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Monday, January 4, 2016

Landing in Madeira Island, Portugal

Hellllooooo from the other side (of the Atlantic!)

I landed in Madeira yesterday around 11 am jet lagged and exhausted.  The longest 24 hours ever started with a red eye from Boston to Azores, and then Azores to Madeira.  Did I mention there is a 7 hour time difference from my current home base in Utah? 

I was just "that" American tourist who walked over to the coffee stand (apparently manned by waitstaff) and started pouring her own cup.  Please forgive me as I am a foolish American jetlagged tourist in dire need of coffee.

Before I go into any exciting details, lets start with some "need to know" about the island and how I got here.  As I was applying for graduation in July and gearing up for my last semester, I called my parents back East with a proposal.  

 "Hey, you like to travel, I like to travel.  I graduate in December and before I join the ranks of the real world, lets plan a trip somewhere".
The timing was just right as I had called just a few hours after they were booking a trip to the Island of Madeira.  Lets just say I have a 6th sense and its called discounted travel.

Madeira is a small island off the coast of Morocco that is owned by Portugal, and right between the Azores and the Canary Islands.  Some of you may be wondering why we chose such an exotic and awesome place to visit, and the answer is simple. 

Because the island is Portuguese (owned and spoken language), it came up quick on the radar of my Azorean, Portuguese parents.  My parents are 100 percent Portuguese born on Sao Migeuel, Azores, and I am a first generation daughter with a love of travel and places off the radar.  I was so excited to land on this beautiful warm island.

A little about the island courtesy of Wikipedia
"Madeira is a Portuguese archipelago located in the north Atlantic Ocean, west and slightly south of Portugal. Its total population was estimated in 2011 at 267,785. The capital of Madeira is Funchal on the main island's south coast.
It is just under 400 kilometres (250 mi) north of Tenerife, Canary Islands. Since 1976, the archipelago has been one of the two Autonomous regions of Portugal (the other being the Azores, located to the northwest). It includes the islands of Madeira, Porto Santo, and the Desertas, administered together with the separate archipelago of the Savage Islands. It is an outermost region of the European Union.
Madeira was claimed by Portuguese sailors in the service of Prince Henry the Navigator in 1419 and settled after 1420. The archipelago is considered to be the first territorial discovery of the exploratory period of the Portuguese Age of Discovery, which extended from 1415 to 1542.
Its southerly marine position renders the warmest year-round subtropical climate in Portugal, with winters being extremely mild and summers long but with relatively modest heat (it is currenlt 65 here!).
Today, it is a popular year-round resort, being visited every year by about one million tourists. The region is noted for its Madeira wine, gastronomy, historical and cultural value, its endemic flora and fauna, landscapes (Laurel forest) which are classified as a UNESCOWorld Heritage Site and embroidery artisans. Its annual New Year celebrations feature the largest fireworks show in the world, as officially recognized by Guinness World Records in 2006. The main harbor in Funchal is the leading Portuguese port in cruise liner dockings, being an important stopover for commercial and trans-Atlantic passenger cruises between Europe, the Caribbean and North Africa. Madeira is the second richest region of Portugal by GDP per capita, being only surpassed by Lisbon".

Getting Here
Getting here is relatively simple.  You can catch a flight from Logan in Boston, Massachusetts, to Sao Miguel, Azores via a red eye on Sata Airlines (a Portuguese airline that heads to Lisbon after its stop in Sao Miguel).  You leave at 10pm and with the time difference and a four hour flight, arrived at 6am (their time) in the Azores.  We had an hour and a half layover and one more hour time change before catching a much smaller plane and an hour and a half flight to Madeira. 

Their are so many unique differences between Europe and the states, and one is that they feed you on the plane.  Steak, mushrooms, gravy, rice with a cold tortellini salad, bread, butter, and cheesecake.  It was all quite good for airline food. 

Food from Sata Airlines

Small plane from Azores to Madeira 
Views of the island from the plane. 
Views of the island from the plane. 

"You may want a tall glass of Madeira wine before flying into Madeira Airport on this Portuguese archipelago. The airport's short runway, sandwiched between a rocky cliffside and a steep drop to the ocean, was known for its variable winds. In 2000 it was extended, almost doubling in size to 9,124 feet. That might make you feel better about traveling here... until you realize that much of the extension is built on a platform partly over the ocean, supported by 180 columns (each about 230 feet tall). Drift too far on a rainy, windy day and the airplane could go over the side".

If you need a ride from the airport to your hotel,
Book here!  with the minibus for 1-8 passengers. 

Runway on stilts 

Once we landed, we rented a car, drove the 40 minutes from the airport to the capital city and hotel district in Funchal.  We walked around, grabbed some local beer and food, and scouted out the area. 

This island is one of the most unique, gorgeous and exotic places I have ever visited. So naturally I am off to do what I do best.  Take a tonnnnn of pictures. 

Signing off from Madeira Island!


  1. Wooo bless your heart, girl. That's a long trip. I hope the jet lag disappears quickly. I cannot WAIT to hear all about this trip. I'm also going to send you an e-mail about a potential Utah adventure I might need help planning. ;)

    1. Ha not an easy time change! But adjusting!! SO glad to be here! And yay so excited for your Utah adventure!

  2. What are those on your feet? flip flops? LOL You're lucky you are missing out on the nasty SLC inversion and RAIN! Those ariel views are amazing! Lucky girl! Alicia @

    1. The weather here is SO NICE!! its going to be hard going right back to winter!


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