I yearn to Madeira, «The Sea Flower», the best place on Earth
Why you should travel to Madeira…
Experience Incomparable Madeira – A travelogue by John Steffensen (text and photos)
There is something special about Madeira, it‘s not going to get past. There is something about the island, the people, the vegetation, the climate, the architecture, the experiences, the history and the tranquility… Madeira is a resort suitable for people who have lived a while and feel the need to take things at a slower pace, be excited, be seduced and be impressed, really experience that one has taken a step to the side, taking a breather…
The small island with it’s 275,000 inhabitants has very much to offer, something for everyone. The lack of sandy beaches are the only thing that is conspicuous, by it’s absence does not matter. Madeira compensates the missed to the fullest with it’s wealth of opportunities for the more than one million tourists who annually visit the Portuguese Atlantic island approximately 250 miles northwest of Tenerife. Incomparable Madeira is rightly called the Atlantic floating flower bouquet, an island where you can find peace and rest almost wherever you are is staying.
It is a unique blend of old and new, of locals and tourists. And both groups coexist in a seemingly perfect harmony. The locals are generally very pleasant, they are smiling and cheerful. And they are proud, proud over their beautiful island and over all it has to offer. They are proud over one of the world‘s best footballers; their own Cristiano Ronaldo, they seem to enjoy that a lot of tourists arrives to the island every day. Many maderians do not have much worldly goods to display, but even though a good number of them do not have much money to spend, they meet you with a smile, with kindness, pride and respect. The taxi driver told us that there is no crime on the island, and that one does not have to look back about a strolling home to the hotel in the late night hours. I do not know, but I note nevertheless that the police are equipped with weapons in the same way that their counterparts in other EU countries do. Even the traffic police carry guns.
But it feels safe and good to stroll the streets of the capital Funchal, a city with 120 000 inhabitants. An utterly charming city that oozes history, buildings of yesteryear, glazed dreams and a mishmash of architecture. Here is like and unlike buildings that have been built for the wallet (which can hardly have been particularly rich), and great more showy buildings that signals that the owner has a significantly larger income. It is so incredibly fascinating everything together, so picturesque, so honest …
And when a cold winter in Norway – where the thermometer hovering below 14°F, let my mind wander to exotic, matchless Madeira. I dream away, strolling around the narrow and so very charming city streets, frolic in the hotels lovely swimming complex and enjoying the life-giving warm sun poolside, or relaxing on the hotel balcony, or driving around the island, visiting the wild and beautiful steep north side, rising into the tiny, triangular, dollhouse-like Santana houses, be impressed by narrow roads even more spectacular than in the Norwegian mountains, Madeira’s narrow roads clinging to the steep mountainsides, or strolling around at some of the 1600 miles with levadas that Madeira has become so famous for, or ascends to the highest peak Pico Ruivo (1862 m), or sitting under the banana palms with a glass of Madeira wine, or enjoying a phenomenal Espada dinner on Madeira’s most famous fish restaurant, or walk under the world’s longest blue flowering jacaranda-tree-lined street in April /May, or be seduced by the glowing sunset in the Atlantic waves, or take a day trip to the protected wildlife of the Desertas islands, or walk in the famous virgin forest of laurel trees, or put off the steep slopes of Monte in a double wicker chair with skids – safely guided by two stalwart men, or strolling around in one of the many wonderful botanical gardens which belong to Madeira’s pride – after first have taken the gondola up, or loosing your breath when one looks out over the Nuns valley from the magnificent viewing platform Eira do Serrado, or enjoying the very comfortable temperature at all time of year, or eat a better meal at one of the many excellent restaurants that exist everywhere, or let yourself be inspired by the maderian folk music – or the many talented and colorful musicians of the island, or see one of the world’s most spectacular fireworks in the New Year’s Eve, or strolling along the waterfront and consider the large cruise ships, or rise out of Miradouro do Cabo Girao’s transparent glass floor on the top of a 589 meter high cliff, or enjoying yourself in the fishing village Camaro de Lobos’ beautiful surroundings that even gave inspiration for Sir Winston Churchill’s paintings, or swim in the Atlantic Ocean in the naturally occurring seawater pools in Porto Moniz …. Madeira is a paradise, a place you very gladly come back to, again and again. For when you first are infected by the bug, you are sold.
There is something special about Madeira. It is not without reason that many adults are seeking to the island every year. Madeira has soul. If there is any place in the world that can be said to be animated, then it must be Madeira, «The Sea Flower«. Nobody does it better! Heaven can wait!
Read other travelogues from Madeira by John Steffensen (Norway), click here.