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From Madeira to Mars goes to FNAC!

From Madeira to Mars goes to FNAC!


FNAC and I, an old love.
I first met FNAC when I lived in Paris.
I was part of the ERASMUS program, on an internship at École Veterinaire de Maisons Alfort.One of the advantages of being ERASMUS is to have lots of free time, and get to know other professional and cultural realities. Learning to be alone in a strange country and to discover the stranger in us is perhaps the greatest advantage of all.

With free time and a roommate from Paris, Muriel, I discovered that Parisians have a delightful sense of humour which lead us to unusual places.

It was Muriel who first told me about Cirque du Soleil, who taught me how to eat macaroni with grated cheese and nutella and banana crepes. It was she, who took me to the movies to discover one of my favourite films of all time – “The Fabulous Destiny of Amélie Poulain” – yes, I was there in 2001. Walking on the streets of Paris with Muriel was like meeting a new city, running away from the tourists, perhaps as a result of having a house in the 9th arrondissement, right next to the madness of Pigalle and the Sacré Cour.

It was also in Paris that I discovered second-hand shops selling psychedelic pink lights that I hung on the curtains of my dorm room at the university residence.

It was also in Paris that I discovered that there was a guide called “Paris pas cher” that became my bible and led me to the FNAC Shop. FNAC (Fédération nationale d’achats pour cadres) was founded in an apartment in Paris in 1954 by two friends, André Essel and Max Théret. It started out as a private club and anyone who was associated could buy products with considerable discounts.

Its purpose was to make sure the pleasure of discovering new cultures and technologies was more accessible. This wonderful world of music and books where, in addition to the price (pas cher), I could spend endless hours, lying on extremely comfortable sofas, taking books off the shelves and leafing through them unashamedly. I kept waiting for the rain to stop, even if it did not rain outside. It had everything, photography, travel guides, technical books, movies, novels and horror. As for the music, they had headphones scattered around the store, with a loud and clear sound. One could just choose the last single and dance as if no one was watching.

What I liked the most about FNAC was that power and freedom of choice. The books and CDs were open, hand-sowed, waiting to be devoured, without the austerity and silence of a library. Needless to say, my Lisa Ekdahl cd purchased at FNAC from the at the time, came with me to Madeira.

Back in Portugal, CHIADO’s FNAC continues to be one of my favourite Lisbon stores. The advantages of a great city? I began to watch the concerts of FNAC, interviews and releases of singles and books. Next to the cafe, there was a sofa right next to a typical charming window, which made the perfect nook of contemplation with a coffee in hands and a book in my bag.

Oh my joy, when in 2006 the FNAC arrived in Madeira!

Oh my joy when I was invited by Bruno Olim, communication officer of FNAC Madeira, for a partnership and photography exhibition at FNAC MADEIRA!

It is with great pleasure that I invite you to visit FNAC Madeira.

Even if the sun shines outside, get lost in this world of books and music and go on a journey from Madeira to Mars, and maybe pretend to be an Erasmus in Paris 😉
The exhibition is opened on June 9 and includes some photographs of my trips and short excerpts from the blog. See you there?


Madeira by a French photographer, Xavier Schneider


Madeira by a French photographer, Xavier Schneider

In my opinion, one of the great advantages of having a rental accommodation (Airbnb) is the opportunity to meet interesting people, from different parts of the world.

This April, I met the talented photographer Xavier Schneider, who came to spend a week’s holiday in Madeira, with his lovely partner Emilie.

Lucky me, they chose to stay in my apartment and so I had the privilege of meeting both in person.

We exchanged contacts, and upon their return to France, Xavier sent me some of his photographs, taken in Madeira.

It fascinates me to see our island, through the eyes of those who visit us.

There is always a new perspective, a new awareness, something that has escaped my sight and which I can now see, assimilate and understand better.

I grow with this new vision and value, even more, what we have here on the island.

I now have the privilege of introducing you to the photos of Xavier, through this article.

His goal as a photographer is to capture people’s emotions and magical landscapes, with sublime light. He loves to share the happiness he feels while taking these pictures.

I hope you can feel happy emotions through these pictures too.

"The meaning of things lies not in the things themselves, but in our attitude towards them." Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Merci Xavier!

À plus!

P.S. - I would like to thank Xavier for the opportunity and the privilege of sharing these pictures on my blog. If you would like to follow his work, please visit his website or Instagram account.




What's your favourite? ;)

Vila Cais da Gaivota – A hideaway by the sea, in Madeira.

Vila Cais da Gaivota – A hideaway by the sea, in Madeira.

Stop, destress and relax by the sea – this was the main purpose of this trip to Caniçal.

Caniçal – Prainha Beach

The more I live in Madeira, the more I appreciate the fact that,“we can experience a holiday, inside the island, a little micro-adventure”.

The contrasts between the north and south of the Island, plus the variety of accommodation and outdoor activities, make Madeira an ideal destination.


Vila Cais da Gaivota is situated in the south-eastern part of Madeira Island, in Caniçal, a picturesque fishing village, 20 km from Funchal and 7 km from Madeira Airport.


It is located between Prainha and the Caniçal Business center, on a sea cliff with superb views. It has a pontoon with direct and private access to the limpid sea of ​​Caniçal.

