Another swab, another flight
Presuppose; the Cambridge Dictionary says «to accept that something is true before it has been proved» and also «if an idea or situation presupposes something, that thing must be true for the idea or situation to work».
In the end it means to assume an idea in advance and me, I assumed that Madeira would have impressed me as much as São Miguel.
Madeira Government (as many others now) requires a negative covid test done in the 72 hours before the flight and I was quite surprised to see that in Lisbon airport nobody asked me for it: at the boarding I was like “you don’t need the covid test? – To Madeira? Nahh, all is good in Madeira”, funny guy.
Landed in Funchal (capital city of Madeira island) I had to show my QR code of the Madeira Safe website where I previously uploaded my negative test: they scanned it then let me go.
As I requested the pick up service, my host was outside waiting for me and for a lady that definitely talks too much (for privacy I’ll just call her S.): the whole 20 minutes drive to the FX hostel, S. was annoying Marcello (the host) with the story of her life.
Finally we arrived to the hostel and I checked in my Sand Room right away because I could not do anything else due to the curfew: unlike Lisbon, at the end of March in Madeira bars, restaurants, shops were open until 6pm but the curfew started at 7pm during the week (one hour earlier during the weekend). Easy peasy, I took a shower and went to bed.
Day one: I went out for breakfast; what a nice feeling it was to just sit at a table placed in the square, observing the locals living their lives around me while I was sipping my cappuccino.
That morning the car I rented was supposed to be dropped at my hostel at 9:30am; at 9:34 I called the company to understand if they would call me once at the gate or what:
– “I don’t have any booking for this morning” the employee answered,
– “good start” I thought.
Luckily I had my order number so we fixed the misunderstanding and at 9:55 I got my Panda and started my 54 minutes drive to Porto Moniz.
Porto Moniz is known for its beautiful lava pools; you can easily follow the directions for Piscinas Naturais.
The entrance fee is so cheap (only 1,50€) that even without the greatest weather is worth to enter: at the ticket office was displayed the temperature of the water, 17°; although that day was pretty windy, I decided to get in and try to take a bath; not brave enough, I only wet my feet while trying not to look too stupid in the attempt to take some selfie (solo trips problems).
If you arrive by car, you can park it free of charge in the white lines; if you only find the blue lines available then you’ll have to pay a ticket.
Little note: pay attention when parking in the city because if you find white lines with a big M it means that those spots are exclusively for residents.
Next stop on my schedule was the «the pretty town of Seixal» – as I read somewhere on the web; I am sorry to be so direct but I haven’t found anything pretty there: I did not find the natural pools for some reason and it was hard to find a place to eat and when I did find it, the octopus was too cooked and super salty, full of onions and garlic (luckily I was travelling alone) and the waitress also brought me some typical bolo do caco filled with garlic, to be sure I would not find the man of my life on this remote island.
Only positive point were the nice palm trees on the seaside, caressed by the wind, that I could stare at during my meal.
With the luck that always follows me, the usb plug in the car was not working and I needed my phone for the maps so I stayed in that restaurant a bit longer to fully recharge my phone then, gotten to 100%, I took my car again heading to Cabo Girão Skywalk.
I had read on the Internet that sometimes the entrance costs couple of euros, some other times it’s free. Mine was one of the “some other times” but I still don’t know what it depends on.
You can surely enjoy a gorgeous view from this balcony made of glass; you and your feet «are standing 598 meters above sea level» but the visit is so quick that you force yourself to give a look at the souvenir shops to avoid to sit back in the car after 2 minutes.
Very close to Cabo Girão is Câmara de Lobos, a very cute port town where I suggest to have lunch or maybe even dinner when it will be possible. On my way to the port – where FYI there is also a parking lot – I made a quick stop on the Pico da Torre to see the town from above and take some photo.
The curfew was going to start soon therefore I went back to Funchal, parked the car and took a walk on the seaside till the super yellow Fortaleza de São Tiago.
Time to spend few words about this capital city where I strolled a little every day of my stay in Madeira: highlights of Funchal are the Sè, the Cathedral; the Mercado dos Lavradores, for fresh fruits and vegetables, fish, souvenirs and alcohol; the Zona Velha for some street art.
Typical experience to do in the highest part of the city, Monte, is a ride on the carreiros that, because of covid, I could not even see.
Day two: reluctantly I had to give up on Pico de Arieiro because the upper I drove (more than 1800 meters high) the more cloudy it became and I could barely see the road so, being alone in the car and completely alone on that mountain, I felt it was safer for me to change the plan and look for the directions to Santana, town famous for the triangular little casas tipicas – I counted 4 of them in total.
Again I needed to charge my phone so I chose the first restaurant I found and ordered bolo do caco with beef and salad – probably the best meal I had that week.
I have to admit I was a bit sad because of Pico de Arieiro and I needed to cheer up so while waiting for my battery to get charged, I made a call:
– “Hellooo” a super enthusiastic voice answered me;
– “Hi there. This is Emanuela, we’ve been in contact via email and I call to know how’s the weather, if it is possible to…”
– “yeeeesss, the weather is amazing, sun is shining and we are flying already! Come, come!”.
Personal note: curious to see how the weather changes from one extreme to another, from the North to the South of the island.
This was exciting.
I wanted to do it since Nepal 2018 and when I saw I could do it in Madeira, I decided to make myself a birthday present: I went paragliding!
I was strangely calm during my 1 hour drive from Santana to Arco da Calheta where Madeira Paragliding is based but when I got there and they showed me the introduction video and I saw the other two guys flying before me… Well, I did feel some thrill.
I paid 75€ for the craziest thing I’ve ever done in my life so far and I am really happy I did.
The pilot was a pro of course – otherwise a great liar 😛 – and, although he made me watch the video first, he repeated the dos and don’ts before the real take off.
I found very nice that he also explained me what I was seeing in the air: the banana plantations, the waterfalls, the beach…
I won’t lie: I was freaking out! But seriously… What an experience!
After landing on the beach they took me and the other two crazy passengers back to the base but before leaving we were just chilling on the grass, chatting and sunbathing. Very pleasant.
On my last day I spent the morning around Funchal, took advantage of the open shops before ordering an orange juice at a bar in front of the marina.
I was waiting for Davide and Fanni who would have landed in the morning; after checking in their Airbnb on top of the top of the mountain of Funchal – scary uphill road to get there – we went to the stunning Ponta de São Lourenço where we hiked for a couple of hours.
If you know me a little, you know I never travel without trying the typical stuff and typical of Madeira is not only the wine but also these little bananas – no wonder why so many banana plantations on the island – that someone says are sweeter than normal (I think they taste very normal).
My last afternoon in Madeira, before the curfew started, we bought some bananas and ordered the typical Poncha in a bar in Zona Velha: this traditional drink is made of aguardente, honey, sugar and lemon juice.
Super sweet and super strong!
Check my very “lively” eyes in the photo with the banana to see how I looked like after the second round…
Madeira was on my list since I moved to Portugal and even though I instinctively compared it to São Miguel which in my opinion is much more beautiful, this southern island is paradise for hiking-lovers and if you are not (like me) still has its charm: you drive on the highway and you are surrounded by mountains and sea, cute banana trees everywhere and random waterfalls that greet you on the way.
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I’ll read ya!