Thursday, August 1, 2013

Madeira, Portugal

I don't think I have ever met anyone that has visited the island of Madeira. It's a long ways away with no direct flight and it is not well known.  It's a Portuguese Island located 700km off  the south-west coast of Portugal and was formed by volcanic eruptions 35 million year ago. It was discovered in 1418 by Zarco 'the Squinter' then later Christopher Columbus sailed here to buy sugar and ended up marrying the Governer's daughter. The island has little flat land. Good shoes and good breaks on you car is a must. The climate is sub-tropical and the main industry is tourism from Britan, Germany and France.
There were two ways that I learned of Madeira. First was in my wine classes. The island produces a wine unique to the world. They make it through a fortification and a heating process which is totally not the norm in the wine making world. There will be more about that in my future blog after I visit Blandy's Wine Lodge. The other way I heard about it was through family! My Aunt is married to a man, Uncle Sam who is from the Azores which is a group of islands  just north of Madeira. My Uncle Sam left the island when he was 12 years old and him and my Aunt started visiting the Azores a few years back for holiday. They wanted to see another island and this is how Madeira came up. They have heard wonderful things about the place and then they invited myself and my Cousin Kevin to come along. How could I say no to this fascinating wine region! So far I'm lovin' this place! It's a comfortable size, English is widely spoken, the people are friendly and it's just gorgeous.
The first photos are of Funchal, the capital city located in the south of the island. We are staying at the Regency Cliff on the East side of downtown. Friendly, clean and quaint. Highly recommended and I give it 2 thumbs up!

Traditional method of transportation: either get carried by 4 strapping lads, or slide down one of many steep streets

My partners in crime while in Madeira: Cousin Kevin, Aunt Sandy, Uncle Sam

The streets and sidewalks of Funchal are incredible. All done in stones with designs such as these, or endless cobble stones or river rocks. Everything is exceptionally clean!

One of many Azulejos around town: painted ceramic tiles of cultural expression. This caught my eye with the Havana Club out front;)

Beautiful botanical gardens outside downtown

On a Levadas walk. Levadas are water channels that divert rain water to areas that need irrigation.

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