Private access to the sea

It has a beautiful garden with two solarium areas and private parking on site. If you choose this location it is advisable to rent a car, especially if you want to explore the rest of the island.

Goivo da Rocha – one of the endemic flowers of Madeira

Vila Rooms and Amenities

This Vila sleeps 4 people.

It has a bedroom with a comfortable double bed, a large closet and a window with a sea view. It also has a crib, a high chair and a baby bath if required.


The kitchen has a small electric hob, microwave, kettle, coffee machine and fridge. We were offered some local fruits on arrival, such as passion fruits and custard apples.

There is a small bathroom with shower, a cabinet mirror and a good hairdryer.

All towels are provided, including beach towels.

The living room has a flat-screen TV with cable channels, 2 sofas (1 of which is a large sofa bed), a dining table and free fast Wi-Fi.

The outdoor area is very pleasant. It has a dining area, barbecue, solarium and also has a hammock where you can relax while contemplating the sea, reading a book or watching the sunrise / sunset.

Breakfast outside


This vila provides free bicycles and kayaks, as well as snorkelling equipment.

There are several walks that you can enjoy in this area, such as the Levada Nova (Caniçal / Feiteirinhas Tunnel), the Vereda de Ponta de São Lourenço (with several viewpoints not to be missed, such as Ponta do Rostro) or the Vereda do Pico do Facho / Ribeira Natal).

Levada Nova

View of Caniçal from the levada walk

One of the local museums not to be missed is the Whale Museum. Here you can discover all about the whales and dolphins of Madeira. You can also go for a virtual ride in a yellow submarine.

The beach, Prainha is a beautiful natural sand beach, and is located about 1 km away from the Villa.


The marina of Quinta do Lorde is located 2,5 km away from the villa and has several services at your disposal. Hop on a boat or a sailboat to enjoy the coastline views with its seabirds, dolphins or whales. You can also dive with the support of the Blue Diving Center, whether initiated or certified diver.


If you choose to cook at the villa, there is a Mini Market (Irmãos Vieira) 8 minutes away by car, where you can buy the necessary items. There is also a take away restaurant – O Manel, 4 minutes away by car.

If you choose a restaurant, there are several good options in this area, such as Tasquinha do Pescador, the Bar Amarelo, the Capristante and the Aquarium in Caniçal or the Maré-Alta in Machico.

What makes this Vila special?

Vila Cais da Gaivota

The location and private access to the sea, the decoration and the attention to detail, are some of the factors to highlight. The reception is warm and caring and we immediately feel at home, in our own refuge by the sea.

Unforgettable are those sunny days, where the sea shines and invites you to go for a bath on the sea. You will feel in heaven…

This is a fabulous villa with an incredible, exclusive location, highly recommended for anyone looking for a holiday away from stress, walking, cycling, snorkelling or diving in the sea.

Address: Caminho da Rochinha, 4, 9200-043 Caniçal, Machico, Madeira

Cost: From 110 € per night.

Make your reservation here.

My stay was courtesy of Vila Cais da Gaivota but opinions are my own.

Swimming with Dolphins in Madeira – Rota dos Cetáceos

During our Easter holidays, we took a fantastic trip in Madeira.

The Rota dos Cetáceos is a tourist animation company dedicated to the observation of cetaceans in Madeira. It offers the opportunity (if weather and visibility conditions allow) to swim with dolphins. It is only allowed to swim with certain species of dolphins, namely painted and common dolphins.

For some time now, my children were asking me to do this experience. Contrary to my belief, there is no minimum age to attend. Children under 5 years go free and between 6 and 11 years old they pay € 34.50. If they want to swim with the dolphins they pay € 43. As for adults, they pay € 49.50 and if they want to swim with dolphins they pay € 65.

In the summer (June to September) there are 3 trips per day (08h45, 12h30 and 16h00), in winter (October to May) 2 trips are made per day (9h00 and 13h30). We took the 1:30 p.m. trip.

We meet at the Marina Shopping office in Funchal, 15 minutes before departure time, for a short briefing. The team of marine biologists explained the security measures, the location of the coast watch points, the species of cetaceans we could find, and gave us some instructions on the equipment provided, as well as the rules for approaching cetaceans.

The trip was made on board of a semi-rigid boat with 18 seats, which allows a very close contact with the species in their natural habitat. This trip lasts 2h30. If you can not see cetaceans, you are given the opportunity to repeat the trip at no extra cost! However, in about 500 000 trips already carried out, in only 60 of the trips, this happened. Luckily, we saw many dolphins and even a turtle!

The experience:

The sea was magnificent, waves hardly moving. It was a hot sunny day. The feeling of floating on the boat was great and the visibility of the coast, as we left the bay of Funchal, unforgettable. On one side, the horizon line with its waterfowl, which made us want to travel offshore. On the other side, the south coast of the island, with its mountain peaks, cliffs, houses with terracotta roofs and domes of the Churches.

In the port of Funchal, the grandeur of the cruise ships, and the beauty of the sailboats we cross by, is memorable. Stories are told in the paintings of the murals of the marina, under the curious glances of the captains, with tanned skins. Curious looks are also those on this cetacean route. My kids peer through the binoculars and spot a group of dolphins in the distance.

