Art in the streets
Walking around in Funchal is a real joy, the beautiful mansions, sometimes a bit neglected, but also this has its charm.
I enjoyed the nice decorated and designed pavements in the streets and squares and the many sculptures in the parks and along the avenidas and streets. These sculptures on the picture we pass every day at our walk into town.
One of Madeira's hidden secrets, Rabacal is a one-house town at the eastern end of the Ribiera da Janela. If you decide to g take a picnic as it is quite remote. It is an adventurous drive down a steep and winding single lane ( without crash barriers!!) that decends into a vivid green revine for just over a mile.It is a marvellous opportunity to samplethe unspoilt interior of Madeira and to appreciate the unique pleasures of levada walking.
Taxi & Tours
Funchal's yellow taxis are fairly good value - there are set prices for the tourist destinations. Check first and always insist on the meter being put on. They can also be hired for half day/full day tours of the island - your own itinerary if desired and for a group of three or more can be more economical then the organised tours.
Casa Museu Frederico de Freitas
This museum is two-in-one: Casa Calçada (the mansion) and Casa dos Azulejos (the house of tiles).
The mansion used to be home to Mr. Frederico de Freitas, a lawyer, who lived here from the 1940's until his death in 1978. In his will he left all his possessions to the government of Madeira, who turned his place into a museum.
The house is stuffed with religious art, but also has an interesting china collection. You wander from room to room, while attendants are very helpful explaining the things on display. I was most impressed by the indoor Wintergarden, while the Library was just stunning! Another treasure was the Mugs-room: "continents for liquid contents"; those Freitas collected as souvenirs given by friends-travelers. The museum has over 2000 in its collection, not all on display. But when the lady-attendant saw my excitement, she pointed me to a closed basement, "just switch on the light!" and there I was admiring 100's more adorable mugs!
After that overwelming experience I went next door to the 'house of tiles', an open and light exhibition-hall covering 4 levels with azulejos. A workspace explaining how tiles were designed and made, and different floors covering Persia, Turkey, Iran, Syria, Spain, Flanders, England, Netherlands and Portugal. Madeira made tiles until well into the 20th century.
Unfortunately no pics allowed inside. (you need about 1-2 hours here)
Opening times: Tues-Sat 10.00-12.30 and 14.00-17.30
Entrance fee: €2,50 for both houses
Tropical Garden - Monte Palace II
The nick name of the island is the Flower or Garden island, and it is simply amazing how many tropical plants grow here. Cycads from Africa, orchids from South America and Asia, and tropical blooming flowers from all over the world.