Hello again from a Madeira! Today the weather gods have treated us to all sorts of different weather. It is our second day here; there have been moments of enjoying the sun and sights, before suddenly needing to take cover from the rain. As we spent the day in the largest city, Funchal, the weather was luckily no problem. After a nice first day on Madeira yesterday, exploring Garajau, we were really looking forward to seeing what else the island had to offer.
Funchal – The Capital of Madeira
Madeira is an autonomous region of Portugal and its capital is the city of Funchal. Funchal is with its 112.000 inhabitants the 6th largest city in Portugal. The city is located along the southern shore of the island and it stretches from the coastline all the way up the hill to an altitude of around 800 meters. The hills north of the city protect it from some of the heavy weather. It can be raining along the slopes, while the sun shines down in the center.
Funchal has been the capital of Madeira for more than five centuries, The settlement in the area began around 1424 and it became an important maritime port because of its location. Its soil also made it an attractive place for the settlers.
Tourists have plenty of museums to visit and there are also many cafés and restaurants. Getting around with a baby in a pram is fairly easy, even though the streets are sometimes quite uneven.
Our Day Exploring Funchal
We arrived in Funchal before noon and parked our car in the center, just next to the market – Mercado dos Lavradores. Susann really wanted to visit this market and we were looking for it after our arrival. It did, however, take us quite some time to realize how close it actually was.
Our first direction was towards the Atlantic Ocean. The possibility to enjoy a nice view out over the ocean really is one of the great things about Madeira. From the coastal walkway, you see the harbor with a few large cruise ships. Otherwise, the view is of the vastness of the Atlantic Ocean. For us the wind was telling us to find a better place to stand so that Little A had a better shelter. We continued our way up towards the buildings of the center of town, towards the Cathedral – Catedral da Sé do Funchal.
The Gothic cathedral is from the fifteenth century and it is is one of the few structures that is virtually intact since the early period of colonization of Madeira.
We had almost reached the cathedral when the rain started to fall. We quickly looked around and found a small café where we sat down for a coffee. A minute later and the sky opened up and the rain was pouring down. A bit of luck and we were quite happy to be inside until it calmed down. Little A charmed the people working in the café, they even gave her a banana.
After Rain Comes Sunshine
The sun started shining again only half an hour later and we were once more out on the street. This time walking around the Cathedral. We quickly noticed that the prospects of good weather were quite disappointing in 3 of 4 directions. The fourth did, however, offer at least an interesting view of a nice looking building. That was all we had time to do before the rain started again, this time we decided that it was time for lunch and we sat down at a restaurant. Once more, a minute later and the rain was pouring down. While we ate the thunder made itself heard in the distance.
For lunch, some of us opted for “safe” dishes as chicken and pepper steak. Susann and her mother decided to indulge in seafood, The grilled octopus was probably the most exotic food on our plates today.
After Rain Comes Sunshine – part 2
Everything eventually comes to an end, the same rule applies to rain. After our lunch, we could once more continue our exploration. It was still raining a little, but not too bad. We started walking back towards the car park and the other side of the center. We did take a detour to see more of the narrow streets of the historical part of Funchal as well as the seaside. The restaurants in the historical part did look quite cozy, but we had already eaten. Eventually, we ended up at the station for the cable car. The cable car will, however, have to wait. We will see if we finally decide to see what view it has to offer or if the will take the car to the top instead.
Susann eventually got to see the Mercado dos Lavradores. The fish market had closed – luckily. So we could only enjoy the touristy shops with local gifts, colorful flowers and exotic fruits and vegetables.
Heading Back -With a Stop at the Supermarket
After a few hours in Funchal, we decided to head back to our rented apartment in Garajau. On the way, we stopped once more at a supermarket to get some basic provisions. It is fun sometimes to see what is on offer in grocery stores abroad. There are so many new and interesting products to try while traveling.
We are now enjoying a light home cooked dinner and are listening to the wind outside. The wind has been picking up during the evening and it is once more raining. We will relax now and hope for better weather tomorrow. Well, we are happy as long as it is not snowing and we get a bit of sun from time to time.
So what did we think about Funchal? It is cozy, but it also feels quite old-fashioned. The coffee is good, people are friendly and most of them speak English. They seem to like babies here. The food is also very tasty, Hopefully, we will have time to discover the town a little bit more before returning home.