Desperte, Silencie, Eleve-se, Brilhe e Empodere-se.
Desperte, Silencie, Eleve-se, Brilhe e Empodere-se.
Lanzarote, you either love it or leave it…
The first time I went there I was surprised by its landscapes. They looked apparently lifeless, too arid and wild. But as the days passed, the lunar views punctuated by small white houses with green windows (they’re all similar in their own way), with their cactuses and palm trees, became a passion.
I’ve been back to Lanzarote a few times, and it’s perhaps one of the most amazing places I know. On this island, declared by UNESCO as a Biosphere Reserve, there is a happy coexistence between nature and human creation. It looks pristine though contrived. To give you an example, there are no advertising posters on the streets. One feels the respect for what nature imposes, however it is an island with lots of tourism.
The climate, the views, the art, the sculpture, the sea, the architecture… it all merges in a symbiotic way, thanks to the influence of famous local artist César Manrique, who advocated sustainable tourism development and whose work dictated a large part of our itinerary:
Teguise – the ancient capital of Lanzarote, famous for its street market on Sundays, picturesque alleys and tiny squares with tapas bars and live music. We left the market for last, and got lost in alleys and courtyards. There were three places that deserve my mention: the Hotel Boutique Palácio Ico, the El Patio café, and the shop as Marias en la Villa.
We continued to Haria to visit the César Manrique House Museum, which has one of the most spectacular bathrooms I have ever seen, difficult to describe… it is semi-open to a cactus garden and where natural plants cascade over a mirror that covers an entire wall and reflects the exterior. A studio is also located in an adjoining house and allows us to see some of the artist’s work materials.
We had lunch in a very nice square in Haria, where the famous Sociocultural Center La Tegala is located.
We also visited the iconic Mirador Del Rio. Although the view is basically the same as you get from the outside, it was worth paying €5 to get to know the details of its interior design, including an impressive balcony overlooking the neighboring island; a Graciosa.
We finished our day in Famara Beach, among surfers and kitesurfers. Yes, it’s a super windy beach whose surrounding mountains faint by the sea, in an unforgettable scenery.
Traffic was fully stopped on the most scenic road in Lanzarote, which cuts through lava fields in Timanfaya National Park. They result from volcanic eruptions that took place just 300 years ago, so everything is very untouched, in a landscape that extends over 5000 hectares, with many shades of red, making us dream of Mars. Worth the wait? Absolutely.
We continue to Playa Blanca, where there is a ferry-boat connection to Fuerteventura, but the day is already long and we chose to walk along the promenade where there are numerous fish and seafood restaurants, with signs pointing to “paella & sangria”.
About 20 minutes’ drive from Playa Blanca, there is a nature reserve with several beaches, including the famous Playa Del Papagayo, with crystal clear waters and fine sand in an idyllic setting. To enter this protected area you have to pay €3 and although the road is unpaved, it is possible to cross it even without an all terrain car. There are two beach bars nearby, or as they call it over there; “Chiringuitos”.
Nazaret, Lagomar Museum – The home of famous actor Omar Shariff. It is said that he bet it on a game of cards that he unfortunately lost, and never returned to Lanzarote. It was built in the heart of a volcanic quarry, following the shapes of the lava, leaving the rock visible inside. It’s full of nooks, caves, bars, stairs over the water, iron doors and huge sculptures, in addition to an abundance of green plants that seem to grow out of the rock. I imagine it must have been the scene for some pretty “crazy” parties. Some details reminded me of Dali’s House at Costa Brava.
Arrecife is not particularly beautiful, but it has interesting areas such as El Charco de San Gines. There is a large lake, with picturesque fishing boats, several restaurants all around, where you feel like lingering on an afternoon of tapas and beer. Arrecife has the typical Spanish pedestrian streets that lead to the beach and plenty of shops.
Barceló Teguise Beach. we really enjoyed the location, right in front of the beach, the soft but sophisticated decor, the friendliness of the staff, the food, and the different corners around the pool.
At the moment there were no direct flights from Madeira, but 2 short flights in a row was an easy choice.
on the way out: Funchal- Tenerife – Lanzarote
and on the way back: Lanzarote – Gran Canaria – Funchal
Lots to see and do… among which the neighboring island of Graciosa, Fuerteventura and a visit to Casa José Saramago in Tias, but you should always leave something left for your next visit to Lanzarote ;).
