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Trip Report Trip Report Madeira - July 2011

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We visited Madeira for 4 days as a part of 15 day Portugal trip. Madeira is a beautiful green island that offers an opportunity for sightseeing and nature tourism I was impressed with warm, friendly and kind locals. Lots of people that we met spoke perfect English (and not necessarily in tourist sector)
Overall impressions were great and will definitely return.
Day 1. Arrived on EasyJet flight from Lisbon. No problem with flight; check in was a breeze as I prepaid the luggage and printed boarding passes at home. Booked round trip private transfers with http://www.madeira-airport-transfers.com/. We were met by the driver in the arrival hall and after 20 min were in our hotel (Pestana Grand). I can recommend this company. As a cheaper option there is an airport bus that goes to Funchal and stops along the route near hotels on the main road. Stop for Pestana Grand is across Forum Madeira mall.
Hotel was above my expectations; it’s located on the hill overlooking the sea with nice views. Facilities (huge outdoor pool, wet & dry steam rooms, jacuzzi, fitness club) and breakfast were excellent. Lots of good restaurants and supermarket nearby.
Day 2 It was Sunday and we decided just to walk to Funchal and see the places in between. Initially walked along Lido promenade; checked out Lido pools (very nice, 4.50 euro entrance fee). As we walked along we came across “Pride of Madeira” Tour Company where we booked full day West tour for next day. They are very inexpensive (20 for full day tour + 10 for optional lunch). Tour was in eight seat minivan with hotel pickup and drop off. Tour (9am to 5pm) turned out to be very good; with a knowledgeable and professional driver/guide. I would definitely not hesitate to recommend this company. They also offer East tour and four different levada walk tours.
Day 3 After breakfast got pickup by the “Pride of Madeira” van and went touring the west part of the island. Visited Camara Da Lobos, Ribiera Brava, Cabo Girao, village of Sao Vincente (but not the cave visitor center) and Porto Moniz. Took the lunch option (which was pretty good with choice of chicken or fish and wine and ice cream) and swam in Porto Moniz rock pools. Scenery and views were breathtaking as we drove through the waterfalls and clouds. I don’t think I could’ve done that drive on my own.
Day 4 Took hotel shuttle to the center of Funchal; there bought 24 hr ticket on city bus (4 euro) and took #20 bus to Monte. Trip takes about 15 min. Monte is above Funchal is weather there is somewhat cooler. Bus drives along steep winding roads and gives a chance to see how locals live. Also there is funicular that goes from Funchal to Monte (15 euro round trip). Another funicular goes to Botanical gardens.
Monte Palace (museum) and gardens are 10 pp. Beautiful public park in Monte and gardens just above Monte Palace are free to visit. In the afternoon explored more of Funchal and headed back to the hotel for some R&R.
Madeira was a highlight of our trip. It offers amazing scenery, great food experiences and warm people. Although there are no sand beaches in Funchal sister island Porto Santo has them. It can be reached by ferry from Funchal and by air from Portugal mainland. Ocean swimming options around Funchal are limited; there are Lido pools and stony Praia Formosa.

Photos: https://picasaweb.google.com/Harryk100/Madeira2011

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