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.
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.
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.
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.
The old highway, hugging the bottom of the cliff
There’s more to share about this interesting island- stay tuned tomorrow.