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Travel time: 11 - September 18, 2006.


Automobile:Toyota Jaris.



Travel map:


   Two vacation weeks have flown by. It's time to share your impressions and at least virtually relive the beautiful days.
  This year, we started preparing for the holiday in September as early as ever - in February we began to work out options, and already in March we risked making prepayments. But first things first.
  We've had the idea of spending a vacation in Madeira for a long time. We read a lot and heard from eyewitnesses about this fabulous corner of the earth. But the idea of the trip finally took shape as a result of meeting Jan on the Internet (let's call him by his first name for now, we actually met him already in Madeira).
  Using our past experience (travels to Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, Côte d'Azur, Slovenia), we started by looking for accommodation. We usually try to find apartments for four people, i.e. at least three rooms (two bedrooms and a salon). On one of the well-known sites offering rental villas and vacation apartments, they found an interesting option. But for the period we needed, these apartments were occupied. And here, we can say, we were lucky. Jan turned out to be the owner of the apartment, and being a professional travel agent, he kindly offered his services as an intermediary for renting his neighbor's apartment. After intensive almost two months(!) e-mail correspondence and checking other options, we nevertheless agreed to Jan's option, despite the fact that it was required to immediately (half a year) transfer a deposit of 50% of the rental price. We risked to a certain extent, but, as it turned out, justified.
  At the same time, we solved the issue with the route. The fact is that from our Palestinians there is no direct flight to Madeira. After analyzing a good dozen options and consulting with our many years local travel agent, we chose the Parisian option.
  So, our route:
- flight to Paris;
- stop in Paris for a few days (this part of the route deserves a separate description and a separate story "Our Paris" will be devoted to it);
- flight to Madeira with an intermediate stop in Porto;
- a week in Madeira;
- flight from Madeira to Paris with an intermediate stop in Lisbon;
- one day stop in Paris;
- flight home from Paris.
  Now, for the above reason, we omit the Paris part of our trip and continue the story of Madeira.

    So, after an almost four-hour flight from Paris Orly airport with an intermediate stop in Porto for 40 minutes, we arrived at Santa Catarina airport, which is located 20 km from Funchal the main city of Madeira.
  The runway is really unusual. A significant part of it rests on powerful supports and hangs over the ocean. When landing, the plane, barely touching the runway, immediately slows down sharply.
  Having safely received the luggage (from the stories of tourists who visited Madeira, we knew that cases of luggage delays are not uncommon here), we went to the arrivals hall and immediately saw a poster with our names. So it was agreed with Jan. The minibus driver deftly packed our numerous luggage and in half an hour we were met by Jan at the entrance to the apartment.
Jan turned out to be a nice person, he is from Denmark, has been living in Madeira for several years.
  After a cursory inspection of our apartments and lively communication with Jan, we quickly resolved organizational issues, including paying the remaining amount and renting a car, which was brought to the entrance in 15 minutes.
  A little about the apartments. First of all, they are located on the territory of the Pestana Atlantic Gardens 4 * apart-hotel. There are about 100 apartments, 50% of which are privately owned. At the same time, I don’t know for what reason, the cost of renting private apartments is about two times cheaper than the cost of the same apartments in the hotel itself. In addition, by renting private apartments, you use the entire infrastructure of the hotel.
Our apart-hotel and another one from the same Pestana Atlantic Bay 4 * chain, located nearby, have a common territory and infrastructure (for example, the restaurant, which, by the way, we did not use, is located in Pestana Atlantic Bay). Both apart-hotels are located on the very edge of the western coast of Funchal, where most of the hotels are located. Here is one of the famous beaches in Madeira, Plaia Formosa.
  So, we entered the apartment, for the next week they will become our housing. Opening the front door, we got into a long corridor, he led us into a spacious salon, which ended in the most wonderful place in this home - a balcony with stunning views of the ocean and Cape Cabo Girao.