I believe that the best way to discover a destination is through the eyes of those who live there. That is why I created this section on the blog “Meeting with the locals”. The objective is to show, through short interviews, the chosen destination.
This time, I suggest a trip to London, with tips from Duarte Câmara, who has lived there for six years.
I have known Duarte for about 30 years. Friends while teens, the quarantine got us in contact a few months ago and as some say, everything happens for a reason.
Allow me to introduce you to Duarte Câmara.
I was born in Madeira, where I lived until I studied architecture in Porto. I stayed there for 7 years and started my professional life. I keep fond memories of the “people of the North” and a very unique city, of well-rooted cultures and neighbourhoods.
For professional reasons and connection to my homeland, I returned to Madeira to work in a private architectural firm in Funchal. Later, I opened my own space/office there, but after nine years, I wanted a little more and went to the UK, looking for a new professional, international experience.
Currently, in London, I combine architecture and systems design, creating “smart homes”.
I’m not one to stand still and I like to be very busy professionally. During the years that I worked in Madeira, I did interesting projects in the residential and commercial areas. I invested in architecture, and at the same time I was designing, I did real estate evaluations and taught some classes. Despite all these activities, there were moments of stagnation, so I felt I needed more.
I saw some of my colleagues emigrate, and I felt that I could also find new professional opportunities in a big city. I got to know London as a teenager, on vacation, and since then it has stayed with me as a special place. Due to its proximity to Madeira, it was easy to choose this destination for a new professional adventure.
Breakfast in Notting Hill, on Portobello Road, preferably in a cafe with outdoor seating, to see the vibe of Portobello Market. (Saturday is the main day). After wandering through the market, we descended towards Hyde Park, and crossed Kensington Gardens, towards Bankside. After a stroll along the river and to work up an appetite, the Anchor Bankside pub is a good option.
To Greenwich, by river boat from one of the Bankside or London Bridge City piers. Lunch at Greenwich Market, with many options for “street food”.
Back in the centre, and as it is almost mandatory to climb to a high point for the best views of the city, I would choose the Sky Garden, on top of the Walkie Talkie building – the highest public garden in London, with a 360-degree view ( Click here to view the view)! Please note that it is necessary to book in advance.
Maybe a good Argentine beef steak at Gaucho (a chain that has several restaurants in London). I know Chancery Lane in Holborn and enjoyed the experience. For nightlife, I like the bars in the Shoreditch area.
Train stations are always interesting meeting points due to their strategic position. Besides bringing me good memories, there are always interesting pubs nearby for first conversations.
The Covent Garden area, with its square always full of street performers, pubs, restaurants and markets, is always a fantastic spot to start a late afternoon on a Friday.
I advise staying out of the centre, for example in Wimbledon (Zone 3). This residential location has a fantastic transport network, which takes us to the centre in just 20-30 minutes. In addition to being picturesque, Wimbledon has its leafy area, which reminds us of the countryside. No wonder their motto is: “Wimbledon is where town meets country”.
In the centre of Wimbledon is the renovated Premier Inn Wimbledon (Broadway) – a good option.
For more Wimbledon options⇒ click here
Other areas of London, search here: Booking.com
London has a good public transport system, structured from Zone 1 to Zone 6, radially. We also have Zones 7, 8 and 9, outside of Greater London.
At major airports, such as Gatwick (outside of Greater London), we always have access to trains to the centre, in addition to taxis and buses. From Heathrow Airport (Zone 6) you can also take the underground, which stops inside the airport.
Of the countless restaurants that exist here, I will select two, different from each other, but both fantastic, which have been mandatory stopping points whenever I have visits from family or friends. They are always full, with that frenzy and dynamic characteristic of good restaurants. In London, table reservations are generally recommended.
Wright Brothers in Borough Market.
I came across this gem, by chance, during a visit from a friend, when we were walking near London Bridge looking for a seafood restaurant. This brand is a fish and seafood supplier to several restaurants.
There are 5 restaurants in this chain, but the first one (near the famous Borough Market) is my favourite. Small and always busy, eating seafood at cramped tables or over the counter is always a delicious experience.
