View Madeira from above

At last Google Earth has (satellite) images of the island of Madeira. Although these are not very recent images as some of you might notice …. but it gives a very detailed view of the houses, roads and other buildings on the island.

Have a look at a few snapshots I have made from Google Earth:

Madeira Island Madeira Island Funchal Madeira Airport Ponta do Sol

What is Google Earth?

Google Earth is a free-of-charge, downloadable virtual globe program. It maps the entire earth by pasting images obtained from satellite imagery, aerial photography and GIS over a 3D globe. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)

Visit http://earth.google.com/, download the software and visit places from above … you might even see your own house.

Update
The images can also be seen within your browser via maps.google.com. Click on the following link to go directly to Madeira Archipelago. My thanks to Anton (macnetz) for the notice.

Madeira Blog Translated

Lot of travel and lodging businesses that also owns a website spend lot of time and money in having a multilingual website. For example I write this weblog about Madeira in English … but I also would like to have a Portuguese version … because Madeira is a Portuguese island. The same time I want to reach another mayor visitor’s category namely the Germans and Spanish. Let’s not forget the Italians and the French. However … I do not have the time to translate all the text and, for sure, I do not want to waste money in expensive multi-language CMS software for achieve this.

BUT … why invent the wheel if it is already built? And it’s even free to put it under your wagon. Who else but Google (again?) has built the translating-wheel.

Want to read this blog in Portuguese? What about German, French, Spanish or Italian? Hey! Let’s boogie all the way to into Japanese, Chinese, and even Korean.

This all thanks to Google’s Language Tools … that translates with one click my blog’s text into one of eight different languages.

And also thanks to Lorelle who describes how you can do this. Like she says:
Add some language translation links and help spread the word about your blog to the world.

Half Cow In The Mist

A nice small country near the sea where more than 15 million people lives there, which makes it one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Even though it’s densely populated, it has many nature areas and magnificent views. With it’s picturesque towns and villages. And all over the country you can find water, water, and more water.

Rivers and canals run through the cities and the countryside. Cows and sheep graze in green meadows and water flows through the ditches that surround them. On the coast there are broad, sandy beaches, dunes, and popular seaside resorts. It is a low-lying country and most of it is flat. Almost a third of the country is below sea level. The lowest point is 7 metres below sea level. Dunes, walls of earth called dikes, and other sea walls protect the country from the water. Without them, many areas would be flooded at high tide. The highest point is a hill 320 metres high located in the south. It has a temperate climate. The winters are mild. In January the average temperature is 2 degrees Celsius. The summers are fairly cool. In July the average temperature is 17 degrees Celsius. But during the summer it can stay warm and sunny for a few days, and temperatures can reach 30 degrees Celsius. In the winter there is sometimes frost or snow, and in both autumn and winter there can be storms and sometimes it is foggy. In the morning there is often mist on the pastures. Sometimes the cows disappear half in the mist. A curious sight.

15 million people? Below sea level? Dikes? Half cows in mist? Surely we are not talking about Madeira! Is it Portugal then? No, it neither Portugal. The country I describe you here above is my home-country, namely the Netherlands. Some of you would have guessed this already when reading the description above.

Yes, I am Dutch. Technically speaking I am half-Dutch. The other half of me descends from Madeira and thus, again, technically speaking I am also half-Madeirian. To make the confusion bigger, I was born on Curaçao (Dutch Antilles).

My mother is from a town on the island of Madeira, that earned its name from the rocky point jutting into the sea and that reflects the suns rays. It is considered to be the place that receives most sunshine than any other place on the island, namely ‘Ponta do Sol’. 45 years ago a young lady from Ponta do Sol took off on the ship ‘Vera Cruz’ from Funchal to build a new life abroad. A few years later I was one of the results of that building plan.

My roots can be found on 2 islands on this world, which is Curaçao (Caribbean) and the other Madeira (Atlantic Ocean). You could say that I have a transatlantic-split-island-personality. And did you also realised that both island are names of beverages?