    On either side of the corridor there were two rather large bedrooms with a bathroom and a toilet in each. And, of course, the kitchen, equipped with everything you need (starting from a spacious refrigerator, dishwasher and ending with a full set of dishes) and separated from the salon by a partition-rack with a marble top. In the cabin there is upholstered furniture (three and two), several wicker shelves, a coffee table, a TV and a DVD player with a set of discs. In addition, behind the kitchen partition on the side of the salon was a large dining table with chairs and a set of colorful tablecloths and napkins. Everything is clean, tidy, obviously after a recent renovation (the hotel was built in 1991).


   Directly under the balcony (we had the third floor) the pool sparkled with blue, behind a low fence there was a walking path, and behind it the ocean hummed with a narrow strip of pebble beach.
  Having settled in the apartment and having a little rest, we moved to explore the surroundings. The rear side of the hotel, with its parking lot, rested against a rock covered with ivy, which had a height approximately equal to the seven-story building of the hotel itself, i.e. the car park is located in a canyon. So we decided to explore the walking path along the ocean.
  It turned out that it is completely suitable for walking only along the hotels. On the rest, at best, there were wooden decks, otherwise you need to chop on large pebbles. At first, we went to the right, but there, behind the snack bar, the civilized part of the path ended. Therefore, we slowly moved to the left, enjoying the rumble of the ocean. Moreover, the sound of the surf here is very characteristic: first, the usual hiss of a rolling wave, then the roar of pebbles being pulled into the ocean.
  In the meantime, the path ran into a rock, but a little to the right was the entrance to the tunnel, which had long attracted our attention. Even more to the right, already above the water, a large grotto could be seen.


  We entered the pedestrian tunnel. In the dark (the tunnel is illuminated by dim lanterns built into the floor), we immediately did not pay attention to the squelching under our feet, and water oozing from the ceiling and walls. After walking a few dozen steps, we saw the light and ended up in the gallery above the same grotto. The water in the grotto seethed and shimmered in different colors, from black to bright blue.
  Behind the grotto, the tunnel turned out to be absolutely dry and after a few tens of meters we came to a small observation deck. Looking ahead, I note that from this site we watched the evening sunset several times. We could do the same from our balcony, and once we even filmed everything with a video camera. As soon as the sun touches the edge of the horizon, it disappears in just a matter of minutes. And if there are clouds on the horizon that form bizarre figures against the background of the sun, and all this happens next to the tall Cape Cabo Girao, then the sunset turns into a fantastic sight.
  From the observation deck there is also an entrance to the paid beach and a little further to the fish restaurant, which was closed on this day on the occasion of Monday. Again, looking ahead, I will say that I liked the restaurant and we checked it in twice.
Then the path went up and led us to a small square, where we found several more restaurants (in one of them we celebrated the end of our stay in Madeira) and what we were looking for: a Modelo chain supermarket. After going to the supermarket and making sure that here we will find everything necessary for life support, we decided to split up.
    Leaving our ladies in the supermarket for their usual occupation, Pasha and I returned to the hotel by the same road to the car. Well, it was necessary once to start mastering the roads of Madeira and, moreover, walking from the supermarket, especially with purchases, to put it mildly, did not inspire us.
The road by car from the hotel to the supermarket was not close and took 10-12 minutes. Having returned with shopping to the hotel, having a little more rest on our fabulous balcony, we decided to go to the city for a walk and dinner.
  The city of Funchal is located on the southern coast of the island in a picturesque bay, a huge amphitheater descends from the mountain slopes to the ocean. There is a promenade with numerous restaurants, a small port, a marina, a little higher - a cozy old town, even higher - residential areas and parks, parks ... On the map of Funchal, I counted 17 marked parks.


    This time we just walked along the promenade and had dinner in one of the coastal restaurants, and we ended the first day in Madeira on our balcony under Madera with pineapples.

