Monday, 9 March 2015

Madeira - Tobogganing, Cable cars and a Garden that reminds us of home!

Right, so where did we finish? Ahh yes, en route to the port of Civitavecchia to catch a boat, and a big boat it was too! In fact, it was the Celebrity Cruises flagship, Reflection. 

After three full days at sea, travelling through the straights of Gibraltar, we docked at Funchal, Madeira. 

When we initially docked it was still dark outside, so we had a lovely walk along the sea front whilst it gradually got lighter. We found a small McDonalds cafe on the sea front where we could get wi-fi to get in touch with family (and see how Penny the dog was!) before making our way to the cable car station to take us up to the village of Monte, high in the hills, overlooking Funchal. Once at the top of the hill, we visited Monte Palace Tropical Gardens, which were beautiful. It was a bit misty early on but this soon cleared. It reminded us a lot of Biddulph Grange Gardens, which are very local to us.

Monte Palace Tropical Gardens
Biddulph Grange Gardens

We then walked a short distance to the Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Monte Church, which was beautiful inside and also had stunning views from the roof terrace.

After this, we went tobogganing. Yep, you read it right! Traditionally, the people of Monte used to use wicker 'toboggans' to travel down the hill to Funchal. Nowadays it's more of a tourist thing but it was ever so fun winding through the streets. The only warning is that the basket ride only takes you part way down the hill back to Funchal. There are taxi's waiting to charge an extortionate fee to take people the rest of the way but we decided to walk down the hill. It was good exercise for the legs with the terrain being so steep, I can tell you! But it was nice to see the area and take it in, in a way that you couldn't if you were stuck in the back of a taxi.

Once we got back to Funchal, we walked around the town centre, (there were some lovely shops) and we visited the local market, Mercado dos Lavradores, which was beautiful, with all the fresh produce. We tried dried aloe vera whilst we were there too, in a candied form, which was lush! 

After a jam packed day in a lovely port, we headed back to the ship to start our Transatlantic voyage.

Want to see more of the trip so far?

Also, have you been to Madeira and have any other recommendations to add? Drop me a comment! x

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