Modernization brings Madeira to a crossroads

 

For Centuries, this Portuguese haven in the mid-Atlantic has captivated visitors with its stunning beauty, semitropical climate and open-armed hospitality.

The bustling capital, Funchal, is literally a work of art, with miles of hand-laid mosaic-tile walkways leading to exotic gardens, colorful boutiques and refreshing pools amid five-star resort hotels.

And the mountainous interior, with peaks thrusting beyond 6,000 feet, is like discovering Superman’s Lair of Solitude, with a pervasive tranquillity and natural grandeur.

But explosive growth, especially in the last decade, has left Madeira at a crossroads that threatens its promise as an idyllic getaway.

While the new prosperity has helped fuel the development boom — with rampant construction of private homes, residential complexes and more hotels, amid escalating property values — the growing congestion threatens like a tsunami to overwhelm the island’s culture, grace and charm.

“There are almost as many cars now as people,” said Luisa Silva, a bank employee in Funchal, where nearly half of the island’s 250,000 people live, making it the most densely populated city in the European Union.

By Joseph F. Nunes, Hartford Courant. Read the whole article at InsideBayArea.com

Festival Food Week Machico

Machico Gastronomy Week

Machico Gastronomy Week’s objective is to make Madeira’s cuisine more widely known. The Gastronomic Week will be held in the town of Machico from 29th of July to 6th of August. Besides the gastronomy itself, there is the cocktail festival, football for veterans, beach volleyball, basketball and other activities with much music played by artists from Madeira and other national Portuguese musical attractions.

Source: Câmara Municipal de Machico (more info)

Funchal 500 Tall Ships Regatta 2008

Funchal 500 Tall Ships Regatta 2008 - Sail Training International

Host ports for the Funchal 500Tall Ships Regatta 2008 were announced in Lisbon this week. The Regatta will take place in September 2008 and is being organised by Sail Training International.

The port Falmouth, in the south west of England, has been selected as the start port. The fleet will race from there at the beginning of September 2008 to Port of Aveiro, Illhavo, Portugal, before a second race to Funchal, Madeira.

Attention: follow this link to read the latest update about the race.

The Funchal 500 Tall Ships Regatta will be the centre-piece of year-long celebrations in 2008 commemorating the 500th anniversary of Funchal’s founding, says Miguel Filipe Machado de Albuquerque, Mayor of Funchal.
By 2008 the commercial port in the heart of our city will be transformed into a leisure destination port to attract tourism. Funchal now plans to join the growing international family of sail training friendly ports.

Provisional dates: Falmouth (10 – 13 September).
Ilhavo (Porto of Aveiro), Portugal, (20 – 23 September).
Funchal, Madeira (2 – 5 October).

Update:
We recently published a list of the participating vessels. Click on the following link: Funchal 500 Years Tall Ships Regatta

Marriage in Madeira

Is it possible, as citizens from another country, to have a marriage on the island of Madeira?

In this case the question came from the Netherlands. I inquired the Dutch consul here in Funchal and also a few hotels. They informed me that for Dutch citizens to be able to marry (civil marriage) in Madeira – Portugal, is only possible if one person from the couple lives in Portugal (with a minimum of 3 months).

To have the ceremony here in a church you will have to go through a very long and expensive procedure, which it may not be worth it … except if you have the time and money for it. The best way would be to have the church ceremony held in a hotel. There are (5 star) hotels that have already organized such events.

If you wish to have a marriage here on Madeira, and you are citizen from outside Portugal, I would suggest that you contact your country’s embassy or consulate in Portugal, and ask them for more information.

For a marriage ceremony in a hotel I would suggest that you make a (short) trip to Madeira and pay a visit to some of the hotels. If you need any help on this, feel free to ask.

Into the Big Blue

Think of Madeira and what image comes to mind?
Lush gardens of palm trees and flowers?
Towering mountaintops reaching above the clouds?
Balmy afternoons taking tea on the terrace and looking out over the sea?
Or even a bottle of Madeira wine?

