Blogs from Portugal, Europe


Europe » Portugal » Lisboa May 18th 2023

Portugal has been on my must visit list since I was a child reading Robinson Crusoe. I was obsessed with being a pirate and this country has plenty of seafaring history to draw me in and that might be what set me up for major culture shock when I arrived. My hotel is located within the “Bombay” area as my taxi driver stated, which makes sense (now) given the colonial legacy of the Portuguese in Southeast Asia. I can much easier find Indian food than traditional Portuguese food, though I did the best I could as far as finding local foods. Portugal is different and perhaps that is purely because of my expectations for coming to this place - afterall, how do you visit a seafaring nation? I joined a hop-on-hop-off bus tour and took the ... read more
Typical thoroughfare

Europe » Portugal » Madeira » Funchal May 7th 2023

7th May Sadly our last day. We watched the Coronation on the TV yesterday with Sky News. Loved every minute of it. We’ve not ventured far today, around our hotel there is always something to enjoy whether it be watching the cruise ships come in and out of port, the daily ferry that goes to Porto Santo or the little sailboats and sailboarders. We will miss our little walks along the promenade and down the old street tothe cheery baker who always gave a service with a smile as he prepared our croissants/rolls for lunch which we then enjoyed on the balcony watching the world go by. This afternoon a parade of classic cars, no luxury of a grandstand seat but we managed to find a good spot along the roadside. The beautifully dressed girls, ladies ... read more

Europe » Portugal » Madeira » Porto Moniz May 5th 2023

5th May Today was another full day excursion to discover the West & North of the island. Roberto was our driver today, all of the tours we have been on only use small coaches, just 18-20 people, just as well as some of the roads are very twisting and turning. Our first stop was a pretty seaside town Ribeira Brava which benefits from the privileged climate felt on the west coast of the island almost all year round. The town was so named after the water line, with a wild flow, that crosses it. We continued along the coast stopping at a small village where we took a short walk through a banana plantation where our guide explained the growing processes of the banana plant, all very interesting. One amusing fact is that Madeira only export ... read more

Europe » Portugal » Madeira » Funchal May 4th 2023

4th May As we have booked 2 tours through Jet2 we received a half day tour free so Benita & I took the free option. Sergio was our driver, our first stop was a viewpoint overlooking Funchal, a different one to the previous tour. I enjoyed admiring the swan agave as much as the view. Next we had a stop in the village of Garajau, the home of our driver. Situated here is the statue of Christ the King of Garajau, one of the most emblematic monuments on the east coast. The statue of Christ the King of Garajau was erected in honour of the Sagrado Coração de Jesus. It’s inauguration took place on the 30 October 1927. The statue was designed by the French sculptor Georges Serraz. The Christ the King viewpoint also allows you ... read more

Europe » Portugal » Madeira » Funchal May 3rd 2023

3rd May Our hotel is situated in the old town of Funchal and within close proximity there is always something interesting to see. As the Portuguese almost completely dominated the North Atlantic routes in ancient times, the defence of the island did not seem of special importance. Because of this negligence, in 1566 Funchal suffered a terrible pirate attack, where many people were slaughtered. In spite of the constant danger of another attack, only in 1614 the São Tiago Fort was finally built to protect Funchal from the corsairs. In 1767 it was enlarged and exclusively served military purposes until 1992, the year in which Madeira’s Regional Government decided to use it for cultural activities. There is also a restaurant with view across the battlements. A little further on is The Socorro Church, also known as ... read more

Europe » Portugal » Madeira » Madeira May 2nd 2023

2nd May We get some beautiful skies in the morning and today was a very pretty pink one. Another hot & sunny day ahead. Benita and I set off early to visit the Botanical Gardens. Located at about three miles above the town center of Funchal, this park was inaugurated in 1960 on the grounds of Quinta do Bom Sucesso, previously owned by the Reid´s family. The “Jardim Botânico” houses a varied collection of botanical species from all over the world, some of which are endangered. We arrived just as a large group were entering the gardens but we managed to bypass them and the gardens soon felt as if we were the only ones there. Only two very small ships in port today so it continued to be very quiet our entire visit. The views ... read more

Europe » Portugal » Madeira » Funchal May 1st 2023

30th April Sunday is the day of the Great Allegoric Flower Parade when thousands of locals and tourists descend on Funchal. After breakfast Benita, Rosemary & I went to collect our grandstand seats, we had pre-ordered them on line before arriving in Madeira but no tickets are issued until the day. As we walked to the pickup point rows and rows of empty tiered seats which would be full later in the day. We had no idea what number grandstand we would be located in. We had passed 10 grandstands most each side of the road, a fair walk from our hotel & even more beyond. We were handed our tickets & what a bonus we had obviously been some of the first to book as we were in Grandstand No. 1 seats 912-917, not too ... read more

Europe » Portugal » Madeira » Funchal April 29th 2023

29th April Met up with my Flower Club friends for a photo opportunity amongst the flowers in the hotel lobby. They went on their way and Benita, David & I set off to visit the area by the Ritz Cafe where we like to sit and people watch outside the Theatre close to the municipal gardens. The town was bustling, no cruise ship in port today but obviously still plenty of visitors all here for the Flower Festival. Little kiosks were dotted all along the Avenue, selling flowers, local delicacies, drinks and souvenirs, the paper flower decorations overhead blowing in the warm breeze. Suddenly the sound of folk singers could be heard and with their colourful costumes it was both a beautiful sound and a colourful sight as they paraded through the crowds. The flowers were ... read more

Europe » Portugal » Madeira » Funchal April 28th 2023

28th April Another hot day in Madeira, not that we are complaining ! Benita & I took a walk to the local main farmers market, I have been down ‘Door Street’ as I call it many times but a first for Benita. There were a few newly painted doors so I had to capture them. This historic district known as “Old Town”, has over the past few years gone through a process of revitalization, in order to turn it into a more significant and attractive cultural centre and a permanent art gallery with decorative paintings on about 200 doors along Rua de Santa Maria. It didn’t take long to arrive at the market which was bustling. Two flower sellers outside and even more inside as well as exotic fruits of all shapes, sizes & colours. Locals ... read more
Creative door art in old town
Farmers Market

Europe » Portugal » Madeira » Santana April 27th 2023

27th April We tend not to do full day excursions anymore but as this is Benita’s first visit to Madeira it was worth it to show her a different part of the Island. Just 20 passengers on the small bus which was just as well as the twists & turns of the mountain roads we took would have been a nightmare in a larger vehicle. Noo Noo was our driver, a very pleasant guide and a very careful driver. Our journey today took us East passing the airport where we had arrived only a few days ago, it feels like we’ve been here for ages & still 11 days to go. The Portuguese navigators discovered the islands of Madeira and Porto Santo in 1419. It is said that these navigators first discovered the island of Porto ... read more
Making rum
Making rum

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