2014 Madeira

Saturday 8th November

Roger collected us at 9.15am for our Gatwick to Madeira flight. Good breakfast in Giraffe. Good flight on Norwegian airlines & weird landing where plane goes over Madeira then banks steeply as it turns to get to the airport at Machico. Collected Clio car & drove to Funchal to our apartment in the Old Town where Maria was waiting to let us in. The roads are horrendously steep, it’s like driving on a roller coaster. Some are on such an incline that you can’t see over the top to the road!

Unpacked & sorted selves out, then went out to explore. We walked down passed the lovely old church to the harbour where we saw the Santa Maria (a replica of the Christopher Columbus one.) We shall go out on it one day.

We had a drink in a little bar then wandered by the sea & found the cable cars too.

Found a little Spar shop for water, juice etc.

We ate at Restaurante Tartaruga, scubbard fish for Andrew & steak for me a bottle of Vilena wine to accompany- good dinner & wine. Then walked back to the apartment.

Sunday 9th November

After a bit of a lie in we went to O Tasco Cafe for coffee then got the car and went to find a supermarket to buy coffee. We wandered around Dolce Vita shopping centre & bought cuddly colour in toys for Molly & Amber, a massage glove, a whirligig ashtray then a fabulous deep green fluffy cardigan for me.

Had lunch at the Ritz cafe after a walk around a little market which was in a pretty park.

Ordered salad & wraps & 50 minutes later eventually caught a waitresses attention for long enough to ask where our lunch was! Nice enough food when it arrived, but not impressed!!!

Bought a guide book & fridge magnet & went back to the car.

We dropped the shopping back at the apartment, parked the car up then went for a walk by the sea. Explored around the old fortress which is a lurid luminous yellow then walked by the sea to the marina and the cool Esher stylie steps. Had a drink overlooking the sea then wandered back to the old town area. We bought a lovely water colour seascape from a local artist on the way back to add to our wibbly wobbly paintings collection.

Then we had scrumptious dinner at O Violino restaurant. Steak on hot stone for Andrew & grouper fish for me, banana, toffee chocolate tart with Madeira wine for afters - all yummy. Back to the apartment afterwards, fed the kittens on the opposite roof & so to bed.

Monday 10th November

Coffee on the balcony while we decided what to do today.

Decided on a drive out to explore the island, our first stop was Santa Cruz, not much there, a pretty church Sao Salvador circa 1533, so after a walk by the sea we headed off to Machico where we walked down to the sea and stopped at Mare Alta cafe for coffee.

Walked passed the “beach” to the harbour and around the harbour above which stands the fortress remains circa 1419.

We returned to the car and drove next to Ponta do Castelo the farthermost point East that you can drive to for a stroll and a few photos.

Had a stop at restauranto Gale which was halfway up a mountain in the middle of nowhere, had lovely pasta bolognaisse type meal with a glass of good red wine called Lello.

Headed to Santana next to see the palheiros little A shaped thatched cottages which are gorgeous & really cute! A few are now shops but some are still lived in though they are really tiny. Bought 3 bulbs in the one that is now Casa do Flores - flower shop, a Watsonia & 2 Nerine, hope they will grow at home!

After a few false starts (sat nav trying to direct us over cliffs etc!!!) we left Santana and decided to take the mountain road back as we’d followed the coastal road out. This was beautiful forests on the mountains but really scary steep roads so mostly driving in 1st gear, through clouds & lots of hairpin bends to heights about a mile above sea level at the summits - no photos unfortunately as it was too foggy to see & nowhere to stop either, fun though.

We descended into Funchal as the sun was setting & managed to stop for a photo.

A rest back at the apartment before going to find dinner.

Walked down to restauranto area and decided to eat at Taberna da Esquina Andrew had shrimps in avocado & turkey stroganoff & I had chestnut soup & scubbard fish with bananas, both delicious, ordered a bottle of Lello wine which I’d tried at lunch - a good Portuguese wine. Back to the apartment to relax awhile before bed.

Tuesday 11th November

Bad night sleep, dogs & cars! Coffee on the balcony then a wander out to the sea, really hot bright sunny day today so we walked along the sea front & booked tickets for the afternoon trip on Santa Maria.

