Madeira has something for everyone
Now, if we were athletic outdoor people, Madeira would have a lot to offer: hiking, levadas, whale watching, deep sea fishing...
But we are two very busy and stressed urbanites, and one of us usually has a cold / flu whenever we go on holiday (especially around Christmas), so we like to take it easy. This means minimum amount of sightseeing, lots of good restaurants and leisurely walks in parks. In other words, we need a place fit for a Bad Tourist...
So, this was the third time my husband and I had a holiday (vacation for my American readers) in Madeira, and the second time we spent Christmas there. It was also the second time we stayed at The Vine Hotel in Funchal. And yes, the next time we go back to Madeira, this is where we'll be staying. Why? It has wonderful breakfast, a lovely spa, a small rooftop pool, and the location is perfect (= in the centre, and far away from the tourist resort), not least because it's adjacent to Dolce Vita shopping centre. I know, it sounds horrible, but can be extremely handy when the airline loses your luggage...
Did I mention the hotel has a spa? I really liked the steamroom and jacuzzi: very relaxing, and I didn't have to pretend I was swimming. Professor M also talked me into having a massage. That's supposed to be relaxing, but I think I lack the gene that makes most women like this sort of 'pampering'. Having a massage or a facial just makes me more stressed, and I can't stand being touched by strangers, however nice and gentle they are.
I wanted to include this picture in my post, even though this time around we didn't take the cable car ride to the botanical garden.However, I loved it two years ago (and Professor M hated it, which probably explains why we skipped it this time around...) and I would recommend it to anyone visiting Funchal for the first time.
What about food?
There are of course excellent restaurants, and we sort of became regulars at this little tea room. They have so many different types of tea... and wonderful salads, and the chocolate cake is to die for.
And another restaurant I would like to mention here is Londres: a popular fish restaurant with quite generous portions (you can order a half-portion or share). The food is uncomplicated and good: fish or meat with potatoes and vegetables, with a portion of the delicious local garlic bread, bolo do caco.
Yes, I'm sure Madeira and Funchal have a few surprises in store, and I look forward to going back. Maybe next year.
In the meantime, as soon as I get my photos sorted, I plan to take you on a little sightseeing tour outside Funchal...