Spain/Morocco 2011:
Day 6 - Funchal, Portugal


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Spain/Morocco 2011: [Day 1 - Barcelona, Spain] [Day 2 - Barcelona, Spain] [Day 3 - At Sea] [Day 4 - Gibraltar] [Day 5 - At Sea] [Day 6 - Funchal, Portugal] [Day 7 - Tenerife, Canary Islands] [Day 8 - Arrecife, Canary Islands] [Day 9 - Agadir, Morocco] [Day 10 - Marrakech, Morocco] [Day 11 - Seville, Spain] [Day 12 - At Sea] [Day 13 - Barcelona, Spain] [Day 14 - Andorra]

Thursday, October 27, 2011: We approached the port of Funchal, a city sprawled across the hills of the Portuguese island of Madeira.

Daylight came and we caught a glimpse of the hills of the city.
We joined the herds of people filing into the ship's showroom to get our tour stickers.
Our half-day tour of Funchal started with a cable car ride.
The cable car station had a triangular ramp that wrapped around an art display featuring decorated wine casks.
We're off!
We shared the car with two other couples.
Hey, there's our ship!
And there are the homes of Funchal, up close and personal.
And their banana fields, ...
... gardens, ...
... and terraces too.
At the top, here's the view looking back toward the ocean.
Adjacent to the cable car station at the top is the Monte Palace Tropical Garden.
We walked through the garden, ...
... admiring the pretty flowers like these ...
... and these ...
... and these.
We reached the next attraction on our tour: riding a wicker basket down the hills of Funchal. Yes, these wicker baskets would be our transportation.
But first, we had a 45-minute wait in line. The wait went by quickly surrounded by the garden and enjoying glimpses of those ahead of us gleefully starting their basket ride.
As baskets reached the end of the route, they were brought back up on the back of a truck and unloaded for use again.
Here's a couple starting their descent, with a driver on either side.
Here's the line of baskets and drivers awaiting their passengers.
We got into our basket and our drivers pulled it to get us started.
The streets are smooth and surprisingly steep, although it's hard to tell from this shot.
This one's a little more convincing.
There were some sharp corners we weren't certain we'd clear.
That's a couple in the distance in front of us, with the ocean beyond them.
At this point, we slowed down considerably, and our drivers pulled the basket instead of guiding it and slowing it from the back.
One last stretch of flying down the streets to go.
We stopped here, and vendors already had developed photos for sale of us at the start of our run. The entire run took seven minutes.
There was a small souvenir shop near our meeting point, so we looked around in there, ...
... and looked at the neighborhood ...
... and the scenery, while waiting for our bus to pick us up.
Back on the bus, we drove through the beautiful town of Funchal.
It definitely has a very tropical feel to it.
At the Pico dos Barcelos lookout, we got some nice views of the city.
Harsh lighting! Stupid sunlight dancing on the sea. Sorry about that.
Orchy was there, ...
... and so were a ton of beautiful tropical plants.
We were serenaded by pan flute music vendors/musicians, including a heartfelt flute rendition of ABBA's "Chiquitita."
We weren't kidding about the city sprawling across the island's hills.
Ah, Norfolk pines -- Debbie loves them but they do not love her home climate.
En route to our next stop, we passed this cemetery featuring huge poinsettia shrubs in bloom.
Our final stop was in the main shopping area. Our guide, Lina, herded us past the park ...
... and down the pretty stone streets, ...
... to the Old Blandy Wine Lodge.
We were here to sample the local specialty, Madeira wine, offered here in four types: dry, medium dry, medium sweet, and sweet.
We all started off with a small glass of the medium dry variety (Verdelho).
After our first glass, we all had the option to go back to select a second glass of any variety we wanted, ...
... so we tried one each of the sweet and medium sweet. Each of the types were strong and tasty, so we picked up a couple of tiny bottles to bring home.
At this point, we were free to explore on our own or return to the ship, so we chose to eat lunch in town. We carefully examined the menus for three outdoor cafes, ...
... settling on Cafe Funchal (on the left) since they featured an octopus sandwich.
Sadly, they were out of octopus sandwiches, but we were already committed to the table, so we ordered other sandwiches instead, along with a Spanish beer and a bottle of Madeira's own Laranjada, a tasty orange soft drink.
After lunch, we went for a stroll through town, ...
... and headed toward the waterfront.
There's our majestic ship -- the small navy one behind the big white one.
Here's a friendly pigeon.
Pretty view along the seawall.
Apparently, seagulls love a dip in the water as much as humans do.
Looking back toward the city, ...
... and looking along the beautiful waterfront, perfectly designed for a leisurely walk.
We resisted McDonald's NYCrispy since we had just had lunch (but finally had it in Andorra the following week), ...
... and we passed on the opportunity to dine on a boat that had once belonged to the Beatles, ...
... but we could not resist finally trying some roasted castanhas from a street vendor. They are definitely an acquired taste, but not bad.
Maersk!
It was a deceptively long walk from town back to the ship, taking 40 minutes to cover what we thought should have been 15.
But the scenery along the way was nice, ...
... and we wished we had more time to explore the park along the way.
As we neared the ship, we saw these paintings done by visiting ship crews, including tankers and cruise liners.
Here's the view from the back of the ship looking back toward the city.
The Independence of the Seas left port before we did.
When it was our turn to leave, we got a few more shots of the city.
Here's a view of the cable car route going up the mountain.
And there's the full city.
It was another formal night for dinner, so we got ourselves real pretty and snapped this shot of us in our cabin mirror.
It's great to have a cabin with a balcony, ...

... especially at sunset.

Day 7 >


Spain/Morocco 2011: [Day 1 - Barcelona, Spain] [Day 2 - Barcelona, Spain] [Day 3 - At Sea] [Day 4 - Gibraltar] [Day 5 - At Sea] [Day 6 - Funchal, Portugal] [Day 7 - Tenerife, Canary Islands] [Day 8 - Arrecife, Canary Islands] [Day 9 - Agadir, Morocco] [Day 10 - Marrakech, Morocco] [Day 11 - Seville, Spain] [Day 12 - At Sea] [Day 13 - Barcelona, Spain] [Day 14 - Andorra]

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