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first part

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Vacations 2001 I spent with Radka on one small and very nice island in Atlantic ocean. And since we brought back quiet a number of films and impressions, it would be pity no to share them.

What it is, where is it, how to get there

Madeira island is little bit north of Canaria island, but belongs to Portugal, not Spain. It posses its own goverment, president, who crosses the country with cigar and parlament, taking care of population of about 300 000 living souls. Geometry of the island is rather simple - elipsoid about 20km high and 50km long (about 13 x 30 miles). On this area there is almost everything you might find in this climate - from subtropical and Mediterraen weather to mountains - inner mountains are about 1500m (4500ft) high. To the north there is a small island Porto Santo with few inhabitants and one big sand beach, several kilometers long. On Madeira itself you can find only rock beaches, like in north Croatia. Madeira is not island for swimming and sunbathing, but looking. For long time it was visited by European nobility, and mood in restaurants seems still adjusted to them. You will have hard times to find rude people.

Currency is Euro and prices are relatively cheap. For two weeks two people vacations, count about 3000 Euro including accomodation and car rental.


First day without computer.

We left early morning for Prague, did a little bit of sightseen and came to airport.

Letiště na Madeiře
(c) Radka

Everything was simple, well it's a small airport and about 2pm we were sitting in Boeing 737. Since we used a "fun class", we called constructor with parameter win := campari and made ourselfs comfortable.

Airport on Madeira is very small, planes are finishing maneuvers almost in the ocean and only since 80's it's possible to land with bigger aircrafts. Runway starts and stops in water, under pillars  supporting it there is a highway.


Moving over the island

Kdo z koho?

Face to face - typical everyday situation

First and last trouble we had to solve. Altough there is rather huge bus network, and taxes aren't so expensive (around Funchal about 20Eu), own car is own car. We rent small VW Polo from Discount-rent-a-car and whole second week traveled all over island. We both like zigzag roads and riding on mountains or snow covered paths, but we had to get used to THIS situation, i. e. weak motor and keeping away from trucks and buses (usually only a few centimeters away). There is only one highway on island and it's possible to utilize even the fith shift (from time to time),  A LOT of tunnels (with crossroads), but rest is thin, curved and very steep. By the way, joining the highway you mostly have only a few meters to speed up and take a look if there is a space to fit in... when I've got a feeling I'm very good, even compared to domestic drivers, there appeared some cement mixer truck or bus, outrided us in sharp curve and disappeared on horizont. One day we driving down the some two-way, but in fact one-way road and there was NOWHERE to pass any opposite car. Completely sweaty we finally reached "normal", i. e. road for one and half car... two days later we were passing that exit and there was a big tourist bus approaching... after a few scratches on mirrors I've got used to such situations. Girl/woman from rental service told us before: "don't care about the scratches.". Yes, yes, words of wisdom. Lockily we end up only with mirrors touching other mirrors, but sometimes there appeared a few ones from other cars, when we parked in front of store or hotel. Portugueses are great drivers, especially drivers of taxes and buses (try at least one trip), and with a big latitude.

I learned to handle gear shifts much better, to shift down in hills back to second or sometimes first gear and down the hill to keep car  using third shift. If you plan to learn driving on mountains, Madeira is a perfect place to do it.

Finally we traveled more than 900km (550mi) - not bad for one week and such a small island.


Fušál shora

Funchal is a capital city, where about 100 000 citizens are concentrated, so one third of a population. Also there is 99% of hotels and culture-related facilities, like capels, parks, shopúing centers etc. I'm not good in history as in photography, but it is interesting (see web pages) Architecture is little bit Spain, little bit Portugal, according to proprietor of that time :-)


You might see on picture above that Funchal is around natural bay in relatively flat part of Madeira. South has also its advanteges, like hot climate. Through the day there is a sunshine and early evening clouds are coming, trying to overcome mountains from North.

Around part there is a lot of tavern and pubs, life reaches its peak, like in all southern countries, after sunset. If you want to keep farther from the port, be prepared for climbing and declining, father the steeper.

Gardens, gardens, gardens

Gardens are one of biggest attractions of island. Everything is growing, even if you don't care at all. If you drop something by mistake, there is a flower second day. Directly in Funchal there are some famous gardens, we visited two of them.

Monte palace gardens

Monte palace gardens are relatively vast, and every part is dedicated to different geographical part of the globe. We were so excited that we forgot to leave... some girls closing restaurant help us to escape. We were really the last visitors that day.

Tickets were the most expensive so far, but worth this.

Zahrady Monte
(c) Radka

Palmy Japonská část zahrady
(c) Radka

(c) Radka

Second garden is more a botanical station belonging to Austrians. They specialize in orchids and three big greenhouses are open to visitors for small amount. Again we spent here quiet a few hours, Radka took a lot of macro pictures and even I couldn't resist to make some.


Tour de pika-pika

Pohled na Encumeada

To learn something about the island in advance, we took part in two guided trips. The first one was bus tour of type "Paris in one day", in this case "Madeira in one day", and I don't mention this as the outcome is visible everywhere on these pages. We made some mental picture about the size and distances, traffic and so on. The second was hiking through mountains and aim was again to make some estimations as to where, when and how. We found that afternoon means thick mists, weather is changing fast, like on all mountains, hiking is relatively easy, here and where are abysses, and more important, there are fantastic mountains covered with thick flower carpet.

Zkroucené kmeny na úbočí

Spousty kytiček, mlha a skály

[To the second part] [Gallery I] [Gallery II]