Latest Posts

travelguidetomadeira

Travel Guide to Madeira for my AIRBNB guests | 2017

 



Free Travel tips To Madeira

Great places to eat, see and enjoy - tips from a local!

(I did this guide once for one of my Airbnb guests that came to Madeira for the first time. They wanted some good recommendations for hiking locations, spots by the sea, must see’s, must eat and must do’s on the Island. Also some tips for Funchal. This choice was based on my personal preferences and on the feedback I get from my Airbnb guests. I’ve decided to share it on the blog so that you can use it, save it and share it, as an extra help to planning your stay. Hope you enjoy it and find it useful. )

Obs: there are no pictures so that you can print it without running out of ink on your printer 🙂 But please do check my Instagram account frommadeiratomars for inspiration.

If you’re coming to Funchal, you should allow yourself at least three nights stay. There’s so much to see, taste and enjoy, you’ll leave with the will to come back for more, or at least I hope you do, with my tips :). If you want to explore the full Island, then come for at least six nights and make the most of your time. I usually recommend that you rent a car unless you don’t enjoy driving. In that case, you can book tours, explore by bus or make arrangements with a private taxi.

From the airport to Funchal, unless you rent a car, do book a taxi previously, or take the Aerobus – it’s usually the cheaper options.

But before we start, there are three things you should know about Madeira:

  • First, we love tourists, and we’re used to having their company all year, so most people speak a foreign language, mostly English.
  • Second, check the weather. It could be a sunny day in Funchal and rain in the West part of the Island. We are a tropical Island, and we can reach 500 mt above sea level in 30′ drive which means it can get cold up there, and although we’re very close to Africa, we can have all seasons in one day. ” Carry a jacket, just in case. Also, check the weather at this site which displays live webcams from different parts of the island. Also if the weather is not okay for some reason, check this post for rainy days inspiration.
  • Third, be prepared to relax.Whether it’s the climate, the sea, the friendly people, the food, the wine or the natural beauty, you’ll figure it out. Don’t pack too many attractions in one day, and please don’t go all around the Island in one day. The roads are full of curves; you ‘ll get car sickness! I´ll try to be more convincing by telling you a secret, I live here for over 30 years, and there are places I’ve never been, so keep this in your mind while planning your stay; just because it’s an Island doesn’t mean you have to see it all on one visit.

WHAT TO EAT/DRINK



Remember these words or print them. 🙂

“Bolo do caco” typical bread with garlic butter, “Brisa Maracuja”passion fruit, local fizzy drink, “Coral”, local beer, “poncha” is strong but deliciously sweet  rum drink, (try the flavour passion fruit).

Tomato soup with poached egg,  “milho frito”, fried corn in little cubes, “lapas”, limpets.

“Bolo e broas de mel”, honey cake and biscuits, “rebucados de funcho” fennel sweets and “queijada”, cottage cheese cake, they sell in coffee shops (I like the one from La vie shopping, top floor near the piano, btw the pasteis de nata are very good too).

If you’re not vegetarian, you can also try “espetada” beef cubes on a stick, “peixe espada”scabbard fish, and “bife de atum” tuna steak.

And of course, the unforgettable Madeira wine,  have a visit to the wine cellars for a tasting session, check this article for inspiration. If you go to Câmara de Lobos area, try the Nikita at Farol Verde (ice cream with beer, I know it’s weird, but it tastes good and guess what it’s based on the Elton John song…”Nikita”… you’ll never know…)

And the cocktails at PUKIKI BAR in Estreito da Calheta are also damn good.!

You can also read this article about the six most typical dishes.

Restaurants in Funchal? Here are some of my favourites.

LUNCH: 9,50 € deals – BOHO BISTRO, CAFÉ MUSEU, 1811 Bistro & Wine Bar.

DINNER: Fine Dining in Madeira – read this article. Another good option is NINI DESIGN CENTRE/RISO for outstanding views/romantic night. In Lido: Basilico for Italian.

TYPICAL Madeiran Food – O TASCO, TABERNA MADEIRA, A BICA, OS COMBATENTES.

VEGETARIAN food – read this article.

BUDGET bites to eat,  check this list.

HIKING:



Oh, this is an endless journey to write about…

There are 2000 km of Levada walks (you know, those awesome water channels dig on the rocks ages ago) They will take you to an amazing forest called Laurissilva which is rare in the world because it disappeared in Europe during the ice age. Madeira has it. It’s green, magical, mystic and full of fresh air, century old trees and pure nature, nothing quite like this elsewhere in the world.

