Portugal –Madeira Island I
It is an archipelago and also an island which is located in the Macaronesia region. Only two islands are inhabited as the whole archipelago is a natural reserve. These islands are Madeira and Porto Santo.
Ilhas Selvagens and Desartas are some of the uninhabited islands. The archipelago is of volcanic origin. It is not difficult to deduce how it was formed. Every island is a summit of extinct volcanoes. We can see them only partially. Other four kilometers of their height is under the waters of the Atlantic. Volcanic activity formed many hills on the islands. Mountains are very important as water which supplies the island collects here.
Madeira is referred to as a pearl or the garden of the Atlantic. Also, history of volcanic activity is the reason why it is reffered to also as the daughet of fire. Travel agencies depict Madeira as the island of eternal spring. The difference between summer and winter temperatures is moderate. In the summer the temperature is on average 28 °C. 18 °C in winter. The air is very humid here, therefore, you can plant here almost everything. Harvests are usually two time a year onMadeira. Flowers always blossom. The offer of exotic fruits at local markets is astonishing. Soil is very fertile here. People grow vegetables, fruits, wine, bananas, cabbage… One of the first plants to be grown here was crops other plants were brought here from all around the world.
Another crop which turned Portugal into one of the richest countries is what used to be called white gold. Many merchants travelled to the island from all parts of the continent. They offered precious goods, paintings, art items made of expensive metals. All of this for sugar cane. This is the reason why many precious collections are to be found at museum in Funchal.
Christopher Columbus came here to trade sugar cane, first time in 1474. But he didn’t have here good enough network of contacts. Therefore, the trade didn’t do well. Fiver years later, however, he returned. The reason was difference. He met a girl who was a daughter of one of Madeira’s discoverers. Columbus intended to marry her and the wedding gift given by his father-in-law were maps. These then had a large impact on his and others life. When he had done math regarding water flux and slit he realized there could be another continent to the west. Eventually, in 1492 he discovered a land. But he though it was India. Only Amerigo Vespucci realized that he might stand on a new continent.
The sculpture of Christopher Columbus is in Funchal above the port in the park of Santa Catarina. From there is a beautiful view of the bay. Flowers’ smell helps you to relax as well as swans swimming in the lake. An important structure there is local church. Its name is the same as of the park. This church is the oldest on the island.
The Christopher Columbus museum – the house where he lived and collections of his personal items are all to be found on Porto Santo island, only 50 kilometers away from Madeira.
GPS: (Funchal) 32°39'56.9"N 16°55'27.9"W
Text and photos: Monika Babická
Isle of the Eternal Spring? In the middle of the Atlantic? This is the Azores archipelago. Nine notable volcanic islands protruding into the Atlantic Ocean. Towards the west is the island of Flores and the island of Corvo, in the middle of the islands of Graciosa, Terceira, Sao Jorge, Pico and Faial and east of Sao Miguel, Santa Maria and Formigas. All islands except Santa Maria are volcanic. It is on three lithospheric plates: Eurasian, African and North American.
Balcoes lookout is situated at 86é meters above sea level. A comfortable and wide enough road leads there from the trout farm in Riberio Frio. The name fits. It is a true natural balcony giving you the view of what you would consider a piece of paradise.
We leave Funchal for Santana, a town on the northeastern seaboard. There are interesting places along the way. We leave the direct rote to see such places as the Madeira’s highest peaks, a stone igloo, and the Faial bay. In case you have not yet visited the cave and volcanic center of Grutas Sao Vicente it is easy to reach along the northern seaboard starting in Santana. As we told you, Sao Vicente is a borderline between the western and eastern parts of the island
Everybody knows port wine. Perhaps you also link Porto the a high steel bridge and its majestic arch crossing the Douro river. Perhaps you would think of wooden boats carrying wine barrels from the inland wineyards. Porto is, however, a diverse city. There is great history, culture, cuisine, and beaches along the Atlantic coast. Every year, an increasing number of visitors visit this city.
Coimbra, a student town of 150 thousand is situated somewhere in the middle between Porto and Lisbon. There is one of the oldest unviersities in Europe sitting on the hill above the Mondego river. The university, which is the oldest in Portual, was founded in 1290 – 60 years before the famous Charles University in Prague was founded. Tens of thousands of students at this university make this town great including the nightlife there.
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Wine, coffee, cliffs, waves. The western-most country of continental Europe is of the sort everybody likes. It belongs to the top 20 most visited countries in the world. There are beautiful beaches including the best surf beaches of all Europe. Nature in the inland is magnificent as wel. Culture is rich and cities are lively and busy. Let's visit Portugal!
Today, we take a look at the eastern part of the island in the direction from Funchal to the easternmost part where are droughts. It seems as if it was not Madeira there. The landscape is vastly different and there grows almost no vegetation at all. It is only after rains when it gets bit of green there. No levada leads to this area. You can find them only in the mountains. The area is inhabited, however. Therefore, some vegetation is actually there.
Another stop to the west of the island is Porto Moniz. From Sao Vincente you travel through tunnels. Make a stop at Ribeira da Janela town. It is a place of dark volcanic rock. The lovers’ rock rises from the sea there.
Apart from famous Madeira wine (Japan is its largest importer), poncho (a liquor with lemon flavor) is another traditional beverage. You can replace lemon juice with orange or maracuja juice. It is served cold for refreshments. Or it is served also warm as prevention from getting cold. The wine festival takes place end August beginning September.
A 5 thousand meters high massif of lava was created after huge explosion in the Atlantic. Today we can see only a glimpse of it and this glimpse is Madeira. The island is self-reliant. There are couple of power plants (water, wind), fertile soil and sea rich on fish.
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