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  • Writer's pictureChris Mads

A postcard from Madeira

Updated: Oct 9, 2022

Apologies if you are currently hiding away from the snow and rain which seem to have decided to make a mid-Spring return to the UK; earlier this week, S and I took advantage of the early onset Easter Holidays and skipped away for a few days in Madeira.

We should, originally, have finally been heading out to Western Australia for a two-year delayed holiday to see her family, but shifting opening times and flight uncertainty put paid to that plan.

To ensure we got a bit of vitamin D – and some time away – we’ve headed out to Funchal, on the south coast of Maderia, which is a stunning Portuguese island sitting in the Atlantic, just west of Morocco. While the neighbouring Porto Santo is a flat plane of beaches and fields, Madeira is all mountain ranges and lush vegetation, thanks to the island’s volcanic history.

So, for this week and next, this is my office view. We are shacked up in a lovely AirBnB apartment in Funchal, overlooking the sea and just a stone’s throw from the iconic Reid’s Palace Hotel.

Funchal itself is a beautiful, old-style port town, with cobbled streets and historic buildings, dotted with impressive gardens which provide a moment’s respite from the day-to-day.

The Mercardo dos Lavradores on the edge of the Old Town is a beautiful hub, which is taken over on Fridays and Saturdays by vendors displaying the most amazing fresh fruit and veg and others with every chilli you can possibly imagine.

Someone once told me that they judge a place by its streetfood options and Funchal delivers a masterclass in grab-and-go or sit and enjoy meals thanks to the local speciality Bolo do Caco. This bread, made with sweet potato, is filled with a choice of chorizo, steak, cheese or garlic butter and its amazing. These sandwiches are often dispensed from Bolo de Caco Gelaterias which also serve ice cream and ice lollies.

Madeira is well known for its local drinks; for years, rum and wine were its major exports, before tourism took over. But one unsung hero we’ve found is the local beer, Coral. Like the local brew on many a European island, this is light and far too easy to drink. But for downtime this week, that is just what the doctor ordered.

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