WelshTraveller111 has returned from another great week in Madeira, most of you will remember last year I posted his great review of his holiday, an this year he has posted another review with lots of great information.
Just returned from my 6th visit to Madeira from the 5th to 12th September. Hope you will find this trip report useful.
Weather – A dry week with morning sunshine but there was lots of afternoon cloud on most days. Temperature 27C but felt warmer and humid at times.
Travelled from Bristol on the 7.30am flight with Easyjet. Bag drop and security was busy due to the large number of early morning flights. The flight was smooth with a strong tail wind. Arrived thirty minutes early at 10.40am, flying time 3 hrs. Excellent flight.
The airport was quiet and baggage reclaim was relatively fast. Prebooked a shared shuttle transfer with Madeira Shuttle.com. €28 for a return trip. The shuttle is excellent value for money, there were only six people on the minibus and the journey was virtually direct apart from one stop in another hotel. I had an excellent stay in the Pestana Grand (my fourth visit) and would return again. See my hotel review on the link below.
After checking in visited the Forum shopping centre. There are lots of coffee shops on the top floor with a large supermarket in the basement which is ideal for essential items. In the evening returned to Dona Nina restaurant which is close to the Pestana Grand. Delicious food and excellent service, perfect way to end the day.
Friday 6th September – Museums in Funchal
Visited Vicente’s Photography Museum which opened on the 29th July after a 1.7 million euros renovation after being closed for five years. The museum is located in a central location in the middle of Funchal on Rua da Carreira 43. The entrance is free until 30th September but will cost 3 euros per person from October 1st. Opening times Tuesday to Saturday from 10am to 5pm. The museum has lots of photographs from Madeira’s past and historic camera equipment. Worth a visit if your interested in photography.
From the photography museum visited the beautiful Catholic church São Pedro. Walked up the steep road next to the church to another museum the Universo de Memorias Joao Carlos Abreu. This 19th century building has a range of furniture, tiles and photographs donated by Joao Carlos Abreu, the former regional secretary for Tourism. The museum is open from 10am to 5pm Tuesday to Saturday. 3.50 euros per person or 2 euros for senior citizens. This house looks insignificant from the exterior but the interior is stunning. I loved the room full of different horses with various sizes, all of the rooms have a beautiful collection of objects from all over the world. Guided tours are available on the hour but as the museum was empty the friendly guide gave a short explanation with free time to wander in the various rooms over three floors. There is also a small tea room in the quiet garden. Even if you have visited Funchal many times there are always new places to explore.
Wandered back to Funchal to the harbour and enjoyed drinks in the Beer Garden. I like the location overlooking Funchal harbour, it’s always a nice place to relax and watch the world go by.
Saturday 7th September – Live Grape Harvest
Visited the “Vindimas” festival which is the main highlight of the wine festival which takes place in Estreito de Camara de Lobos. This festival tries to recreate the Customs of Madeira at the start of the harvest season. Travelled by local bus 96 from the stop outside the Forum shopping centre. 2.20 euros per person journey time approximately 40 minutes. The bus was crowded with lots of people standing but managed to sit down half way through the journey. After calling into Camara de Lobos the bus continued it’s journey up the mountain along the winding streets.
The festival started at 10am with a live grape harvest in front of Quinta da Pinheira. Anyone could join in picking the grapes. There was a great atmosphere with traditional music but crowded. At 11am there was a parade with folk groups and locals dressed in traditional outfits. All of the streets were colourful with lots of decorations and food stalls serving traditional food and wine. After the parade there was grape stomping in a traditional winery. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and would recommend visiting if you have the opportunity.
The return journey on the bus was more comfortable than the outward journey as there were plenty of spare seats. Instead of catching the bus to Funchal travelled to Camara de Lobos, 1 euro 60 per person. Walked back to the lido along the coast which was enjoyable. Had a great day.
Sunday 8th September – Funchal Wine Festival
From 11am to 12.45pm saw traditional Folklore performances in Funchal. The Folklore group started the performance on a stage in the main central walkway Avendia Arriaga. They continued the performance next to the statue of João Gonçalves Zarco in the middle of the main pedestrianised street. After some traditional dancing members of the public were invited to join in the fun and celebrations. Difficult to describe the fantastic atmosphere but I have posted videos at the end of the report.
