We visited a few towns on the south coast of Madeira. It wasn’t possible (I think) to reach them via pretty coastal roads, as the roads seem to be either blocked or fallen into the sea or abandoned to rock falls. Our drive was therefore through a series of tunnels. Madeira does tunnels very well, but you don’t get to see much scenery. I cannot imagine how different life must have been before the tunnels were built. Towns would have been fairly isolated, as visiting other places would have taken much longer.
We visited Ponta do Sol. As we drove down the steep road into town, we saw a small carpark. It was full, but we managed to arrive as someone was leaving, so parked the car and followed signs to the old town. The town is built on a steep hill, terraces of bananas reaching up the cliff side, cobbled streets and houses clinging to the lower levels. There were some good coastal views, but nothing to entice us to stay in the town. The busiest area was the beach, with families sitting on the black sand or swimming in the sea. I never like black sand. Although I know it’s no less clean than yellow sand, it feels dirty. As Madeira is basically just a big volcano, all the natural sand is black.
Next we drove to Madalena do Mar. We did attempt to follow the coastal road, but it petered out, so we had to do a difficult 3-point turn on a bendy road, and it wasn’t worth the hassle; we returned to the series of tunnels.
Madalena do Mar has a big car park next to the sea, and a lovely promenade lined with palm trees along the coast, a jetty for fishing or mooring boats . . . And very little else! There were plots of land waiting to be built on, and even an area designed for a café, but no one seemed to have actually arrived yet to build the hotels and cafes. It was lovely, in a sort of abandoned, not quite there yet, way. Not sure what it will look like in ten years time.
Our last stop was Praia da Calheta. This was a busy town, full of people, cars trying to park, cafes and supermarkets. There was a small marina, with little boats bobbing in rows, and a long promenade with palm trees and cafes. There were also beaches, with yellow sand hauled from Africa. Despite the cold, several teenagers were swimming, their squeals piercing the air. Steep cliffs bordered the coastal road, and we sat in a cafe, sipping espresso and watching little black and white birds nesting in the rock while seagulls swept past looking for food.
We returned to Funchal for dinner, and ate in Noitescura, a restaurant near the apartment. It served traditional food, and last time we tried ‘Francesinha’ which were like burgers (beef, chicken, fish or vegetable) with a fried egg on top, and served covered in a sauce/gravy. I chose badly, and had the vegetable one, thinking it would be a mushroom burger, but it wasn’t, it was more like minced vegetables (tiny pieces of onion, broccoli, carrot) in a soggy bun. It was as horrible as it sounds. This time we shared a fish platter, which was lovely. It had a variety of local fish (scabbard, parrot fish, bass) and we ate it with fried sweetcorn, rice and chips. (No veg this visit, Husband chose the food.)
I also tried a poncha, which is a traditional drink, sold all over the island. I was expecting something like a caipirinha, as it’s made with sugarcane alcohol, but it wasn’t, it was more bitter, and orange, and served in a short fat wine glass with no ice. Not unpleasant, but I prefer caipirinha. I also had white wine with my meal, and a dessert with sambuca (which I remembered too late I don’t like, but luckily they poured it over the dessert and then set it on fire, so most of it burnt off). We finished with a glass of Madeira wine, but refused the rum that was offered with the bill. I don’t usually drink much. I didn’t sleep very well that night.
Thanks for reading.
Have a good week. Take care.
Love, Anne x
Informative and interesting blog !
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