Holidays on Madeira (part 6 – the last one)

As this was our last day on Madeira and we wanted to visit the markets in Funchal, we had to wake up extra early to have enough time for visit before our guided tour would begin. The “Mercado dos Lavradores” (Farmer´s Market) is Located in the center of the old town of Funchal. This market is divided into three parts. There is flower section, fruit and vegetable section and fish section. All kinds of tropical fruit and even some unusual ones that grow on the island can be found there and the stall holders let us taste some of the unsual kinds of fruit. On the fish section there were the well known black scabbard fish with its huge eyes, razor sharp teeth and long eel like body. Its meat is very tasty and it is usually served grilled with fried banana – this meal is called “espada”. It was really tasty but I am glad I tried it before I saw how the fish looks like.

A view from a balcony – the fruit & vegetable section
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And in detail
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Balcoes, is a viewpoint situated 870 above sea level overlooking the valleys hundreds of meters below and mountains hundreds of meters above. From this point the highest peaks of Madeira are visible during good weather conditions. This viewpoint was the destination of today’s tour, again along a levada. The weather wasn’t really nice but on the other hand, it made the forest look like a jungle.

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But when we reached the viewpoint from which we should have been able to see three highest mountains in Madeira, all we saw was this…

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… and this.
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The fog was so dense we barely saw several meters behind the railings.

And that was the last day of my holiday on Madeira.

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Holidays on Madeira (part 5)

Today’s trip was all around the island od Madeira. Firstly, we started at Ponta de São Lourenço Nature Reserve which is located at the very eastern end of Madeira. Thanks to its geology and unique species of local flora and fauna, this 9km long peninsula has been a protected reserve since 1982. This area is completely different from the rest of Madeira, which is known for its lush greens. Of volcanic origin, Ponta de São Lourenço is mostly basalt and its vegetation shows off a desert-like landscape with spectacular volcanic rock formations.

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From the most eastern point of Madeira we moved to the most northern town – Porto Moniz. This town owes its name to Francisco Moniz, an aristocrat who lived here in the late 16th century. This place is known for natural swimming pools at which were formed by volcanic lava and are naturally filled with crystal-clear sea water.

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On our way back to Funchal we also visited Ponta do Pargo lighthouse which is Located in the most western point of the island. The lighthouse was built on a 300 metres high cliff.

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Holidays on Madeira (part 4)

Rabaçal valley is located within the Madeira Natural Park, on the northwest of the island, where we walked along the levadas to the waterfall Risco and the 25 Fountains. A levada is an irrigation channel or aqueduct on the island of Madeira. Hiking along these levadas was easy so I had lot of time to take some photos.

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Risco Waterfall
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The Madeiran chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs maderensis) is a small passerine bird in the finch family. It is a subspecies of the common chaffinch that is endemic to Madeira.

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25 Fountains – its name lives up to the number of fountains or little waterfalls around this pool.

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And this is view from Cabo Girão which is the second highest cliff face in the world. The viewpoint’s floor is made of transparent material and only standing on it is quite a breathtaking experience.

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Holidays on Madeira (part 3)

When I first heard what was the plan for this day, it seemed like pleasant walk with only 60 meters of height difference. We started at the Pico do Arieiro which is the third highest peak on the island. The views were spectacular up there and the weather was quite nice.

Pico Ruivo is the highest peak on the Madeira Islands and that was the destination of today’s hike. Although it was only about 11kilometeres far away from the starting point, it was the longest 11 kilometers of mountain hiking I have ever done. Most of the time, the path was steeply rising and descending most of the time, even with some stairs (some of them were more like ladders) in the steepest parts. There were also several tunnels on this hike, but none of them are very long or very dark. It was very relaxing to walk on flat ground for a change.

In the end, it was great day… if only we had an opportunity to be at one of the peaks at sunrise or sunset, the light would be perfect for photography. Definitely better that’s provided by midday sun…

A view from the Pico do Arieiro
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As I said before, the views were simply breathtaking.
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Is this the end?
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Holidays on Madeira (part 2)

Eira do Serrado (that’s were our trip began that day) is one of the most beautiful places in Madeira with breathtaking views of its surrounding mountains and the village in Nun’s Valley. Descending from the pass we saw Curral das Freiras (Nun’s Valley), and a hidden little village where Nuns took refuge from the pirates who were attacking Madeira frequently in 16th century.

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The village of Curral das Freiras
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In the afternoon we visited one more botanical garden in village Monte, which we really enjoyed because there were not only interesting plants and flowers but also an exhibition of gemstones.

But Monte in Madeira is mostly know for something else…

Summer sledge on roads!

Originally (these toboggan sledges appeared around 1850) it was a fast means of transport down to Funchal for people who lived in Monte. They are still in use today as a turist attraction, for those who want to experience sliding at high speed on narrow, winding streets down to Funchal. These two-seater wicker sledges glide on wooden runners, pushed and steered by two men traditionally dressed in white cotton clothes and a straw hat, using their rubber-soled boots as brakes. The downhill journey to Funchal is made in about 10 minutes on a total course of 2 km, reaching at times a speed of 48 km/hour.

At first, we were thought that we might try these, but we changed our mind later.

Getting ready at the starting point.
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Sliding between cars in regular trafic was the main reason we chose to take cable car to return to Funchal.
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Playing cards seems like favourite pasttime for the “sledge drivers”.
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Holidays on Madeira (part 1)

At the beginning of June I spent a week on Madeira. The first day after arrival to this beautiful island was supposed to be relaxing so we could rest after whole night travel from Prague to Funchal, which is the capital of Portugal’s Autonomous Region of Madeira. And since Madeira is known as an island of flowers and it shouldn’t have suprised me that we spent most of the first day in two botanical gardens.

In the morning, just after breakfast, I simply had to see the view from the sundeck of our hotel and took few photos, mostly of the northern part of Funchal which looked the most interesting at the moment.
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And then came the flowers…
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