Madeira is all of these things of course, but can also be much more. Off the island’s rocky shores, not very far below the ocean surface, there is whole new Madeira – and a side of the island which relatively few visitors have yet discovered. Madeira may not be one of the world’s top diving destinations, but it is a great place for beginner divers, and those who have never dived before, to get to grips with this increasingly popular sport.

The prospect of scuba diving for the complete beginner can be daunting, and most learner divers would confess to being rather nervous the first time. Worries about breathing, getting in and out of the water, and of course, things going wrong, are perfectly normal, and instructors are well aware of your anxieties.

My first dive, known in the trade as a try dive was in the bay of Machico, just in front of the Dom Pedro Hotel in Machico. There was some swell, but the sea in that area was relatively calm. Nevertheless my heart rate increased significantly as my instructor calmly prepared my equipment and explained to me the few things I had to remember to do. Kitted out in all your gear, you feel as if you weigh a ton, and are sure to sink straight down to the seabed. You don’t, of course – and when you first get in the water you will remain happily bobbing around on the surface until your instructor feels you are ready to go down. The first time you go under the water is both exciting and confusing – part of your brain is telling you that you can’t breathe under there, yet you are doing. For more nervous divers like myself, this realization can take a while to get use to, as can the fact that you don’t have to gasp for air, or take big deep breaths – your air supply is more than adequate and you can breathe perfectly normally.

It took me maybe three minutes to get over the initial amazement of breathing under water and to start enjoying the new world I was experiencing. And it really is another world. A silent world in which all you can hear is your own breathing and you are acutely conscious of every single breath you take. A world with a blue-green backdrop, but full of other colourful citizens, of all shapes and sizes, busily swimming about their business. A world whose floor is covered with a soft carpet of fingers gently swaying to and from. It is a world which seems to have no gravity, like the inside of a space ship, where you can float around upside down, do tipple tails, or just let the water carry you about.

The great thing about being a beginner is that your equipment and its correct functioning are totally your instructor’s responsibility. He or she monitors your buoyancy, checks your air supplies and generally makes sure everything is running smoothly. You may also be attached to your instructor by a line, so there’s no way you can float away or get lost. Literally all you have to do is breathe pop your ears from time to time and look at all the lovely fish. It really couldn’t be much easier. My try dive lasted for about 30 minutes, and passed only too quickly. Yet is was 30 minutes of my life that I will never forget, and climbing out of the water I felt ridiculously pleased with myself for having done it. I also, like most learner divers, wondered what on earth I had been so worried about – although it is normal, and even expected, there really is no reason for it.
But my other overwhelming reaction to the dive was, I later learnt, by far the most common of all, and may be of some comfort to all those would-be divers out there who have yet to take the plunge. It was quite simply when can we go again?

(Article written by Herman)

Websites …

Wheelchair friendly?

Is Madeira wheelchair friendly (or not)? How are the access to hotels, restaurants and attractions?

The answer to this is unfortunately …. not friendly at all! Even with the EU law (October 2004 ) saying that all EU countries must have disable access in all public places ….. Madeira is not giving this much attention. With all the steep hills, stairs etc. this is not making it easy at all.

Some new hotels have lifts that is wide enough for a wheelchair to enter, but not all of them.

I think it is a shame that not everybody can enjoy the beauties the island offers. If you are thinking to come to Madeira … and you or your acquaintance needs the usage of a wheelchair …please enquire through your travel agent about the possibilities and probable complications you might encounter.

However … the local people of Madeira are known to be very helpful … thus you always can depend in someone’s assistance during your trip on the island.

Piano lessons

Sometimes I will be posting non-Madeira things … although I think the picture was taken from a hotel here on the island :mrgreen:

Anyway … for those who would like to learn to play piano on a ‘fun’ way …. click on the image. And for the piano virtuosos among you can also have a go … and even make your own recording. Enjoy.

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By the way … the site is both in English and Portuguese.