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Published: April 16th 2019
HERE WE GO!
These two are a veritable basket case.
As we cruised out of Bermuda on a stunning evening we were looking forward to a week at sea. To some this would seem daunting but there is so much to do on a ship. There is plenty of time for reading, lectures, crafts, blogging, paddle tennis, swimming, hanging with new found friends or simply gazing at the beautiful ocean. The most important factor in crossing the pond is weather. When the Voyager came from Europe last November, they encountered a strong storm and had to cancel stops in Madeira and Bermuda. They ended up taking a southern route across the Atlantic via the Canary Islands and the Caribbean. For folks like us, who want to be outside, we always hope for good weather. We were very lucky. Captain Stan said it was the smoothest passage he has ever had. We didn’t even encounter the mysterious Bermuda Triangle.
We enjoyed our aft cabin primarily because the balcony is protected from the wind and we love listening to the churning of the sea as we cruise along. It sounds like a powerful waterfall and is very soothing
Being in the middle of the ocean, the stars at night are big
"THE FLOATING GARDEN"
Funchal, Madeira is a lovely stop over on our way to Spain.
and bright and there are thousands or maybe millions of them. We saw a few dolphins and flying fish and finally spotted a lone sailboat on the horizon on our last sea day. We took our guests on a galley tour and had a cocktail party on the aft deck at sunset. There are five restaurants on board starting with the Compass Rose. Prime 7 is the steak house, Chartreuse is the French eatery, Sette Mari serves Italian fare and finally an outdoor grill on the pool deck. There is also a coffee cafe and room service. We had dinner one evening with Captain Stan in the main dining room and got caught up on our various travels over the years. For us the days flew by and before we knew it we were making our way to the new pier in Funchal, Madeira.
This Portuguese island is often called the Floating Garden. Its temperate climate allows for blooming flowers year-round. The jacaranda trees were blossoming as were the camellias. Spring had just arrived on the island. We had a Virtuoso tour for our group which began with one of the prettiest cable car rides to the top of
GONDOLA TO THE TOP
The views are spectacular from these cable cars.
the mountain. The Funchal Cable Car rises from sea level to over 1800 feet in elevation. The views of the city, the ocean, the vineyards and banana plantations are spectacular.
We visited the Sanctuary of Our Lady of Peace Church in the lofty village of Monte and then took an exciting toboggan ride back down the mountain to town. Each of the wicker baskets is attached to greased wooden runners and carry two passengers. Two drivers/brakemen ride on either side of the toboggan hopefully slowing it by using their custom made thick-soled shoes as brakes as you careen down the steep, curvy road for two miles. In the past, the road was paved with cobblestones, but has recently been covered in asphalt. While I love the looks of a quaint cobblestone street, I can only imagine how bumpy the ride would have been over those stones.
After this exhilarating experience our guests were happy to relax over a glass of Madeira wine at Blandy’s Wine Lodge. This historic winery is located in the center of Funchal which must make for quite a logistical challenge given the narrow streets in the city. Over 650 casks and vats are used
It's a steep climb to get to this jewel.
to hold the aging wine. Some of the casks are big enough to walk through (see picture). This fortified wine was very popular in America with the likes of Washington, Jefferson and Franklin.
We finished off our tour at the legendary Reid’s Palace Hotel which is set on a sea cliff overlooking the Bay of Funchal, our ship and the ocean. When the hotel was first built, the only way to access it was by sea and then be hoisted up the cliff by hammock. Ours was an easier approach by paved road in a minivan. We enjoyed a typical Portuguese repast at the same place where Winston Churchill wrote his memoirs and painted watercolors of the sloping gardens.
It was a lovely day on this Portuguese outpost, floating in the Atlantic Ocean. After reboarding the Voyager, we set sail for Cadiz, one of the oldest cities in Europe and one of our favorites.
Tot: 3.308s; Tpl: 0.059s; cc: 32; qc: 132; dbt: 0.0942s; 3; m:saturn w:www (184.108.40.206); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.6mb