Madeira, a true subtropical paradise getaway

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These elegant Union Castle liners from Cape Town to England used to stop for a day in Funchal, Madeira to restock or refuel or something and all the passengers rushed ashore to buy fortified Madeira wine. cheap and Madeira cake.

Madeira, a subtropical paradise of wine and cakes!

People who go there now tend to stay much longer than a day. This small archipelago of rugged, rugged, and very green volcanic islands a few hundred kilometers west of Casablanca, Morocco, seems like a place of eternal spring / summer.

With its beaches and beaches, its great shimmering Atlantic Ocean, hundreds of flowering plants, unusual fruits and 300 different birds, it is quite a subtropical paradise. Safe, peaceful and mosquito free and wine and cake are always cheap!

The Madeira market is a tropical fruit paradise. Image: Supplied / Suzanne Williams

Old town: ‘It’s noisy, it’s fun, it’s inhabited’

Madeira is an autonomous region of Portugal. The population is around 260,000 and the capital Funchal stretches haphazardly over hills and ravines – clearly no building permit is required.

The old town of Madeira. Image: Supplied / Suzanne Williams

The old town is a labyrinth of cobbled streets with patterns cluttered with places of restoration, dilapidated houses, clues of the Greek, Roman, African and Moorish civilizations which preceded the Europeans… and the pirates.

It’s noisy, it’s fun, it’s inhabited.

Overlooking the old town are beautiful gardens, banana plantations, fruit terraces and if you take the breathtaking cable car (“telefericos”, costs 16 round trip) to the top of the mountain where you can walk, have lunch, drink a few ponchas or caipirinhas, you will see it all with new eyes!

If petty cash is plentiful, have high tea at the chic Victorian Reid’s Palace (around 35 per person) with its exquisite gardens and Winston Churchill once on the guest list.

You might see Madeira-born soccer ace Cristiano Ronaldo there.

Madeira is the largest island in this volcanic archipelago. Porto Santo, which is packed with water sports, mountain biking, and a golf course designed by the late Spanish golfer Seve Ballesteros, is a two-and-a-half-hour boat ride away, and the uninhabited, deserted and stony islands are a stain about 30 miles away. with monk seals, seabird colonies, wild goats and endemic tarantulas.

A tourist “pirate ship” for hire in Madeira. Image: Supplied / Suzanne Williams

Host of things to do in Madeira

Madeira itself is hardly lacking in activities. There are boat rides to see whales and dolphins (3 hours for E30 for adults), canyoning, paragliding, natural slides, canals and aqueducts hikes, many adrenaline sports.

Strong nerves are needed for the hair-raising Monte Sledge, which is pushed down the mountain in a wicker basket by a couple of locals.

The north side of the island is hit by a much harsher Atlantic sea, and fishing villages nestle into the cliffs. To the west there is the Camara de Lobos and Cabo Girao fishing port with its viewing platform, to the east it is very mountainous – the geological formations are magnificent – and the ancient forest of Laurisilvo.

Image: Supplied / Suzanne Williams

For a small island, it’s very diverse and original. Everyone seems to speak English and it seems that a small South African presence, like O Jango restaurant and its wildlife mural, is emerging.

COVID green country

Madeira is a COVID green country and check it out Portuguese Immigration Service website for more details on entry requirements.

We had a COVID-19 test before we left, in the stylish Farmers’ Market for 20 and a result 30 minutes later. It couldn’t have been easier.


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