Friday, February 29, 2008

Madiera Holiday

I have been on holiday in Madiera - my first holiday with Patrick. We had a very relaxing time, with plenty of room for spontanaety - there were things in the guidebooks we wanted to experience but we didn't plan every minute of every day, and we weren't trying to cram too much in.
The levada walks in Madiera are a must for anyone that enjoys hiking - but be warned, they are not all easy, level water channels! Some drop at quite a gradient so you can get rather out of breath trying to reach the source of a levada.
We found a couple in the mountains, graded 'moderate' by the Sunflower guide. We also did an excellent walk along Maderia's eastern peninsula. Photos will appear in the gallery but it could take quite some time, as I won't have a broadband internet connection for several months now!
We stayed at the San Pedro hotel in Garajau, which had an excellent restaurant, the Touricalo, just opposite, so we ate there most nights. I can recommend the Espetada (marinated beef on a skewer)! For a change we also ate out in Arsenio's in Funchal's old town, where we were serenaded by excellent Fado singers.
As for the Madiera wine - we had a great time at Blandy's Wine Lodge in Funchal! After the tour we were invited to taste 4 different kinds of Madiera, the Bual and Malmsey (medium-sweet and sweet) being our favourites. Of course we've brought a few bottles back with us! Funchal is great for a wet day (they do have them in Madiera, despite what the brochures say), it's a pretty town and there are some superb museums and galleries, as well as plenty of places to eat.
Madiera is a beautiful island with some lovely gardens and challenging walks, but there's not a lot to do for families or teenagers. Which is why it's nice and quiet for the older visitors (we were amongst the youngest at breakfast in the hotel)!

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