Touted as Europe’s most picturesque and cleanest capital, Funchal was our first port of call on the cruise. The municipal seat and capital of Portugal’s autonomous region of Maderia, Funchal’s population of nearly 112,000 residents live in homes and villas embedded into a natural amphitheater facing the Atlantic Ocean.
We began our journey by cable car to a many centuries old church. To return to the tour bus we enjoyed a two kilometer “wicker sledge” ride down the streets, much the same as the affluent residents did in the first part of the 1900’s, though the locals rode all the way to town, another two kilometers further. Once there, the rich folk shopped and visited while their servants and sledge drivers carried the basket back up the hill. (More on this later in the month.)
From there we traveled by bus through Santo Antonio, the birth place of glamour soccer star Cristiano Ronaldo (ohhh….awww.) Our destination was Nun’s Valley (Curral das Freiras), a 600 plus deep cauldron and safe haven for a sect of nuns from Santa Clara fleeing from pirates around 1566, taking children and the convents treasure with them.
Surviving the single lane, cliff hanging drive down the mountain, we chartered back to a small winery, sampling sweet desert wines before returning to our boat. A great day and we’ll return to this Portuguese gem someday.
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(Note: There is a pattern to the postings of my A To Z Blog Challenge (besides the A-Z order of the alphabet. The first person to correctly identify the pattern wins a free copy of my book, And The I Smiled: Reflections on a Life Not Yet Complete and a $5.00 gift card from Fort Collins Coffee House (if in Northern CO) or Starbucks if outside the FTC area.)