The excitement increases, each time we approach a new group, even a turtle that seemed to snooze, cradled by the waves.

There is something in the noise of the sea that anesthetizes us, in the color of the Atlantic sea that pacifies us and in the movement of the dolphins that fascinates us.

Finally, the conditions for the expected diving are met. The masks and respirators are put on. We enter the water gently and grabbed a rope from the boat with one hand to guide us closer to the dolphins.


Down below, the silence is sometimes interrupted by the deafening sound of the tails’ movement and by the unforgettable clicks or squeals of contentment the dolphins make. We feel part of that family and suddenly we are almost like a dolphin, who travels by the ocean …

It was a dream trip, of nature, of dolphins, of pleasure, of sun, salt and sea – not to be missed.

To book this tour visit the website.

Looking for a place to stay in Madeira?

Check these offers:

This tour was courtesy of the Rota dos Cetáceos but the opinions expressed are my own.


Fine Dining Experiences in Madeira

Fine Dining Experiences in Madeira

If your list of things to do on Madeira Island includes having dinner in a restaurant, worthy of Michelin stars, this article was written for you.

Madeira has two Michelin-starred restaurants in Funchal: The Il Gallo d’Ouro Restaurant (with 2 Michelin stars) and the William Restaurant (with 1 Michelin star).

Moreover, once a year, around the month of March, the chefs leave the starry sky of their kitchens, to walk a route, the “Stars Route”one of the most prestigious gastronomic events in Portugal.

It all started in 2010, when António Trindade, President of the PortoBay group invited his team, namely Benoît Sinthon (Head Chef of Il Gallo d’Oro 2 Michelin-starred restaurant at The Cliff Bay Hotel) to develop an event in the fine dining cuisine. It began in Madeira and toured the country, in several points of reference in the stardom of local and international cuisine. It already has eight editions and brings together dozens of invited chefs and hosts from various countries, namely Portugal, Spain and France, whose restaurants are mostly recognised with Michelin stars.

Il Gallo d’Oro Restaurant (2 Michelin stars)

Benoît Sinthon is the French national of the Il Gallo d’Oro, the Michelin-starred restaurant of the five-star Hotel The Cliff Bay, Best of Excellence 2016 (Wine Spectator magazine), 3 Sóis 2015 by the Repsol Guide!

It offers classic techniques of French cuisine, combined with local ingredients of land and sea. What you feel when you enter the Il Gallo d’Oro is that you are invited to attend a spectacle (in the front row) of classic and contemporary styles. The team of the room is led by the attentive Maître, António Morgado and the charismatic Sommelier, Sérgio Marques, who presents an exceptional wine list.

The tasting menu brought me lots of surprises, flavours and originality. It started with the “Golden Ball by Benoît Sinthon”, whose interior is filled with various levels of pleasure: fish tartar and island squid, accompanied by a dashi sauce. As a hot starter, we’ve tasted the Portuguese Scarlet Shrimp, accompanied by corn potato, watercress, lime kaffir with tonka beans. The main course was “suckling pig and pine tree 2016” accompanied by a wine D. Berta Tinto Cão, 2010, which exploded with the intense flavours of the pig.





We finished the meal with a spectacular dessert, the exotic Vacherin by Il Gallo d’Oro: a passion fruit chiboust cream with caramel chocolate sorbet.

Cost: Top Experience Menu: € 165.00 per person, without drinks. Top experience sommelier wine selection: € 73.00 per person. To make a reservation go to

William Restaurant (1 Michelin star)

The William Restaurant is located in one of the world’s most elegant hotels, Belmond Reid’s Palace, with 125 years of existence. This restaurant won its first Michelin star in 2016 and owed its name to the Scotsman, Mr William Reid, the founder of this Hotel. Upon entering this restaurant, we are soon surprised by a very exceptional panoramic view over the Bay of Funchal. Its intimate setting, candlelights and the piano sound in the distance, is the perfect setting for a romantic night. The attention to details paid by the team, led by the Maître, Nelson Martins and the Sommelier, Alberto Luz, is the perfect company.

The William Restaurant is run by the Executive Chef, of Portuguese nationality, Luís Pestana and offers a modern and creative cuisine with the best products of the island. The signature menu took us through an unforgettable journey. As a starter, I tasted a delicious scallop carpaccio with a duo of caviar, avocado and coconut. I indulged myself with an original cod soup with pear, chickpea and quail egg. As the main course, I tasted a delicious snapper with a stew of barnacles, sword and passionfruit, as a meat dish, tasted lamb loin with herbs crust, pumpkin and regional couscous.




It was followed by various national and foreign cheeses and a wonderful chiboust of mango, chocolate cake, white chocolate ganache and avocado. The favourite wine of this dinner was the Madeiran – Palmeira and Voltas. Highly recommend!

The cost of the Signature Menu is € 162.00 per person, without drinks or € 198.00 including a glass of wine selected per dish. To make a reservation go to :

Madeira Terroir – Stars Route

I had the privilege of being present at one of the dinners of Route of the Stars 2017 – the Madeira Terroir.”Terroir” is a French word related to viticulture which has no translation. The concept behind this word is that some products express their quality and particularity, without accurate explanation. It is simply the result of a combination of factors, which include the most intimate relationship between geology, topology, climate, family and cultural exploration of the lands.

