Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Let's go to the Sunshine Island of Madeira!

The floating garden in the Atlantic Ocean. Contrasts . . .

It has been raining heavily of late here in the UK. Yu could say that it is weather for ducks! This one has caught a cold I think!

But over in the North Atlantic there are clusters of islands where it rarely rains compared to the UK. There must be some rain however for Madeira to be known as the gloating garden of the Atlantic. Here is a flavour:

An amazing firework display.

You will be have heard about the firework displays over Funchal? For me they were a "total surprise as I had always thought that the fireworks were in the harbour area. In fact –all the villages in the hills above Funchal had set up synchronised fireworks. As these synchronised displays exploded in a blaze of colour and fire in the hills above Funchal at midnight, the brightly decorated cruise ships in the harbour sounded their horns in a wonderful noisy, medley of sound. The sound of car horns added to the noisy confusion as they were pressed to greet the New Year; more and more ‘gunshot’ sounds rent the air as fireworks exploded in bursts of colour, raining down to light the inky darkness of the sky. It was relentless.

Map of the islands of the North Atlantic Ocean - Madeira.The planned and coordinated display, exploding in the air for miles around as gunpowder, released from the confines of their containers in the ground below, sent bursts of colour again and again into the darkness of the night sky. It went on and on, appearing to be never-ending. It was truly wonderful and indescribable as eventually, momentum reached a climax. Ships in the harbour eventually sounded their appreciation and farewells before sailing away, . . This called for a glass of Champagne 

An abundance of exotic flowers.

"The lush and shady gardens spread out from the immediate grounds of the hotel, across a small narrow road from where the view down to the sea was picture postcard perfect, into another garden which led down to the pool area (where I almost drowned one day).
I often paused in this secluded garden with its winding paths and exotic trees such as kapok to drink in the peace and solitude, looking up through the trees at the clear blue sky at what I thought was paradise. At this point in my life I was in stunned awe of the beauty around me. Never had I thought that one day this distant dream of mine, to visit this floating garden in the Atlantic, would become a reality. Nor was I to know that we would re-visit twice more in the future."

"The colourful market is famous. Local ladies dress in the typical Madeiran costume of red skirt with colourful stripes from waist to hem, waistcoat, white blouse, and a pointed black hat.
In the market, the choice and size of fish seemed never-ending. One fish looked very unappetising. It was scabbard fish; the one that we had been advised to try before we saw it in the market as it its appearance belied its delicious taste; we would have been put of this delicate morsel if we saw it first as it came out of the sea before eating it.

The abundant displays of fruit and enormous vegetables in wicker baskets, the masses of flowers and the cries of stall holders shouting their wares all added to this unique atmosphere.

Photo of 'Just Us Two' in a wicker basket  ready for the ride down from Monte.
In the harbour, we were treated to the sight of a boat being built. Passing the many gardens with their tumbling profusion of lush vegetation and exotic flowering plants, the water playing from the cool fountains invited you to sit awhile and rest to enjoy the beauty around you. The old town is full of culture and history."

And of course, no visit to Madeira is complete without a fast and furious ride on a toboggan down from the hill village of Monte.


Photo copyright Rosalie Marsh
Illustrated Island Interludes: Just Us Two Escape to the Sun
Photos in the eBook are in colour.

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