Bem Vindo a Madeira tem cuidado com a carteira**
Translation: Welcome to Madeira be careful with your wallet
** jokey saying about the island.
After weeks of Portuguese lessons from Carlos, Helder and occasionally Roberto when he felt like it, we were finally about to jet off to Portugal and more importantly meet the family in Madeira.
To be honest I knew nothing of the group of islands off the coast of Portugal before I met Roberto. All I really knew is what he had told me – that they called it paradise and that it was his home, world’s away from the life we had created in London but a mere three hour plane flight. Except if you’re me and book flights to Rome with Ryanair before deciding to change the flight to Madeira but not being able to change to a flight direct to Funchal through that carrier so having to book flights to Lisbon then a separate flight to Funchal from Lisbon via easy jet.
So we had a short stopover in Lisbon in a lovely hostel that felt more like a guest house. The moment we stepped off the plane into Portugal it was noted that the air was fresher and the sun warmer than London. We had the most incredible bed and after the nightmare experience of getting from our place in Norwood Junction all the way to Stansted airport for a ridiculously early flight we simply melted into the pillows after a mini feast of fresh bread and cheese.
The next evening we were finally headed for Madeira. I was filled with nerves and excitement and immediately saw Roberto’s face soften and eyes light up as we stepped onto the plane bound for his home.
This is a video I put together of our experiences on the island.
My first glimpse of Madeira was at nightfall and all the twinkling lights that dotted the cliffs of the island that sprawled in abundance. Not skyscrapers but houses lining the most impossible cliffs of Funchal the main city on the island. As we began our descent into the airport Roberto noted the tiny size of the platform and how only the most experienced pilots can land planes at the airport as there’s mere metre’s between where the plane comes to a halt and the sea. He wasn’t joking and as our plane ground to a halt the entire plane applauded which apparently is a common occurrence upon landing.
Watch this example here!
The weather was warm when we stepped out of the plane and we all boarded a shuttle bus that literally took us 20 metres to the actual airport which was quite ridiculous but funny. Roberto’s parents and sister were waiting for us at arrivals and we jumped in the back of the car and I was immediately submerged in the Portuguese language as they all spoke excitedly, Roberto translating for my benefit occasionally. As I stared out the car window my mind searched for familiarity, but this place was different from anywhere I had ever been. The streets were fairly quiet and we would disappear into and out of tunnels etched into the cliffs momentarily spotting the sea and neighboring villages from Funchal.