Finally in Funchal - Day 11

Madeira Travel Blog

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Sailing into town
Now I’m really happy – Funchal was stupendous and I would never have gotten to visit it if I hadn’t been on a cruise.  Or more specifically, on this cruise – but I’m getting ahead of myself.

Funchal is the capital of the Portuguese Madeira islands. They are located about 500 miles off the coast of Africa, and the landscape is so rugged that they must be of volcanic origin. We arrive in Funchal just before dawn so I rush up to the top deck of the ship to watch us come into port.  The lights of Funchal are golden, rising up the sides of the mountains, and reflected towards us across the water.  It’s breath-takingly beautiful.

It’s light by the time we are docked and get on buses to go into the center of town.  Navigating Funchal is a little unusual since a mudslide roared through the center of town last month, killing 48 people.  The town has done an amazing job of recovering and beginning to rebuild the destroyed area.  

Even in the morning (about 8 am) Funchal is welcoming, cosmopolitan.  First we took a cab up to the basket rides in Monte before anyone else went there.
I couldn't believe the flowers here.
  Monte is a small community in the hills above Funchal which is normally reached by cable cars.  However the cable cars don’t start until 9 am and we wanted to ride in wicker laundry baskets down the streets of Monte as soon as possible.  I don’t know about my husband and Cathy but I wanted to do it before I lost my nerve – it’s not every day that riding in a laundry basket down hills and through traffic sounds like a good idea.  Actually it’s a very good idea and lots of fun as you can see in the photo (however I’m obviously protecting my camera bag in fear of an immanent collision).  

Having proved that aging doesn’t always mean becoming sensible, we went back to Funchal and the fish and flower market, Mercado dos Lavradores..  Notice the photos of the long, eel-like black fish.  Those are espada  and, ugly as they are, they are delicious.  We had some for lunch later and I can highly recommend them.  I don’t think I’d want to swim where they swim however.

A cable car ride back up to Monte dropped us off near the Monte Palace Gardens.  We looked around and then rode back down to Funchal for lunch and a little shopping.  I bought a book about Madeira that had gorgeous pictures of the island.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find a copy in English so I got one in Spanish on the theory that I need to practice my Spanish anyway.  That means I have a book with gorgeous pictures and a vague idea of what the pictures are all about.

Our main purchases were 3 bottles of Portuguese wine and 2 of Portuguese champagne plus snacks; all of which cost us about $ 35.  We’re planning a small pre-dinner party tomorrow and needed supplies.
This is espada - the weird long black fish that tastes so good.
  The grocery store in the large shopping center near the Se Cathedral had everything we needed.

Lunch was wonderful in the tiny Restaurante O Mesao (no. 13 Rua dos Murcas) which seems to be a locals spot.  Since it was a lovely day we wanted to eat outside and to have espada, the local fish.  After passing a few cafes that served only coffee and pastries (and probably tourists) we went down side streets reading menus along the way.  As we passed the few tables outside Restaurante O Mesao and saw the specialty was Filete de Espada, a man at one of the tables asked us if we were visiting Funchal.  When we said we were there for the day, he offered to move inside and give us his table.  He said he could eat outside any day and that as guests we should enjoy our visit.  He picked up his dish, wished us a good day and went inside.  That was almost as impressive as the wonderful lunch that followed.

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Sailing into town
Sailing into town
The harbor area at daylight
The harbor area at daylight
Yes, this is me in a laundry baske…
Yes, this is me in a laundry bask…
I couldnt believe the flowers her…
I couldn't believe the flowers he…
This is espada - the weird long bl…
This is espada - the weird long b…
Patterns in the street.  These are…
Patterns in the street. These ar…
Some people are happier about bein…
Some people are happier about bei…
Cable car in Funchal going toward …
Cable car in Funchal going toward…
the Prinsendam in Funchal
the Prinsendam in Funchal
a typical street in Funchal
a typical street in Funchal
The sign said this olive tree is 1…
The sign said this olive tree is …
the farmers market in funchal
the farmer's market in funchal
more locally grown flowers
more locally grown flowers
The only reason I didnt buy any w…
The only reason I didn't buy any …
Even the vegetables were beautiful…
Even the vegetables were beautifu…
But the best part was the fish mar…
But the best part was the fish ma…
a view from the cable car
a view from the cable car
more from the cable car - remember…
more from the cable car - remembe…
ferns in the garden in Monte
ferns in the garden in Monte
statues in the garden - since I ro…
statues in the garden - since I r…
lizard that was either posing or s…
lizard that was either posing or …
typical vegetation in the Monte ga…
typical vegetation in the Monte g…
the leaf shapes fascinated me
the leaf shapes fascinated me
leaving the garden
leaving the garden
and back down in the cable car
and back down in the cable car
the owner of the restaurant Restau…
the owner of the restaurant Resta…
espada grilled in olive oil
espada grilled in olive oil
looking back at Funchal as we sail…
looking back at Funchal as we sai…
espada is often called scabbard …
espada is often called "scabbard"…
Madeira Restaurants, Cafes & Food review
Wonderful local fish in Funchal (Madeira Islands of Portugal)
Lunch was wonderful in the tiny Restaurante O Mesao (no. 13 Rua dos Murcas) which seems to be a locals spot. Since it was a lovely day we wanted to e… read entire review
Madeira
photo by: sweettangerine