Madeira has a well-developed road system built around 2000 with roads in excellent condition. There are many suspended bridges, viaducts and tunnels running under entire neighbourhoods.
Today we went on an orientation tour of Funchal, the capital of Madeira.
Our first visit of the day was to Palheiro Gardens which has a beautiful setting in the hills overlooking Funchal. The gardens are full of plants from around the world which flourish in Madeira’s climate and rich soil. These plants included the national flower of Madeira which is the Strelitzia. This flower is often called the “Bird of Paradise”.
The Palheiro Gardens also had examples of Madeira’s primitive triangular houses which were built of wood and thatched with straw.
We visited a shop selling handmade Madeira embroidery which was beautiful but expensive. There used to be an embroidery factory above the shop but this has sadly now closed.
Our next stop was a Madeira wine lodge where we tasted 3 different samples of Madeira wine as well as some traditional Madeira Christmas cake.
Funchal has a farmers’ market selling flowers, fruit and vegetables. The flowers included South African proteas which we had seen growing in the Palheiro Gardens.
There is a fish market attached to the farmers’ market where we saw stalls selling black scabbardfish which is a very common delicacy in Madeira. The scabbardfish is pretty ugly but apparently tastes good. I have yet to try it.
The Rua de Santa Maria is a narrow street called in the old part of Funchal. About 200 of the buildings in this road have been painted doors with different designs.
I spent some of the afternoon going for a swim in one of the hotel’s pools overlooking the sea.