We docked in Madeira at 10am on 10th January. Considering we had a 13 hour delay and a diversion to Vigo for the medical emergency evacuation, I am surprised it wasn’t later!
I had a trip booked for 12.30pm. I decided to go for a short walk and get some photos of Arcadia in Port. As well as Arcadia, Fred Olson’s Balmoral was also in port. The weather was looking good for the day.
The cruise excursion trip took us to a little fishing village Camara de Lobos. As we approached the village we saw many small colourful boats in the bay just waiting for fishermen to take them out to sea. The streets were narrow and the Christmas lights were still up (but not lit). we were told that the fishermen are sometimes out for days at a time. It was a beautiful little harbour.
Viewpoint photos taken from a cliff and the cliff had a viewing platform made of glass. It was cracked on the edge, so I wasn’t going to risk standing on it.
We were then making our way to the second photo opportunity stop. The coach took us through twisting and winding roads to a look out but we were still in Camara de Lobos. The roads took us past a plethora of different fruits and vegetables that is grown in Madeira. The soil in madeira is volcanic rich. The different vegetables are grown at different altitudes throughout the island.
We saw so many things growing including bananas, mangos, papayas, avocados, sweet potato and grape vines. There was also a lot of sugar cane grown which is used mostly for molasses. The reason that Madeira is able to grow so much of a variation of fruit and vegetables is down to the volcanic soil and its richness of nutrients. These were what were growing at lower altitudes and as we went up further into the mountains, it all changed and we saw less of the lush green and it was mainly dominated by sweet chestnuts, walnuts and eucalyptus trees.
We then went on to Santo Antonio. It was a beautiful look out point where we could see Arcadia in port. in the distance of the second photo, you can see two more islands of the Madeira Archipelago.
We carried on our ascent up to ‘Nuns Valley’ which was 3,300ft above sea level.
Nuns Valley is a small parish nestling between almost perpendicular mountains in the heart of the island. Both Eira do Serrado and Paredão viewpoints are excellent locations to contemplate the magnificent views of this parish.
The huge cauldron in which Curral das Freiras is sitting was either formed by erosion, which is the more recent theory, or as many still believe, by volcanic activity.
In 1566 the nuns from the Santa Clara convent fled from pirates attacking Funchal and found seclusion here, where they also brought the convent treasure.
The parish is very isolated, and locals mainly live of what they grow. The local chestnuts are delicious and are used in everyday cooking.
Curral das Freiras was the property of a couple that sold this land to the captain of Funchal, João Gonçalves da Câmara. This captain gave the lands to his daughters when they entered the Santa Clara convent (also built by him). (info taken from here).
Again, apologies for some of the images – they were taken from the coach window. They shows the change in products that can be grown depending on altitude. There is a lot of Eucalyptus trees in Madeira, although a devastating fire wiped a lot of them out three years ago.
While we were up at the viewing point for Nuns Valley, we were ‘treated’ to some cake, tea, coffee or madeira wine. I had asked the tour guide for something suitable and he said there wasn’t, so I decided to just take a walk (after I got back to the coach some other passengers had said the guide was looking for me with a gluten free cake, but they said it didn’t look very nice. I did point out that Gluten free food is an acquired taste!), anyway – I had a good look around and it was a very pleasant view and I enjoyed it. After joining the coach, we made our way down the twisting and winding roads and back to our coach.
Sail away party started at 5.30 in the Aquarius pool and bar area. When I got there, it was well underway!
The sail away is great fun. The entertainment team try their hardest to get everyone up and dancing! Some do, but the majority don’t. They have ‘Great British’ songs playing like ‘I am sailing’, ‘reach for the sky’, ‘Agadoo’ and many more. Great fun watching everyone!
Just after 6pm, we enjoyed a lovely sunset. I thought it was beautiful how just as our ship started to turn, the sunset lit up the coast of madeira. Very beautiful and a lovely ending to a wonderful day in Madeira.
Thank you for reading. I have 5 days at sea now until St Lucia.