Marvelous Madeira

To say that Madeira is a nice place to be would be an insult. To say the weather here is great would be an insult. To say the people are nice here would be an insult. To say that the Madeira sweet wine is good would be an insult. Are you sensing a pattern here? Madeira is a spectacular island and I have had the most perfect weather imaginable and have met and dealt with the nicest people around. This is an island that all islands should strive to be like.

It is naturally gorgeous and well situated for a perfect temperate but hot climate. It has a warm and welcoming feel and the best part is that it’s not very expensive. It is the home of my least favorite soccer player, Cristiano Ronaldo, who was actually signed by Real Madrid while I was here for the largest transfer fee in history which was pretty cool. The papers and the television were all abuzz over their favorite son and his new team. The new Galacticos era has begun at the Bernabeu-hopefully it will be as much of a failure as the last one.

Mt trip to Madeira started a little rough because of the notoriously poorly placed airport right on a sheer, tall cliff that famously had an accident in 1977 where the plane ran off the short runway into the cliff and sea below. Luckily, they lengthened the runway and a 747 could land on it now but it is still on that cliff and the crosswinds are brutal and made for a very intense and treacherous landing that got the people on the plane freaked out and there was a standing ovation when the pilot landed it safely. Looking back now it’s kind of funny but a little touch and go there for a while. Luckily it got better!
I am staying in the lovely capital of Funchal which is again, how all island capitals should be. It is quaint, charming and has a lot to offer without all the annoying souvenir hockers and crappy shops and chain restaurants. Funchal is a beautiful harbor town running up a mountain where the Portuguese style roofs dot the mountainside and make the scenery really nice as you can see.
The old town or the main center is where I am staying in an apartment hotel called Da Se which has the quality or even better of a Marriott but only costs 35 Euros which is amazing in my book and included free wifi and a roof deck and bar right behind the main sight in town, the cathedral and a block from the promenade along the waterfront-a perfect location.
I spent most of yesterday walking around the town and the harbor, sampling the local fare along the way of course and made my way up to the long cable car ride up to the small village town of Monte. Monte overlooks Funchal and has a cute little village that is perfect for pictures and the amazing view of Funchal and the sea below. I was lucky to have the cable car to myself so I could just relax and take in the view. I also took a few pictures as well.
After dark, as on most islands there isn’t much to do but the charming little restaurants are open until about 10pm and it’s not a far walk to the new area of town where the chain type hotels are located and where the main center of nightlife is (although it’s not that good but it’s called Lido). It is also home to the Casino Madeira which I was at until about 3am last night and caused me to miss my boat to Porto Santo this morning which is an adjoining island in the archipelago famous for its white beach. Madeira conversely has black volcanic beaches which are really cool to see but not the best to actually be on as they are pretty rocky. So instead today, I happily slept in and walked around town some more and took care of some reservations I’ve been meaning to do for months now for India, etc.

When I arrived on Madeira I was expecting something similar to Tenerife or Gran Canaria in the Canary Islands but I was very pleased that it has its own kind of style and is very Portuguese. I highly recommend Madeira as a great and cheap trip from Lisbon and it’s actually a place where I could spend a week or so exploring the other areas of the island but I have an early flight tomorrow to the Azores. I am very happy here and look forward to coming back one day soon.

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  1. Madeira is marvelous I agree. Real Madrid is throwing money at star players to sell shirts and they are overacting to Barcelonas trebel.

  2. I’ll check out that hotel. I am going to book Cape Verde, Madeira and Azores for next May, as soon as the flights become available.

    What are your India plans — have you been to the two island groups that are separate TCC members?

  3. I don’t think they’re shelling out $200MM on two guys to sell shirts, I mean how many shirts can they sell, plus if they add David Villa then add another $50MM to the Ronaldo and Kaka number. Its just a kneejerk reaction to being embarrassed by Barca in La Liga and being dwarfed by Liverpool in Europe.

  4. I am flying to Lakshadweep Thursday and will also be going to Andaman and Sikkim, plus hopefully Maldives if I can find a normal routing at a reasonable price. Everything is always a pain the ass in India with red tape like no other place. Should be an adventure as always.

