Oh Madeira!! At the time of writing this Madeira Blog, I have a smile on my face, feeling sad, confused and fucking scared. Let me explain.
In our whole 100 days in Europe, we have visited 11 countries, 36 cities, we have stayed in different types of apartments, hotels or homestays. We were in different climates, from extreme cold to quite hot. We have met or seen many people along the way. And we certainly had really bad experiences for accommodation part; sometimes we met some hosts who were very welcoming and down to earth. We have visited some of the historically best locations in the world. Sometimes the view from the train like in Switzerland, left us speechless. Sometimes long-ass train , as to Amsterdam, was loud and tiring to the point that we wanted to just go back home (not true, we don’t have a home. Yet.). I can go on and on. My point is, we had some good and some bad. Which is completely normal. Everything is part of the experience.
But I think I can say with confidence that, Madeira island is the best place we have visited on this trip. From the landing till the takeoff, every bit of the experience was just bloody extraordinary.
And that’s why I have a smile on my face while I am writing this blog. Because I have to remember all the things we have done in order to write this blog.
I am confused at the time of writing this piece. Because everything we have experienced in Madeira was so great and so many things to talk about that, I don’t know where to start and where to end.
Sad, because we (Me and Vanessa, my wife) will truly miss this island and its people. And our hosts the Portuguese old couple, the sweetest people we have ever met outside our family and friends. Our eyes became teary a little bit when we were saying goodbye to them. Yes, that happened too.
And finally Scared. Because Madeira airport is the more dangerous Airport in the world. Landing and Taking off can be very aggressive. This airport has a unique shape and design. Somewhat resemble like an aircraft carrier. The airport can be closed anytime due to bad wind or bad weather due to its geographical location. And I personally was very stressed. But, that just me. Also, at the time of writing this blog, we are (present tense) taking off. That was not smooth. The plane put its nose up almost vertically and then it makes a U-turn. Looks cool, when we see them in the movies or other videos. Me, not in real life.
Anyway, Here is our 7 days itinerary of Madeira Island .
What is Madeira island is all about? What Madeira Island is famous for? Known for?
Madeira is a Portuguese volcanic island in the Atlantic. It has good weather for about 11 months. Madeira is one of the most famous place in the world for trekking, with about 1400 kilometres of tracks. Madeira is the home of Cristiano Ronaldo. And he wants to make sure that you know, that, Madeira is his home and that, he is famous. The Airport of Madeira is also known as Cristiano Ronaldo international airport. There is a museum dedicated to him and his achievements. With a statue of him outside CR7 Museum. Yup. And he is not even retired yet
I could go on and on and on about Madeira. But this blog is all about what we have done and our personal experiences. As I mentioned in my Sintra and Lisbon blogs that, we were travelling as a 4, instead of two at the beginning of this whole week in Madeira. Our friends from Paris have joined us in Lisbon. They arrived in the afternoon. Joined us in the Lisbon apartment. Then we had a nice lunch. And waited in the Lisbon airport for a couple of hours to catch our flight to Madeira.
Did I mention that Madeira airport is one of a kind? The pilots have unique methods to land in Madeira. Our plane made first attempt to Land. Which was unsuccessful. Then the pilot made a 2nd attempt. Which was successful. And everyone started to clap. Damm. From the airport, we bought some junk fast food after picking up our car keys. That’s right, baby! We had a Ford this time. It’s, of course, imperative to have private transportation to get around the island. an enough powerful one! And the road trip in Madeira island was a great experience. More on that later. Then we headed for our hotel. Almost one hour drive to Calheta.
I already mentioned that, our hosts were the most beautiful, sweet and cutest people we have ever met in our trip and in life. The apartment was also, as beautiful. We had 2 bedrooms, with good beds. Big Lounge. Enormous well equipped kitchen. We had washing machine, dryer. Big television. Big sofa. And the best of all, the Balcony. The balcony was facing south with the ocean view right in front of us. Mountains with colorful houses in the East and West. Woo hoo. They also provided, easy chairs, umbrellas , tables and chairs.
All for 200 Euros for 7 nights! The best and cheap accommodation in Madeira. Accompanied by 2 wonderful people. I highly recommend this place.
OUR 1ST DAY IN MADEIRA
Madeira is an Archipelago (or a group of islands). It’s a common thing for houses in Madeira that, many of them are on the edges of the cliffs. We have seen many homes where people were drying their clothes. I am sure, it would be a pretty difficult task to retrieve, if any of them fell. For the same reason, it’s also common to see infinity pools where you are able to swim at the edge.
