The ascent to Monte is mandatory - great views, great gardens, and... the chance to descend in a sliding basket.
All day long, a truck carries uphill the baskets that two men will control descending almost two kilometers in ten minutes, with two tourists bouncing between pleasure and fear.
To go up there's a funicular, and the descent costs 25€.
I have been to very few if any places in this world where christmas is celebrated in a more festive way than in Funchal.
The town is coverd in christmas lights and christmas decorations and you have folk dancers, bands and christmas markets filling the streets all the days up to christmas.
Tehre are also many christmas masses in the churches that are a little more on the serious side, but when they are done then the church usually serves free liquor outside the church to those who have been for the mass and it's all a very social affair with lot's of music and laughter.
If you have thought of spending christmas abroad one day and would like to do it in a place where it's celebrated big time then Funchal is a very good place to do it.
Even if i am personally not a christmas person myself then i quite enjoyed watching it in Funchal as it's not just a consumer rat race like in many other places but more like a big fiesta where everyone stays up all night and flock to the streets for several days in a row.
Though hardly promoted as a tourist attraction, this market still pulses as a vital hub for food supply. The touristy cares are revealed by the flower stalls at the entrance, with sellers in regional costume, but inside it's interesting to notice the main local productions.
I guess we all agree on this on; there is nothing more exciting than going travelling - exploring another country, experiencing a different culture, travelling around in new ways, sampling the local cuisine and chatting to the local people for a different perspective on life.
However during our travels we learned that there is one certain thing that you should be aware of and prepared for to make sure that the trip is as easy and enjoyable as possible. We always try to see everything once we're there, but this is not always an act of responsible travelling. We always talk to the locals and we know that they have the information about just the right spots to visit and how to undertake them. It will not only enhance your experiences but also avoid any unnecessary hassles.
For us the travel tips we have written in this section made the most of our travel experience and we came home in the same happy, healthy state that we left.
Who doesn't know the Flanders and Swann song "Have some Madeira, M'dear"? It has even been translated into a dutch song as well! We do consider ourselves wine lovers and having Madeira wine of course was a must once we were at the island.
Madeira wine is a fortified wine made at the island with the same name, which is prized equally for drinking and cooking. The maturing of the wine is peculiar and characteristic, because the wine needed to survive long voyages over sea and was subjected in buildings called estufas. It's also deliberately exposed to air, causing to oxidize. Due to this practice the wine has a very characteristic flavour.
Usually Madeira wine is very stable, an opened bottle of Madeira wine will survive unharmed for a considerable time, up to one year. Not that we needed that as we finished all the bottles we opened! :-) We also did see some Madeira wines in the stores that were pushing the century mark.
Bu anyway, we liked the local wine and even took some bottles to the Netherlands. Enjoy!
On Madeira you can listen to both the laments of Portuguese fado and to the islanders own folk songs; these are sometimes accompanies by traditional instruments, such as the 4 string braguinha and the percussive brinquinho - a hand held pole where dolls wearing bells and castanets slide up and down to the music. Folk dances often hark back to the days of slavery-in the Porto do Sol, dancers with bowed heads move in circles as if their feet were chained together.
Traditional dress, still regularly worn by flower sellers, is smart and colourful. The women wear a red woollen skirt decorated with green, blue and yellow stripes, along with an embroidered red waistcoat over a white blouse. The men sport a baggy white shirt and knee length trousers tied with a red sash. A carapuca, like a skull cap with a stalk. and a cape thrown over the shoulder, may also be worn, along with light coloured leather boots with a red stripe
Carreiros do Monte - the toboggan drivers in straw hats - much like venetian gondoliers in their straw boaters - have been pushing people downhill from Monte in a wicker basket on runners for over a hundred years now.
Folklore shows of dancers in their colurful costumes often take place in the hotels for evening entertainment. We can across this impromptu performance in the botanical gardens and it was fun to see it in such a setting. I think they were practicing or teaching newcomers.
Good morning - Bom Dia
Good afternoon - Boa tarde
Good night - Boa Noite
Thank you # - Obrigado
Black Coffee - Bica
Big Coffee with milk - Chinesa
Small Coffee with milk - Garato
Tea - Cha
Milk - Leite
Take time out to go the north of the island to Santana to see the houses that are only found there in Santana
In the streets around the cathedral flower sellers with their traditional costumes can be seen selling their exotic blooms like the popular Bird of Paradise flower.