What happened in Madeira Terroir, also has no translation possible.


Maybe it could be described as a sensory explosion of innovation, surprise and gustatory ecstasy, but it was much more than that. This event took place in the emblematic farmer’s market, more precisely in the Fish Square. There were 36 benches with different specialities. The challenge was to present local products, including passion fruit, wine, edible flowers, tuna and octopus, and integrate them into the stardom of this dinner.

One of the benches that won me for simplicity was the Micro Green area. The blend and variety of greens, flavours and colours of the edible flowers were clearly spectacular. The pride, affection and dedication that this family of 3 (mother, father and son) described their products, led by their son, were so full of tenderness and devotion.


The star dishes of each Chef were amazing and magical! My favourite dishes were: The addictive Portuguese Scarlet Shrimp ceviche in banana leaf, by Diego Guerrero, the unique sturgeon caviar foaming trout, by Benoit Sinton, the delicious oysters by Pepe Solla and the delicious creation of Luís Pestana, with sword eggs and fennel. The desserts were the sweet and deserved ending of the night, with the best passion fruit ice cream of my life!





The spectacle of electronic music and liquid nitrogen filled this market with warmth and excitement – just as if we were sitting at the table among good friends.

Cost of this dinner: € 140 per person and includes drinks

To make a reservation:

There’s an English hashtag that, in my opinion, defines well what I have lived through these three dinners – “foodgasm“; The sensation of maximum pleasure that can be gained through food.

Do not miss it! It’s the kind of night that inspires stars to climb into the sky!

Dinner at Il Gallo d’Ouro Restaurant and at the Star Route – Madeira Terroir event was courtesy of PortoBay, but the opinions expressed here are my own. Dinner at the William Restaurant was courtesy of Belmond Reid’s Palace, but the opinions expressed here are my own.

Visit Funchal

40 pictures that will make you want to visit Madeira

Spend a few days, walking around this historic Island.

Take your camera, visit some museums, listen to live music on the streets and have a glass of madeira wine.

Listen to the sounds of the gardens: water flowing, birds singing, flowers blooming, it’s a bliss…

See how the waves crash onto the the beach pebbles, hear that noise; addictive and relaxing. It covers all the noises inside your head with nothing but the perception of nature’s power – Meditate.

Enjoy the sunsets, I mean, PLEASE enjoy the sunsets. Don’t stay inside when the sun sets (or rises) it would be disrespectful to yourself, to do such a thing. The sun shows are unbeatable, the colors, the clouds, the sea, the seabirds, the dolphins, they’re all frequent costumers here.

Gaze at those high mountains. How can lava coming out of a vulcano turn into the greenest forests – the Laurissilva forest, since the ice age to our days. Talk about strong, lasting relationships – this one is a keeper.

Meet people. People that live in a Island are willing to hearing from you. They want to know about your place, what is it like out there. Maybe they’ve been to your country (we do love travelling) but it’s interesting to know what’s life like, through your eyes. We are good listeners.

Eat good food. Oh yes, we know how to prepare you nice meals, you see, our climate adds extra flavour to our food, wether its fresh fish or vegetables, tropical fruits or wine. We’ve got it all. We have also plenty of accommodation offers to suit your needs, from luxury hotels in Funchal, to bed and breakfast, hostels and rental apartments – you choose.

Have fun. We love to party, specially if it means a picnic in the mountains with family or friends, an ‘arraial’ in the Summer, music concert or a night out in Vespas. We like to loose ourselves to dance… Have you seen our traditional folklore, we spin, we jump and we play cute instruments like the ‘brinquinho’.

Swim, relax, unwind, get a nice holiday glow, eat good food, hike those mountains and breathe fresh air .

So, when are you coming to Madeira? 🙂




Two weeks in Mozambique with the SPAY SISTERS

I still find it hard to put into words how much I enjoyed my last trip to Mozambique. I will try my best. (8 min read)

As some of you might know, besides being a travel blogger, I am a vet, so this trip was not the typical tourist escape…

In the last two weeks, I joined the UK charity SPAY SISTERS, founded by three incredible vets including my dear friend Ella Stekly, who I met in Madeira 10 years ago.

How do SPAY SISTERS work?

Spay Sisters started in June 2006.
The aim of this charity is to sterilise as many animals as possible throughout the world.
They intend to save a few dog, and cat lives leading them to a healthier existence by the control of reproduction. Post operation the animals become calmer, fight less, get fewer diseases and naturally don’t produce vast quantities of kittens and puppies each year. A single cat or dog can be responsible for 20,000 descendants in five years – just a reminder.
SPAY SISTERS original trustees are vets and veterinary nurses, so access to materials and medicines is easily done and time is given for free. That means that the money donated is going to only the anaesthetics, drugs and equipment needed for the job. There are no administration costs, with the people on the trip paying for their flights and the country inviting Spay Sisters paying for food and accommodation.

Ever since I met them, I hoped I could join them on one of these trips.
Ten years later, it finally happened – Mozambique was the destination of choice.

