Tuesday April 18.  Funchal,on the island of Madeira, Portugal

The island of Madeira is part of Portugal but far removed from the mainland.  It was discovered by the Portuguese only 600 years ago.  This beautiful,mountainous, fertile, small island (15 x 30 miles) is a wonderful stop to complete our around-the-world journey.  There are no swimming beaches (too rocky) and almost no place to walk that isn’t uphill or downhill; flowers and greenery abound absolutely everywhere and the white houses with orange roofs make for a very colorful scene.  Only 250,000 population on the entire island.  These islands are volcanic in origin so the ground is very rich and farming is accomplished in terraces.  Bananas are a big crop and so are grapes–Madeira wine and liqueurs from other fruits are important exports.  Some manufacturing (car parts was mentioned), embroidery work, and wicker are also well known.  Tourism, though, is number 1 income producer. It is a popular vacation spot for Europeans.   I wish it were closer to the U.S. because I would come back frequently.

  The Barbeito winery was our first stop and we sampled two of their four kinds of Madeira wine.  This wine is an after dinner type of wine and, once opened, is good to drink for 10-12 months.

Cabo Girao was our next stop- the highest sea cliff in Europe at 580 meters.  The floor of the overlook is glass so you can look directly down.

We the stopped for a visit in Camara de Lobos, a small fishing village.  So picturesque and colorful.  Winston Churchill often vacationed here and we were shown the balcony where he sat to paint.  The building is now a hotel called – of course- the Churchill!

A highlight of the day was lunch at a restaurant in the old Fort of San Tiago in the old quarters of the city., built in the 17th century.  This was our last lunch together on tour so they planned it special.  Wine, Champaign, or orange juice as we came in; red and/or white wine poured continually throughout lunch and sweet Madeira wine after dessert.  Baked sea bass was the entree served with sautéed vegetables and mashed sweet potatoes, and the dessert was chocolate funnel cake oozing with warm chocolate sauce.  All of this served under a tent of white material to keep us out of the sun.  2 1/2 hour lunches are nice!!!!!

The final stop before returning to the ship was at the Park of Santa Catarina with beautiful flowers and a statue of Christopher Columbus.  His first wife was from Madeira and they lived here for several years.  This was an easy day with minimal walking, lovely things to look at all the time, an easy pace, and a good way to end this memorable journey.  Seven days at sea to cross the Atlantic before the absolute end.  Most likely I will write at last one more time.


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