The last one to open is close to the emblematic Battersea Power Station and has an outdoor seating area facing the river. It’s spacious, whether for larger groups or quiet meals. I suggest starting with some oysters, from the English or French coast, even for those who are not fond of it (like I used to be). Every time I go there now, I ask for a plate as part of the ritual. The mussels are the tastiest I’ve ever eaten, especially accompanied by a good French white wine.
Before lunch, I suggest trying a craft beer at Battersea Brewery, as a starter 😉
Another restaurant I like is called Mediterraneo.
It is located in Notting Hill, near Portobello Road, and is an Italian restaurant. Stylish, comfortable and homely, I got to know it through locals, and from then, it became an obligatory stop. I like Tonnarelli with cherry tomatoes, Italian bacon and pecorino Romano cheese, or Fettuccine with wild mushrooms, pine nuts and Italian bacon. For dessert, I suggest the strawberry cheesecake.
We built This City – For different and original souvenirs, like small pieces of art or illustrations. It’s a shop that resembles a small art gallery. It is located on Carnaby Street and sponsors young local artists.
Tate Modern has three stores inside. My favourite is in the Blavatnik Building. I can spend hours there, seeing/choosing art and architecture books.
London Graphics is essential for any visual artist, designer, and architect when it comes to technical and artistic material.
Near the river, that’s always where I end up going. Bankside and Richmond, completely different from each other, are my favourite places. My passion for painting often takes me to the Bankside Gallery, the home of the Royal Watercolor Society. Small and comfortable, it has exhibitions of contemporary watercolours.
Preparation and planning are the keywords.
First: study the city.
Preparation before arrival is essential. Understand how the city is organised: understand the main boroughs above and below the river, and understand how the postcodes are structured (essential to find out where we are and where we want to go).
Second: get as much information as possible on the post-Brexit era. Entry into the UK for residence/work purposes now requires a work visa. This can be obtained from the government website through a points system, depending on qualifications, type of work, etc. It is now necessary to obtain, in advance, a job offer from a certified company, with a stipulated annual salary, and an intermediate level of English. For more information, you can visit the Consulate General of Portugal website.
Third: search for the place to live
Seek offers to let a house/flat, search for the places, neighbourhoods and their differences. Most employing companies value proximity to the workplace.
The lightness of the air you breathe there. The time we have there, which yields a lot and gives us the freedom to do a lot in one day. The visual immensity of the sea.
And of course, above all, family, friends, festivities and social events, to which I was so used to.
Japan, for being a complex country, and full of contrasts – ancient cultures that coexist with one of the most technologically advanced societies. For what it brought to contemporary western architecture, simplicity, minimalism and the perfect symbiosis with natural elements.
Never give up! In London, I learned that persisting and waiting for what we really believe and want, is an important part of the journey to get there.
Thank you, Duarte! 🙂
Estreito da Calheta, is about 40 km from Funchal. A short 45 minute drive allows us to reach this corner of the island. I have to confess that I had been dreaming about this getaway for some time now … An old flirt by the Hotel Átrio, was the perfect motivation to visit and I felt in love with this place.
Hotel Atrio - book online
In addition to the tranquility of its location, there is great taste in decoration with special attention to details and the hospitality. The central courtyard is a meeting area and a highlight of the hotel. It is well lit by the sun, punctuated with small fruit trees and surrounded by walls of warm and enveloping colors that seem to say “welcome”. This patio gives access to the restaurant, and to a corridor that leads to the garden and the swimming pool. There are flowers everywhere, and paths lined with nature, where silence is king.
We stayed in bungalow nº 11, which has a very nice bed, click here to see the video.
We ended up spending the afternoon relaxing on the sun loungers by the pool… and we also became friends with a cat named Serrano.
At dinner, we went to a restaurant that we discovered by the road and it was a success! It is called Fontes do Horácio.
After having breakfast by the pool, we asked for directions to go through the levadas around this location. Going up the asphalt road next to the hotel, we arrive at a white house from the Forest Guard, and if we go to the left side we will reach Prazeres and Ponta do Pargo, but if walk towards the right side we will reach Estrela da Calheta and there we have two options: 1) Get off at the indicator sign (Lombo / Estrela) towards the road to Estrela da Calheta or 2) keep walking straight towards Rabaçal.