How do they choose the destination, you might wonder? Usually, the local associations get in contact with the charity, and all arrangements are made.
My thoughts on this trip?

The fear of the unknown was something that haunted me for a few days before the journey. I mean, this was Africa, a continent which I had never visited. The uncertainty of what was going to happen, how would I get in contact with my kids back home, and how would I work with this group of people (since I only knew one of them) kept my mind busy for a while.

But the decision was made, this was something I’ve been willing to experience for a long time so,
I just had to go and make it happen.

You see I’m a believer, that arrogance hasn’t died in me, yet…
I believe that there are good people in the world and that if they get together, their actions can have a huge impact on others, however small it may seem, at first glance.
I also believe in the principles of this charity and felt I could fit in, in so many ways…
I felt very lucky to be invited to join them, plus timing was perfect.
My family was also incredibly supportive including my two sons.

How did we get there?

So 6 of us met at Heathrow Airport and repacked our bags to make sure we could take all equipment needed for the clinic without paying extra costs.
We were all excited and happy to be together on this mission.

We flew to Dubai where we met the other four colleagues of the group and then we all flew together to Durban.
At the airport, we met a member of the local association Protect Ponta, Caron, who took care of us during that night. On the second week of the trip, she met us again and arranged all transportation, accommodation and food along that week.

On the next day, we were driven (5 hours drive) to the border Kosi Bay (South Africa) / Ponta do Ouro (Mozambique).
We had two drivers, and one of them was such a funny character! He made us laugh with his engagement story and his fears of getting married to the wrong woman.
Also in Mozambique, there’s a favourite radio station called LM where you can listen to old hits like “Blame it on the Boogie” from the Jacksons, so we had an excellent soundtrack along the road to get our party started.

At some point Ella asked the group:
So what’s your personal goal on this trip?

From getting better skills in neutering procedures, beautiful sun tans or making sure everyone’s safety was guaranteed, answers were multiple and curiously diverse.

My personal goal was to experience a spay sisters trip while interacting with locals and learning about their lifestyle.

During the first week, we’ve stayed at Ponta do Ouro, at Lois house. Lois and her husband looked after us as if we were part of their family. I will never forget them both.

On the second week, we moved to Ponta Malongane where Sharon was kind enough to let us all stay at her Beach House – we loved it. Caron, Vanessa and Daniel took such good care of us during the whole week, not only helping us with catching the animals but also making sure we reached the right locations and were well fed. The roads have no signs or numbers, they’re just sand roads in the middle of nowhere, so it can be quite challenging to go from A to B.

Work, focus, fatigue, friendship, hugs, love, laughter, rain showers, heat waves, warm sea, beautiful sand beaches, birds singing, lush jungle, surfing crabs…


Moz and Skinny – 2 of the dogs we met, brail (barbeque), Cristopher, Elias, “Smiley” (the most inquisitive local men we’ve met) morning tea, bumpy roads, off roads, Capulana’s ladies, morning dolphins…


“Vânia and Dito” (two children that we met in the first week), the sense of accomplishment and a few tears… are just some of the words that come to my mind when I look back on this trip.

I could go on forever talking about the emotions, surprises and the human gestures, I saw during our stay.

About Mozambique, no words can make justice to the beauty of this place – I can show you the pictures, but to understand the magic of this country, you have to go there and feel it under your skin.

Listen to the sound of the jungle, the noises of the night, the sea, the sunsets and thunderstorms. Sit by the fire and look at those bright stars.
Also don’t forget to taste the beer of Mozambique 2M and the huge, tasty prawns.

I felt safe and welcomed, and I often found myself wondering how much better could it get.
We’ve just been in the south of Mozambique – Ponta do Ouro, Ponta Malongane, Mamoli and Zitundo but when the locals talked about the beauty of Bazaruto and Ilha de Moçambique, they had sparkles in their eyes.

Yes, there’s poverty, there’s not enough food, there are children selling goods on the streets while they should be at school. There’s also a high rate of HIV and many kids, unfortunately, become orphans – it’s all too sad, and they need help. However, I was impressed by people’s smiles and how they manage to carry on with their lives, fighting for better days.

Some of them walked for 2 hours to go to work. Others walked for 2 hours to have their dog neutered at our clinic, which we quickly found out by saying: – Please, come back later to pick up your dog after surgery. The answer was, I’d better sit and wait. And so they sited and waited and watched us work and laughed while the dog’s anaesthetics started to kick in, and talked with each other, sharing thoughts and sharing food with us by lunch time.

Around lunch time, children left school and came to our clinic spot. They jumped in the water puddles, climbed on trees and most were brave enough to approach the tables and look into the eyes of the animals, intrigued by the blood in our gloves. Some of them also showed us their school books with pride. I was happy to see that most locals loved their animals, the bonding was there, they just didn’t know or could do better when it came to looking after them. They were pleased with the rabies vaccination, and especially the pet food received. Women were also relieved that their dogs were now neutered and some of the local men made a joke asking us if we could neuter them as well…

As for the SPAY SISTERS experience, it couldn’t have been better, since each person in the group tried their best to make it work. As for the interaction with locals, we’ve had the pleasure to share the experience with four wonderful vet students from Maputo, Mércia, Orlando, Bilério and João as well as a local vet, the BEAUTIFUL Sara. One of the schools in Ponta do Ouro took their classroom to see what we were doing and to explain to the children what’s the veterinary profession. We’ve also met many locals, kids and grown-ups, restaurant owners, the church choir, the shop vendors and of course, the hard working people behind the local association Protect Ponta.
They did an incredible job; I must say we were totally spoiled…

I’m also proud to say that we’ve managed to treat and neuter 300 animals during these two weeks.