Had lunch at Vermelhinho at the marina which has live music.

Walked all the way around the harbour and waited in vain for the boat. Rang up & eventually Andrew got through to someone who said that they’d cancelled the trip due to bad weather - on the sunniest calmest day since we arrived. We assume there were not enough people, the man on the Santa Maria had ignored us, we would have understood if he’d explained, we then waited for someone to meet us for a refund- not happy!

Returned to apartment & collected the car to drive up to the Jardim Orquidea instead. Hills so steep the car could hardly get up in 1st gear & the clutch was burning! Eeeeek!!!!

The garden was beautiful lots of orchids, hibiscus, angels trumpets and many more as were the views down to the sea from the gardens at the top of the hill.

Later we drove back & relaxed at the apartment for a while & threw cat biscuits on to the garage roof opposite to feed the couple of kittens up there.

Decided on returning to O Violino for dinner of garlic shrimps & garlic bread with a hot stone steak for me & fish skewers for Andrew all fantastic again.

Wandered back later via the shop for some Madeira wine which we opened, then sat drinking a glass each on the balcony before bed.

Wednesday 12th November

Brilliant nights sleep, no dogs howling- note to self drink Madeira before bed!

After coffee we walked down to the cable car area & met Horatio who is taking us on a tour in his taxi today.

Our first stop was the beautiful Jardim Botanico da Madeira, a lovely walk around, climbed the steep steps up to the Lovers Cave at the top of the gardens with fabulous views of the sea again. Sat down for a breather and a little lizard ran over me & down my leg then across my boot! Wandered slowly through the deciduous, aromatic, palm, topiary & formal garden areas. We stopped part way for a glass of fresh orange juice and a cuddle with the tortoiseshell cat. Walked around the exotic bird gardens, then went to meet Horatio to continue our trip.

We stopped next at Monte where we walked up the steep hill to the church then down some steps to see the sledge rides - they run 2 kilometres down the steep hill & look terrifying! Didn’t see anyone trying the rides so no photos.

Walked back via the little pool with the swans to have lunch at Cafe du Parquet a burger for Andrew & tropical salad for me.

Horatio then drove us to Pico dos Barcelos a view point high on a hill with great views over Funchal.

Up to Cabo Girao next which is the 2nd highest cliff in the world, the first being the Grand Canyon.

Fantastic views over Madeira from 580 kilometres above sea level, we walked out over the glass floor to take photos & enjoy the wonderful scenery.

Our last destination on Horatio’s tour was Camara de Lobos a pretty fishing village which is very typical of the fishing villages all around the island. We had espresso at Cafe Baia and a wander around the village before being driven back to our apartment, a brilliant day out & Horatio was very informative about everywhere we went, we’d recommend a day out with him. Relaxed a while, then out to find a pizza.

Went for a pizza to Atalaia II then walked back to the bar Vaga Criativa, our nearest by the sea for a glass of port each before returning to the apartment.

Thursday 13th November

Walked along the sea front after amazing lunch at Riso on their balcony overlooking the sea. Andrew had prawn & chicken curry & I had lime risotto with scubbard fish & fried bananas.

We walked up through the shopping streets & visited the market, tried lots of weird & wonderful fruit, then had coffee up on the pretty roof terrace.

Onward then to Santa Catarina park where we watched lots of lizards crawling in & out of the wall & sunning themselves.

We walked around the park with the lake & fountains then continued up to the steep hill to the Presidents Monte Palace garden above it.

Both really pretty & lovely to walk around.

We sat by the lake in the gardens for a drink. I tried a passion fruit milkshake which was fabulous & Andrew had a beer.

Walked back down the hill & went to Blandys to sample their Madeira wine, 3 times the price but not much different to the local stuff we’ve been drinking.

Walked up the steep hill again for dinner at Beef & Wine restaurant, fabulous steak on a skewer but didn’t rate the 3 wines they brought us, though had an ok cab sav just before we left.

Walked most of the way back before giving up & getting a taxi as we were both knackered. A lovely glass of wine on the balcony before bed.

Friday 14th November

Another dreadful nights sleep, cars, rain & that poor bloody dog howling all night!