Madeira is an island. Famous one. So, of course it has many beaches. Nope! One absolutely should not come to Madeira for beaches. Yeah yeah, there are some. The island might well be 35 miles long and 13 miles wide and boast 99 miles of coastline, but the shore is all rock and cliffs. Remind you that it’s a mountainous island. the highest peak is 1862 meters/6,100 feet high. So, no luck there. Essentially, this island is an absolute gem for nature and physical activities. Almost no rooms for lazy butts on the beach.
On our first,day we have started with Porto Moniz. It was a beautiful bright day with bit of white cloud here and there. Perfect post card like weather. Because Porto Moniz is surrounded by massive hills, therefore the view from the car and from Miradouro Da Santa was jaw dropping. We have stopped at Miradouro da Santa, in Porto Moniz, to enjoy that fantastic view over the village of Porto Moniz and the Ilhéu Mole.
According to CNN, Porto Moniz is the best beach in the world for surfing. None of us are surfing. But the waves did seem massive. It was a particularly Windy day. Hence the waves were hitting hard on black lava walls. There were many lava “naturals” pools. They were filled with sea water. People were taking time to dip in to the pool for a swim with a magistic view. I wish we could lake our time to do the same. An excuse to return in future perhaps? Who knows.
Jardim do mar
Jardim do Mar situated on the southwest coast of Madeira. It is a picturesque village right by the sea with three well-known pebble beaches: Portinho, Enseada and Ponta Jardim. These beaches attract many locals and tourists for their beautiful natural and peaceful surroundings. Although we didn’t spend much time. Just had a nice long walk alongside the ocean.
According to my research, Jardim do Mar is known world wide to be the best surfing spot in Madeira. This is where the 2000 Red Bull Big Wave Challenge and World Surfing Championship February 2001 was hosted and gained its popularity. And we certainly have seen many surfer doing some crazy tricks on big waves. We cheered them to give them some motivation. Not sure if they have heard us or need any.
Cabo Girao in Camara de Lobos was our next stop.
Exceptional location with a fairly impressive glass terrace (watch out for vertigo). This is one of the highest cliffs in Europe. At an elevation of 580 m, offers a vertiginous view of the fajãs of Rancho and Cabo Girão. I had funny feeling in my stomach when I was walking on the glasses at the beginning but actually was less impressive that expected. Also we spent a little bit in the souvenir shop.
Another beautiful little village in Camara De Lobos that we visited with its lighthouse called Farol. It was right before the sunset. So we walked around a little bit first. Then reached to a point to observe the beautiful sunset. It is a beautiful fishing town. Colorful boats were floating on the water. Farol was in beautiful typical design. The little beach with boats reminded me a little bit of Monterosso in Cinqueterre.
OUR 2ND DAY IN MADEIRA
Driving in Madeira was quite a treat. The island has treated us with many overwhelmingly beautiful and crazy views that usually we get to see in NatGeo or Discovery channels. We drove (we had 2 drivers, I am None of Them) on the edges of mountains while looking at the horizon in front of you. We drove through the clouds, we went on the clouds (yup, seriously). Then we saw farms, cows, trees and a thick layer of white cloud under us. Our photos are the proof and I swear they are not photoshopped. Let me get to that.
2nd highlight was the capital of Madeira. Funchal. Luckily we found a spot for parking without problem. The first stop in Funchal was the cathedral. Then we walked along the marina where we stopped for a coffee. Interestingly enough, there was a statue of Gandhi. Mahatma Gandhi passed through Funchal in 1906 as he traveled from London to South Africa. Then we spent a little bit of time in the Funchal Botanical garden. Not a bad place to just hang around with friends and family with kids. One side , there was ocean. Other side there was the city. And the houses on the hills in the background. Splendid.
Other side of the street, there was the Museum of Cristiano Ronaldo. It’s called CR7 Museum. Madeira’s Golden boy. Did I already tell you that he wants you know, that he is very famous? Well, there it was. A museum dedicated to him. The museum is not big. With all the medals and trophies and gifts and pictures and statues of him everywhere.
Then we went to the top of the Pico De Areiro. We kept climbing up and up literally to an altitude. By drive. Pretty sportive. Till We saw this.
Wow!! A thick layer of fluffy white cloud with a green foreground. Honestly, the view looked so photoshopped perfect. We could also feel the high altitude temperature was gradually dropping. Pico Areeiro is an essential place if you visit Madeira. We could see a superb hiking path connecting the two peaks : Pico Ruivo (1862m) and Pico do Arieiro (1818m). Besides the hike, the curves and the edges of the mountains are magnificent, incredible colours and the sky was not cloudy, We were admiring the view like children.
After enjoying the view and getting sunburned, we drove through clouds and thick fog to a little town with a World Heritage Site, Santana. Located in northeastern Madeira Island with approximately 8,800 inhabitants is the municipality of Santana. The name Santana derived from a small chapel in the sixteenth century, the Chapel of Santa Ana.
The “Casas de Santana” or “Casinhas de Santana” are typical thatched houses found only in Santana and are frequently visited by tourists (we were one of them). These small adorable coloured houses, whose roof are made of straw can be found in Santana´s town centre, near the City Hall. And we also tried Madeira’s famous rum Punch.
Porto da Cruz is one of the parishes belonging to the Machico council. Its name came from a cross (cruz) that was placed by the explorers on the bay once used as the port (Porto).
Once you arrive you’ll probably think there’s nothing much to do around here. So we thought. But Poto da Cruz was a beautiful little town surrounded by hills. We hoped to taste some of the good rhum but shops were already closed. There was a little beach, where some surfers were displaying some cool tricks.
We ended the day with a nice evening walk alongside the coast of Machico Town and a lovely dinner with our friends.
OUR 3 DAYS IN MADEIRA
We dropped our friends off at the airport early in the morning. It was sad to see them go. When we returned, we practically didn’t do anything. I guess, our crazy travel took a toll on our bodies. Reading books on an easy chair under the umbrella to control the sunburn was finally not a bad idea to rest.
Madeira has a unique irrigation system. Next to our apartment, from the balcony, we have noticed something that appears like a drainage system. We noticed that the water constantly passing through lands where people are cultivating fruits and vegetables. These are in fact water coming from the mountains. And people here diverted them through lands for cultivation purpose.
OUR 4TH DAY IN MADEIRA
On our 4th day, we decided to go to Rabaçal. It was although not possible. Because the road was shut and we could not go forward. The day was particularly windy. Apparently there was a big truck which was broke from 4 am in the morning and could not climb anymore.
Instead, we went to Encumeada. Another high altitude fairyland of Madeira. The landscape on top was like a desert of western movies. But colder, mystic, foggy (they were clouds in fact). Driving on the Edges of the nervewracking. It looked like the landscapes of the Avatar movie.
After that, We turned around and headed to another location : Sao Vicente. The São Vicente Caves were formed 890 thousand years ago by a volcanic eruption, which occurred in Paul da Serra. The outer part of the lava that was exposed to lower temperatures, solidified rapidly while the inside remained liquid with lots of gases, forming a series of lava tubes.
As par my research, The caves were first reported in 1885 by locals and opened to the public on October 1st, 1996.
They were among the first volcanic caves to be opened to the public in Portugal and may be visited by following an underground route running for over 1,000 m. The height of the caves varies between 5 and 6 metres.
At the beginning of the tour, there was a little multimedia show in the Volcano Centre, a pavilion offering a range of educational and entertaining audiovisual displays that recreate the geological evolution of the caves, the eruption of a volcano and even a simulation of the birth of the Madeira Islands. The caves reminded me a little bit of the Jenolan caves in New South Wales. Although that was not a volcanic cave.
Then drove to the Sao Vicente town to walk around a little bit and have lunch. The lunch was enormous and was accompanied by Madeira wine. On the way back, stopped near the edge of the cliff with a little canal. The water was flowing forward and the wind was flowing against the forward-moving water. Watching the phenomena was extraordinary.
On the way back, we stopped at the Seixal. A village on the cliff. Miradouro (Point of view )
Then Come back and did some groceries.
5th DAY IN MADEIRA (PHOTO ALBUM) AND THE EARTHQUAKE
Miradouro Cristiano de rei /caniço where there is a big Christ like Rio de Janeiro. They have another in Lisbon. On Tagus River.
Canical Ponta de Lourenco. this walk explores the long thin peninsula at the eastern end of the island. The paths are good, but undulating Great for trekking. But we were really tired.
“Miradors” in and around the road
In Explain in Photos
That evening there was a freaking earthquake on Madeira island. With 6.2 magnitudes. Apparently it was the first earthquake in 45 years. Wow. Madeira gave us everything then.
OUR 6TH AND THE LAST DAY IN MADEIRA
THANK YOU MADEIRA
on our 6th day, we wanted to go to Ribeiro Frio. But the roads were closed due to earthquakes. So, We took our time to drive around for the last time in Madeira.
On our last day, we gave back our key to the hosts. We had a good chat. Really, for the first time, there was someone who touched our hearts. It was a difficult job to say goodbye. Ahh! If we are coming back to Madeira, we definitely are come back to them. A big thanks to Madeira. A big thanks to its people. Everything here is pure and beautiful. Thank you. Thank you ; Thank you.
Our next stop, the final destination of this trip. Porto