OUR TRANSATLANTIC CRUISE - Day 7 - Madeira
Just in case you're wondering what happened to day six of our cruise, it was a day at sea between our stop in Cartagena Spain and our last stop before heading out to sea. Our last stop was the beautiful island of Madeira, Portugal. The day at sea also allowed us to 'fall back' one hour so that when we arrived in Madeira we'd be synchronized with their time.
I wrote a little about the history of Madeira and about our plans for the day HERE in case you'd like to go back and read that post.
Coming into Madeira was beautiful. The city climbed up the hillside. and although the mountains were coverby by clouds at least it wasn't raining. Because Madeira is an island we hoped there was a good chance that it would be windy enough to blow those clouds away.
Although I wasn't dedicated enough to get up for all the really early arrivals, I did enjoyed watching the docking process when we arrived at a more civilized hour. I could tell as we approached the dock that the walk into town would be longer than it was in Cartagena, but for us that wouldn't matter: our minibus would be picking us up right at the ship to take us on our 4-5 hour tour of the island.
After posting on the CruiseCritic.com message board we'd ended up with 15 people in our group, enough to fill one large minivan. As it turned out, the minivan we were supposed to use needed some repairs, so the company substituted 2 smaller vans, which was really better. It also allowed a woman we'd met on the ship to join our group.
We knew that the first stop on our tour would be a cable car ride up into the clouds. We had a great view of our ship in the harbor, as well as views of the houses and surrounding land. As we would see throughout our tour, almost every available space was planted with something: a personal vegetable garden, vineyards, fields of sugar cane, banana trees, and flowers everywhere, even in December. This must be an amazing place in the spring when everything is in bloom!
As we continued our tour and saw how steep and winding the roads were we knew for sure that we'd made the right decision to book a tour. If we'd opted to walk into town all we would have seen would have been the shops, not the beautiful countryside.
When we came to the point in the tour where people could opt to ride the famous basket sleds down the hill no one in our van was interested. As it turned out the line for the sleds was so backed up that it wouldn't have been practical anyway.
We drove up up up to an altitude of over 3000 feet for some incredible views. Although the clouds still clung to the mountaintops it didn't rain. Sunshine and blue skies would have been nice, but even a cloudy day can't diminish these views!
We were able to taste (and buy!) some Madeira wine at a small wine shop. There was no pressure to buy, and everyone was happy to answer our questions and offer samples. We ended up buying both the sweet dessert Madeira and the dry version, as well as a few liquers.
Our stop at the small fishing village of Câmara De Lobos let us get up close and personal with fish drying in the sun! We see dried, salted cod in Italy, and I guess everywhere fishing in important the fish are dried for use during the winter months, just as they have been for centuries. This man, who was anxious to practice his English, told us that this fish was "too much good!"
Everywhere we stopped on our tour the views were spectacular and once again I'll just let the photos speak for themselves. Remember, you can click on the icon in the bottom right hand corner of the slideshow to make the photos full screen. If you ever have the chance to visit Madeira, go, and definitely take a tour to see as much of the island as you can.
Here's a video I found on YouTube featuring Madeira:
And Part 2
There are more photos from the cruise and all the ports we visited on our FLICKR PAGE.