We were looking for somewhere to go for a short break that wouldn’t mean quarantining on our return, so where better than Madeira? Having stayed there on our honeymoon twenty four years ago, and going back two years ago, the island has a special place in our hearts. Situated just off the coast of Morocco the weather is warm all the year round but not blisteringly hot, ideal for a nice relaxing break.
On arrival at the airport having gone through passport control and baggage reclaim, you are channelled through to be met by volunteers who ask whether you have completed the Madeira Safe form on its website. This takes the details of your stay and provides you with a number which you need to give to the volunteers. Once this has been checked you are taken to a nurse who will again check your number and give you a bar-code which you then take to the testing area where you are swabbed, the whole process taking about fifteen minutes. Once tested you are then free to go to your accommodation where you are requested to remain until you receive an email with the result of the test. This can take between six to twelve hours so make sure you get some supplies for your room before you go into the accommodation. If you should prove positive then you are taken to an apartment block owned by the Pestana Hotels and is situated near to the casino. Here you are provided with food and drink during your fourteen day quarantine. The island itself has been virtually COVID free and feels as safe as anywhere.
Once we received our results the holiday began. We were staying at the Savoy Palace, a five star hotel, although we have to say that we were disappointed in it as it was far too formal and clinical for us, as well as having no life about it although the facilities were good. The hotel was on one of the main roads into Funchal and it was only a ten minute walk to the town down a steady incline past the Jardin de Santa Catarina.
In the town there are plenty of restaurants and cafes for all tastes and wallets, as well as a variety of shops and the Mercado dos Lavradores or Workers Market where you can buy local fruit, flowers and fish and enjoy a coffee or something to eat. There are also a number of wine lodges that you can visit as well as the Christiano Ronaldo Museum. From the harbour there are boat trips to watch the whales and dolphins and you can get a ferry over to Porto Santo if you are looking for a sandy beach. Around the Savoy Palace and up through the Lido area, where there are many new hotels, there are many good restaurants for all tastes and these are not overly expensive. The bus service is very good all over the island and tickets for one, three or seven days can be bought.
We went on two trips while we were there, a Jeep Safari which took us to Camara dos Lobos and then up into the mountains where we went off road to see a different part of the country and have a glass of poncha. The other trip was to a Sunday market at Santo da Serra which was a mixture of local food produce and what locals call, a Gypsy Market where you could buy almost anything and taste the local cuisine. The trip also went to the lovely village of Santa Cruz as well as the Statue of Christ at Guarajau.
Other places worth visiting that we have enjoyed previously are the cliffs at Cabo Girao where there is a glass walkway, the traditional houses at Sanatana, the volcanic pools at Porto da Moniz, the Tropical Gardens and no visit would be complete without a trip on the cable car to Monte where you can visit the Botanic Gardens and then take a trip on the toboggans, but beware there is no suspension! If sightseeing is not for you, then you can just relax by the pool and take in the sun.
“Find out more about Madeira”:https://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/partner/1034-visit-madeira