After the performance visited the Beer garden which was virtually empty. Walked back to the hotel and called into the new Savoy Palace hotel which recently opened. I wasn’t impressed with the exterior which looked big and bland. The reception and lounge looked impressive but there was no atmosphere due to lack of people.
Monday 9th September – Levada walk
Booked a half day walk to the Paradise Valley along the levada of Serra do Faial from the Pride of Madeira agency which is on the corner of the main road leading to the Pestana Grand. The levada is an easy 6 km flat walk starting in Vale do Paraiso and finishing in Rochao. The guide collected us from the hotel at 9.10am for the short 30 minute journey to the start of the walk. There were only eight people on the walk with a mixture of nationalities including French, German and Polish. Most of the group spoke English and everyone was friendly.
The walk was through a pine forest with lots of wild flowers and eucalyptus. The guide Phillipe was excellent and explained about the vegetation. Everyone was walking at a reasonable pace with lots of short stops and photo opportunities. There was also a short coffee stop towards the end of the walk before the final 20 minutes. The temperature was perfect for walking around 21C. Returned to the hotel at 1.30pm, had a fantastic day.
Tuesday 10th September – Camara de Lobos walk and new Pestana Churchill hotel
Walked from the Pestana Grand to the pretty fishing village of Camara de Lobos. This is always one of my favourite walks at any time of the year. After walking through the tunnel by the Pestana Ocean hotel you have to walk over the pebbles before you rejoin the walkway. Camara de Lobos was as pretty as ever with its brightly coloured fishing boats in the harbour.
On arrival enjoyed coffee in the new Pestana Churchill hotel which is a tribute to Winston Churchill’s frequent visits. The hotel has been open under three months and is located in a fantastic position on the harbour. Next to the hotel saw a sea lion piece of art which is on a wall close to the steps. This art was only completed on June 8th this year in celebration of World Ocean Day. I have posted some short videos of the walk at the end of the report.
Wednesday 11th September – Walk to Funchal
Walked both ways from the Pestana Grand into Funchal. Called into the Pestana Promenade and Cliff Bay for a look around. Both hotels very nice but totally different as the Promenade is modern and the Cliff Bay is traditional. I noticed some building work close to the Cliff Bay and on and below the steep hill close to the Royal Savoy and the harbour. The traffic and fumes from buses was particularly bad. Funchal was very quiet, I haven’t seen any cruise ships all week which has been an added bonus. Wandered around the old town and called into the Beer garden whilst enjoying the sunshine.
Thursday 12th September – Flight home.
Time to say goodbye and fly back to Bristol. The transfer with madeirashuttle.com arrived promptly at 8.45am for the short journey to the airport. Like the outward journey there was only one pick up in another hotel. The driver was friendly and the journey was smooth with no problems.
The airport was relatively quiet but the check in queue for the Easyjet bag drop was relatively long. On the positive side you were checked in by real people not the self service machines. After a coffee watched the planes from the outdoor viewing terrace and saw the incoming aircraft make an abortive landing due to cross winds. The aircraft circled off the north coast and landed thirty minutes later. Extremely lucky to depart as I saw a further two abortive landings whilst sitting on the plane. The aircraft departed at 12.30pm, 45 minutes late with a flying time of 3hrs 15 min. The take off was a bit bumpy but the flight was smooth and uneventful. Arrived in Bristol half an hour late at 3.45pm. Well done Easyjet, another positive experience.
Link to photographs:-
Four videos of the wine festival festivities including the live grape harvest. Click on the play button next to the duration time, videos last from 33 seconds to 3 minutes 35 seconds. You will need to turn the sound on your computer to hear the music:-
Seven short videos of the walk from Funchal to Camara de Lobos ranging from 16 seconds to just over one minute:-
Link to last year’s trip report in Feb & Sept 18:-
If your visiting Madeira soon have a fantastic trip. Let me know if you have any questions or comments.