Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Wednesday, November 8, 2017 – Funchal, Madeira – Mostly Cloudy – 68 – 72F

Distance from Gibraltar to Madeira: 615 Nautical Miles

I am so old.

Funchal from Quest

We got room service (pancakes and eggs and oatmeal) because we have an early excursion – “Emblematic Madeira”- that departs the port at 9:45 AM.  Ellen is the escort on this tour and I am a passenger.  When I walked down the gangway to go to the bus, the Captain and Tony were sending all the passengers on their way.  Tony wished me a “Happy Birthday”.  How nice is that and how did know?

The bus is comfortable and Susannah, the guide, is personable and informative.  The tour takes us up the many mountains

so we can see the acclaimed terraced farming of Madeira (a UNESCO World Heritage Site). 

Our first stop is the Pico de Torre viewpoint. 

At the Pico Torre Viewpoint

The viewpoint does afford great views of the Madeira countryside, including the coastline, and a scenic village.

We drove by the town that Winston Churchill visited (and painted).  We stopped by a nice restaurant to try the local drink, Poncha, a concoction of sugar cane run, honey, and lemon juice.  Sweet but good – I had two of them.  The views from the restaurant were fantastic.

Poncha Break

From there, the bus took us up the narrow roads to the highest sea cliff in Europe – Cabo Girao – more than 1900 feet above the ocean surface.  The old wooden railing (very scary) has been replaced by a glass and metal mesh platform (scary in a different way).  Now you can stand on a see through glass floor and look down from a height equal to two Empire State Buildings.  Pretty awesome.

Cabo Girao

Our last stop is the seaside town of Ribeiro Brava, one of the first parishes on the island. 

This is essentially a shopping stop as the main street is a line of small shops selling items made of cork.  To get to the sea, you can go through a crude tunnel carved into the mountain.  The sand is black and volcanic and not all that inviting.  You can get a great view of the coast line from this spot.

The Tunnel

Ribeira Brava Coastline and Beach

We went back to the ship for lunch.  But I got a great surprise – the room had been decorated with “Happy Birthday” banners and goodies.

I also found out that the Captain had announced my birthday during his noon announcement.  Azamara knows how to make its passengers feel special – even the speakers.

After lunch, we took the ship supplied shuttle bus to downtown Funchal.  The bus, which ran every 30 minutes, saved us a 30 minute plus walk.  Our goal was to find a nice Madeiran spa, where we could neutralize some of the rock and roll experience at sea.  We were able to locate a few, with some help from locals, but everyone was booked for the day.  We will know for next time to get out early and book.  Instead of spending the time in a spa, we walked the town.  We went beyond the Park Area into some of the non-tourist areas.  The streets were teeming with residents and the drivers were very polite to pedestrians.  It was still pretty warm but it looked like it might rain and it was getting colder.  We took the bus back to the ship (door to door service).

It was a very nice day in Maderia – tour and walking.

I had a salad and Ravioli in Tomato Sauce for dinner.  I must have been hungry because all of the ravioli was gone.  I also had three full glasses of iced tea. 

We stayed for dessert and what showed up – a “Birthday” Cake.  We split it (it was like a flat Napoleon) and it was good. 

The cap on a nice day.

We spent the rest of the evening reading – passing on the Folkloric Show and “Danzera”.

It was warm enough on the deck to take a nice picture of Funchal at night.

Captain Jose said that the ship would be staying beyond the 9 PM departure to allow some of the weather to pass through.  The ship actually departed at 4 AM – the bow thrusters were not used at full power so people wouldn’t be awakened.  The seas ahead are still rocky.


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