin-American or Caribbean feel of Funchal!
I got to see much of Funchal, one could say plenty. But not enough of it!
I certainly missed out on several wonderful places, like the Botanical Garden. Lack of time, rainy days etc. etc.
So, I thought I'd put together a list of Funchal's top attractions - so that you know in advance what not to miss!
I explored Funchal and came across a number of interesting fortifications. It's not just the buildings themselves that constitute attraction, but also the views from inside!
When in Funchal, you mustn't miss visiting these forts!
The Monte is on higher ground and offers splendid views of the Madeiran capital. I went up by aerial tramway (cable car, some might call it "telecabin"), which locals call "gondola".
Visited the Igreja do Monte with the tomb of the last Hungarian King (Charles IV.) and, I got lost in the Tropical Garden.
My hotel was situated very close to the beach, so went out to check it on the first full day!
Wicked heavy brown sand, dangerous sea cliffs, reefs, a Beatles yacht, marina full of ships and crabs on rocks!
The Madeiran capital is filled with all sorts of green plants... until my Madeiran visit, I never saw a city with more green plants. I quickly understoods why they call Madeira "The Garden of Portugal".
Ficuses, cactuses, palms, exotic pines, aloe vera bushes, beautiful flowers create a paradise-like feeling...
It's not just the top attractions and the most notorious places that I like checking out when traveling. I like to see where and how locals live, dig a bit deeper into local lifestyle...
Here's what I've found in Funchal...
Madeiran cuisine is less heard-of, but worth trying.
The foods and drinks there can surprise you with unusual combinations of ingredients. Weird, even.
Just to name a few: black swordfish with bananas, cocktail of vanilla ice-cream and beer!
Madeira is small, but its highly developed infrastructure is mind-blowing. Complex roads, bridges, tunnels and highways on this tiny island surpass the degree of development that some (entire) European countries have!
I always love checking out local vehicles... almost all places on Earth have something interesting to offer to the vehicle spotters.
In a few photos I immortalized several vehicles I encountered in Funchal.
As much I would have wanted, I couldn't experience every part of Madeira. I missed out on visiting the east, the Botanical Garden literally closed its gate in front of me...
I came to adore Madeira and left with a heartache. As if I would have left a piece of me on the beautiful green island.
In the heart of Madeira lies Curral dar Freiras - The Valley of the Nuns. If you haven't seen it, you can't say you've really visited Madeira.
Beautiful green valley in Central Madeira with a nice town whose most famous products are chestnut and cherry liquors... Just a short bus ride away from Funchal!
Because I only had a few days to spend, I took on a 163 km, over 5 hour journey across the western parts of the green island, which seemed like a huge country full of dense green forests and high mountains...
Along the way we stopped by at friendly little towns and I even tasted the famous chestnut liquor.
This was the first hotel that I booked, but I had to leave it: insects in the room and overall quite unpleasant air in the room.
See more details with photos in this article...
This was the hotel that saved me and I was quite pleased with it. Hotel do Chafariz was a cute, cheap hotel well-situated in central Funchal.
The internal window did bother me, though...
My first ever experience aboard a huge Airbus A330 was on this route back from Funchal to Lisbon. This explained the high price of the plane ticket.
The airliner arrived from Caracas and stopped-over at Funchal's airport. I embarked and we took off powerfully. It was a great flight!
As "Escape Hunter" - the curious incognito traveler with an insatiable drive to explore, I embark on slow and deep travels around
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Travel Slang Dictionary
Guide to my personal travel slang vocabulary, which seasons my content...