Passion fruits & coffee for breakfast then we walked down to the cable cars for the ride up to Monte. We are now walking around the Monte Palace Tropical Gardens.

This is a lovely garden & has an African art museum & stunning Gem museum to wander around as well as an orchid garden, Chinese gardens with koi ponds, several waterfalls and a lovely lake in the middle with swans. Beside the lake stands the largest amphora vase in the world. Walked for miles and eventually found the terrace cafe at the bottom for a coffee & roll, cake & free Madeira wine tasting.

We could have had a nice dose of chips with it!

Sitting here now in the sun with the sea far below relaxing before our major steep climb back up to the cable car for our descent.

We had a drink at O Violino before strolling back to the apartment to relax till dinner.

Went to O’Tasco across the road from us for dinner of scubbard fish nuggets, limpets followed by chicken & beef skewers with maize cubes & salad. Coconut and potato cake for pudding was fab, everything else was lovely too. Fed the kittens before bed.

Saturday 15th November

A lazy morning listening to Radio 2 then a walk to find a hairdresser for me. Andrew had lunch at Noid Escuva, green soup & steak whilst I had my hair done, then I joined him afterwards for meatballs in mushroom sauce.

Afterwards we went to the Saturday market by the cable cars and had a wander.

We bought me a fabulous cork handbag which we’d see a few of in local shops & seem to be local to this area & a pair of Bluetiful blue glass earrings studded with luminous glass made locally.

Went back to apartment as both knackered from lack of sleep - another noisy night in Funchal! Relaxed listening to music & reading.

Later we went to the Chinese restaurant for dinner, think we have a bit of a bug or food poisoning as both feel crap & couldn’t eat much though the sweet & sour fish, beef in oyster & mixed rice were all lovely. Back to apartment again for a quiet evening taking turns with the loo. Fed the kitten before retiring for the night.

Sunday 16th November

Andrew really not well so quiet start to the day, music & books again then a drive out to Madeira shopping centre for a wander as its persisting down today. Lunch in shopping centre burgers - mistake for me but Andrew enjoyed his. Did a bit of loo roll etc shopping then back to apartment to relax as both seem to still have stomach bugs!

Riso for dinner later fabulous meal again coconut prawns & pea soup, risotto & black Thai coconut rice with mango.

Apartment again to take turns with the loo & bed.

Monday 17th November

Coffee early then packed to set off to Calheta for the rest of our holiday- a lovely 4 bedroomed house with an infinity pool, such a change from the little apartment!

Met Vanda there at 11am to drop off luggage & collect keys, we can move in after 1pm when she’s cleaned.

Went into Calheta harbour area to do some shopping & had a wander along to sea front then lunch at the Calheta Beach hotel bolognaisse for Andrew & pizza for me.

We took 12 my pizza back to the house & had it later for dinner with garlic bread.

Lovely house & garden & pool, weather not great today as it’s rained on & off all day.

Relaxed with wine & beer & oldies on Dave tv, between trips to the loo - 3 to choose from now makes life easier though!

Tuesday 18th November

A relaxing morning, coffee on the terrace in the sun & nice jacuzzi bath.

Went out to explore Porto Moniz, rain & foggy clouds up in the mountains again, quite hairy in places.

Porto Moniz is really lovely & it’s stopped raining now, the lava pools and the wild sea and rocks are amazing. We wandered along the seafront and went into a couple of shops, found Judith’s piece of embroidery that she requested.

Found a little seaside cafe for lunch, then went back to the car for the drive back.

We got stopped by a few cows on the way back who moved after peeping at them for a while.

Very cloudy again on way back, but got back ok & both still having stomach problems so loo visits again!

We decided to brave the pool this evening around sunset time and it was lovely although pretty cold when we first got in, took pics & video of the lovely sunset from the pool & including the pool too.

Relaxed for a while enjoying the water once we’d got used to the temperature, the views are amazing too.

Cooked boerewors sausages, chips & beans for dinner at the house tonight rather than go out again, sat out on the terrace while it was cooking, relaxing with some wine & music till I saw a huge cockroach near my foot!!

Now really jumpy & ate inside rather than lovely candlelit dinner outside - eejit!!

