Madeira is an island in the Atlantic Ocean that belongs to Portugal. My wish to visit the island, dates back about 3 years, when one of my most well travelled friends posted a picture from Funchal. Another proof that inspiration is always among your circle of friends. Next step was exploring it on Google Maps, then started following Visit Madeira, and then checking tickets in all possible seasons. Result: always around 400€ for a return ticket, with a stopover in Lisbon or Porto, something I was not really happy about, until one day a very happy newsletter reached my inbox.
And, kids, that is how we ended on our first Package Holiday.
With an agency.
A train ticket to Hannover Airport included (From Berlin).
7 nights in a hotel.
And a breakfast.
Plus airport transfer to our hotel.
Proper retired German.
Do I need to mention that the package cost was less than the return ticket flight mentioned above? I must admit we were skeptic, a lot, but we couldn’t wait for the day to come. Having no proper vacation for almost a year, even the “warning” of the tourist agent of not going to have the most perfect weather in November didn’t stop us going for it. We were aware that it is an eternal spring island. Blue sky seemed enough, everything else was a cherry on top.
The recent bankruptcy on one of the biggest package holiday providers was present in my mind, and coming from Macedonia where most of the news in the holiday season are related to travelers being placed in such unfortunate positions and stood up by agencies, either unpaid hotels, or stuck at airports or you name it, the skepticism was still present till we reached the hotel.
Surprise, surprise, all flawless everything. Then we started wondering why we didn’t rent a car as part of our package, but probably that had to do with our fear of being stood up, and something going wrong. And we are always loyal to one rental company, because of all the easiness in the process (& lowest deposit as well).
Our friends usually say that we need an additional vacation after our vacation, because we tend to have active holidays. This time we decided to take it easy. The outcome of this “resolution” was: 3 hikes, 2 summits, and 6 out of 7 days more than 20 kilometers on foot.
We visited places in every part of the island, tried everything that was on our typical Madeira foods list, a few Bolo do Cacos, more times than needed, but everything was compensated with a detox once we landed home. We even met friends. it’s great when the roads are crossing “in the middle of nowhere”, as my friend mentioned. We had a great time, and again ended up with more food than we can eat. I would say it has to do with where we come from.
The island is super if I can describe it in one word. Nature is amazing, at times it feels like it is a totally different country, not Portugal. On rainy days, it was hard to say whether you are in Norway or Portugal. The roads – mind blowing, I’ve never seen so many tunnels, which I didn’t always like, since we couldn’t enjoy the coast, while getting from one point to another. I would say the island has it all, a great mix of nature and city activities, easy and intermediate hikes, meat, fish and vegetarian dishes, and so many types of fruits that are only typical for Madeira.
They developed the maracuja/passion fruit on so many levels. But honestly, from all the modifications, only the banana-maracuja was suiting my taste. There were other creations like bananas, which was not bad. What made me reserved towards these “creations”, was that you could find them only at the farmers’ market in the capital, where the price of a regular passion fruit was 4 to 5 times more expensive, then in the smaller towns and villages. That was enough for me to consider them tourist traps, and not a “must try”.
On the other hand, we never said no to bolo do caco – garlic bread, as a starter or as a main dish, or as a snack. The basic recipe was the best, but also as a burger bread or in other combinations it was doing its job perfectly.
We stayed for a week there, yet we didn’t experience so much of the night life. Apart from restaurants, there weren’t so many people on the streets, and in the bars, around 21 o’clock. Maybe it is due to the low season, and the fact that most of the tourists are still “day tourists” from the cruisers, but also the mix of tourists didn’t seem party style people. (Better version of saying, were +65 years old).
Will I recommend it? Yes! So much! It offers a variety of things to do, see and eat. It is generally cheaper than the land cities in Portugal, and lately more and more companies are introducing cheap flights to Madeira. But I am sure that if you can’t find the proper flight, a visit to the tourist agency will do the package.
Hotel:Quinta do Estreito Vintage House
Recommendation: Older hotel, with nice sea view, has a rooftop pool, but no gym or sauna.
Breakfast included: Continental Breakfast Included
Price: Unknown/Part of package