We opted for option 2 (about 2h-3h walk to Estrela da Calheta) and then we took a taxi back to the hotel, where we had lunch and spent the afternoon in the sweet laziness of doing absolutely nothing.
We also learned a cute curious fact, that Funchal locals are called here “Lanchas”, yes that is the name given to Funchalenses in this part of the island. Apparently, it had to do with the speedboat (translated to Portuguese as lanchas) connection between Funchal and Calheta, in the old days.
At night, we went to Jardim do Mar, to walk through its picturesque nooks and corners. There are two restaurants that I really like in this area, Joe’s Bar and Portinho, but for a change we ended up at Paúl do Mar, where we had a snack in one of the bars next to the pier.
Another place, where one can eat good fish in Paul do Mar, is Maktub, also known for its famous for its mojitos and beautiful sunsets.
On the way back to the Hotel, we discovered a charming Wine Bar, called D’ALMA. Chocolate & a glass of Madeira Wine…gave me happy dreams.
We took option 2 of the Levada, towards Prazeres – about 1h / 1h30m depending on the pace and breaks for photos. In Prazeres, we went to XS Café, a place with a lot of style, famous for the apple pie and the chocolate brownie, which I can confirm is very tasty.
Then we visited the Prazeres Art Gallery, which had some interesting works from madeiran artists on display. We ended the visit with a glass of cider from Prazeres at the Gallery’s cafe, accompanied by a slice of homemade orange cake.
On the way back to the hotel, we took a different path along the main road, through eucalyptus and shadows that danced with the wind.
In the late afternoon, we went to PUKIKI, the only TIKI BAR in Madeira, which is a nice tip. The environment, the history of the Madeira-Hawai connection, its authenticity and cocktails are a delight. If you’ve never been there, try it one of these days.
It was a happy ending for a weekend that felt like a long break, and made us feel elsewhere, inside the island. Oh we were so in need of this …
Thank you ♥
The route is well defined in its generality, with areas that require “good knees”, especially when going up and down. It has fabulous views over the sea, both to the north and south, and as the day was clear we even saw Porto Santo Island. There is a support bar at the end of the route and access to the sea, at the Cais do Sardinha. There are also boat trips as an alternative to reach Quinta do Lorde, but we decided to walk back to the starting point in Baía d’Abra.
Also in Caniçal, this levada starts right next to the exit of the old tunnel of Caniçal (estrada regional 109). It follows the course of the levada to the cemetery and offers stunning views of this area. You can go back through the same route or head towards the sea in the centre of this lovely fishing vila. If you’re looking for accomodation in this area, check this blog post.
It took us a few minutes to find the start of the levada, but soon we saw the signpost just behind the Chapel of Lombada da Ponta do Sol. Next to the Chapel there is also a historic mill, easy to spot. The Levada do Moinho is very beautiful, and runs through the cutouts of a beautiful valley in Ponta do Sol, almost always on a flat route. Then there is a trail with several steps that we can climb to take us to the levada nova, where you can make the return path, (in the opposite direction). Beware that this trail has some more vertiginous areas, less protected, and goes through a beautiful waterfall and some tunnels. At the end of the trail, we arrive at the regional road that takes us back to the Chapel.
Stay safe while enjoying Madeira.
Take care ♥ Sofia
More Travel Tips to visit Madeira? Click here ↵
Places to sleep, eat and visit while traveling solo in Porto
I recently visited Porto and I loved it. It was only a weekend getaway for a congress but I took an extra day for a little break. I had already been to Porto both with friends and my children, but this time I went solo and so I leave you with some more tips.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through these links, I might earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you!♥
Upon arriving at Porto Airport, there is a direct connection with the Metro, Line E, with a direct route to Trindade station, one of the most central metro stations in Porto, with connections to other lines. The trip lasts about 30 minutes and the metro ticket costs 2 € + rechargeable walking card 0.60 €. (Attention, you have to validate the card when starting each trip, even when changing lines.)
There are lots of cool places to stay in Porto, from luxury hotels to hostels, or Airbnb’s. I usually stay at the Gallery Hostel, on rua Miguel Bombarda.
