A Travellerspoint blog

From a Care Home to Magaluf

Madeira

semi-overcast 26 °C
View Madeira on kmmk17's travel map.


As usual, September was time for our summer holiday. Having enjoyed the all inclusive holiday to Rhodes last year, we wanted more of the same - but somewhere different.

We looked around at the options - Crete, Malta, Portugal, Spain - but found it difficult to get somewhere to meet all our requirements. Who knew getting somewhere with a parasol was so difficult...!

After much deliberation, we kept coming back to the same hotel in Madeira - somewhere I had on my list anyway, and eventually decided to book it. We also realised that if we went out on a weekday rather than a Saturday we could get an extra day out of the trip for the same price.

We did however need to fly from Gatwick, which involved getting the train through London - but the flight times were still decent and better than the alternatives.

It was our first time flying from Gatwick since our honeymoon early last year, during the Covid era. That was now a distant memory, and instead of a half empty airport and the need to do Lateral Flow tests in the airport car park - it was busy and after checking in our bag, we could whizz straight through to security and into the departure lounge.

Around 4 hours after our plane took off, we landed in a lovely and warm Madeira. The airport wasn't too busy and we headed out to see our first sight of the trip - the bust of Cristiano Ronaldo. Portugal's top football player is from the island, and has even had the airport renamed in his honour.

Ronaldo Bust

Ronaldo Bust

This bust is actually the second version, after the original hit the press after looking terrible.

We then met our transfer and headed to our hotel. Not long later and we had arrived and checked in. We had a nice room overlooking the pool and with a sea view.

View from the Balcony

View from the Balcony

It had been a long day, so after grabbing dinner and some drinks we headed to sleep excited about the coming days.

The first full day wasn't the best weatherwise - Madeira is in the middle of the sea, and so unsurprisingly suffers from temperamental weather - and although it started off sunny, by late morning it was spitting and we could no longer stay trying to sunbathe. Nevertheless we enjoyed the cocktails and went for a stroll outside the hotel complex when we could.

That evening after watching the Germans struggle to pull a pint from the beer tap, we headed to the evening entertainment, which tonight was Fado - traditional Portuguese singing.

Fado Performance

Fado Performance

The following day was glorious, and just what we needed - bright sunshine and warmth all day long. We chilled out by the pool popping back and forward from the pool bar.

Although there was a hairy moment when after sipping on my Coca-Cola, I realised there were ants all in the drink. And as there were none in Chris's, they must have been inside the drinks fountain when poured it, which was confirmed when I went to check later 🤢. Straight to cocktails it was.

"Vodka Sun"

"Vodka Sun"

Seven cocktails later I was having a great time, living my best life. Once again we went for dinner and then as it was a nice evening we went for a wander to the nearby headland.

Evening Views

Evening Views

The following day was more of the same, after weeks of being busy it was lovely just to chill out. That night we went to the magician show.

Fire juggling

Fire juggling

Was it the best thing ever - no. But it was worth watching.

The following morning we headed out on our island excursion. A coach arrived with just a few tourists on board already. Tonnes of guests from our hotel boarded, and the we headed off with no more hotels to stop at.

We made our way up the winding streets towards the centre of the island, when we turned off the main road and were driven along the mountain road with views of both sides of the island. We then arrived at the Pico do Areeiro visitor centre.

The Mountains

The Mountains

Pico do Areeiro is the third highest peak on the island and there were some fantastic views over the nearby area. We had around half an hour to wander around before we continued on back down the other side of the mountain to the village of Ribeiro Frio where we had the opportunity to wander alongside part of a levada

Levada in Ribeiro Frio

Levada in Ribeiro Frio

Levadas are irrigation channels with adjacent footpaths that used to supply tons and villages along the coast with water from the mountains. The footpaths are popular hiking trails, but we just wanted to see one, which we did.

The next place on the tour was the town of Santana - with its thatched triangle houses.

Triangle Houses of Santana

Triangle Houses of Santana

Although no longer being actually used by families for living in, some examples of the houses have been placed in the centre of the town and contain shops full of tourist tat.

By now it was time for some lunch, and we stopped at a nearby hotel, with a large outdoor seating area. There were three large tables and we sat down with some of the others on the tour and got chatting.

