Welcome back to my blog! I have been on my European cruise for over a month now but I have only just got round to sorting out some pictures for you! At the moment, we are in Norway (crossing the Arctic Circle today) but for the first two weeks of my contract, we visited some Spanish and Portuguese ports. Today I will show you a little of Funchal, the capital of Madeira, a small island off the coast of Portugal.
Above: Funchal, as viewed from a cable car.
Madeira is a Portuguese island, about 300 miles north of Tenerife, Canary Islands, in the north Atlantic Ocean and an outermost region of the European Union. Discovered by Portuguese sailors in 1419 and settled after 1420, Madeira is considered to be the first territorial discovery of the Portuguese Age of Discovery.
Above: Blossom in Funchal.
Today, Madeira is a popular year-round resort, being visited by about one million tourists a year. The island is noted for its Madeira wine, flowers, landscapes and embroidery artisans and the main harbour in Funchal (where our ship docked) is the leading Portuguese port in cruise liner dockings.
Above: Some of the floats by our ship in downtown Funchal.
Funchal is located along the southern coast of Madeira, inside a natural amphitheatre-shaped valley, with gentle slopes - rising from the coast to 1200 meters - that provided a natural shelter for early settlers.
Above: Funchal at night.
One of the main attractions for visitors to Funchal is the cable car up to the suburb of Monte, high above sea level. Monte was originally a summer refuge for the wealthy, due to its mild climate, but today it is famous for the toboggan drivers that race tourists down to the central town with wooden runners that slide down the smoothed tarmac, and rubber boots to brake and steer!
Above: The Toboggan drivers at the start of the run in Monte.
Above: We walked down the same route that the toboggan drivers take (it is very steep!)
One of the main highlights in Monte is the Church of Nossa Senhora do Monte ('Our Lady of Monte'):
Above: The Church of Nossa Senhora do Monte
The Church was rebuilt after the earthquake of December 1818 and consecrated to the devotion of the original patron saint, whose veneration dates back to the 15th century. On 21 July 1804, The Lady of Monte became the patron saint of the Funchal diocese.
Above: On our walk back down to Funchal, we also passed through beautiful gardens.
When we had finally made it back down to Funchal, our legs were rather tired! Funchal is a great city, and I'd certainly like to visit Madeira again sometime in the future.
Above: Downtown Funchal.
Before I leave with you with a final shot of Funchal, let me tell you about this contract. I am on the Ryndam (the same ship as my first contract) for five months, and during that time we will be seeing most of western Norway, the Baltic (including Russia) and the Mediterranean (including African ports like Tunisia and Morocco). Blog posts will be happening more regularly from now on as there are lots of ports to catch up on!
Above: Funchal as viewed from the back of the Ryndam.
Thanks for reading and I'll be back soon!