A Day’s Stop At Madeira On Your Mid-Atlantic Cruise
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Madeira Island is a vacation destination that most American tourists only see for a few hours. The reason for this is that most American visitors to Madeira (see this link) have come on board one of the many mid-Atlantic luxury cruise liners. As is the norm when travelling on cruise ships, these liners only anchor […]
As a person employed in advising travellers to Madeira Island, I am often emailed to suggest a tour to see the whole of the island in just a day. The Funchal cable car – see: http://www.love-madeira.com/funchal-monte-cable-car.html – is an ideal tourist attraction. That a large number of visitors to Madeira believe this would be possible should be no surprise. After all, if you look at Madeira on a map, you will discover that the island is no more than 14 miles across and 33 miles long.
The island has a motorway network that makes fast and trouble free travel the rule rather than an exception. Despite this, touring the entire island in a day would leave little time to fully appreciate the range of landscapes, noteworthy towns and villages and tourist attractions that the island has to offer. So, in this case the best alternative, if time is restricted, would be to opt for a localised tour.
So, for the tourist with limited time, what is the best choice?
Well, for most first time visitors, it is usually best to just concentrating on seeing Funchal, the capital city. As all cruise ships drop anchor in Funchal harbour, this choice will consists of minimum travelling mileage.
To help you understand the geography of Madeira Island get your online Madeira map just a click away from www.love-madeira.com/madeira-maps.html.
Funchal and its immediate surroundings have many interesting attractions to visit that will delight most people, regardless of their own personal preferences. A top 5 list would certainly hold these choices:
Take the Funchal cable car from the seafront up to the small mountain destination of Monte. As you journey on forever upward, passing over the cityscape, you will get some fantastic views. You will also see from above your cruise liner docked in the harbour – perfect if you want to snap that special photograph of it.
Having completed your cable car journey, the first place of interest to head for is Monte church. This church, regarded with profound respect by the islanders, marks the exact spot where the first chapel on Madeira Island was built. This chapel, as legend has it, was constructed by the first people to be born on the island, twins aptly called Adam and Eve. In a small, gated side chapel of Monte Church, you will discover the tomb of the last Habsburg Holy Roman Emperor.
If you like to wander around formal gardens, then the delightful Monte Palace Tropical Gardens should be just right for you. These gardens, planted in the surrounds of a now disused hotel, have intricate displays of trees, shrubs and flowers from near and far along with many cultural objects that are housed in and around the grounds. Of particular interest are the charming Oriental Garden and the ceramic tiles collection.
Having sampled the natural beauty of the Monte Palace Tropical Gardens, there is one of Monte’s attractions still to enjoy. Make your way to the start of the famous Monte Toboggans ride. These toboggans are constructed from chair sized, local, wicker baskets secured to ski-like wooden runners. Once you have seated yourself down, a couple of skilled men will guide your unusual type of transport down the steep hills. Ernest Hemmingway once recorded that the Monte toboggan journey he went on was the most exhilarating experience of his life. Today, health and safety regulations mean that, it now takes a form that is not so hair-raising, however you will still enjoy an experience that is unlike any other in the world.
When you alight from your Monte Toboggan, you will be looking for a bit of relaxation and refreshment. So, make your way back to the city centre and book your place at one of many restaurants and cafes that are available.
The seafront by the Marina has some top class seafood restaurants. At these, you will be guaranteed that each and every dish offered will have been bought in the local fresh fish market earlier that day.
Or, you could choose to head for the side streets where some traditional cafes have a selection of typical Madeiran dishes at very affordable prices. You could find yourself enjoying an after meal glass of Madeira wine in a converted old wine cellar. Or maybe, enjoying an espetada, a traditional beef meal prepared by laying chunks of meat over the flames of an open fire on skewers, whilst listening to some traditional Madeiran folk music.
Whatever you choose, it is almost certainly guaranteed that, as your cruise liner takes you out into the Atlantic ocean and the mountain tops of Madeira are fading into the distance, you will be making plans to visit this delightful island once again.
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