Marvelous Madeira

Suzanne Barney on 15 March 2004
I have been to Madeira many times. I worked in Madeira in 1990; I visited on a cruise ship in 2004 and I holidayed in 2004. Madeira is a very special place. Many people associate it with the older generation. This is a bit of a myth. I would say it is for people who appreciate quality, great service and beauty. The island is very beautiful; it is a volcanic island like the other Canary Islands but far more greener. I worked there during Christmas and New Year as a holiday representative and I would say that it was the best place I had been this time of year. They take things seriously - firework displays, great Christmas lights, I even remember seeing a live nativity scene! The cruise boats all come in and at midnight on New Years Eve it is spectacular. The hotels arrange champagne receptions and parties; it’s a great place to be.

Going back in 2004 I was surprised how much it had grown past the lido area and how many improvements had been made with EU money. Especially the waterfront which was all pedestrianised and the new marina. There is a cable car that will take you up to the village of Monte which has some beautiful botanical gardens. This village is where the 'sleighs 'operate from, originally used to transport wine they now transport people down the cobbled streets. You need to be fit and healthy to stay in Madeira as it is very hilly the hotels are a distance from the main town of Funchal and there are two hills that I named ‘cardiac’ (90 degree angle) or the more gentle hill past the Casino Park. There is an old town with lots of traditional restaurants to cater for every budget. The countryside is covered in Levadas (irrigation channels) where you can go walking to beautiful unspoilt countryside. If you prefer to go by vehicle you can hire a taxi for the day with the driver as a guide or go on a coach journey. The guides are fabulous they speak English better than us and the sightseeing is amazing. The food you will get is usually Espada (fish and banana) which is a local delicacy. There are not any beaches as such in Madeira as it is very high cliffed but Porton Santo is a ferry journey away which has the best beaches in Europe!

There is a constant temperature all year round I went in March and we had a heat wave - something we didn't expect. Though it does get a bit more rain than its counterparts in the Canaries. But then it’s more green and beautiful. Madeira is a class act.