Take a Street Luge Ride & See the Sights of the Portuguese Island of Madeira – Oh, and It Is the Home of Ronaldo

As we left our first destination in Morocco, our next cruise stop was to the port city of Funchal on the Portuguese island of Madeira.  Our excursion today included a cable car ride down the mountainside over the city of Funchal, followed by a tour into the interior mountain highlands.  Madeira was settled by Portugal in the early 15th century after an accidental discovery by Portuguese ships driven off course during a storm.  There is also evidence that the island was visited by the Vikings in the 10th century.

The location of Madeira in relationship to Africa + Europe
The location of Madeira in relationship to Africa + Europe

Quick Facts:

  • Largest city: Funchal (111,000 population) / 289,000 population of Madeira
  • Self-governing island belonging to Portugal
  • 310 square miles of land area
  • Highest elevation 6,109 feet
  • Discovered by Portugal in 1415
  • Location:  280 miles from the African coast & 540 miles from Europe
  • Volcanic islands created over 20 million years ago
    I have seen these trees on various places around the Mediterranean and it is an African tree that have these beautiful, bright reddish-orange flowers
    I have seen these trees on various places around the Mediterranean and it is an African tree that have these beautiful, bright reddish-orange flowers
    The homes on the island are mostly white-washed stone buildings with bright orange roofs.
    The homes on the island are mostly white-washed stone buildings with bright orange roofs.
    We started our trip with a bus ride up the mountain where the city of Funchal is located
    We started our trip with a bus ride up the mountain where the city of Funchal is located
    A claim to fame for sports fans...Madeira is the birthplace of one of the best soccer players currently in the world: Christiano Ronaldo
    A claim to fame for sports fans…Madeira is the birthplace of one of the best soccer players currently in the world: Cristiano Ronaldo
    There are a few ways down the mountain with its curvy streets....one way is with a basket sleigh. Passengers sit in the basket that is on wooden rails, as two drivers push the basket down hill using their bodies to steer and their feet as brakes. The mountainside is about a 10% grade.
    There are a few ways down the mountain with its curvy streets….one way is with a basket sleigh. Passengers sit in the basket that is on wooden rails, as two drivers push the basket down hill using their bodies to steer and their feet as brakes. The mountainside is about a 10% grade.
    A more scenic way down the mountain is via the cable car. The advantage of this method is the views of the city and the bay
    A more scenic way down the mountain is via the cable car. The advantage of this method is the views of the city and the bay
    Views from the cable car over the city of Funchal.
    Views from the cable car over the city of Funchal.

    IMG_4837 IMG_4844 IMG_4840

    In the city of Funchal (pronounced as "fun - shawl") are plenty of shopping centers. Since we were here a few days after Christmas, the Christmas Markets were still setup. What was unique about these markets were all the sellers were wearing "elf" outfits
    In the city of Funchal (pronounced as “fun – shawl”) are plenty of shopping centers. Since we were here a few days after Christmas, the Christmas Markets were still setup. What was unique about these markets were all the sellers were wearing “elf” outfits
    After a wine tasting in the city of Funchal, we next headed more inland on the island of Madeira to the highest elevation point at 6,109 feet above sea level.
    After a wine tasting in the city of Funchal, we next headed more inland on the island of Madeira to the highest elevation point at 6,109 feet above sea level.
    The small villages below were originally created by the settlers on Madeira to hide from pirates that would pillage the seaside towns on the islands.
    The small villages below were originally created by the settlers on Madeira to hide from pirates that would pillage the seaside towns on the islands.
    The hiking trail I took to get the spectacular views. It was raining, and I was the only one that ventured out and had the trail to myself
    The hiking trail I took to get the spectacular views. It was raining, and I was the only one that ventured out and had the trail to myself
    A view looking straight down....while no pirates today, the villages are still there hidden between the mountain passages
    A view looking straight down….while no pirates today, the villages are still there hidden between the mountain passages
    A statue of Cristiano Ronaldo that looks nothing like him
    A statue of Cristiano Ronaldo that looks nothing like him
    As with any port, there are boats. And, I wanted to capture a shot of the locals with their boats
    As with any port, there are boats. And, I wanted to capture a shot of the locals with their boats
    A common taxi in Madeira....modified 3-wheeled motorcycles with a cover....they are called "Tuk Tuks"
    A common taxi in Madeira….modified 3-wheeled motorcycles with a cover….they are called “Tuk Tuks”
    We say farewell to Madeira and Portugal....on to the Canary Islands
    We say farewell to Madeira and Portugal….on to the Canary Islands

    So, after our stop in Madeira, our next two stops were a little further south in the Canary Islands….

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