After 8 days of an extremely calm sea, the captain found the island of Madeira, belonging to Portugal, and we docked at Funchal, the second largest city on the island. Madeira is uphill, no matter in which direction you head. Our tour of only six per van, prearranged on Cruise Critic by Jacqui, was in a Mercedes Vito with plenty of space and excellent views from within.
Our first stop at the city market was, as markets always are, an introduction to the local staples: fish, meats, fruits, vegetables and, in Funchal, beautiful arrays of flowers of unusual species not seen growing naturally as here in Madeira.
These are two species of Protea, of which there are scores of examples.
The market seafood area was filled with fresh choices and AMAZINGLY clean.
It was a day of astounding views as we climbed to the 6,000 foot level and ended up above the clouds. The island is lush and green with flowers everywhere, even though the peak season of color is another month or so away.
Our Rotterdam can be seen far below in the center of the photo as we climbed to the top of the highest point. In a short time, the village, and our current home, would be obscured by the clouds.
Lunch for our 3 taxis was shared at a local restaurante, and consisted of beef kabobs on 4 foot skewers, hung in the center of the table, one skewer for each couple, and the local garlic bread (amazingly fresh and unique), corn fritters, french fries, and a salad of carrot, tomato and beets with olive oil only. I’m not sure we had exercised enough to deserve such a feast.
Our descent took us past the local golf course:
This practice putting green was the flattest area of the entire 27 holes.
Our day was full, our bellies were full, and our ship was departing at 5P. By 4:15 we were back in time to board and prepare for yet another day at sea, Sunday, April 9. It will be our last day at sea before reaching the continent and our first port at Cadiz, Spain, from which we will venture to Seville. We heard onboard that passengers on Holland America Koningsdam, having left Fort Lauderdale on the same day but are scheduled to arrive 1 day earlier at each port until Cartegena, ran into 2 days of VERY rough seas. Location, location, location. Guess it’s all about location.
The good news above all is that it will no longer be necessary to set our clocks FORWARD an hour almost every night. We are now 6 hours ahead of the US eastern seaboard. Losing an hour a day so frequently produces a very short overnight and loss of sleep. The Queen is still looking perky, but it’s very early in the trip.