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Late Doors

Funchal, Madeira

Looks a bit choppy i said as the bus heaved its way up Madeira's preposterously steep south side slopes to the airport as we glanced back towards the harbour. Indeed it was, and a tad breezy to boot. So much so that the incoming flight from Leeds abandoned any landing intentions on the island choosing instead a neighbouring  military base to spend the night. Assuming the wind calmed, which didn't look likely as clouds flew by like that scene in the time machine and flags almost tore themselves off their poles it would pick us up the day after.

Ten hours at the Airport before the bus took us back to town with the distinct possibility if us having to do the whole thing again the day after. If things went exactly to revised schedule with the anticipated 6pm landing i might just make the Charlton game with no margin for further delay. I really couldn't decide which way i wanted lady luck to turn.

Second time in Madeira. South of Europe but north of the canaries it doesn't quite cut it as a winter sunshine destination. Late march weather can be anything but the islands floral beauty and immense vegetation make it a sumptuous outdoor exploration regardless of the sunshine. As it happens we got 6 days of blue sky and heat so we didn't venture much further than our terrific hotel nestled in-between the casino and the world famous Reid's hotel where the rich and famous come to tarry amongst its understated Kensingtonesque exclusivity unmolested by the hoi-poloi. More famously, to me anyway was the island's football ground just up the road. Home of club Maritimo of the Portuguese league. You may remember our epic quarter final against them that went to penalties very late into the night in that bygone age of ours. I sat there one evening looking at the stadium pondering the latest pages of our quest into oblivion thinking was all that excitement only 14 years ago.

Predominantly a destination for the silver haired professional and executive retirees of north Europe Madeira has its share of utter superior clunts who don't say please or thank you and appear to be devoid of the merest ounce of fun, especially when it comes to sharing space with people who have had to graft in any way.

That said, there are plenty of normal folk about there to enjoy relaxed class on a beautiful island with no full English pint of Boddingtons offers in union flag draped bars called "the twat dog and compo claim " or something.

Not much classic architecture considering a long organic history and conflict neutrality but the centre of Funchal, the island's capital is tidy and well presented. It's functional and organically active without the tourist and more appealing for it.  "old town" is old but not very atmospheric and has a tinge of desperation about it. Desperate to have an old town with narrow streets where restaurant "hello boys" grab you and beckon you in but not really and genuinely olde worlde. Like something the tourist board thought they'd better have.

Hotel land is a walk further west with some very swish hotels and lots of restaurants. Research is required to get good value though and the whole place is criminally devoid of good bars with the hotels being the best places but with hotel prices to boot. The central grand cafe was a good place to sit outside and watch but otherwise a fairly base selection with terrible looped musak polluting the ambience in most cafes.

The whole place has a 1970s feel and look which is not without its charm of course but you have to go to the newer complexes west of the town for anything approaching contemporary  There are some incomplete developments around though that make the area slightly unfinished
In fact there is quite a lot of reconstruction going on in the center due to calamitous flooding a few years ago with dozens of fatalities. However the place looks like its well into recovery. The real beauty of the island is the inner floral, vegetation and fantastic walking terrain. Almost prehistoric in areas with vast swathes of unspoilt wilderness. If all that doesn't appeal there is always a museum funded and constructed by the islands most famous son. The Christiano Ronaldo museum offers the criminally insane visitor a chance to explore the life and memorabilia of surely the most odious footballer on the planet. Naturally we spurned the opportunity choosing instead to have our genitalia smothered in honey and dangled over a wasps nest. I did rather appreciate the statue of him depicting his classic penalty area pose though just outside our hotel.
A trawl through trip advisor threw up some terrific eating spots for the evening. Olives was a place doing simple fish and meat dishes exceptionally well. Istanbul was more north London than north Asia but the kebabs were brilliant. Two curry houses as well Indian House and Delhi were the equivalent of the top end of our own.

The local specialty is scabbard fish. A long black brute of a fish somewhere between an eel and a barracuda. Spurning local tradition of serving it with bananas which sounded horrific i had it twice. Best was at a place called Don Amelia, aww man it was superb, perfectly cooked hearty and meaty fish, delicate but satisfying, maybe the nicest fish I've ever had, there.

In summary a relaxed gentile destination definitely not for the night owl raver. Go later in the year if its guaranteed sunshine you're after but if its quaintness, good tucker and lovely outdoor locations with lush greenery go anytime. I do suspect though that it will become more and more a time share destination for the retired or semi retired in years to come.
fartcatcher

I work with a Portugese lady and she makes very unkind comments about the natives of Madeira. Similar to those made by folks from Leeds about the residents of Morley/Selby etc

She hates Ronaldo as well. He is uncouth apparently.
bearing

cake
grunt

bearing wrote:
cake


Straight to the point. How can you go to Madeira and not have any cake? Palin would have been straight down the bakers.
grunt

fartcatcher wrote:
I work with a Portugese lady and she makes very unkind comments about the natives of Madeira. Similar to those made by folks from Leeds about the residents of Morley/Selby etc

She hates Ronaldo as well. He is uncouth apparently.


I can verify that. Ronaldo is an uncouth fellow.
sheeps

grunt wrote:
fartcatcher wrote:
I work with a Portugese lady and she makes very unkind comments about the natives of Madeira. Similar to those made by folks from Leeds about the residents of Morley/Selby etc

She hates Ronaldo as well. He is uncouth apparently.


I can verify that. Ronaldo is an uncouth fellow.


Lovely looking though.
Late Doors

Do you people think we are a couple of chancing northern oinks traipsing around Europe with no interest at all in the indigenous culture and cuisine?

'course we had some Madeira cake, for breakfast, with  chips and ketchup.
sheeps

Class in a glass you mate, always said it.
Late Doors

Cheers, takes it to know it mate. UK Ambassador, Diplomat , Emissary of Yorkshire and Envoy for Huddersfield at all times
Dock

Late Doors wrote:
Cheers, takes it to know it mate. UK Ambassador, Diplomat , Emissary of Yorkshire and Envoy for Huddersfield at all times


If you had gone with the singer from Scritti Politti it would have been a clear cut case of Green with Envoy.

Geddit? Switching envy to Envo..OH FORGET IT!
carp

No English Bars or pissed up noisey Brits? Good food.....sounds my kind of place.
Late Doors

Y'know what? i think it is. Got some photos but i need a new hosting site. Imageshack are charging now it seems.
Forest

Late Doors wrote:
Y'know what? i think it is. Got some photos but i need a new hosting site. Imageshack are charging now it seems.


Photobucket is still free and there's an app for it too
Dock

Late Doors wrote:
Y'know what? i think it is. Got some photos but i need a new hosting site. Imageshack are charging now it seems.


Well, wouldn't you charge? Everybody's movin', everybody's grooving baby! Folks lining up, outside just to get down!

Er hang on. I'm mixing up my shacks. Soz.

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