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Last updated : Nov 2009
Madeira, Portugal
Rating: (5.0) (2 Votes)

Funchal, Portugal
16th June 2005

Pros: A truly magical place with lovely people
Cons: None

Hello me loved ones...Ive back-dated this entry... sorry Ive been incognito, its been a roller coaster ride of emotions, but all good...we arrived in Funchal on the 4th of June at 8:30pm, caught a taxi from the airport to our accomadation in the center of Fuchal... spoke Portuguese to the taxi-driver, he invited me to treat Madeira as if it is my own country, he also suggested to interact with the locals in a jovial manner because this is how they operate... tonight was going to be fireworks, apparently countries from all over the world participate in fireworks competition display throughout the year in Madeira...the country with the best display will host the breaking into the New Year fireworks in Funchal(capital of Madeira)...so we check into our apartment and make our way down towards the fireworks, what a beautiful welcome!!! back in our apartment I try ringing relatives to no avail, only to discover my phones not connected so the next morning I set out to contact my family of 3 brothers and 3 sisters, finally managed to get hold of them and so it was arranged that a brother was to pick us up, how do I know what he looks like (who is he??) how would he know me... I told him that there is 4 of us, so to look for the 4 outside our apartment The Oudinot, I waited so nervously for his arrival, I found myself peering at every car that drove past and believe me there were many coming fast and regular...eventually I looked over my shoulder to my right and there is this young man in a little hatch back waving at me, beckoning me toward him... so off we went on a very fast journey to his and his mothers place, I dint quite know what to say on this journey, feeling very aware of my limited Portuguese tongue, reminiscing the time my mother would tell me to roll my tongue when pronouncing certain words,if only I made more of an effort to do this... my brothers name is Duarte, I think he felt just as nervous because not much was said between us or maybe he had a paralysed tongue like me...I can hear you all scoffing at this thought of my tongue being frozen,well it was!!! we arrive at their house to a very warm welcome by Teresa(my fathers wife)her daughters(my sisters were coming to meet us)Susanna and Maria Joao with their children and husbands, what a treat... and so began a week of getting to know my family and the realisation that blood is wayyyy thicker than water...Ill be back with more soon...love Isabel xxx

Hi everyone, back to the Madeiran experience... my siblings here consist of Maria Joao, Duarte,Susanna,Sonia, Ruben and Pedro...I also have young nieces and nephew (Sara 9years, Joao 6years and Ines 4 years)...I was warmly and invitingly made welcome by all, even my fathers wife Teresa who happens to have a classic sense of humor,and my sisters husbands Raul and Anselmo who took us pretty much all over the island... I fell in love with these people (they were easy to love)... they took us to some incredible sights...one can only be amazed by the natural structure of Madeira, and doubly amazed at how people could build on this island...like Adrian says when walking through Madeira "your either up or down, there doesn't seem to be much middle ground"... so hilly that its so astounding at the want to live here must of been great in early years... a real reflection of how us humans are creatures of adaptation...roads are so narrow that if a bus is coming one way and a car or another bus is coming the other, a driver must reverse and sometimes a fair distance back... then theres pedestrians mixed in with no footpath, Santa Maria!!!Also just to add more thrill to the danger there is this touristy thing/attraction called Carreiros (basket carriages, similar to taboggoning without the snow), these are made of a wicker chair with upholstered seat and back, they can seat two or three people, underneath the wicker chair there are two wooden sticks like skis, this enables it to slide down pathways, controlled by ropes held by two men called Carreiros, who stand and run beside the basket carriages controlling the basket by using the ropes, the speed is very fast (remember its hilly and the only way is down!!!) and cars buses all use the same route as these carriages at the same time... SANTA MARIA MADELENA!!! I pooped myself just watching... I like safe risks (eg Adrian:)...Anselmo took some time off work (his own business) and showed us some amazing places...one of my favourite places we went to was called Curral Das Freiras which is nestled in a valley in what is believed to be the crater of one of many volcanoes that millions of years ago gave birth to Madeira,I found this place to be the most picturesque on the island, the name means Nuns Farmyard and acquired this name in 1560 due to it being a refuge for nuns of the convent of Santa Clara in Funchal, fleeing from French Lutheran pirates, and who found this to be an ideal hiding place because its one of the few places in Madeira that is not visible from the sea as well as not a very easy place to have access to... so safe from the bastards!!! Another most amazing place was Pico Do Areeiro, one of Madeiras highest peaks with an altitude of 1818 metres, from here we could see the highest peak called Pico Ruivo with and altitude of 1862 metres... the landscape was just ruggard and breathtaking (reminding me of my first kiss...cant remember his name, but never forgot the kiss:)On our second last day, every family member set convoy around the whole of Madeira... this was real magic... I saw the village where my mum and dad lived and remembered the stories shared around the dinner table as a kid...we loved Madeira and the sweet hosts/family...I now can understand my parents sense of decor, they brought a big slice of Madeira with them, when they immigrated to Australia (I guess like others do)...I could swear I saw glimpses of Fremantle and Spearwood:) the food, the traditions,the gardens, the religion, the whole culture was so easy to relate to because of my upbringing...perhaps not something I appreciated as a child, but something I now understand...I lost something on this island and yet found much more... Im coming back here one day...my only wish would be for my parents to come and see what I would imagine to be changes from when they left this magical piece of world, 38 years ago...wish you were here, feeling what Im feeling... love to all...love Isabel xxx