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Thursday, April 30, 2015

Maderia Islands: Gem of Portugual


Today we arrived in Funchal, capital city of Maderia Islands which are part of Portugal.  The weather could not have been better; calm seas, sunny skies and the temperature in the 70's. The Emerald Princess docked at 7:00 am this morning as we were finishing breakfast in our room. 
Our day was already planned with a bus tour to see the entire island.  Because MA is getting around in a wheelchair, we arranged to get off the ship before our group.  We packed our bags and headed to the gang plank for tour group Blue 5.  We quickly located our bus, the guide, an Englishman by the name of John and our driver. The bus is practically brand new and it was very comfortable all day.  The driver stowed MA's wheelchair in the baggage compartment and we waited for the rest of our group to disembark and board the bus.  That happened quickly and we were off for a great day of sightseeing.
Banana trees with blue bags to ensure they grow at the same rate, You can see the photographer in the mirror.

The tour took us through the capital, Funchal.  The streets are lined with a flowering Jacaranda trees.  They have these bluish-purple flowers that bloom on the branches.  The bus followed a route that took us along the seaside and then we began to climb.  We stopped at our first village, Ribeva Brava for 45 minutes.  We got out and got the wheel chair out and made our way to the front of an old catholic church.  I, of course, went inside and took some photos of the interior.  We stopped at a souvenir shop for a few minutes and got back on the bus.

We then went up 3000 feet through the valley.  Maderia's location and elevation below 1500 feet allows its inhabitants to grow tropical fruit; bananas, avocados, mangos, etc.  Most of the yards, hills and pastures are planted in some kind of fruit or vegetable.  Gardening is done on terraces and the land is terraced from the top to the bottom.  Stone walls keep the terraces from eroding away. You can see that in some of the photos I've posted.
As the bus climbed we moved from a tropical environment to a subtropical environment. Here residents grow traditional vegetables.  Our tour took us through a pristine forest of eucalyptus and cedar trees. 
Our bus for the day

We stopped for lunch in the village of St. Vincent on the north side of the island, approximately 36 km from Funchal. The roads are lined with ferns, flowering plants and laurel trees that are also flowering.  The whole island is a giant flower garden.
Lunch was at a restaurant in St. Vincent, Quebra Mar.  It sits right on the north coast of the island.  We had a great lunch of salad, soup and fish.  After lunch we headed to the village of Cohleita for a visit to a rum factory. The rum distillery was running as we walked into the front entrance.  Trucks with sugar cane were lined up waiting to unload their cane into the hopper.  A worker pushed the cane into a giant crusher until it squeezed out all the juices.  The juice was captured into a giant vat used in the distilling process.
They were passing out samples of rum with honey but I did not care for it.  MA stayed on the bus.  I did enjoy the cake and cookie that was served and brought MA some samples. This was our last stop of the day and we headed back to the ship.


Tomorrow is a sea day and Saturday we dock in Cadiz Spain.  I have an all-day tour to Seville. MA opted for a shorter bus one.

We have managed quite well despite our horrific accident two weeks before departure.  MA's challenge is managing back pain from her two fractured vertebras and mine is bruises and contusions from head to toe.  But what better place to manage thee things than aboard a Princess Cruise Ship!

3 comments:

  1. Glad to hear that you are both managing well aboard a cruise ship! Nice to hear geography lessons again, Wayne. You do it so well!
    We continue to pray over your healing (bible study & personal) and Blessings for your trip. Love to you both!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Glad to hear that you are both managing well aboard a cruise ship! Nice to hear geography lessons again, Wayne. You do it so well!
    We continue to pray over your healing (bible study & personal) and Blessings for your trip. Love to you both!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Très jolie photo (the last one!)

    ReplyDelete

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