Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

Love Funchal, Madeira, Portugal

Wonderful stunning sunrise and awakened to the sights of this island of Madeira as we arrive around 745-8 am.  We had ordered room service to enjoy the morning arrival while eating and getting ready for this port of call.  A balcony stateroom is perfect for such viewing.  We keep having to adjust our clocks as we travel across the Atlantic, loosing sleep.  
Blue sky emerges, clay red coloured roof tops can be seen up the side of the mountain.  Tall leafy greenery poking up between and beyond the buildings.  We have a tour this afternoon of the island.  This morning is for exploring the old town and perhaps searching for a bottle of famous Madeira wine!  Or two?  Lol
Just after nine  we disembark and gather at the shuttle bus, provided by Oceania that takes us to the city Centro.  Funchal.  We have a map and some ideas of what to see.  Unprepared for such a beautiful area.
Cobblestone streets, boutique shops selling crafts of the highest quality … Jewelry and paintings, ceramics, embroidered linens.  First shop also attracts us with warm poncho style woollen and knitted hats, painted scarves, and all manner of bags, shoes made of cork.  We fall in love with this island and wonder why we booked a tour.  I guess it is hard to know how we want to see this or any area, until I have been there.  Now I know.  Next time, and I am certain there will be a next time …I will simply walk around, perhaps take a cab if necessary to some of the sights we shall see today.  Our tour departs at 130 this afternoon, so we decide to shop until noon, go back to ship  … And join the tour.
Shopping was delightful.  I could have spent all day wandering this magical place.  The sun shone bright and the air was warm, but not hot.  The shopkeepers were  helpful and professional.  The products unique.  
On tour:  
Madeira is the largest of the islands in archipelago.  250,000 population
Green gardens all along the roads.  Big casino park hotel also has its own gardens.  4-5 star hotel chain on islands.  Beautiful trees with blossoms of every colour.  Such a beautiful ride!  Reid’s hotel, oldest. People have tea here.  Hotel area, restaurants, more hotels along the coast in this city.  
African tulip trees in full bloom, orange flowers.  Bougainvillea… Hanging heavy with blossoms.
Shopping areas look high end in this area.  As we head out of city.  Terra cotta roof tops dot the hills.  Mountainous and hilly area everywhere. 
Terracing  for agriculture… Banana trees on left and right.  Heavy with fruit.  The banana plants  only last two years, cut down and then regrow from the stock..  Sugar cane gardens ready for taking to the factory for harvesting and converting to syrup only.  syrup for brandy and cakes.   Fishing, agriculture,  and tourism are the important businesses.  The fish unique to this area is filleted and cooked with banana.
A lookout, the second highest sea view cliff in Europe?  Anyway, spectacular and a glass floor so I can see way way way WAY down.  :). A washroom stop, and souvenir shop.  Hand embroidered linens, cork bags and purses … Unique gifts.
Eucalyptus and mimosa trees with blossoms.  People walk along irrigation routes.  We see vineyards all over the island.  Mango passion fruit, guava, juices from tropical fruits.  Also produce beer here.  Madeira wine aperitif as well as table wines. Cherry trees in bloom. Used for liquor. Fennel is also traditional sweets.  
Happy we took the tour.  Fantastic day, lots of pictures.  




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