Port Guides

Steak, shopping and sightseeing on the island of Madeira

After a wonderful four weeks on Ventura, we are now travelling on her sister ship Azura. It’s been lovely to join the ship and see lots of familiar faces from my time working at sea. Over the next two months we’ll be taking in the sights of the Baltic region, Iceland, the UK and the Canary Islands. I am particularly looking forward to returning to one of my favourite ports – St. Petersburg.

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Today’s stop was the pretty city of Funchal on the island of Madeira. I have spent a lot of time here over the years and the island’s beauty never disappoints. From the stunning botanical gardens and dizzying heights of the cable car to the traditional toboggan ride, I’ve been lucky to visit most of Funchal’s attractions.

The city has a lively centre with a good selection of high street shops and independent stores. Be prepared to do a bit of walking though, as the shopping district is not restricted to one main street. However, the entrance to the cable car is centrally located and is easily accessible from the main tourist area. With a vast array of cafés and restaurants, there’s never a shortage of places to sit and relax in the sun.

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While on the subject of food, I mentioned that Madeira is famed for its steak on a stone. This is as simple as it sounds. Raw steak is served on a very hot lava rock and customers then cook the meat to their taste. This is often served with fries and other sides such as garlic bread. In Funchal, Kon Tiki is one of the better-known steak restaurants and it specialises in fillet steak. Personally, we like to go to O Solar de Santola, which is about a fifteen minute walk from the ship. With great views across the harbour, excellent service and several different types of sangria, lunch there is never a disappointment.

Today I just decided to go for a bit of a walk and a spot of lunch. After a bit of window shopping, I walked back through the picturesque Santa Catarina Park (located close to La Vie Shopping Centre). Spanning 36,000 square metres, this pretty park overlooks Funchal harbour and boasts a pretty lake with water fountains in its centre. Other features include a monument to Christopher Columbus, numerous walkways and varying types of flora and fauna. It is around a fifteen minute walk back to the ship from the park.

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