  5. Jordan Hargrave says

    Andaman Islands are great.. was there for 5 days a few years ago. Do you have time to head over to Havelock Island? Where else are you headed after the Maldives?

  6. I hope to get to Havelock, it depends on my timing as I have to be in Kathmandu on July 3rd for flight to Bhutan and want some time beforehand for basecamp etc. After Andaman I will be in Bangladesh, Sikkim, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar, Laos, Bangers, Borneo-all 4 parts then not exactly sure but PNG for sure…may try to squeeze in Christmas and Cocos or maybe not and head up to Guam and surrounding islands before heading down to Oz and the islands there. A lot depends on timing and routing but I have some time to figure it out.

  7. Jordan, the Andaman permit is issued on the spot in Port Blair at the airport right? Is it a stamp in your passport or just a piece of paper you have to carry around? Thanks man

  8. Jordan Hargrave says

    Yeah.. we got ours at the airport.. there’s a desk there at Port Blair where you fill out the form, just takes a few minutes. You also get a stamp arriving/departing separate from the India stamp. Safe travels!

  9. I don’t know if you ever check out Google Earth, but I was looking at a close-up of the runway that you described in Funchal, and it looks pretty crazy!

    If you haven’t heard about or checked out the landing in Saba, Netherlands Antilles, go look at it on G. Earth. The planes depart of off a huge, sheer cliff.

  10. Ya Saba is the most notoriously short runway in the world from what I hear. I took a boat there when I was there so didn’t fly into it.

  11. rui rodrigues says

    Hi im Portuguese, You go to Madeira and stay in the city??

    MAdeira is home to prehitorical world heritage lush forests mountains, amazing hikes, waterfals, a profusion of nature and flowers, as well as an amazing cultural variaty with each small district being proud of their own typical custums food and style, a real mini exotic world

    Its not called the pearl of the Atlantic for Funchal… ive been there as a kid and all i remember from funchal are turtles they had by the harbour.. but loads of memories of some of the most wornderful nature i’ve ever seen and ive seen quite allot

    seems your stamp collection is more important the figuring out what the country u are vising is actually about… its a purpose like any other but seems quite a waste of time and money for just another stamp

    sorry for the stereotype but get off the “american mode” 😛

  12. rui rodrigues says

    What i said about your trip to Madeira I would double it for the Azores…

    I’ve actually been there this year for the first time, quite weird being Portuguese,

    I’ve traveled around the world seen just about anything of some sort

    but Azores blew my mind

    I just can believe someone would actually fly there to see Ponta delgada!? ive been in azores for 1 month and been 1h too much in the city, all the rest was spend island hopping to the most unique and spectacular and pituresc nature I’ve ever came across, truly wonderful to tears

    I can begin to tell you wt the Azores are about, go back rent a car wherever u go (not expensive) and prepare to be mind blowned

  13. Hi Rui and first, congrats on being Portuguese. Also, I am glad you went to Funchal as a kid but unfortunately there is much more to the town now than a few turtles-hope you get back to check it out. Also, comments like these drive me nuts for a few reasons.

    1. One person’s opinion and experience are always different than another person’s. I can’t even tell you how many times a person has said to me, “You didn’t see this or that or eat here or there”. Again, a person cannot possibly do every little thing, plus no two experiences will ever be the same. One person will always be up in arms that you didn’t find this random hole in the wall place or see this really old tree or whatever it is that they loved. That’s kind of the whole idea of travel and exploring places on your own based on what you like. It drives me nuts, it kind of like one person criticizing your religious views.

    2. “Get off the American Mode”…this is such a ridiculous assertion that I really don’t even want to address it. I really hate when Europeans say things like this about American tourists. I understand what they mean and perhaps at times it is right but so are all stereotypes about all types of tourists, including Europeans. In this instance, I only visited Ponta Delgada in the Azores. OK shoot me, I’m sorry I didn’t have a month to visit several islands and that seems devastating to you. I simply blog about the things I do and see. It happens and you do what you can. You can’t please everyone all the time.

    Take care and thanks for sharing your passionate opinions.

  14. Thank you for this articlce!
    I have ever been in Madeira and it was an amazing experience!

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