Portugal – Madeira Island V
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.
It seems as if madeira was not far from being a utopia. Self-sustaining island where the sea is full of fish, great soil and climate for growing fruits and vegetables, nice and friendly people. How is life on Madeira? How much do things cost, how much can you earn?
Let us start by pointing out to high unemployment rate which oscialets around 20 %. Average income is around 400 to 800 euro depending on profession. For instance, a bus driver can earn around 500–600 euro. A government employee (there are handful of those) gets 800 euro. To be able to make a comparison we need to know cost of living. How much costs living for the young? 1+kk rent costs around 500 euro, 2+kk around 800 to 1000 euro – depending on locality. This is one of the reasons why so many generations live together at one place. One month of kindergarten costs 100 euro per child. Rent is around 400 euro. Social security and health care is far from what are we used to on continental Europe. People of Madeira are used to pay for everything.
There are two types of education – basic and college. The basic education means that an elementary school operates also a high school. Students choose their major at college. Working hours are usually from 9 to 18 hours. Siesta at noon is not official but you hardly find anyone working from 12 to 14 o’clock. As they say, Portuguese love coffee and football. Madeira has its own football field. As the island is one large hill the field was built high on a rock. Cristiano Ronaldo was born on Madeira. Also, he has here a museum, a store and a statue.
Coastline is lined with hotels. They are mostly westwards from Funchal city. The city itself takes a large portion of the coastline. Aboard boat or ship you can enjoy another vista of the island. West from Fucnhal, there is Camara de Lobos, a typical fishermen village. There the replica of Santa Maria, the ship of Christopher Columbus’ expedition, was built. The scenic view of Pico da Torre is right behind the bay. From there, you can enjoy a beautiful vista over the city and sea cliff Cabo Girao. Another stop is nearby Ribeira Brava, a more recently built town the name of which comes from the river of the same name. It flows through it and it feeds waterfalls. Sao Bento church is situated in downtown. Downtown is surrounded by cliffs and there is also a stone beach. The church was built in 1440, 15 years after the oldest chapel in Santa Catarina Park, Funchal was founded.
By car you can drive through the second longest tunnel on the island from Ribeira Brava to Grutas – to a volcanic cave connected to the volcanic center near Sao Vicente. This town is situated on the north coast of the island. It basically creates the boundary between the western and the eastern part of the island. Exact border is represented by St Vincent chapel. It was carved into the rock in 1692. The bridge across the Ribeira Sao Vincente river joins both parts of the island. In case you happen to be aboard ship you sail on to the west …
GPS: (Ribeira Brava) 32°40'12.6"N 17°03'45.9"W
Text and photos: Monika Babická
Coimbra City used to be more than a century, at a time when the Portuguese fought for the rights of the Arabs in the territory, the Portuguese capital (1143-1255). Since the year 1290 there is still work to university - we will not - you count the break, which, together with the status of the capital was moved to Lisbon.
If you are going to visit the Algarve in southern Portugal, you will probably be at least passing through Faro. For his sights alone, it would be a shame not to stop for a while.
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.
Lisboa is righteously one of the most visited cities in Europe. Yellow trams, hills, cable cars... You can easily get lost in its colorful streets for hours. Washed laundry waves in the wind, you can drink coffee with locals at one of many great cafes and taste local sweet pastry. You can also just set off to the grandiose Ponte 25 de Abril, a red bridge which looks like Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.
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.
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.
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.
It is an island in the Atlantic where you can grow almost anything thanks to humidity, high temperature and fertile soil. So where do you get water that is good for irrigation and how it works?
Travel to Madeira by plane only. There is probably no other way to travel almost 1000 kilometers from Portugal and 600 kilometers from North Africa. Moreover, sailing on a ship might not be comfortable for everybody.
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