Madeira Cow above the clouds

Back to the start of my introduction. I gave a short description of the Netherlands, also known as ‘Holland’. My intention with this is to give you an idea of my former home-country. A country that I have exchanged for our new home-island, namely Madeira. In other words, we have moved to the ‘Pearl of the Atlantic’ …. trading in the ‘half cows in the mist’ for the ‘cows above the clouds’.

The reason for our move to Madeira is simple. Not only because of the Madeirian genes that fills half of my body, but also after paying several visits to the island, we both felled in love with it. Not only the island, but also the people, the way of living, its nature, culture, beauty, climate and especially its lack of most negative events in the world.

My favourite description of Madeira is a phrase I once found on the Internet. This could have been one of the lost paragraphs from the Holy Bible:

After God created the world, He sat back and admired His handiwork, and having been pleased with what He had done, kissed the world tenderly. And where He placed the kiss, Madeira was born.

My bond with Madeira has strengthened the last few years. It seems that the half Madeirian in me has increased lately. They say that your mother’s blood in you gets stronger when you get older. And if there is one thing I know, is not argue with your mother!

It has been always my favourite holiday destination, and now …. it is our new home. My wife and I are both aware that this is a different way of living and we have to work very hard just to be able to cope with the life here on the island. Our goal is to contribute our knowledge and expertise to the Madeirense community in exchange for the possibility to start a new life on the island of Madeira. We want to be part of the community and not to be seen as tourist anymore.

I therefore hope that I can share with you my experiences, and tell you more about my new adventure, together with my lovely wife, on the World Heritage ‘Laurissilva’ island. And how knows, maybe during a levada-walk we will see a half-cow in the mist. In that case you will be the first to know.

Madeira from the Sea

Out of the delicate dream of the distance an emerald emerges
Veiled in the violet folds of the air of the sea;
Softly the dream grows awakening — shimmering white of a city,
Splashes of crimson, the gay bougainvillea, the palms.
High in the infinite blue of its heaven a quiet cloud lingers,
Lost and forgotten of winds that have fallen asleep,
Fallen asleep to the tune of a Portuguese song in a garden.

By Sara Teasdale (source WikiSource)

Flights Spain to Porto Santo

This summer the Spanish air company ‘Hola-Airlines’ will be operating a charter flight to Porto Santo between the months of July and September.

The company will operate a Boeing 757-200 with capacity for 200 passengers and will fly a weekly connection between Spain and the island of Porto Santo. The company wants to contribute to increasing the number of visitors to Porto Santo, and, keeping in mind the steady growth in Spanish visitors to Madeira, this objective will definitely be achieved.

Source: Madeira Tourism Board

Stars

There is a special attraction that most visitors to the island are not aware of. Or maybe they find it to scary to do it. For those who have transportation …. they can go to the rooftop of the island (for example Paúl da Serra) 1400m above the sea level and …. see the stars. Mind you … the view is not the same as you can see from Funchal, hotel or at home. On the high planes of Madeira … where there are no artificial lights, no houses or buildings, above the clouds … you can see the stars, the Milky Way …. the Galaxy.

Yesterday night we went by car to Paúl da Serra. Driving at night on a dark road …. in the mountains …. full with curves ….. with no street lights … is an exciting experience. And when we arrived at the high planes …. we had clear sky. The night sky was so full of stars … that it was not that dark. It seemed like a full moon was present and its glow was shining … but there was no moon. Only stars …. millions, billions … zillions!

Unfortunately I did not have my camera with me …. but I even doubt I could capture the image of the stars in the sky with it.

An advice for those who are thinking to drive up there at night:

  • Be careful when driving on the roads at night. Anticipate any possible obstacle in front of you.
  • Drive slowly and take your time. There are a lot of dangerous curves and you are driving in the mountains (it is a long way down).
  • Take warm clothes with you. The temperature will drop considerably the higher you get.
  • Check the weather before you go up driving to that area. Avoid going up when there are too much clouds and mist on the way to the mountains.