Thursday, December 10, 2009

December 8 – Madeira

After a fairly rocky journey from Gibraltar, it was a welcome sight to see the volcanic island of Madeira looming up for our first stop in the Atlantic.

Today we were exploring some of Madiera's fertile and mountainous interior, passing by steep slopes of banana plantations, and roadsides of the colourful flowers that the island's famous for. Madeira is renowned for being locked in an "eternal spring", with consistently warm weather that rarely deviates from 20 degrees centigrade, and almost-constantly blooming flowers. Being a tiny dot in the Atlantic, the weather changes pretty quickly here, so we experienced warm bright sunshine at the coastline, and rain showers as we climbed up into the clouds covering the hillsides.

Madeira is also famous for its wine, so by 10.30am, we were at a restaurant tasting some of the delicious locally-produced wine – the sacrifices I make in the cause of research!

At the end of the tour, we stayed in Funchal, Madeira's relaxed capital city, so we explored its pretty historic streets, laid out by the first colonists in the 15th and 16th centuries. It's a lovely place to be, so last time we were here, this was a place that Tracy had picked out as a town we could live in, but having climbed and driven up so many steep hills today, I think it's going to get knocked off the list (I'm sure this will cause much mourning in Funchal).