Wednesday 19th November

Toast & coffee watching the wind & rain- coldest day so far.

Decided to go out once the rain stopped & went to Jardim du Mar - stunningly beautiful wild sea & the sun came out whilst there, really lovely little hot spot.

Took lots of videos & pix then went to a little local cafe overlooking the sea for a drink & chicken sandwich each which we shared with 2 cute kittens a black & a tabby, both sweet & very friendly.

Were intending walking along the front but heavens opened again so back to the car.

Drove to Paul du Mar - not much there, torrential rain again so parked up for a while.

On to Porto do Sol & a wander by sea, not a lot here though it’s a pretty village.

Ribeira Brava next fab mango shake for Andrew & maracuja one for me at Don Luis by the sea, sunshine again so we walked around the town, again not a lot here, a few cafes & restaurants & lots of shops selling usual tourist crap & ponchos etc. Bought some wine, milk etc in Pingo Doce the local supermarket.

Returned to the house & prepared tomorrow nights dinner mince, listening to music for a while.

Decided to go to the Calheta Beach hotel for dinner, pizza for Andrew & steak on hot stone for me both excellent- it’s raining again!

Back to the house to relax for the rest of the evening.

Thursday 20th November

Another cold morning, coffee watching the sea, then got ready to go out.

Drove over to Sao Vincente as we plan to visit the caves there today.

Torrential rain en route which abated for a while when we arrived at the sea which is wild and rather spectacular too.

Wondering what Jardim du Mar is like today!

Clouds now descending into the sea & more torrential rain, we took shelter in O Virgilio seafood palace restaurant by the sea for lunch & hopefully weather may improve whilst we eat. Great lunch here fish soup & omelette for Andrew prawn cocktail & chicken stroganoff for me.

Sitting in the cave car park waiting for torrential rain to stop so we can walk to reception!!

Both really enjoyed the lava caves, or tubes as they call them, they aren’t much different from other caves we’ve visited, no stalactites or stalagmites in them, worth a visit though & afterwards you get a 3D film showing a reconstruction.

When we came out it had finally stopped raining so we went back down to the sea for a while & had a drink & slice of cake watching the waves.

Returned to the house afterwards, we are eating in tonight & looks from the big black clouds overhead like that’s a good idea - more torrential rain on the way we think.

Friday 21st November

My hunkas birthday today! Coffee & off out as the sun is shining.

Tried to find a cable car near us without success, decided then to go up to Pico da Torre which has a fabulous view at the top.

Our next destination as it’s such a gorgeous sunny day is to head up the mountains to Pico do Arieriro which is 1818 metres above sea level & an amazing drive. Stunning views at the top through the clouds. Spent quite a while up here taking in the fabulous views.

Onward to Funchal where we got ripped off again for lunch at Mar Azul.

At 3pm we took a catamaran trip around part of the island on the Magic Dolphin for 3 hours, lovely tranquil sea for the most part & saw a whale in the distance once.

Girl on boat was very rude, but it was great otherwise.

Drove back to house & discovered that recommended restaurant within walking distance is no more, so down to Hotel Calheta Beach again for dinner of bruschetta, steaks on hot stones & sweet potato wedges all yummy.

Back to the ranch & opened our bottle of Penfolds Bin 28 to toast Andrews birthday.

Saturday 22nd November

It’s time to pack up & leave after coffee, all sorted & we drove over to Jardim do Mar for a last look at the sea there & a coffee.

Kittens all curled up inside out of the rain.

Had a cuddle with tabby & her daddy then back to the car & off to Funchal.

Parked up then Andrew bought me a fabulous boing cork umbrella for Christmas!

We are now at Atalaia II Pizzaria for lunch before we drive to the airport.

At airport with 4 hours to go & it’s persisting down!!! 😢😭😩

Sunday 23rd November

Spend most of night in airport as weather too bad so flights all delayed! Eventually were told that flight was cancelled & were directed to a coach & sent to a hotel near Funchal where we spent the rest of the night. Were called for breakfast, then loaded back on to a coach & returned to the airport for a 2pm flight home. No mishaps this time & flight home was fine. Home at last!!!