Next on my wishlist are:
. Mo House
Oh, so many options, endless really … locals gave me several tips but I can say that in 24 hours I just managed to try two classics, good old-fashioned restaurants, where we can sit at the counter while enjoying a fresh beer, also localy known as “fininho”.
. Casa Guedes and its famous ham sandwich with sauce (use several napkins …;)
. Marisqueira Madureira: preguinho, caldo verde, rissolzinho, francesinha, camarão … it’s all good.
I also went to Zenith to have a brunch; the music, the atmosphere, the service, the house beer… everything was lovely, although there was a huge line at the door.
Given the diversity of things to visit in Porto and its surroundings, 24 hours are far too little time, but here’s a Top 4.
And then, get lost…enjoy strolling down the alleys, staircases and sidewalks, look at the tiled facades and the attic windows, visit the local markets and listen to the street musicians. Go downtown to Ribeira to cross the bridge D. Luis over the river Douro; have a drink and soak up the view.
I want to go back…See you soon, my friends!
It was great! We saw lots of dolphins, two sperm whales and two turtles.
What’s more, this catamaran is so stylish!
The Dolphin & Whale Watching trip takes about 3 hours. The meeting point is in the new marina, near the Praça do Povo, in front of the “OceanSee” kiosk, but you should attend 15 minutes before departure. The usual route goes to Cabo Girão, one of the highest sea cliffs in Europe and returns to Funchal.
Apparently we can see them in 98% of the trips, but in any case, they offer a second free trip if that does not happen. If the weather does not allow the trip, they contact the customer to issue a refund or reschedule.
We were just a few, since it is only for restricted groups, a maximum of 17 people (besides the staff) – that makes the whole experience much more pleasant, plus there is more visibility.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by their certified marine biologists. They are involved in research programs such as Cetus Project, plus they also report to Madeira’s Natural Parque. One of the Marine Biologists is also making her own research on the impact that boat motors might have on dolphins behaviours.
Along the trip they talked to each of us to explain some natural behaviours and curiosities about the species of dolphins and whales that we can find in Madeira. Maria, Dominique, Ruben and Pedro were very friendly and attentive, always available for any request. They also take some photos if we wish, which they send later by email, for FREE.
(Wi-fi is also FREE onboard)
There’s an open bar for free during the whole trip, whether you prefer alcoholic drinks or not. I was greeted with a glass of champagne and they also serve typical snacks like caco bread, “pastéis de nata”, cookies and ice creams for free.
I was on the flybridge when we started to spot some bottlenose dolphins. As we approached, we saw jumps and pirouettes, it was incredible !! We also saw two whales, they were sperm whales. I was impressed with the size of their heads, what a beauty! We also saw two sea turtles, passing by.
Yes, plus snorkelling equipment is available for free. You can also take a shower onboard afterwards if you wish since the bathrooms are well equipped. Flip flops are available if you need – another nice detail of VIP Dolphins.
The experience has a different concept, more exclusive. We get the feeling of being on a friend’s yacht, listening to chill out music, in between conversation, relaxing, eating and drinking.
In addition, the luxury catamaran has different areas where you can circulate, both inside and outside, with sofas, tables and comfortable puffs. It also has 4 bedrooms, if you want to rent it for a full day (to go to Porto Santo for example) or to spend a day at the sea with a group of friends. (Check here the prices.)
Every Dolphin and Whale watching tour is a surprise, no two experiences are the same. Watching dolphins, whales or sea turtles in the ocean is always special, but in that luxurious ambience it’s even better, more relaxing – we can see everything without stress.
Thank you to VIP Dolphins for giving me this opportunity to go dolphin and whale watching in Madeira.
Adults – € 75, Children: from 2 to 5 years old – Free, Children: from 6 to 15 years old – € 40
*Book here and use the code “madeiratomars” to get a 20% discount ! 🙂
It includes snacks and drinks, champagne on board, Wi-fi, photo report and snorkelling equipment.
Every day from April 1 to October 31 *:
9h-12h | 13h-16h | 4:15 PM-7: 15PM
From Monday to Saturday, from November 1 to March 31 *:
9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. | 1:30 a.m. – 6:30 p.m.
Tel: +351 924 438 001 | E-mail: email@example.com |Website: https://vipdolphins.com
*Book here and use the code “madeiratomars” to get a 20% discount !! 🙂
*Information in June 2019
Disclaimer: This article has been supported by VIP DOLPHINS, but the opinions expressed here are my own.
