Even now I am not as well travelled as many people my age but I have been lucky enough to visit a fair few places I guess. As with most things in life it is all relative.
There are still so many places that I would love to visit and any of these could become a favourite but one that provides very fond memories is the Portuguese Island of Madeira which I was lucky enough to visit in 2006.
I love Madeira because:
The nearby island of Porto Santo is a beach lover's paradise.
Our vacation also included good company. We were lucky to meet up with a lovely couple from Yorkshire and enjoyed each other's company.
All in all a wonderful holiday and a place I would love to experience again.
Is there any wonder it is often called "A floating Garden"
The islands of Madeira are situated of the North West Coast of Africa, in the Atlantic Ocean and are Portuguese. They lie above the Canary Islands but below the Azores. Traditionally these are a holiday destination for older holidaymakers. Typically the age of those holidaying on Madeira is fifty plus. When we visited a couple of years ago we were just the right age but that was not why we chose to visit.
Madeira is known as a floating garden. This is because of its sub-tropical climate. We had read that it was beautiful Island, had little if any trouble, would not be overrun with screaming children and was a great place to visit. Holidaying on Madeira is not the cheapest vacation you can take but it can represent good value.
We stayed a little way outside the Island's capital Funchal in a small resort called Canico De Baixo. Our accommodation was four star and a little more expensive than we would normally pay but it was worth it. Having had some holiday accommodation that left a lot to be desired the Oasis Atlantic was sheer heaven for us.
We visited Funchal on the local bus and found that the cable cars for Monte were just next to the bus station. Perfect. Our more recent holidays, such as this one, see us carrying a digital camera and so we were able to take some really good photographs.
THE CABLE CARS
You can pay for a single or return ticket on the cable cars. Many people choose to return via the traditional sleds which are pulled along the steep streets by local men. We watched these from the gardens and decided to give it a miss. If you choose this toboggan remember that you do not have to accept and pay for the photograph unless you really want it. Do not let yourself be pushed into buying. Similarly as you embark onto the cable cars you will be snapped, like it or not. This image is then flashed to the top via computer link ready for you to purchase as you disembark. Again say no if you do not want it.
The Cable cars were fun and do give you some spectacular views over Funchal and its bay. They are never extremely high as the earth rises from Funchal up to Monte. However I guess they are not for those with a fear of heights.
The small village of Monte has a few gardens open for you to wander around, for a fee of course. You can stroll around the village though and take in the lovely clean air and scenery. There is another Tropical Garden which we did not visit which is accessed via further cable cars from Monte.
We just visited the Tropical Gardens of Monte but oh what a visit.
Our visit to Monte Palace and gardens
Monte has a beautiful church or two, cafes and more. When we arrived at Monte village we just seemed to end up in front of the Monte Palace Gardens. It looked a good place to visit and while away an hour or so, and in we went. Included in the price of your entrance fee is a leaflet which has a map of the Gardens.
There are buildings which hold displays and these were interesting. When we visited, one had African art, another precious minerals of South America and another a Japanese display. These buildings were lovely and cool compared to the daytime heat and humidity. There could have been more but I cannot recall.
There were some toilets here and my advice is use them. You never know how long it may be before you find any more.
Near here there was a Japanese garden which was lovely and calm.
As you wander around the gardens you will come across all sorts of peculiarities, strange plants and flowers and different garden layouts. On we trekked like the explorers that we felt.
Two hours later we appeared to be in the depths of god knows where.
Looking around all we could see were trees and plants, but at least we had the map, I hear you say.
Well hubby is a lovely guy and not very bad tempered but when he blows he blows.
As the heat got to him, and I guess a feeling of desperation, we tried in vain to get to grips with the map. Too late. It was crushed into a tiny ball and pitched as far as he could throw it and I did not even dare to laugh out loud.
Of course we did later.
We found a lake, a waterfall and Monte Palace, which was not open to visitors but you could peek through the windows.
Another hour or two later we came across a restaurant. Hallelujah. As I hastily headed for the toilets Hubby got the sustenance ordered. When I returned he had also acquired another map as the restaurant had a ready supply on the counter.
A kindly waitress showed us just where we were and how to make our escape.
Don't get me wrong it was a lovely place and I would visit again but next time I would be prepared.
We just had not realised how big a place the gardens were.
Worth a visit?
Yes Monte and the gardens are definitely worth a visit. Monte sits high over Funchal and on a clear day the views are really special. The cable cars and toboggan rides add to the fun.
The toboggan though only takes you back part of the way into Funchal town and you will either have to walk the rest of the way or take a bus or taxi.
The cable cars take you back to near the bus station and the coastline of Funchal.
Set aside a whole day or decide to visit Monte more than once in order to give all of its attractions the attention they deserve. Remember tourist trinkets will be more expensive at places such as Monte. Shop in Funchal instead.
Even if you do not take a toboggan ride watch those that do for a great laugh.
Gardens of Monte Madeira
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