   The next day we had a long trip planned (by Madeira standards) in the direction of the extreme northwestern point - the town of Porto Moniz.
  But first, a few words about the roads of Madeira. Given the very complex mountain profile of the island and its small size (only 57 km from east to west and 20 km from north to south), the road infrastructure is quite developed and, as we were told, continues to develop intensively, especially in recent years. From the airport to Funchal, there is a European-class expressway with two lanes in each direction, with a dividing fence on all sides, with many tunnels, allowing you to calmly go at a speed of 120-130 km / h (speed limit on highway 100). The road continues to be built and it has already gone far beyond Funchal. Other roads on the island have one lane in each direction, with sharp turns and serpentines, countless ascents, descents, tunnels. And in the towns, the streets are sometimes so narrow that one car can hardly squeeze through. In short, to drive in Madeira, the driver must be sufficiently qualified. And I take my hat off to Pasha, his driving skills helped us more than once on the roads of Madeira. By the way, our car turned out to be not quite adapted for such roads. By itself, the Toyota Jaris is a good car, but a 1000cc engine is clearly not enough. In addition, as we later found out, her mileage was over 100 thousand km.
  Having easily found the exit from the city in the right direction, we jumped onto the expressway and drove west along the south coast. After a while, we saw a pointer to Cabo Girao. We instantly decided to correct our route and headed in the indicated direction. Seeing the cliff from our balcony and not visiting it would be an unforgivable mistake. A steep climb up, and here we are at the top of the cliff. Still 580 m above sea level. The cliff is considered the second highest in the world and the highest in Europe (although Europe is 1000 km away). On the way to a small observation deck, which is on the edge of a cliff, there are many souvenir shops. Here we bought our first souvenirs.
  From the observation deck, a magnificent panorama opens in three directions and down. On the left - a view of Camara de Lobos (W. Churchill's favorite vacation spot) and Funchal, right - the endless distance of the ocean in a blue haze, on the right - cliffs and rocky shores again, and below - the ocean rolls waves on a narrow strip of coast in front of the cliff.
  Having admired the views from the cliff, we moved on.

    Again we returned to the expressway, and in the area of the town of Ribeira Brava we turned north towards Sao Vicente. This is where the highway ends. The usual highway meandered through the gorge along the river Ribeira Brava.
  As we moved deeper into the island, nature also changed. From the coastal southern tropics we found ourselves in a gorge between low mountains covered with lush greenery. It was very reminiscent of continental Europe somewhere in Slovenia (we traveled there two years ago). Kilometers 15 the road went up. Judging by the map, they climbed to a height of up to 1000 m. There are many tunnels: from short one hundred meters to three kilometers. Then the descent began and after another 10 km we reached Sao Vicente, resting on a T-junction - right on the ocean, but already on the northern coast. The road from south to north took us no more than 45 minutes.
  We turned left towards Porto Moniz, but then we decided to stop, look around, drink coffee in a coastal coffee shop. By the way, everywhere in Madeira there is excellent coffee and at NOT French prices. Nature, and with it the weather, changed again. Around the rocks, in some places bare or covered with rare greenery, a strong, but not cold, wind. The ocean hit the rocky shore in a big wave. Beautiful, but harsh.
  We moved a little from the shore into the depths of the town. Here, our attention was attracted by several attractions. First, a small chapel, as if hidden from the ocean behind a lonely rock topped with a stone cross. It was marked on the map as Capela Sao Roque.


    Then a platform with a dozen pillars, each of which has a large boulder. By the way, we saw this several times in other places on the island, but we could not figure out what it means.


    We also saw a picturesque path with a bridge over the river Ribeira Sao Vicente, which flows into the ocean, and a pedestrian tunnel in the rock. We walked along this path, returned to the car and moved on.

The road twisted along the ocean, again steep ascents, descents, tunnels, and in half an hour we parked the car on the embankment in Porto Moniz.
    Here is another unique creation of nature - natural pools created by the contact of the ocean and volcanic lava. They look like figures made of wet sand, only this iron sand. The figures are intricate, but, looking closer and fantasizing a little, you suddenly see a crocodile floating on the water, and there is a dragon with a toothy mouth turned towards you.


