MADERIA PORTUGAL

MADERIA PORTUGAL

Our flight from Lisbon to Maderia was easy and the airport is small so that luggage arrived in a short time. However, once more three bags came quickly and the last one did not. After biting my lip and worrying I realized that a black bag that had been circling was actually my red bag. I had been watching for a red bag, but the suitcase was turned over and the back side was totally black so I had missed it.  I wasn't very observant. There was a car and driver to take us to our hotel which was about twenty five minutes away.

Maderia Island is one of several islands discovered by the Portuguese around 1420. It is located in the   Madeira-locationmid Atlantic and an outermost region of Portugal. The island is located 540 miles Southwest of Lisbon and about 350 miles directly West of Morocco, Africa. The capital city Fuchal, has a population of about 100,000 people. There are 250,000 people on the two inhabited islands which includes Porto Santo island.The climate is considered one of the better in the world where the temperature varies only a few degrees during the year, but summers are hot. The nice thing about Portugal and this Island is that so many people speak excellent English. I still try to use the few words I know, but it isn't necessary to get around.

Reid's Palace, our hotel, sits on a cliff over looking the Atlantic ocean. It was built over a century ago as a hotel and is located on ten acres of subtropical gardens. It is within walking distance of the town of Fuschal. It has a salt water pool with access to salt water swimming by elevator to the sea level below the hotel as well as a fresh water pool. It is very old, elegant hotel with wooden floors and features which mark it as an old world luxury hotel.  

After we checked in we were taken to our room, the tower room.  We got off the tiny elevator at the top floor as far as it went and then we followed the man from the hotel up, what looked like to me,l to be a flight of stairs. I thought a flight of stairs might be a problem for me after a big dinner and bottle of wine, but when we got to the landing I saw that there was another flight of stairs and after that another. When we got to the room, I was out of breath and panting. I flopped in a chair to rest. When I recovered enough to go to the balcony I saw that this room was the highest part of a tower on the hotel and it had spectacular views high above  the hotel grounds and over the ocean below. Regretfully I told the hotel Representative that I was sorry but this was not going to work for me. After a delay they found another room at ground level with a large veranda overlooking lush gardens and the ocean. This was more to my liking and is the room we are staying in. It is very large, like old hotel rooms used to be and is something you don't see in modern hotels today.

On hotel recommendation we went to the "best" sea food restaurant in town. It was a place with tables close together and crowded with people. Not elegant, more like a food chain restaurant. It had a large menu of seafood selections. I decided to have an appetizer of octopus and Portuguese sardines for dinner. I ordered grilled octopus, and it was, but it was in a dish of melted butter with onions. I like my fish grilled with some olive oil over it, This was entirely too rich for me. There were a lot of sardines on my plate. Enough for several people. After that a huge plate of vegetables arrived with carrots, potatoes and other selections. It was a huge platter. The serving was enough for a party of four people. Then they brought another large platter of rice. When  Lita's fish arrived it was on a large plate with a cut of fish about the size of a half a large salmon. There was no room on the table for everything and certainly not enough room in either of us for even a tenth of this serving. I've never seen anything like it for an order for two people. We were just not able to eat much of it. The sardines were not tasty, but I gave it a good try. When the bill came it was half of what we were used to paying in Portugal. I have no idea why they serve so much food or how they do it for so little money. We took a taxi back to the hotel and had a glass of champagne in the bar, trying to settle our stomachs,  while listening to a piano player and a young girl sing. Then we staggered off to bed.

Today, Monday, we got up to a sunny day. We had a quick breakfast at the hotel and took a taxi to the town market. A wonderful place where they are selling fruits and vegetables of all kinds as well as many other things on two levels. There are tables, like the Pike Street Market in Seattle, where they are selling products and foods. Located inside a large building with a courtyard in the middle, the stalls are located all along the walls of both levels. On the far end of this building and one level down is a huge fish market. Local fish are being cleaned and cut for sale. Large Tuna lay on stainless steel tables where people are cutting and slicing fish. Every kind of fish is there  including a large table of sardines. I finally got some great photographs on this trip.After spending time there we had an espresso at a sidewalk cafe outside the market before walking back towards our hotel through town. There were lots of small shops and many people walking the sidewalks. There were corners where there are small tables with flowers for sale. We walked past a park filled with colorful flowers, trees and vegetation.

We continued on, stopping now and then to explore shops, until we reached the end of the commerical area. We flagged a taxi and Reuben, the driver, a young man of about twenty eight years, drove us to another shop closer to our hotel where Lita wanted to go to. I know his name is Reuben because he told us and, like the yellow pages, never stopped selling. Would we like to have a tour in his taxi to the other side of the island? We would leave at 10:00 am and get back to the hotel at 6:00 pm. He will make us a real discounted deal. Here, look at these postcards of the tour. The truth is that I would pay Ruben not to endure that adventure. All of this while filling in with pleas of sympathy such as he is married with t wo children and only gets 35% of the fare because he works for a company that owns the taxi and so on.  Ruben was a failure as a salesman and over sold his product. I was glad to escape his taxi at our hotel.

By the time we were having lunch at the hotel, it was raining and the sky was overcast. The weather has turned again. I hope Tuesday will be a nice day as I would like to go to the ocean level and sit in the sun to read. We are eating at the hotel tonight, but Tuesday we are eating at a nearby elegant restaurant since it is Lita's birthday.

More reports to follow.

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