Olá from Madeira Part I – A Strike, A Shot & A Dram…

Flying into Madeira over the “deserted islands” off the east coast

It all started with a free shot and a strike. The strike actually happened first, although I had no clue until I tried to board a flight in Newark that no longer existed.

“Oh, I don’t think we’re flying that route today. We went on strike you see” said the friendly hostess

“But my baggage is already tagged to go to Porto” I replied helplessly

“Oh don’t worry. We’ll just switch things around and our guy will take care of the bag in the back” she answered with a reassuring smile

I wasn’t entirely convinced. With upwards of 90,000 bags going through Newark each day, “the guy in the back” and my one lonely bag didn’t seem like too sure of a thing, but I really had no choice but to go with the flow. That was when tequila entered the picture.

Downtown Funchal – the main drag of Madeira Island

I’d made it through security, sat down rather dejectedly in the bar and must have had “the look” because the bartender took pity and offered me a free shot. Shortly thereafter a couple and another guy came over to join in and within a happy half an hour we had a little party going. The world was already looking rosier.

“It’s Portugal, so don’t worry. Things will work out” they all cheered happily

And I have to admit they were right. A mere 20 hours or so later I landed in Madeira and my bags appeared magically before me. The high cliffs and rolling coast of the island stretched into the ocean and a warm, breezy air was fanning the coast. My sister was seated next to me, my parents were on their way and we were going to spend a full week in paradise. Things were definitely looking rosier….

Fabulous Madeira wine -> worthy of an entire study unto itself

Now I have to admit I really didn’t know much about Madeira before coming here. With a bit of short-hand googling I’d learned it was part of Portugal and that it looked like a fairly small island waaaaay out in the Atlantic ocean. I also knew that they make a fortified wine  named after the spot itself which I had a vague notion tasted something like Port. The Portuguese airline hostess in Newark had added to my repertoire by telling me I was going to the Hawaii of the Atlantic, a paradise island and one of the 7 wonders of Portugal.

“You’ll wish you had three weeks over there” she said dreamily

My lovely sister admires the view from our hotel room

What I subsequently found out was quite a lot more. Madeira not only has a varied and fascinating geography (with several different climates), but boasts a wide breadth of culture and a rather rich history.  Through a meticulous and systematic in-depth one-on-one study of the local wine, I’ve also learned that Madeira wine is most definitely not Port, putz grila!  In fact the mere comparison is considered a sacrilegious insult which might possibly get you booted off the island. But all that good stuff is for Part II and I need another few drams before I can get that far. As they say “the best is yet to come” so stay tuned, my friends…

Links to the sea – this is the small fishing village of Camara De Lobos
One of the many gorgeous churches on the island
Let the wine tasting begin!
Old cobblestone streets typical of downtown Funchal
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  1. says

    What a beautiful country! Who is the pretty gal in the wine tasting picture?
    I am with you on the bags…I thought you would never see it again. How amazing that they got it right. Thank goodness! Enjoy your stay.

    • libertatemamo says

      The lovely gal in the picture is my own wonderful sister. And she is rather photogenic & pretty, if I say so myself :)

  2. jil mohr says

    hope you still have some of the wine when we next meet up…and I agree she is definitely your sister…glad you had fun….

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