Funchal, Madeira, Portugal, Dec 2010
Just after Christmas we went to Madeira to celebrate New Year. Madeira is a Portuguese island located about 600 km from the coast of Morocco in Africa, so this was our first visit to Portugal. Here we are at the harbour in Funchal, Madeira's capital. Madeira has around 245,000 citizens of which a third live in Funchal. Madeira has no flat areas; everything is uphill, so houses are built everywhere on hill sides as you can see in the background on the photo.
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We went sightseing in Funchal. Here we are in front of the cathedral. A group of Portuguese folk dancers were performing traditional Portuguese dancing.
Funchal, Madeira, Portugal, Dec 2010
We also went on a wine tasting session with a group of people from the same hotel as our hotel; Hotel Girassol. Tom had a small glass of Madeira. He said it was lovely. He also had a taste of a different Madeira wine - and said it was lovely. When Tom after a third taste started asking why there were two glasses, McBear and Roger decided it was time to assist Tom outside...
We went on a bus tour with the group of people - they were all from Ireland. This day we went uphill along narrow roads with cliffs with shear drops. Uh, it was scary!
Eira do Serrado, Madeira, Dec 2010
Here we are at Eira do Serrado. Deep down in the valley is the village called Curral das Freiras. What is not so obvious on the photo is the shear drop behind us. Uh, it was scary! McBear said the valley was created by volcanic activity thousands of years ago.
In Monte near Funchal we saw the famous Portuguese toboggans. There are no wheels and no snow! The toboggans are a kind of sleds sliding down the streets steered by two drivers. At the nearby chuch Tom, McBear and Roger was to have their photo taken in front of the church. However, due to the wind Roger tumbled down from a tall platform and fell into a puddle. McBear was giving out to our photographer for being careless. And in the evening Roger had to have a bath.
We went to visit a Portuguese factory where they were creating fine things of straw and bamboo. They even made bear sized furniture! We tried out some arm chairs and a couch. Amazingly, one of our owners found Madeira hats and bought one for Roger and one for Tom - unfortunately McBear's head didn't fit any of the hats.
Hotel Girassol, Funchal, Madeira, Dec 2010
Next morning before departure Roger had a look in the mirror wearing his
new hat. Ah, it was lovely and he looked gourgeous!
"Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest bear of all?"
Roger knew the answer.
"Just wait until they all see me do a quickstep!"
Roger felt sure all the people in the tour group would think that Fred Astair was nearly as handsome as Roger...
This day we were going to see more of Madeira. Here we are in Portela enjoying the view of the famous table shaped mountain, Aguia, on the north coast. This mountain reaches 580 metres, which is a bit more than Sugar Loaf in County Wicklow in Ireland. The photo was taken from Portela at 670 metres.
Faial, Madeira, Dec 2010
Here we are at the sea point at Faial on the north coast. Agiua is the dark rock behind us. On this photo the shear drop of Aguia's cliffs becomes obvious and half the coast of Madeira is shear drops.
We stopped for lunch in Porto Moniz and we had a look at the swimming pool. It's actually part of the rocks surrounding Porto Moniz, and the locals have simply built paths of concrete to separate the sea from the swimming pool.
Santana, Madeira, Dec 2010
Next day we hired a car, a Nissan Micra, so we could drive around on our own. We went back to Faial and further on to Santana.
In Santana we had a look at the famous palheiros, which are very small houses with thatched roof. They look peculiar. In the old days, when the houses were built for residense, the kitchen would be located outside the house because there wouldn't be enough space inside. The tree to the left is a Dragon tree which is famous on Madeira.
Porto Moniz, Madeira, Dec 2010
Once again we stopped in Porto Moniz to have lunch. There were huge waves hammering against the rocks. The rock in the background is Ilheu Mole with a small light house on the top.
We left Porto Moniz and went uphill through Santa to Farol, which is the most westernly spot on Madeira. Here we are at the light house. It's located several hundred metres about sea level like so many other locations on Madeira.
Moledos, Madeira, Dec 2010
On our way back we stopped near Moledos to enjoy the splendid views. Well, the word enjoy might be an exageration as there was a shear drop behind us and we felt shaky as the photographer took the photo... In the air is a parasailor - he or she might have enjoyed the views!
Next morning we started out early to go more sight seing on Madeira. Many years ago many places and villages in Madeira were more or less inaccessible, but since then the people in Madeira have drilled lots and lots of tunnels everywhere.
Areiero, Madeira, Dec 2010
We wished to go to Arieiro, where a new radar has been built on top of the mountain. To get there we had to drive on a road with shear drops. At 1600 m we stopped to have our photo taken. Behind us is a shear drop and you can see the mountain on the other side of the valley below. The hill drops to less than 600 m over a short distance. To the right is the remains of a bush that burned earlier in 2010 due to large forest fires. About 10 percent of the vegetation in Madeira was burnt.
After a nerve wrecking drive we approached the radar station, which is located near the peak at 1816 metres. In the horizon we could see clouds - we were actually above the clouds.
Santa Cruz, Madeira, Dec 2010
Unfortunately our holiday ended much too soon and we had to return to the airport in Madeira. On the way we stopped to have a look at some banana palm plants. McBear said that bananas does not come from trees as the plants are not trees - more like a vegetable. The bananas are not allowed to be sold in the EU as they do not conform to the right size nor shape - even though they actually taste much more like real bananas! As each banana matures, it changes its colour from green to yellow.
Check out the map of Madeira