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Wednesday

10 hours of nonstop floor sanding MUST qualify as an Olympic level sport, right? Getting rid of the orange stain on our bedroom floor and adding fresh new wainscot = gold medal-esque happiness for us.

 Life on Van Island

Life on Van Island

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Madeira Part 2

Following up yesterday’s post– here are the other things that stood out to us while visiting Madeira last month.

Rock Pools: Porto Moniz has the most amazing natural rock pools popular for swimming in summer. Alas, it was too cold (and with too strong currents) for us to give it a go.

 Life on Van Island Madeira

Life on Van Island Madeira

Blue tiles: Those of you who know me know that I adore blue and white porcelain and I loved the many tile artwork pieces we saw affixed to buildings.

Life on Van Island Madeira

Life on Van Island Madeira

Life on Van Island Madeira

Cobblestone mosaics: Private courtyards, shop entrances and city sidewalks – they were all made of cobblestone mosaics in just about every pattern imaginable.

Life on Van Island Madeira

Life on Van Island Madeira

Life on Van Island Madeira

Fado: This was our introduction to Fado, a wonderfully soulful Portuguese genre of folk song. I found it more melodic than the Flamenco we would hear in Spain and liked it much more.

Short visits make it impossible to get to know local culture to the degree I would like and I feel like we caught such a small glimpse of Madeira. It’s is not somewhere we ever thought we would visit but I’m so glad we did.
Life on Van Island Madeira
Life on Van Island Madeira
Next up? Spain. Our Spanish adventure began in Seville.

Madeira Part 1

As previously hinted, Jeff and I went to Europe for several weeks in April. While our main destination was Spain, we stopped on the island of Madeira en route. It was our first time in Portugal and while the visit was short, we were left with very positive impressions. Here are the things that stood out most to us:

Development: Madeira is highly developed (see the main city Funchal below) and felt very European. While it was clear investment in infrastructure has been a priority, it seemed to us that it was done without loosing the island’s historical and European charm. I can’t imagine that was an easy task.

Life on Van Island Madeira

Life on Van Island Madeira

Cliffs and Changing Weather: A completely volcanic island (it felt very much to me like a European version of Hawaii), Madeira has some of the tallest cliffs in the world. These made for some spectacular views, particularly as the weather changed dramatically throughout the day.

 Life on Van Island Madeira

Life on Van Island Madeira

  Life on Van Island Madeira

 Life on Van Island Madeira

Terraced gardens and bananas: Tall cliffs make for difficult farming. The solution? Terraces everywhere. Every home seemed to have its own terraced garden (growing everything from potatoes to strawberries) and many of the mountainsides hosted terraced banana crops. I’ve never seen agriculture like it… and I’ve never seen so many bananas.

Life on Van Island Madeira

Life on Van Island Madeira

Life on Van Island Madeira  Life on Van Island Madeira

Life on Van Island Madeira

Both great and insane roads: While a number of excellent main roads and tunnels circumnavigate the island, there are still lots of more harrowing ones that hug cliffs and traverse mountains, often without guard rails. Madeira’s airport runway is also an engineering marvel.

Life on Van Island Madeira

Life on Van Island Madeira   Life on Van Island Madeira

The old highway, hugging the bottom of the cliff

There’s more to share about this interesting island- stay tuned tomorrow.