The archipelago of Madeira is located 1000 km from the coast of Portugal and 800 km from Africa. Discovered in the 1400s by the Portuguese, the four islands are an autonomous region of Portugal. Madeira is volcanic, green and rugged, with high cliffs and a warm subtropical climate; which has earned it the nickname “The Floating Garden.” We enjoyed a beautiful day.Our 4 1/2 hour tour was called Botanical Beauty and departed the ship at 8:15 am. We were first driven inland to the small town of Monte and a short stop at Monte Palace Gardens. When I see workmanship like this I think of all the people that had to find, sort, and place all these rocks to make the streets. Amazing. Next stop was Our Lady of Monte church. This beautiful church is featured in much of the tourism advertising of Madeira. After touring the church we walked to the cable car station for our ride back to Funchal (Foon-kaal – a hard ch ‘k’ sound and a soft ‘a’ sound) -where the bus picked us up and took us to the Botanical Gardens. We passed the men with their wicker baskets that you can ride two kilometers down the steep streets.The Botanical Gardens were glorious! I loved all the patterned plantings. We had an hour and a half to explore and I could have stayed much longer. Rose-ringed Parakeet Black-capped Lory Cockatiel Monk Parakeets Ancient fig trees
Since the island is volcanic in origin it has many very steep hills and ravines. There are bridges and tunnels everywhere; even within the city of Funchal itself.
A short stop at the Farmer’s Market and a wine cellar to taste Madeira’s famous wines; which are really almost a port, completed the tour. We were taken back to the ship and went on board for some lunch. After lunch we went back ashore and hired a taxi to take us to see some out-of-town sites.
(As I expected, even our first port-of-call was such a full day I feel it would be best to cut it into two separate blogs.)