This trip brought me so much more than I could give back but most of all it brought me hope in the human kind – Thank you all.



A particular word to Ella who invited me to this trip – Thanks for leading us to helping others through your charity and example. Thanks for all the chats, laps, support and morning teas… To all my colleagues on this trip a big OBRIGADA, for looking after each other and making sure everyone was ok. I would also like to thank the two professional photographers, Alan and Greg, who accompanied us during this trip and for taking such incredible pictures, which I’m thrilled to share in this post.

Not  forgetting the wonderful ladies from Protect Ponta, Caron, Shannon, Debbie, Sandra, Lois, Vanessa and Heike, as well as Neil, Rob, Justin and Gareth – OBRIGADA!
Thank you to all the people who welcomed us in their homes, shops, restaurants and lives during these two weeks.


To visit Mozambique, you have to get in contact with the embassy to get a visa.
In Portugal, it cost me 80 €, and you must go there in person, no other choice.
I also took the Rabies vaccination and the malaria prevention pills.
I’ve stayed in private homes but check this place and this one. I’ve had good references about them.

Whatever you do, do visit Mozambique!

P.S. – If you’d like to know more about this charity visit the website



Mother-Daughter getaway to Lisbon

Mother-Daughter getaway to Lisbon

This year for my mum’s birthday, I prepared a special gift — a getaway in Lisbon. When I was studying at Lisbon University and she came to visit me, I remember we always had such a great time together. I wanted to recreated those days again. Plus, Lisbon makes my mother happy, she has always great stories and memories about this city, specially from those days before and after the revolution 25 April 1974, when she was visiting her sister, who used to live there.

“Stories…the testimony of human contact.”

Whenever she speaks about Lisbon, her eyes light up, she puts a funny smile on her face and while walking those streets together, I can always imagine her like a young girl, singing Fado and wandering on the hills of Lisbon.  It is true what they say, life is made of memories. I want to share these thoughts with my mother and remember the places we were together, alive and happy. Lisbon was a gift to both of us. This is the most occidental city of Europe. It has 3 million habitants and it’s a beautiful city to be at with lots of life, history, entertainment, amazing restaurants and ah! the views


Places to stay in Lisbon

We stayed at PortoBay Liberdade Hotel. We’ve choosen this hotel for several reasons: central location, 5 star hotel services with excellent reviews and a spa. I was overwhelmed by the service and attention to details. We wanted to have the option to relax indoors since it was winter and it might be raining outside, so the local spa with a nice relaxing pool was so convenient.   Other good option to stay in Lisbon, is PortoBay Marquês Hotel, which I’ve reviewed previously in this article.

 7 Things to do in Lisbon with your mother:
  1. Walk along Avenida da Liberdade. It’s sort of like walking along Champs Elysées of Paris, maybe better…:) This one kilometre long avenue connects the main roundabout of Marques de Pombal with the Baixa area. I love the old Kiosks with terraces, some of them with live music; the dreamy wooden benches bellow the sycamore trees and the typical Portuguese pavements with beautiful cobblestone designs. Some local buildings have a stunning architecture, mainly from the XX century. I particularly like the Eden Cinema and Condes Cinema which is now the Hard Rock Cafe. You’ll also find some of the most luxurious shops in this avenue, it’s very easy to get lost windowshopping…
  2.  Taste the drink “ginginha” at Largo São Domingos – This is an old favourite of ours. This place is  busy, day or night.
  3.  Hop on a panoramic bus tour and visit Lisbon’s main attractions. It’s a 48-hour hop-on hop-off bus ticket so perfect for a weekend getaway. It has two scenic routes. We enjoyed the Tagus circuit, which includes the highlights of Belem. The full circuit lasts about 1h30m with 19 stops. You can listen to the recorded commentary by audio headphones and overview the city from the top deck. Relaxed, easy-going. You can book it here.
  4.  Enjoy the tiny houses and history of Mouraria. Mouraria is definitely one of my favourite neighbourhoods of Lisbon. It feels like a world away with that typical vibrant atmosphere of Lisbon. Children playing in the streets, clothes hanging on the balconies, women sitting by the window and fado playing in the distance…Walk along Rua das Farinhas and go down the stairs of Largo de São Cristovão to see some amazing street art.