After lunch, we had a little wander around enjoying the nice views over the nearby cliffs before boarding the bus and heading to a nearby rum distillery. Here we would find out about local production and get to try some rum or poncha - the local speciality.

Cliffs at Santana

Cliffs at Santana

Our final stop of the day was on the north east tip, at Ponta de São Lourenço. These are huge cliffs which we flew over on our flight into Madeira a few days ago and had stunning views.

Ponta de São Lourenço

Ponta de São Lourenço

The route back to the hotel was via the coastal road that runs past the airport. The airport is quite famous for being a difficult one to land at, due to the cross winds and the fact the runway is on stilts jutting over the sea.

Under the runway

Under the runway

We passed beneath it before heading out the other side, and eventually back to the hotel in time for dinner.

After having had a busy day out and about, the following day we took it easy, spending the time chilling by the pool, and seeing our tour friends around the hotel.

The following day we headed out to Funchal, the island's capital. We took the free shuttle bus run by the hotel, and once we had arrived wandered around the corner to the cable car.

Cable Car

Cable Car

The cable car was very busy, and we waited for ages in the queue. Eventually however, we boarded and took the long ride up the hillside to the suburb of Monte. At the top was a botanical garden that we wandered around.

Botanical Garden

Botanical Garden

At the bottom of the garden was a wall, from which I could see the road. It was long this road that the famous toboggan travels, with tourists in wicker baskets being slid down the hillside.

Toboggans

Toboggans

After watching some of the toboggans, we then headed right past where they set off from at the top of the hill. I then had a quick look at the church overlooking the area, before we headed back towards the cable car station.

Monte Church

Monte Church

We then had a short walk around the town centre - starting at the town hall, in a beautiful square with a traditional Portuguese pavement of wavy mosaics, before wandering around the corner to the cathedral.

Municipal Square

Municipal Square

We then wandered down the main pedestrianised avenue, where we watched a performance of the local folklore dancing.

Folklore Dancing

Folklore Dancing

With a bus back to the hotel due imminently, we wandered past the fort, and back to the bus stop opposite the cable car entrance. This was a local bus that made a winding route through the coastal villages eventually arriving back at the hotel.

Back at the hotel we had a few hours in the afternoon relaxing before going to dinner and tonight's performance.

Magic Show

Magic Show

It was a magic show, where we joined some of our friends from the island tour a few days earlier, and chatted until we were thrown out of the bar at closing.

With our new friend Caroline

With our new friend Caroline

The next day was our last full day, which we spent by the pool relaxing and enjoying the cocktails. Although the mood around the pool had changed drastically, at times seeming like a rowdy Magaluf (at at least how I imagine Magaluf - as I've never actually been there).

A large family from Surrey had just turned up, and they were very loud and boisterous. They also clashed with another family from Essex, and before we knew it, they were arguing with each other across the pool. We tried to stay out of it but had unknowingly been chatting to some of the family members and now seemed to be involved...

We said goodbye to some of our new friends who were heading home today, and then got chatting to a guy who'd also been at the hotel for a week already. Before we knew it, we'd invited him to dine with us for our last meal tonight!

That evening I went down to the bar for a drink where I bumped into the young lad from the new feisty family. He saw me and started chatting - firstly checking my husband wouldn't be jealous (ermm..no) and then telling me that he was out flirting with the local 'hotties' and that he hopes they've brought their wellies because he'll be "squelching all night".

He was then interrupted by a call from his girlfriend (erm..wut?) and told me he'd be back in a minute - which was my opportunity to make a quick exit. I went for a wander around the hotel complex and surrounding area, before heading back to the room.

The sea by night

The sea by night

The next morning we enjoyed our last moment in the nice hotel, saying goodbye to our holiday friends before catching our transfer to the airport, and eventually our way home.

Madeira was a nice place to visit - warm, and mostly sunny with some beautiful scenery. It is renowned for being a place for old people to visit, but there are plenty of things for all ages! Would recommend.

Tips

Posted by kmmk17 15:11 Archived in Portugal Tagged mountains cliffs walking fort church airport square scenery friends show pool dancing sunshine cablecar drunk toboggan botanicalgarden

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