2 Weeks on Madeira: a Portuguese-African Island

Days 1-3: Caniçal

August 16-18, 2019

Today, we landed in Funchal, the capitol of Madeira. They have the world’s shortest runway which hangs over the Atlantic Ocean, so landing the plane was a skill reserved for only the most experienced of pilots. After the 4.5-hour flight from Prague to Funchal, we picked up our rental car and went straight to the beach. We spent the next two days in Caniçal, a neighboring fishing village. The East end of the Island has a gorgeous hike out to the end of a peninsula which we also did (below).

Days 4-7: Pico de Ruivo

August 19-22, 2019

We left Caniçal this morning and drove west into the mountains. We waved goodbye to the sunny, rocky beaches and drove into lush, green mountains shrouded in dense clouds. We spent the next three nights at a hiker’s hotel, waking up every morning at 6:30 am to eat a local breakfast which consisted of friend eggs, bananas, avocados, sheep’s cheese, and local fruit. We then headed out to hike the aqueducts, starting each day with about 15 miles hiking and ending each day at the top of a different mountain. The north end of Madeira is fairly dry while the south end is fairly wet. Five centuries ago, the northern residents of the island came up with a resolution for their water problem by building an extensive aqueduct system to transport water to the drier parts of the island. The aqueducts are popular among tourists to hike along, weaving in between mountain valleys, cliffs, tunnels, and dense jungle.

Day 8-14: São Vicente and Ponta do Pargo

August 23-28, 2019

We left the mountains behind and are now on the western-most tip of the island. It is hot and dry here with beautiful rolling hills that dive into the Atlantic. There are two huge festivals happening around us right now. One is a pop music festival on the beach and the second is a holy festival honoring St. Paul. The towns are elaborately decorated with flowers and filled with bustling crowds of people. Every morning, we hike along an aqueduct for a few hours to see parts of the island you cannot get to by car and then we spend our afternoons and evenings on the beach or exploring small fishing villages. Our Airbnb has the sweetest neighbor, an 82-year-old grandmother, who brings us fresh eggs and papaya every morning for breakfast. She came over one night with a 1L bottle of homemade red wine from her own grapes and, by no surprise, it was incredible. In return, we have been buying stuff for her from the market up the road and bringing it down to her. Our last day on Madeira was spent at the beach before we had to catch our flight back to Prague.    

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About the Author: Peter Popek

Peter is a D2 from Bellingham who loves adventure! When he's not busy in the sim lab, Peter can be found volunteering, skiing, and hanging out with friends.