  5. Relax with a switch-off massage (120 min, including a 15 minute nap)! This ritual is sooo relaxing! I’ve fallen asleep even before the nap time! It begins with a feet massage with a warm feet bath, followed by deep and slow movements. After you that, you lay down in a bed prepared with aromatherapy pillows and have a full body massage with pressure being applied to specific neuromuscular points that relieve the stress. It allows you to completely disconnect from the outside world, let me tell you… You are then covered with a fluffy duvet, lights go dim and you take a deep nap. Wake up call is made through the sound of tingsha bells. When I woke up , it was as if I was floating in a cloud of aromas and peace…


  6.  Go to the theatre/cinema. We love Lisbon Coliseum and Politeama Theater! We used to see amazing plays from Filipe la Féria. This time, Politeama was showing the musical Amália but unfortunately it was sold out… so remember to book in advance! Instead  we went to the UCI cinemas and saw “Lalaland” at El Corte Inglês shopping centre! Highly recommend this movie…
  7.  Go Shopping! Here’s a list of some Lisbon shops you can’t miss! Another good spot for shopping is LX Factory – a nice combination of shops, restaurants and stylish class.lx factory

Places to eat in Lisbon?

Join a food tour. This is one of the tastiest, authentic ways to discover the hidden food gems of Lisbon. Célia Pedroso, author of the book Eat Portugal, was a fabulous guide! During this 3 hour tour, we were able to taste some of the best treats of Lisbon, including amazing wine and the typical “pastéis de nata”. Satisfaction garanteed!

Café Lisboa

Café Lisboa – @CulinaryBackstreets

– Casa do Alentejo is located in a magnificent palace built in the late seventeenth century which belonged to a noble family. It was once the first casino of Lisbon, called the Majestic Club offering gambling in lavish rooms and luxurious parties. Today it is the headquarters of the Association Alentejo (Region of South Portugal)  which promotes cultural and social services related to this region. It has also a lovely tavern serving some of this region’s delicious food.


Share a memorable meal together at Bistrô4! We’ve had a menu prepared by Chef João Espírito Santo, with the orientation of Benoît Sinthon, chef of The Cliff Bay – Il Gallo d’Oro, (2 Michelin stars). (average price of a meal is 35€ per person) I’ll let the images speak for themselves…One of the best meals of my life, for sure!

©PortoBay Bistrô4

Chef João Espirito Santo

Black sword steak with tomato, onion, olive and corn bread crust with trilogy of chips

Grilled octopus, creamy rice with spinach, parsley and chive accompanied with White Wine: Alfaiate 2015 (Setúbal)

A tender, soft and juicy meat, with soft and delicate fat, matured in their facilities with grilled potatoes, sautéed mushrooms and caramelised onions accompanied with Red wine: Lapa dos Gaivões 2012 (Alentejo)

Thousand leaves of salted caramel & creme brulé accompanied by Madeira Wine: Blandy Boal 5 Years.

Mont Blanc . Vinho Madeira: Blandy Verdelho 5 Anos

I ‘m so grateful I could share this weekend with a beautiful lady, my mother. I hope it inspires you too. See you soon!

My stay at the Hotel PortoBay Liberdade was courtesy of PortoBay, but the views expressed are my own.

From Madeira to Mars

Photo essay © André Gonçalves – Universe of Memories João Carlos Abreu

Photoessay © André Gonçalves – Universe of Memories João Carlos Abreu

Located in São Pedro, in a palace from the 19th century, João Carlos Abreu’s Memories Universe is home to much of his life, through art and memories. To know more about this read this article.

Universo de Memórias João Carlos Abreu – Calçada do Pico nº2 – Funchal – Madeira ©SofiaVasconcelos


Universo de Memórias João Carlos Abreu

Universo de Memórias João Carlos Abreu ©Sofia Vasconcelos

Universo Memórias João Carlos Abreu ©Sofia Vasconcelos

The memories of this mystical and cinematographic place  brought me and André Gonçalves to a photo shoot, where André associates each image with an emotion, a past, a secret…

André was born in Calheta, Madeira. He describes himself as a photo enthusiast, lunatic, eccentric, bizarre and bohemian. He likes to portray the interior of a chaotic mind, what he sees and what he does not see. He discovered the photograph at a young age but only recently began to publicize his works that can be seen in national magazines such as Zoom and international as Dark Beauty, Blur, Photoshoot and Adore Noir Magazine. He has already taken some of his works to Paris where he integrated an exhibition in the Espace des Arts sans Frontièrs. He made several exhibitions in spaces such as the Baltazar Dias Municipal Theater or the FNAC Madeira, where he exhibites his art until 14/04/2017.



© A N D R E • G O N Ç A L V E S – Madeira


© A N D R E • G O N Ç A L V E S – Madeira


© A N D R E • G O N Ç A L V E S – Madeira


© A N D R E • G O N Ç A L V E S – Madeira

Madeira André Gonçalves

© A N D R E • G O N Ç A L V E S – Madeira

He lives and works nowadays in Funchal, producing images that intend to take us to his imaginary.

In my opinion, André makes magic with his photographs, transporting me to a world of fantasy, stars and dreams. It was a great pleasure and pride to receive his invitation to work together on this project “from Madeira to Mars”. I have seen myself through an unexpected record straight out from “another planet.” I confess that sometimes it was difficult to maintain a serious expression and contain my smile in the photographs, dressed in these dresses and props – I could barely recognized me. It made me get out of my comfort zone, do something different and unusual- I can admit that I loved the experience. Love the result, could not have been better. 🙂

What do you think?


