Yesterday we left Sweden and boarded a flight to the Portuguese island of Madeira. We hoped to get away from the darkness and cold for at least a week. So here we are, one day later and are looking back at a new adventure and new learnings. Yesterday was the first time on a plane for Little A and today I, Jesper, had to understand the serpentine roads going up and down the hills here on Madeira. One thing is for sure, we have a lot to explore from our base here in Garajau.
Flight DY4273: Stockholm to Funchal
As mentioned, yesterday was the first time for our Little A to board a plane and fly. She has been abroad several times during her short 9 months, but the choice of transport has before now been the car and the ferry. Both of them do offer a lot more of freedom and possibilities as far as Little A is concerned. Once on a plane, the only thing we can do is to ease the situation, or at least that is what we thought.
This was also the first time in quite a while that we flew with Norwegian. Norwegian has been on our blacklist since a dispute after a canceled flight 2016. We are now once more giving them a try since the price was so much better. Let’s keep our fingers crossed that we will actually get back home eventually.
So, how did it go for Little A? She was sitting in my lap for the takeoff from Arlanda and once the engines started she fell asleep. Yes, she didn’t even notice the takeoff and adjacent ascent. Waking up half an hour later she was more than happy to play around with us and actually enjoy the flight. That is much more than we were hoping for. Especially since she was laughing and talking the whole descent and landing as well.
Once on Madeira, we picked up our rental car, a black Peugeot 308 SW before driving to our rented apartment in Garajau.
Our First Night in Garajau, Madeira
We enjoyed a quite calm evening. It was actually raining and after a short visit to the grocery store we had dinner in the apartment. The rain was not all, but it was actually quite cold and windy as well. Well, compared to below zero degrees Celcius in Sweden when leaving, it would still be considered quite warm. It did, however, prevent us from exploring Garajau during the first evening.
An Attempt to Reach Pico do Arieiro
This morning we decided to go for a drive, trying to reach the third highest peak on Madeira – Pico do Arieiro. The summit is possible to reach by car, which is why we were heading in that direction. The rain in the morning had at noon changed to occasional sunshine in Garajau, so we hoped that we would be lucky while heading up to the hills. The temperature down along the coast had been around 17 degrees Celsius when we left and we saw it steadily decline while ascending.
Once we reached the road that leads all the way to the summit heavy fog started to form and a few kilometers later the eyesight was only a few meters. The temperature was down to five degrees Celcius, With steep drops on both sides of the road, we eventually decided to turn around at one of the rest stops. We didn’t consider it safe to continue as we had no idea of the condition of the road. Either way, we wouldn’t have been able to see anything from the summit.
Hopefully, we will get a new possibility during our week here on Madeira.
A Traditional Lunch
After our somewhat failed trip up the mountain, we realized it was time for lunch. There was a restaurant nearby, and it looked cozy and traditional enough. So we stopped at Restaurante Casa De Abrigo Do Poiso. Here three of us decided to try a local dish called Espetada, in other words, meat skewers. As Madeira stands in the Atlantic Ocean there is also a lot of fish. You might have heard of salted cod as a Portuguese specialty. Susann opted for cod, but the fresh and grilled kind. We were all very happy with our lunch.
New Directions – Back Towards the Coast
Instead of Pico do Arieiro we decided to look for other options. We thought that the southern coast could offer better sun possibilities due to that the winds came from the north. So after the stop for lunch, we were heading towards Ponta Do Sol. The serpentine roads stretched for several kilometers all the way back down to Funchal. Steep slopes with 360 degrees turns were the norm and we soon lost counts of the number of turns. We did, however, enjoy a great view of Funchal and the Atlantic Ocean.
We did eventually come down to Funchal and where on our way to the highway. That was when Little A decided that the number of twists and turns today had reached a maximum and she quite literally made sure that we turned back to the apartment. I cannot blame her for carsickness after that descent from the hills – it is quite understandable and our mistake not to have thought about it.
Back in Garajau
Back in Garajau we turned on the washing machine and sat back to replan our afternoon. We made it a bit easier for ourselves and decided to explore Garajau instead. We knew that there was a large statue of Christ at the waterfront and we were quite curious about the restaurants and shops within walking distance from our flat. Of course, this is usually something people check at once upon arrival, but since when have we been normal?
It is quite a lot of up and down while waling in Garajau. Well, it is first a lot of down in one direction and then a continuous upward hill on the way back. We started down along the main street and passed by the restaurants and shops. We were happy to see that there are a few options for later on during the week. Our destination in mind was the Cristo Rei – the Christ statue. We were hoping for some great views out over the ocean and the coastline.
The statue itself might not be so impressive. Not in comparison with the view out over the ocean, the view across the bay towards Funchal or the view of all the houses hanging on the cliffside above the water. It is a nice place just to enjoy the view, that is for sure. There is also decent coffee in the bar next to the statue. The price to pay is the walk back uphill. Who minds when the view is still available when stopping to rest?
It is now time to plan what we want to do the rest of the week we are here. We are definitely hoping for better weather – however, the forecast is not our friend at the moment.