|Steep cliffs, beautiful coastline, rich fields|
One thing is for sure: It is practically impossible to go on vacation and simultaneously update the blog, at least when one travels with someone else. Case in point: Sabine and my trip to the Portuguese island of Madeira last week. Here we are, four days after our return to Freising, and I still haven't written much--and it looks as if completion of this update will have to wait for a few more days since I am about to get on a plane to Berlin to see my brother.
|View of Madeira's northern shoreline after crossing the island|
|The tiny port of Paul do Mar, five minutes by car from our domicile, 2 1/2 hours on foot|
|It's possible to trek along the waterfall to the next village|
Our rental car was already waiting, an 80-dollar gem from Bravacar that featured close-to-bald tires and wipers that hadn't been replaced since the car had been built, in addition to scratches all around--thus perfect for the narrow lanes that we'd encounter in villages. From the airport it was about an 80-minute drive to Jardim do Rio, the tiny hamlet where our vacation villa for the week was located. As usual, we had gone back and forth between various housing options, from AirBnB and HomeAway as well as other sites. Practically everything was located in the mountains or away from the coast, but somewhere I ran across the Casa Pontinha, which immediately caught my attention: a luxurious villa with private swimming pool, set among a beautiful garden, overlooking from a promontory the Atlantic 20 meters below. I had contacted the Welsh owners of the villa and had received a rate that was a little more than 100 euros a night--totally insane when similar places had been fetching three to five times as much during our search. Sabine had been a bit hesitant first, thinking there'd be a catch, but we now can both say: This was by far the best vacation home we have ever rented, and I doubt we will top what we had for a price that is comparable. I think the photos speak for themselves.
|View from our terrace; the port of Paul do Mar is visible in the background|
|Our private pool, between 71 and 72 degrees|
|The villa Casa Pontinha--all ours for a week|
Casa Pontinha was our private haven for one week. The pool was warm enough for daily swims, and when neighbors are not able to look over walls you know what that means: No wet bathing suits afterward. Imagine swimming in this pool, looking over the Atlantic, hearing the waves roll in, and seeing the verdant mountains rise immediately beyond the village limits. We had our breakfasts outside, enjoyed two "pool days" when we were too tired to go for long walking excursions, and were able to barbecue in the evening after enjoying toddies from the deck. Our bedroom's veranda door opened toward the sea, and we slept to the sound of the relentless waves below. OK, let's be frank: I am planning to go back to this heaven on earth. The Dolmans, who own this place, are truly fortunate people.
|Hiking the levadas; I managed not to break anything|
|Steep in Madeira means really steep|
|Overlooking the Atlantic on one of our hikes|
|Maracuyas of all types and flavors|
|Weird exotic fruit in the market|
|Dinner in Old Funchal|
|Funchal's old harbor|
|Oak barrels that are holding decades' old madeira at Blandy's|
|The remnants of the tasting|
If I bemoan anything about our stay in Madeira, it is the lack of more time to explore other parts of this microcosm. Such a small island, and so many things to see (and hundreds of miles to hike!). I am quite determined to go back, and I hope that will be sooner rather than later. I'm not crazy about staying in the same place twice, but here I'll make an exception (just like in our domicile in Tuscany in 2014 and 2015). Assuming that Air Berlin--taking honors as Worst Airline in the Known Universe, or WAKU--maintains its non-stop Saturday service from MUC to FCN and the Casa Potinha is available, Sabine and I will revisit Madeira before we turn 70, but quite likely much earlier. Hell, the levadas are navigable almost in a wheelchair!
|Bring your raincoat|
|Relaxing after another (albeit short) hike|
|Last evening before heading back to Munich and winter|