    Walking paths are laid between the pools and areas where you can sunbathe are equipped. The water in the pools heats up during the day, and during the night, during the tides, it is replaced by a new one.
  After wandering between the pools, we returned to the embankment and, in search of a place for dinner, went from the coast deep into the town. Here we took the advice: the farther from the coast, the tastier and cheaper. And they did not lose, they found a cozy restaurant and had a wonderful dinner.

    They wanted to return back by another road, through the Paul da Serra plateau, but either being afraid of another steep climb, or getting lost, they went back the same way. And we had a separate trip planned for Paul da Serra.
  Returning home, the day ended again with a light Madeira dinner.

   On the third day, being strongly impressed by yesterday's trip, we set off again. We drove north again, first in the direction of Monte. The road is very picturesque, but just as difficult: continuous serpentine, all the way up. Nature has changed once again, now we were driving through a coniferous forest. The trees are low, some kind of spruce. At an altitude of about 880 m in the Ribeiro Frio area, we drove down to a clearing in the middle of the forest, stopped to rest and look around. The first thing that struck us when we got out of the car was some special smell of pine needles, very rich and fragrant.


    It was very humid; Around a gorgeous forest landscape. Not without reason in this place we saw a lot of equipped places for picnics. Having admired the coniferous splendor, we moved on to the town of Santana.
  This town is famous for having about 100 original houses. They have a triangular shape resembling the letter A. The houses are brightly colored and the roof is thatched. Some houses are still inhabited, others are open to the public as a museum of everyday life.


   We moved on towards Sao Jorge. In this picturesque town we stopped for coffee and turned back. We decided not to look for difficulties and drove along an easier road towards first Machico, then along the coast towards Funchal. On the way, we stopped at Camacha, where we checked in at a local shopping center. Then began the search for Ponta do Garajau. There should be a huge statue of Cristo Rei here, like in Rio de Janeiro or other famous South American cities. With difficulty, we found this place.


     Of course, the statue looks best from the ocean. By the way, the place is either abandoned or not yet promoted. Probably the second, since a funicular is being built nearby, and a road is being laid to the place of the statue. From the observation deck in front of the statue, you can see the ocean and two uninhabited islands, also part of the Madeira archipelago.

   We finally had dinner in the same fish restaurant, which is located next to the hotel. By the way, it's time to share your impressions of the cuisine of Madeira.
  Everywhere we try to taste the traditional dishes of the corner of the earth where we travel. In Madeira, traditional dishes are Espetada de Carne, a variant of the barbecue, and Filete de Peixe-Espada, a fillet of swordfish. Shish kebab, as they say, is shish kebab in Madeira, well-marinated meat, cut, however, into larger pieces than we are used to. Meat is fried on baywood skewers. Delicious but simple. But the swordfish, or sometimes it is also called the swordfish, is both tasty and unusual. And if it is also served with a fried banana, then this is generally a celebration of the stomach. It is said that the length of the fish reaches from 1 to 2.5 m. Its body is flattened from the sides and it floats like a wriggling silver ribbon in the wind. In the coastal waters of Madeira, there are two varieties of swordfish - silver (flatter) and black (more rounded). This fish is also found only off the coast of Japan.
  In general, Madeira cuisine is characterized by an abundance of seafood. So for lovers of all kinds of shrimps, crabs, octopuses, there is something to eat here. I also liked tomatoes - dark red, ripe and tasty. I am generally not a big fan of vegetable and all kinds of salads, so instead of a salad, they cut a huge tomato for me. And bread - homemade fragrant bread with garlic, which was always served to us hot.

