Finally in Funchal - Day 11
Madeira Travel Blog› entry 12 of 57 › view all entries
April 3rd, 2010 – by: nonna
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. Itâ€™s breath-takingly beautiful.
Itâ€™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.
Having proved that aging doesnâ€™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 donâ€™t think Iâ€™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 couldnâ€™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. Weâ€™re planning a small pre-dinner party tomorrow and needed supplies.
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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