Just got back from Funchal yesterday. We had a lovely time, we`ve been in June before, so this was a completely different sort of holiday. We experienced all weathers in one week - summer sun, tropical storms, monsoon-type rains, gentle breezez and hurricane winds, cold and warm evenings! We had packed too many warm-weather clothes and not enough coats and wellies but we managed fine by wearing lots of layers.
We had a much more laid back holiday than usual, no rushing around with an itinerary of things to do, didn`t even bother to hire a car or even leave Funchal. The days were spent wandering around, drinking the fabulous coffee and enjoying the Madeiran cakes and just watching the world go by. The evenings were filled with lovely dinners!
We went to the Barreirinha Bar overlooking the lido by the fort a few times and basked in the sun. It`s an ideal vantage point for viewing the blue sky and listening to the waves break - so relaxing. On Saturday, a surprisingly hot and clear day between two rough stormy ones, the waves were crashing against the sea wall of the lido, drenching people who got too close whilst taking pictures.
My other half went on a horse riding outing at Quinta do Riacho, which he enjoyed. He was collected at our apartment and driven back, very handy as we had no car. He said he`d do it again next time we visit - always a good sign.
I treated myself to a spa package at The Vine hotel - it was fabulous and both the spa and the therapists were excellent.
We went around the Electricity Museum - really fascinating display of old generators, displays and the building itself is very atmospheric, with one room full of old dials like a set from a 1950`s sci-fi film.
We also did the Vintage Tour at Blandy`s, very good to see inside the private stock rooms, one with a safe containing the most precious and expensive bottles. As usual the aroma of maturing Madeira wine was intoxicating. We also had a taste of a 1968 Bual Madeira - very nice too.
The harbour works are very impressive, I look forward to seeing the new promenade when it`s finished. If it`s anything like the plans, it will be a much more attractive area with trees and greenery and walks away from the road. Also good to have a look at the cruise ships, some of which are giant! I saw a Little Egret at the marina a couple of days and we fed the little fish a few times.
As usual, we had excellent food and service at every cafe and restaurant and were remembered by staff at Estrella do Mar and Dos Combatentes. The coffee and pastel de nata at Cafe Teatro remain the best on the island that we`ve found and it was also good to try the new Ritz Bar opposite the municipal gardens. We were able to watch the football matches we couldn`t miss at the above two bars and as we (Spurs) won both matches, it was a holiday bonus :-)
It`s a shame to see that so many shops and businesses in Funchal have closed down (I suspect it`s the same all over the island) but some empty places are being fitted out ready for new ventures. There was a noisy demonstration through Funchal on Saturday, repeated across Portugal, against austerity measures and bailout terms. We did our bit to help the economy by spending more money than we`d planned(!!!)
Our flights were with Easyjet and were excellent both ways, bit of a delay leaving but no big deal. The crew were great and landings were smooth. We were a bit concerned about the airport being shut due to the storm but were lucky with the weather on Monday evening. There was a lovely double rainbow over the airport as we were boarding - a good omen for a smooth flight.
We did not see one mozzie and were not bitten once, although we were prepared with various sprays and creams!
So that`s another holiday in Madeira, with the flowers and the lovely people. Next time we`ll probably go in May but it was good to experience a winter holiday there, even if we did pick the week of a tropical storm!
CarolineEdited: 05 March 2013, 17:32