In one of my earliest posts L1602 – Early Doors, I described the initial port call on my South American cruise which went into Funchal, Madeira. There I unexpectedly found the painted doors of Rua Santa Maria, which are helping to transform the old part of the city.
On this Island Hopping cruise Funchal was our last port of call, and we were due to visit from mid-morning on Wednesday to early afternoon on Thursday. Prior to arriving in Madeira, the itinerary listed scenic sailing past the Desertas Islands. The Desertas Islands are a chain of three narrow islands stretching for around 22 kilometres north-south. They are a designated Portuguese nature reserve and as their name implies, are deserted apart from a few wardens and research scientists.
Regular readers of my posts will be very aware of my views about the lack of competency in the Fred. Olsen itinerary planning department, for example see L1602 – Island = I don’t land or D1602 – No go to Fogo. Once again it was a great example of their work as we passed the islands before dawn in complete darkness! Viewing uninhabited islands in the dark is an impossible task, never mind viewing their scenery.
This early sail past meant that we docked in Funchal almost two hours early. I had shore tours booked for that afternoon and for the next part morning, but now I unexpectedly had some free time that morning. I did not want to venture far from the ship, so I decided to return to the same park just across the road from the ship that I had visited in January. This time there were many more blooms to see and photograph:
I also noticed that it was possible to enter the gardens of the Presidential Palace, located immediately uphill from the gardens. Here as well as more beautiful flowers were some caged birds, including peacocks:
After my walk which proved better and longer than I was expecting, I returned to the ship for lunch.
In the afternoon I did another of the ‘easy’ coach shore tours with my elderly friend Barbara. The tour visited three viewpoints, the first of which, Pináculo Belvedere, gave good views back across the Bay of Funchal. I noticed two kestrels flying in formation around the cliffs, but trying to get a good photograph of them proved a big challenge:
The second stop was at Ponta do Garajou, where high on the cliff is a statue of Christ the King, identical to the one I saw at the beginning of March in Lisbon; both are based on the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer I saw in Rio de Janeiro in February – so now I have a hat-trick this year! There was a footpath leading down the cliffs below the statue to get a better view of it, but I was not sure the handrail would meet our usual health and safely regulations. There was also a beach far below, accessed either by a cable-car or a winding road:
The final viewpoint was back on the edge of the city at Pico dos Barcelos. Here there were panoramic views of the city, and I also noticed several lizards basking in the sunshine:
Returning to the coach our guide said that as traffic was light we had spare time, so we would have a short guided walk back in the old part of the city. As you have probably guessed from the title of this post, our walk proved to be along part of the Rua Santa Maria to see some of the painted doors. I did not recognise some of the doors I saw and photographed, I have yet to work out whether they are new (more are being added), or my memory is failing!
In conclusion this was a nice easy tour for my friend, yet it took me to places I had not been before in Madeira despite my numerous visits there. It was particularly good to see and photograph my third Christ statue in as many months.
Postscript: Once back on the ship and talking to another of my friends, it turns out his coach filled the spare time by visiting both the gardens I had walked in during the morning, so it was fortunate which coach we were allocated to.