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Madeira Island -- 2004

I do not think I would have gone to Madeira, if it were not for a conference that I had to attend. Madeira Island belongs to Portugal and lies on the Atlantic, North of the Canary Islands. It seems to be a popular destsinations for older tourists from Western Europe looking for a sunny and peaceful vacation spot. Still, the island is full of beautiful places and while I would not go out of my way to visit it, I did enjoy the few days I spent there.

map of Madeira Island

After the conference was over, Miryoung, Andrea, Paolo and I rented a car and drove around the Western part of the island. We started from Funchal and went over the mountains to São Vincente skirting Ribeira Brava on the way. Relatively quickly we got to a mountain pass at 1007m, from where we had great views of São Vincente and the South coast. From there we quickly got to São Vincente itself. There were a number of good lunch places there and we happily plopped down at one of them.

An hour or so later, we set out toward Porto Muniz. This stretch of the road used to be really narrow and ran in only one direction: from East to West. In addition to being narrow, the road ran along the edge of a tall cliff -- a very precarious setup. Now, in most places a new, straighter (thanks to the new tunnels) road is available, with one lane in each direction. You can choose to use parts of the old road if you really trust your driving abilities or if you do not particularly care about coming out alive.

Porto Muniz is famous for its "natural" swimming pools -- currently reinforced with concrete. Given that it was January, there was nobody there and we quickly left the town for Ponta do Pargo -- the western-most point of Madeira Island. The road suddenly became extremely windy and even the toughest of us had enough of it after an hour. So we decided that instead of continouing our trip around the perimiter of the island, we would return through the mountains in the center (Paúl da Serra). It turned out to be a great idea: we ended up at one of the tallest peaks there, Bica da Cana (1620m), just a few minutes before the sunset. The views were spectacular. From there we drove back to Funchal.

The next day we took the cable car from Funchal to Monte, to see the famous "tobogans". While they were fun to watch, we chose to return to the center of Funchal by foot.

A few of our pictures are available below. Click on any of them to enter the slide show and see the larger versions.


São Vincente as seen from a mountain pass
January 17, 2004
picture by Krzysztof Gajos

São Vincente as seen from a mountain pass


Between São Vincente and Porto Muniz
January 17, 2004
picture by Krzysztof Gajos

Between São Vincente and Porto Muniz


Natural swimming pools in Porto Moniz
January 17, 2004
picture by Paolo Viappiani

Natural swimming pools in Porto Moniz



Porto Muniz
January 17, 2004
picture by Krzysztof Gajos

Porto Muniz


On the way to Porta do Pargo
January 17, 2004
picture by Krzysztof Gajos

On the way to Porta do Pargo
The first place where we saw so many trees


A small settlement between Porto Muniz and Porta do Pargo
January 17, 2004
picture by Krzysztof Gajos

A small settlement between Porto Muniz and Porta do Pargo



Me taking the previous picture
January 17, 2004
picture by Paolo Viappiani

Me taking the previous picture


Sunset over Paúl da Serra as seen from Bica da Cana
January 17, 2004
picture by Krzysztof Gajos

Sunset over Paúl da Serra as seen from Bica da Cana



January 18, 2004
picture by Paolo Viappiani

The famous "tobogans" that take tourists from Monte to the center of Funchal



Paolo and Miryoung studying our tour guides at Monte
January 18, 2004
picture by Krzysztof Gajos

Paolo and Miryoung studying our tour guides at Monte



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