My favourites are Fanal/Rabaçal (25fontes)/Ponta de São Lourenço – chech miradouro PONTA DO ROSTRO! /Pico do Areeiro/Pico Ruivo/ Caldeirão Verde/Castelejo/Portela/Ribeiro Frio/ Balcões + For food try FAÍSCA .

Be careful while doing these walks, the weather can change dramatically, so I recommend this site for more information.

WHAT TO SEE AND DO?



Hidden gems in Funchal.

Best spots in Madeira.

Like Museums.

Prefer Gardens.

Beach lovers.  I LOVE Praia Formosa in Funchal, especially by sunset/sunrise when there’s hardly anyone at the beach. You can walk along promenade do Lido all the way to Câmara de Lobos.

Just to feel like a local.

Are you travelling with children? Check this map for points of interest.

Need a therapeutic retreat.

A day in Funchal: Start at the city park Santa Catarina, walk along Avenida Arriaga, see the Theatre and Visit the Cathedral, the Town Hall and the Farmers Market.  Walk into the old town and enjoy the painted doors by local artists check out the gallery Caravel art centre. Reach Socorro Church and have a break at Barreirinha.  Take the cable car to Monte, and enjoy the ride up the hills. There is a beautiful Monte church and tropical garden to visit there. When you come down you have two options back on the cable car again or on the toboggan rides, wicker cars pushed by man “carreiros”, a classic. From the stop point at Livramento you can walk all the way down to Funchal, it’s about 30 minutes walk. Check the Praça do Mar with all the CR7 buzz and have an ice cream at one of the cafes or a pizza at CR7 hotel, they’re kind of good.  At night the old town is the busiest spot.

CHECK OUT THE NEW MAP USE-IT plus the app for the phone is pretty good too. (no wifi required).

SPOTS BY THE SEA:



Northwest Coast: Sao Vicente (with its lava caves),  via Serra d’agua/Encumeada, and Seixal ( the mini eco bar is a nice spot there to relax) and Porto Moniz and its beautiful natural lava pools. To eat, try the limpets rice at Seixal or the romaria soup at Porto Moniz.

Southwest Coast: Camara de Lobos(beautiful fisherman town) Restaurants there? I like Vila do Peixe, Ponta do Sol and ZION BAR (nice beach bar) Restaurants there? I like the Old Pharmacy, Jardim do Mar (for food try Joe’s bar or the grilled squid at Portinho), and Paul do Mar – Maktub (for sunset and mojitos), are some of my favourite locations. Calheta – the marina has a nice italian restaurant and icecream parlour. Mudas art museum is a must visit if you love architecture.

Northeast Coast – Take the cable car to the nature reserve Rocha do Navio in Santana – magic spot. Food? Try Quinta do Furão.

South East Coast: Machico (an artificial golden sand beach, this is a town located in the biggest valley of  Madeira) See the art door around the centre, far less crowded than Funchal and has some very cool art scenes). Porto da Cruz (Food: A PIPA, check the sugar cane factory next door)  and Caniçal (see the new bar in town – Ritual do Sal – Praia da Ribeira do Natal) Restaurants? Tasquinha do Pescador e Amarelo are some of my favourites.

SHOPPING



Madeira has three main Shopping Malls, 2 of them with a cinema (movies are mostly shown in the original language), many international brands are there. If you’re looking for souvenirs here are my tips: For wine, I would advise buying it at the airport, because of the liquid carrying restrictions in aeroplanes. Although you have much more options in the wine cellars, just make sure you can carry it on the aeroplane. For food and souvenirs there are shops with Portuguese brands, here are some stores – read this.

NIGHTLIFE



My favourite spots are Barreirinha Bar Café, Copacabana Garden, hole in one (typical Irish bar) and Vintage bar in the old town. As for discos: Marginal, jam and Vespas for late night dancing.

DTOX AND LIVING ROOM start late around midnight/1 am but are also cool.

So many choices so little time, leave something for next time and come back again 🙂

Have a lovely Holiday! 

P.S. If you’re a beach lover, please include a day trip or a night stays in Porto Santo Island, in one word: Paradise! Check this article on things to do and places to stay in Porto Santo.

(In Madeira Island, you’ll find pebbles “calhau” beaches or black sand which is beautiful, unique and typical of its volcanic origin. It might not be very comfortable to reach water (wearing neoprene shoes might be a good solution) that’s why in most beaches, there are piers with ladders to the sea. However there are a few of beaches with sand in Madeira which I really like such as Porto do Seixal beach, Banda d’Além Beach and Prainha.)