From Madeira to Mars

© A N D R E • G O N Ç A L V E S – “The Ghost of you”

From Madeira to Mars

© A N D R E • G O N Ç A L V E S

From Madeira to Mars

© A N D R E • G O N Ç A L V E S

From Madeira to Mars

© A N D R E • G O N Ç A L V E S

If you want to offer a gift to someone special, or to yourself, remember these images and do not miss the opportunity to contact André. The photography sessions with André, can be marked by email: [email protected] or message on Facebook

It includes the edition of 7 photographs, make-up, clothes and accessories. Prices on request.

Thank you André! Keep up your excellent work!

My best thanks to Dr. Sílvia Chícharo, director of the Universe of Memories João Carlos Abreu, for such a wonderful team and collaboration.

Want to know more about the Universe of Memories João Carlos Abreu? Click here.

Discovering the Universe of Memories of João Carlos Abreu

Discovering the Universe of Memories of João Carlos Abreu

Life is made of memories, as evidenced by the Universe of Madeiran João Carlos Abreu.

This museum is located in São Pedro, in a palace from the 19th century. It also has a beautiful garden and a friendly tea house with delicious cakes and homemade teas.

Universo de Memórias João Carlos Abreu

Universo de Memórias João Carlos Abreu ©SofiaVasconcelos

Oratório ©SofiaVasconcelos

Universo Memórias João Carlos Abreu ©Sofia Vasconcelos

It houses the memories of João Carlos Abreu, journalist, traveler, poet, writer, politician, actor, artist and also former regional director of tourism of Madeira with passage through several countries of the world. He was awarded multiple awards in the areas of tourism and culture. Events such as the Flor Festival, Wine Festival, Carnival Parade, New Year’s Festival and Atlantic Festival are part of its initiative. He has published hundreds of chronicles, two Madeira tourist guides, ten poetry books and six prose books. He is currently engaged in writing, theater, travel, painting and humanitarian causes.

João Carlos Abreu and Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980.

The variety of objects, jewels, clothing, furniture, paintings, statues and passports is breathtaking, the result of an intense, rich and challenging life, built from travel stories. A special mention goes to Rome (where he studied and was a Vatican journalist).

It is not just ties and horses, there is much more to discover and a visit is not enough … There are about 14,000 pieces donated to this monument, all of them acquired by João Carlos Abreu, himself. All the visits are guided and have the approximate duration of an hour that runs by so quickly. There is so much to see and tell …

Let’s start with the palace. It was built by  Simão Francisco, illegitimate son of a noblewoman who lived where today  the museum of the Cruzes is located. Simão Francisco lived in São Martinho, Funchal with an nanny and visited frequentedly this street. He emigrated to British Guiana where he was a wood dealer. In the nineteenth century he returned to Madeira and built this palace inspired by several styles, namely the Victorian. Its taste for the woods is visible, since each room has a different style, with a wood floor of satin and sucupira. This house also passed by the Faria families and the doctor Dr. Nuno Porto, in the years of 70 to 90.

Universo de Memórias João Carlos Abreu – Calçada do Pico nº2 – Funchal – Madeira

O chão de madeira com diferentes desenhos em cada sala

Casa de banho, a única da propriedade!

We started by the entrance and library. With 53 Neapolitan terra cotta shepherds purchased on several visits to Naples, a Victorian clock that is a beauty and a stereo viewfinder that blends 2 photographs in a single image.

Relógio Vitoriano


Teacup for moustaches 🙂

He inherited from his mother the taste for jewels, an exquisite sensibility, visible in these true works of art.


In the library, I discovered the history and typewriter of Gustaf Grundgens, one of the most well-known German actors of the 20th century, who had a vacation home in Madeira. He described the island as his ” necessary stop in this hectic life.”

This is my favourite horse made of several human figures.

And he considers himself truly addicted to ties, which he chooses for his colors and originality. He has over 1000!

The horse painted by several artists residing in Madeira, among them Carla Cabral and Marcos Milewski.

Just like in real life, we can not rearrange our memories, in one division, our memories mingle to make the life that we are made of.


This site also has a surprising range of educational services, with activities that last from 45 minutes to 1h30m, the latter based on the national reading plan.

From pre-school to 4th year of schooling, many activities are proposed, from a walk through the house with binoculars to discover animals that inhabit it or the musical instruments of this collection, wind instruments, turntables, telephony among others. Thematic dates are also celebrated with strictly focused activities for parents and children. They also have some activities in English.

The visits can be marked through the email: [email protected] or by telephone: 291225122, or via

Other information:

Normal ticket – € 3.50 Children up to 14 years old – Free

Retired, youth card and students – € 2 Group ticket (minimum of 6 people) – € 2

Location: Calçada do Pico nº 2 e 4, parish of São Pedro, Municipality of Funchal

Hours: Monday to Friday: 10:00 am to 5:00 pm Closed on weekends and Holidays *

* Schedule group visits on weekends and holidays

My best thanks to Dra. Sílvia Chícharo, director of the Universe of Memories João Carlos Abreu, and to all her wonderful team, for all the collaboration.

If you’re looking for a hotel to stay in Funchal, check these offers: