Madeira in Portugal was my first port of call during my free Christmas cruise holiday. After spending three days sailing through the rough sea at Bay of Biscay, I was so glad to finally set foot on land again.
FIRST PORT OF CALL
Let me tell you a bit about Madeira first in case you're not familiar with it. Madeira is an autonomous region of Portugal, a small island that is actually closer to Morocco than Portugal. It's 741 square km large, a bit smaller than Bahrain (765 square km) but bigger than Singapore (687 square km). The population is 270k but every year about 1.4m tourist flock to this island. That's probably because it has a very nice weather that ranges between 17 degree to 25 degrees centigrade all year round. And in case you're interested, (one of?) the most famous person born here is the footballer Cristiano Ronaldo, the airport here is named after him.
ONE DAY IN MADEIRA
Like most of my other cruise holidays, my memories of Funchal, the capital of Madeira is a bit all over the place, like their roads. I guess this is a combination of me being thrown about in the sea for three days, and the fact that I only stayed here for a day. Having gone through my photos, I've managed to recall some of my memory from that day.
CABLE CAR RIDE TO MONTE
I think the best way to get a birds eye view of a city is to get as high as possible. That would normally be a building or the top of a hill or mountain. It was the latter at Madeira. I took the cable car ride from Funchal to Monte which is 550m above sea level. Monte offers a fantastic view of the whole of the Funchal and the bay. The red roof tops sprinkled across the capital city made Funchal look like an absolutely beautiful picture.
Monte is a parish in its own right and not just an end point for the cable car. I wandered around aimlessly for a while, walking through the Monte Palace Tropical Garden and the Monte Municipal Park. Both were beautiful kept and although it was December there were still some blooming flowers.
Suddenly I looked downwards to the windy road and saw something quite peculiar. Two men were pushing a basket down the hill and someone was sitting inside!
This was Monte's famous toboggan ride that dates back to 1850. It used to be the main mode of transport to get down to Funchal. The 'vehicle' is the wicker toboggan and is operated by two men called Carreiros. There are two wooden runners beneath the toboggan so it's quite low and literally touches the ground. The two men pushes the toboggan down the hill which is made easier with the greased rags underneath the runners. All the men working on the toboggans are dressed in white and wear a straw hat. They also have a pair of nice shoes, but there is something special about these shoes. The shoes have special rubber soles. They are used as breaks and help to steer the toboggan as it swishes downhill.
My next stop back down to Funchal (I didn't take the toboggan, in case you're wondering) was to the farmers market. I love markets and will never miss the opportunity to visit the local market if I can find one. The market is divided into many sections each selling different types of produce. If I remember correctly, I spent most of my time in the fish market as I don't have many photos of anything else. It was very interesting to see the variety of fish here and how the fishmongers handles them.
Madeira has a very long history of wine making which dates back to around the 15th century. Blandy's Wine Lodge is one of the most famous and oldest wine producer in Madeira. Their buildings go back to about two hundred years, and includes an interesting museum and a wine cellar that holds some of their oldest and rarest vintage Madeira.
We did a wine tasting here, but I forgot what is was like. Or was I drunk already.....?
WANDERING AROUND TOWN
Overall, my first port of call to Madeira turned out to be quite a busy day. Apart from the cable car ride, farmers market and Maderia wine tasting, I spent the rest of the day wandering around town. It was 19th December when I was here and there were some but not many Christmas decorations, which I found a bit odd.
Anyway, Funchal was a very pretty place and I thoroughly enjoyed my short visit here. I'll leave you with a few more snapshots of Funchal.
我在2012年聖誕節郵輪旅行第一站到葡萄牙的馬德拉。 馬德拉群島面積比星加坡大些少，總人口有27萬，但每年卻有140萬遊客到訪。 大家沒聽過馬德拉不出奇， 但足球迷一定聽過它最著名的居民。三度奪得國際足協金球獎的基斯坦奴朗拿度，就是出生及長大於馬德拉。
郵輪泊岸地點位於馬德拉首府豐沙爾。 豐沙爾一日遊，我乘坐登山纜車到 Monte 山頂眺望豐沙爾全景， 又品嚐當地著名的馬德拉酒。 最後便到市集，和在市內觀光。 雖然只是匆匆略過豐沙爾，但還是過了蠻充實的一天。
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