You can always reach me on Facebook or Instagram, feel free to ask for tips. Have fun. 🙂



Send me your tips for the next article – what did you like and dislike?

Please leave a comment bellow.

Obrigada! ( that’s what you say if you’re a girl, if you’re a boy you say obrigado).

 

Madeira for Kids, 44 Fun Tips

44 tips for a fun Family holiday in Madeira.

Diner (2)

Kid-friendly hotels and restaurantes, guided tours for children, levada walks, shops, beaches and theme parks. Madeira is Fun for Families!

To see:

1. Praça do Mar 

Praca do Mar strip is perfect for long walks , runs in the breeze and watching the cruise ships dock and then leave port.

IMG_2624

2. Cabo Girão

The largest cable in Europe seen from a balcony with a glass bottom. Superb views over Funchal and the Ocean. Not to be missed!

3. Rua de Santa Maria “Painted doors Street”

The Rua de Santa Maria is one of the oldest streets of Funchal. It has been restored and recovered, bringing a new dynamic to this area of the city. There are also the doors painted by artists who bring color, joy and art to this circuit. Must see! Check the link for more information.

Beaches and Pools:

4. Machico Beach

This beach is made of artificial sand and with easy access to the water. The beach is close to the airport, so the kids will love watching the planes go by!

5. Formosa Beach

One of the most popular beaches in Funchal, with a promenade that allows you to walk by the sea to Câmara de Lobos. The beach has pebbles and black sand areas with easier access to the sea. Perfect for jogging or to have a drink by the sea in one of the Terrace bars.

6. Ponta do Sol Beach

The beach of Ponta do Sol has pebbles, which makes it a little more challenging to get into the water. Enjoy this cozi village and walk its pedestrian streets.

7. Natural Pools at Porto Moniz

These pools are charming and unique in Madeira. The entry cost is 1.5 euros for over three years. For Kids 0-3 years is free.

8. Aquaparque

Madeira’s water park offers an exciting day with water slides, lazy rapid rivers, Aqualandia, terraces and bars.

20140727-160418.jpg

Museums and Parks

9. Museum CR7

For football lovers! In the Museum of Cristiano Ronaldo (born in Madeira) we can see emblematic photographs of his career, videos and a wax statue. In the museum you can see all trophies won by him. The biggest attractions are the Golden Ball as well as three Golden Boots.

10. Whale Museum

The Whale Museum is one of my favorites. You can peek through binoculars towards the ocean, hear the story of the fur seal, travel in a submarine and hear the sounds that whales make. Located in Caniçal it allows you to explore the sea and learn about marine animals.

11. Toy Museum / Armazém do Mercado

Are 20,000 toys from various countries. It includes a dolls room, cars, airplanes and educational games.

brinquedo

12. Farol da Ponta do Pargo

The lighthouse of Ponta do Pargo has a small museum where you can find several photographs and documents relating to the headlights of Madeira. Being the westernmost tip of the island, the view at Sunset is unforgettable.

13. Centro Ciência Viva do Porto Moniz

Leisure visit combined with science and knowledge, or in other words knowledge with pleasure!
To learn and better understand our laurel forest or to walk on an interactive mat which is a Madeiran levada.

14. Aquarium Porto Moniz

Madeira Aquarium consists of 12 display tanks, where the various “habitats” of the Madeiran marine world are represented. The largest tank has about 500 00 liters of salt water, in which it is allowed to dive.

15. Madeira Theme Park

The theme is the history and traditions of our archipelago. The enclosure has four multimedia pavilions, a replica of the Monte train, a typical Santana house, a windmill and a lake where you can float in rowing boats. The gardens, walking paths, playgrounds and restaurants, are the recipe for a day well spent. The pavilion “Fantastic Voyage in Madeira” presents a show in which a simulator follows the adventures of a couple on honeymoon on the island.

IMG_1770

Gardens and playgrounds

16. Parque of Santa Catarina

It is considered “The City Park” and has many good reasons.
With an area of 36,000 m2 has a chapel (Chapel of Santa Catarina), a pond, a café, a playground, worldwide plants and a lawn with one of the most beautiful views over Funchal. In this park there is also a toy library (ludoteca) where children, when accompanied by an adult, can draw pictures, play or read.

Open from 7-21h in summer and 8-19h in winter

20131109-200320.jpg

17. Santa Luzia Garden

It was the former sugar factory of Hinton with its huge tower.
It has 5 themed gardens: The Amphitheatre Garden, which the summer outdoor film festival takes place in , the Tropical Garden, the Water Garden, the Garden of the Terraces and Garden of Laurel, with the indigenous vegetation of Madeira, heritage of Unesco.
It has a nice coffee, 2 great playgrounds, perfect to play hide and seek … 🙂
Open from every day from 8-9h Rua 31 de Janeiro.

18. Pico Fortress Garden

Pico Fortress is the protagonist of this park.
The playground is great especially for those with little kids.
Café Fortress is just opposite … a coffee, the newspaper and the deserved rest.
It also acts as a lookout and has a view of Funchal Bay worthy to be seen.
Open every day from 8-21h (Summer) and 8-19h (winter), Rua dos Frias

Levadas / Walking tours

19. Ribeiro Frio – Balcões

It lasts for 1 hour (round trip) and allows the observation of the highest peaks of Madeira, as well as birds such as bis-bis and the rare pigeon trocaz.

IMG_0024

20. Rabaçal

Do not miss the Rabaçal views.

21. Pico das Pedras-Queimadas

Easy and accessible to children of all ages. It lasts about 1 hour. Complete it with a picnic in Queimadas.

Tours

22. Kayak Eco Tours / Marina Quinta do Lorde

Explore the Bay of São Lourenço with its caves and swim in the clear waters of this coast.

23. Madeira Surf Camp

The school and the instructors are professionally qualified and have many years of experience surfing and teaching. Classes have a duration of 1.5 to 2 hours (it includes: surfboard, apparel, accessories and transport). Students are required to make an annual or daily insurance.

24. Funchal Marina / Observation of Dolphins and Whales

There are several companies that offer this experience at varying prices. Trips start around 10 am and 1 pm.

25. Tukxi Eco Tours

Tukxi Eco Tours gives us a closer and more intimate perspective of Funchal without the fatigue of climbing the steep streets of the city. A fun mini-adventure!

unnamed3-2

26. Car Basket – Tobogan

The tobogan ride is a unique experience in Madeira. It is definitely an adventure that your kids won’t forget.

27. Porto Santo

Have an unforgettable journey along the coast of Madeira to Porto Santo island. Return the same day or on separate days.

28. Funchal Cable Car

An adventure in the city, with views of Monte and the Bay of Funchal.

29. City Tour Bus Yelow

Set out to explore Funchal, the main monuments, typical streets with cobblestone and gardens. With audio guides in 8 languages. Get in and out according to your preferences.

30. History Tellers – Guided tours for children

The Academic Association of the University of Madeira intends to promote heritage, spread the culture and value the history of Madeira among children.

Every Saturday at 3 p.m., departing from Gaudeamus, Armazém do Mercado, kids can discover the adventure of the discovery of the Island. It covers the main points of the Old Town área. It’s a dynamic visit that can be adapted all ages (under 16 years). It’s always under the guidance of a college student. Registration in Gaudeamus (Penteada, Jesuit College and Armazém do Mercado)

Shopping:

31. Mall La Vie / Bookstore Bertrand

Various shops, a playground, plenty of bars and restaurants to meet your needs.
This Mall has also facilities for chaging diapers and breastfeeding babies.
In this bookstore you can find a section just for kids.
Open every day.

Lunch and Dinner:

32. Il Basilico

Located in the touristic area of Lido, this Italian restaurant offers delicious delights for the whole family.

With gluten-free meals  available and coloring sheets for children, it will be a restaurant to repeat during your stay.

33. Atlantic

A friendly restaurant with great food and a garden overlooking the sea, so that children can play while parents eat “in peace”. 🙂

34. Fajã dos Padres

The restaurant completes the visit to Fajã dos Padres, making it a unique experience. Only accessible by boat or elevator, the restaurant serves Madeiran regional cuisine, such as tuna dishes and fresh fish and desserts with locally grown products. The atmosphere is relaxed and serene.

35. The Lagar

The Lagar is a typical Madeiran restaurant food, including local meat kebabs “espetada”. The entrance to the restaurant is through a typical Santana house. On the terrace there is a playground that makes the joy of children!

36. Revolving Restaurant Quebramar

This is one of the few revolving restaurants in the World. It has a room  that provides visitors a fascinating view of the entire North Island coast, alternating views between the sea and the high mountains of St. Vincent.

