Funchal is the capital city on the island of Madeira. It was the first stop after a transatlantic cruise from Sao Paulo, Brazil to Lisbon. And what a treat! After five days of watching the sea, we landed at a garden paradise. Here are some of my highlights of visiting Funchal.
One of the first things I did was take the cable car to the small village of Monte that overlooks the port.
At the top, there are several gardens, a church and an interesting way to get back down to Funchal.
In the center of Funchal, there is the Mercado dos Lavradores.It is a market that has stalls for flowers, fresh fruits and vegetables, local crafts and one are for fish. It is a very interesting place to visit. The produce is very fresh, especially the locally grown bananas and very good wine. I had an amazing lunch at the outdoor cafe next to the market.
Here are more sights from Funchal. It is truly a beautiful place to visit!
For the second half of my travelling adventure, I decided to include a transatlantic cruise that would also include crossing the equator.
Sao Paulo: I started the adventure in Sao Paulo. Nothing prepared me for the number of people, the traffic, or the language barriers! But, that is what makes travelling n adventure — learning to face new challenges and opportunities. In Sao Paulo, I stayed at the LimeTime Hostel, which was very close to the Metro and Ave. Paulista. Of course, my first day out, I turned the wrong way and got lost looking for the Metro and Ave. Paulista, but I finally started learning my way around — and using the Metro was a great help! Want to do something different? If you are up early on a Sunday — which can be difficult because there are so many cool bars in Sao Paulo — head to the Benedictine Monastery for 10 AM mass. It is crowded, so unless you get there a little early, you may have to stand, but the singing is beautiful!
Santos: There is a bus that takes you from Sao Paulo to the beaches of Santos. It takes about 90 minutes and will stop right on the beach. I took the bus to the cruise terminal to join my ship, RCI’s Vision of the Seas. There were a few of us on the bus — and we all got a little nervous, not knowing the exact route the driver was taking through Santos. But we made it safely and got a mini-tour of Santos in the bargain. The beaches are beautiful!
Rio: It was really nice sailing into Rio — I sat ion my balcony and took pictures from a view many people in the city would never see! I was also very fortunate to hook up with a small group of people to “see the sites” and had an amazing lunch at a Brazilian BBQ place. I also had a moment of panic when I thought my group had left without me. I would love to spend more time here — preferably with someone and not on my own.
Crossing the Atlantic: I can say that I have not only sailed across the Atlantic, but I also sailed across the equator! This was 6 days of pure relaxation (when I wasn’t sick form a nasty cold).
Tenerife, Spain: Our first port after 6 days — and I needed to get back into nature. What a great place to experience the beauty of a volcano and this unique landscape. I want to go back and see more!
Funchal, Portugal: I had such a lovely day in Madeira — this is another place I want to return to and spend more time (and one of the reasons I cruise — get a “taste” of different places to decide where to return to!).
Lisbon, Portugal: I love Lisbon — great food,wine, entertainment and beautiful architecture — so much to take pictures of! I stayed at the Living Lounge Hostel — a wonderful spot in the heart of the city. I never seem to have enough time in Portugal!
It was a perfect day in Funchal on the island of Madeira. I started my day near the centre of town where there is a collection of buses and a cable car that takes you up to the town of Monte. I decided to make that my first stop. The ride in the cable car provides a great view of Funchal and ends at one of the many formal gardens that are so much a part of this island.
A short walk on a cobble street brought me to one of the most important churches. There is a special festival celebrated on August 8th for Mary that occurs at this church.
This church is a very simple church that contains the tomb of the last Hapsburg Emperor. The views from this outside this church are also spectacular.
Next to the church was a wonderful garden that reminded me of a very special garden of a very special place in Sonoma, California. While I was wondering through the garden, I came upon a pond with two swans — and I got some amazing pictures of these beautiful birds.
Also near the church was one of the strangest ways I’ve found to travel down a hill — a toboggan that goes on pavement! It is a wicker basket that holds two people and there are two men that get it started then steer it down the hill. The ride takes about 20 minutes — and it a bit scary as you are steered through the streets.
Once back in Funchal, I got on a bus and took a tour of the city and headed to a little fishing community. We passed by groves of bananas, gardens (one dedicated to Santa Caterina), and churches. Everywhere was green and lush.
Once back in the city central, I headed to the main market where you can find fresh food, fish and flowers sold by women in traditional outfits. You can also find crocheted handicrafts.