Madeira is the pinnacle of relaxation and with its laid back pace of life along with the scent of a fresh aroma in the air from the islands many flower species, there really is no other island that compares for me.
We have been a handful of times and only once without our Daughter. On that particular visit we took a tour invitation to the church of Nossa Senhora Do Monte. (Lady of our mountain). Access is granted by climbing steep slopes and steps so this is by no means a place to visit for the less abled. But something touched me about this particular church and i felt at peace there. You are able to visit even when a service is in action and it was amazing to see the locals praying and their way of life. So friendly and welcoming. I paid my respect also by stopping for a prayer and making a small donation. There is also a small shop where you can purchase rosary beads to take away with you. That evening back on our cruise ship our Daughter was conceived! So for future visits to Madeira our baby would be joining us. Overtime i took her back to this particular church including on our last visit 4 months ago where we lit some candles together and bought more rosary beads to pray with.
Our last trip to Madeira was the best so far. Olivia is nearly Four and this time around we knew exactly where we wanted to go and our itinerary was self planned. My Husband arranged for a taxi from the port to whisk us straight up to Monte as he knew the church would be my first point of interest. We did not get long there but something inside of me pushed me to pay a visit. Monte hosts the most spectacular views of the island and you can see more from the great heights here on our you tube channel. Whilst we were at the top of the mountain we had a chance to reminisce about all the times we had visited before and remembered the beautiful sights of the botanical gardens and witnessed the fun of the infamous toboggan rides. Olivia is still a little too young to take part as we know from previous experience that although completely safe, the toboggan ride back down to the bottom of the island is pretty thrilling. A little too exhilarating for our Three year old. Again during previous visits with our baby we just went ahead and took the cable car back down which is a great way to witness the landscape. This time though we jumped back into our awaiting taxi and i had the chance to grab some fantastic unstated shots of the toboggan workers in their very smart attire!
We had pretty much seen everything beyond walking distance and was ready to finish our fun by foot. The temperature was just perfect and it was still early leaving us with some spare time to fuel for the day ahead. We escorted our ride in the old town and walked the cobbled streets until we spotted a busy pastry shop with seating. The displays were filled with pastries and cakes on offer so we ordered deep filled croissants and custard tarts along with our coffees of course. Olivia is a great eater and we loved the fact she could visualise her choice and choose for herself. Our well travelled girl loves the taste of strong cheeses and olives along with different types of fish which makes travelling with her a dream.
After a leisurely breakfast we picked up our pace and paid a visit to the workers market, here i unleashed my camera once again and my lens was overwhelmed with the displays of colour. I love this market for the fact that everything is home made, home grown or freshly caught. You can buy fresh chunks of cool fruit in pots for a Euro in which Olivia picked out a pot of pineapple and her Dad had fresh Mango. We caught a whiff of the fish market down below which unfortunately we would not be purchasing on that day but to see the culture of the fisherman and the sellers and to experience the banter and atmosphere gives you a real tourist feel.
Another reason why i adore Madeira so much is for their stunning displays of plants and flowers. I recall being told that sixteen percent of Madeira’s plants are locally produced and cannot be found in any other part of the world. Seed stalls offer packets full of seeds in abundance of flowers you could only dream of although i am guessing they would be useless trying to sew and grow in the UK as they obviously need a warm climate to sprout. So that gave me reason to inhale the aroma and make great memories of a beautiful island with my family.
We have always visited Madeira on a cruise holiday which means we only ever have the day to enjoy the sights, however there is still so much more i plan to see and do , especially the railways and of course the beaches.
If you love flowers, fresh fruits and produce,hiking and want a peaceful break in the sunshine then this island is by far one of the best choices on offer.