Taste the “Romaria” Soup! Delicious!

37. The Portinho

Friendly restaurant on the waterfront. Serves squids with mayonnaise, limpets, ice cream and more… Relaxed atmosphere.

To Sleep:

Kid-friendly Hotels

38. Hotel Porto Mare

39. Hotel Pestana Promenade

40. Hotel Quinta do Lorde

41. Quinta do Furão

42. Hotel Savoy Saccharum Resort & SPA

43. Hotel Moniz Sol

44. 29 Madeira Hostel

Enjoy you Holiday! You deserve it!

P.S. If you’d like to get an illustrated map with some of these tips, click here.

hotels apartments Porto Santo

10 hotels & apartments to book in Porto Santo Island

Porto Santo. Sometimes finding the best hotel in Porto Santo Island can be challenging, specially if you are travelling with your family (pets included) or a group of friends.
Luckily the scenery has changed recently and there are much more options available. Whether it is an all inclusive hotel, a beach house or an apartment the most important issues to take into consideration are comfort, location, access to the beach, price and the feeling of being welcomed.

Here are some of my favourite picks of hotels, villas and apartments to book/rent in Porto Santo Island.

Hotels:

1. Casa do Velho Dragoeiro (pet-friendly)
This hotel is located in the center of Vila Baleira. Breakfast is served on the terrace overlooking the sea. The rooms are comfortable and the staff is very friendly, with great ratings.
It has a good restaurant as well as the oldest dragon tree on the island, by the pool.
Casa do Velho Dragoeiro, Porto Santo, Portugal

2. Pestana Porto Santo Beach Resort & SPA
Pestana Hotels offer all-inclusive resorts where you can book a room, an apartment or a villa. I’ve stayed there a few times and when booked in advanced, you can get a good deal, specially if you enjoy the all-inclusive style of resort and the luxury of having the beach a few steps away.
★★★★★ Pestana Porto Santo Beach Resort & SPA – All Inclusive, Porto Santo, Portugal

★★★★★ Pestana Colombos Premium Club – All Inclusive, Porto Santo, Portugal

3. Hotel Pestana Ilha Dourada & Villas
A new option in Porto Santo with a confortable stylish decoration, outdoor pool and spa.
Pestana Ilha Dourada Hotel & Villas, Porto Santo, Portugal

4. Aparthotel Luamar
This is also a good choice within apartment-hotel options. It is located a few steps away from the beach, has a nice beach bar and a great pool for adults and children. Very convenient for a family with children to stay in and although it is not in the city centre it has a great location on the beach.
★★★★ Aparthotel Luamar, Porto Santo, Portugal

Apartments & Villas:
In the centre of Vila Baleira and in close proximity to the beach:

5. Casa da Maresia
Casa da Maresia, Porto Santo, Portugal

6. Apartment Porto Santo
Apartament Porto Santo, Vila Baleira, Portugal

7. Sotavento Guest House
Sotavento Guest House, Porto Santo, Portugal

A bit more distant from the city centre but in close proximity to the beach.

8. 29 Holiday home
Casa 29 – Holiday home, Porto Santo, Portugal

9. Villa Espirito Santo (pet-friendly)
Vilas Espírito Santo, Porto Santo, Portugal

10. Golden Bird (pet-friendly)
Golden Bird, Porto Santo, Portugal

After you book your favourite accommodation, read here what are the main attractions to be visited in Porto Santo, whilst spending the most relaxing holiday in this beautiful paradisiac Island…

Enjoy!

FNAC MADEIRA

From Madeira to Mars goes to FNAC!

From Madeira to Mars goes to FNAC!

FNAC MADEIRA

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?

FNAC MADEIRA

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.

Location:

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.

Caniçal

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.

Bedroom

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

Activities:

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.

Prainha

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.

Meals:

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:


Booking.com


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.

 

©PortoBay

©PortoBay

©PortoBay

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 www.ilgallodoro.com

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.

©BelmondReidsPalace

©BelmondReidsPalace

©BelmondReidsPalace

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 : www.belmond.com/reids-palace-madeira/

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.

©PortoBay

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.

©PortoBay

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!

©PortoBay

©PortoBay

©PortoBay

©PortoBay

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: www.rotadasestrelas.com

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? 🙂

















©Budgettraveller.org



©Budgettraveler.org













 

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…

SPAY SISTERS

“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.

 

Note:
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 www.spaysisters.org.