Porto Santo is a paradisiac destination. It has a pure and beautiful landscape, easy to fall in love with, the minute you lay your feet on the sand. It’ s so soft and golden, plus the sea colours are so vivid, with a thousand shades of blue, almost hypnotizing. It’s a peaceful destination, perfect for families that are looking to relax by the beach, play golf, dive, go trekking, soak up the local lifestyle or all of the above.
By boat from Madeira or by plane.
At the moment there were direct flights to Porto Santo Island from Madeira, Lisbon, Milan and Copenhagen.
It’s usually mild, with average temperatures of 18, 5ºC, however it can be tricky and you can get a bit of rain or clouds in between, the most perfect sunny days. We were very lucky in April and got 3 full days of sunshine.
Day 1 ⇒ The boat departed from Funchal at 8 a.m and arrived around 10:20 a.m at Porto Santo Island. We walked to the city centre and checked-in at the hotel – it took us about 35 minutes walking to reach the Hotel Praia Dourada. The Hotel is simple but quite nice. It’s centrally located (no car needed). The staff is very friendly, breakfast is included with plenty of fresh fruit and it has a solarium with swimming pool. Highlights: On the day of your check-out, you can take a shower at the hotel before catching the boat.
We went straight to the beach and had some drinks and lunch by the sea. Love the “gaiado de escabeche” (pickled Skipjack) as well as the octopus and tuna.
We then went back to the hotel to take a nap/ enjoy the pool and read books in the loungers. There’s also a ping-pong table that kept the kids entertained. We finished the afternoon with the typical Porto Santo ice-cream – “Lambeca”.
In the evening we went for a walk to the pier and had dinner in the nearby pizzeria. It was a beautiful full moon evening.
Day 2 ⇒After breakfast, we decided to explore the local arts and crafts market, just in front of the church, where I found this beautiful postcard from Loja do Profeta, with the iconic elements of Porto Santo. Loved it!
We then rented some bicycles (nearby Hotel Torre Praia) to explore a bit of the island. Prices start at 3€ per hour/per bicycle but of course, it’s cheaper if you rent it for the day. We went all the way to Calheta and back to Aparthotel Luamar, there’s a shop on the other side of the street where you can drop off the bicycles (we only rented for one hour, so just on time to drop off). We spent the morning on the beach, enjoying the soft warm sand, the waves and the sunshine.
For lunch, we had the famous prego and Picado at João do Cabeço.
We spent the afternoon at the beach. We took a long walk back to the hotel, admiring the landscape in between conversations.
When we got hungry we stopped at by a beach bar for some prawns and bolo do caco and then continued our walk back to the hotel. For dinner we went to O Forno, famous for its chicken!
Day 3 ⇒We decided to go hiking in the mountains. We started off the morning with a walk to Capela da Graça (1,8 km about 25 minutes walk) where the PR3 trail begins.
The PR3 trail has 2 options one to Camacha and the other one to Ribeiro Formoso, we took the shorter option 2,9 km to Camacha.
The walk is easy to follow, and the views are outstanding. There are parts where you walk about beautiful cactus and others with wide open views over the beach.
We all loved the walk, especially because it offers different perspectives, all unique. Pico Castelo, Capela da Graça and beautiful trees and flowers. We also saw some snails and lizards.
It took us about one hour to complete this walk from Capela da Graça to Camacha.
We finished at this local bar where we called a taxi to take us back to Calheta, where we went swimming and had lunch. Calheta has the most beautiful rock formations and the children were very entertained exploring the area.
Lunch was delicious and then I walked all the way back to the hotel with my oldest son. On the way, we were able to see the baby monk seal that has been recently on the news! Apparently, she comes to rest on the beach during the day and goes food hunting during the night. There is a big security area with some nature guards looking after her and making sure that she was not disturbed. Oh, what a gift to be able to take a close look at this beautiful creature. I hope she keeps growing bigger and stronger!!
Time to go home…showers and bags all packed just in time for one last ice cream! We took the local bus to the pier and enjoyed the island views back home.
Beautiful sunset and rejuvenated spirits to go back to school after the Easter break.
Thank you, Porto Santo!♥