   The fourth day turned out to be no less eventful than the previous ones, although we chose the closer option - visiting Funchal.
  First of all, we wanted to visit the Madeira Orchid Farm. We had an address and a detailed map of how to get there. At first everything went well, but when we climbed to the top of Funchal, where the narrow streets are solid one-way steep climbs, we missed the right turn and therefore had to climb even higher - the traffic is one-way. Only somewhere at the top we were able to turn right and drove along a horizontal road. The scheme no longer helped, I had to ask passers-by. Finally, we somehow got our bearings and even found the right street, but it was the steepest descent, well, definitely more than 45 degrees. And again I take my hat off to Pasha, he managed to go down this super-racing track almost to the beginning of the street straight to the right number. Now, it remained to find out whether such a difficult path would be justified by what he saw.
  The factory is located in the garden of an old house built back in 1670, and was created in 1957 by a certain Martha Schon based on one of the oldest Reid's Orchid Collection. Of course, it is difficult to convey in words the magnificence of colors and colors. We took a lot of photos, filmed on video.

   It is at the end of the tour that the hostess treats visitors from the wine cellar, which is located here.

   Our next program number was Tropical Park  Jardim Tropical Monte Palace. It is located on Monte Hill. You can get there by car, bus or funicular. Naturally, we chose the funicular. We went down to the embankment - the lower station of the funicular is located there, parked the car in the underground parking lot and moved to the funicular.
  The climb in the blue six-seater pot-bellied cabin is quite long, about 15 minutes. During this time, you have time to see Funchal in all its glory: an abundance of red tiled roofs, stepped terraces on which houses nestled, immersed in greenery, a road winding in the gorge, a tall viaduct above it, a gaping entrance to the tunnel, here is a ribbon of a high-speed road with a clear white markings, and below, in a blue haze - the ocean.
  Leaving the cable car, we found ourselves at the entrance to the tropical park. We bought entrance tickets and ended up right in paradise. There is a tropical forest all around, pleasant coolness, waterfalls, streams, ponds, and you can hear the murmur of water and the singing of birds.


   In addition to nature, the park, which occupies an area of 70 thousand square meters, has a lot of educational. For example, a museum of African sculpture, imported from Zimbabwe. Along the alleys there are about 40 panels decorated with multi-colored ceramics and reflecting various events in the history of Portugal. In addition to the local flora, the park has many plants imported from other continents and countries: azaleas from Belgium, heather from Scotland, acacias from Australia, sequoias from America. There is a whole Japanese garden with a pagoda. Near the central lake there is a five-meter vase listed in the Guinness book. The walk through the park ends in a cafe with a tasting of Madeira. How could it be without her!
  After the park, another attraction unique to Madeira awaited us - the descent on the wooden sleigh Tobbogan Ride. The sleigh itself is woven from willow, the skids are also from willow, polished to a shine, like the road: a two-kilometer steep descent along the street, along which there is no traffic for safety.
   A sleigh with a capacity of up to three passengers is driven by two (one cannot cope) healthy guys. They are also dressed in the same remarkable way: a white shirt, trousers and a straw boater on their heads. The sled is controlled by two ropes attached to the skids. Guys use these ropes both for acceleration of the sled and for braking. So passengers can only grab their hands on the side rails, on the bench, on each other and hope for the skill and dexterity of the guys. And I must say, they do their job very masterly, while chatting freely among themselves.
  At the start we hesitated a little and one of the couples rushed around the corner, so we didn't see each other in motion. They didn’t even stutter about photo or video shooting, if I were alive. The distance is not straight, with sharp turns, there were several moments when it seemed that we could not escape a warm meeting with a stone fence, but, again, to give credit to the guys, they always changed direction in time.
  Below, at the finish line, the guys helped us out of the sled and eloquently took off their boaters in anticipation of the types. By the way, they reacted to a handful of little things without much enthusiasm, but, as they say, these are already their problems.

   It turned out that we were still halfway to the embankment. While thinking, we were attacked by taxi drivers. We looked down at the upcoming descent and ... did not force ourselves to be persuaded for a long time. Ten euros and in ten minutes we are down. But for a long time we walked around the old city, having dinner in one of the many restaurants.
  We quickly found a car in the underground parking lot and drove home, deciding that it was time to relax and finally swim in the ocean.

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