Madeira Revisited 1. When I went for the first time to the island of Madeira in November 2016 (posts Madeira 1 to Madeira 8), although I had been a little disappointed in certain respects, or perhaps because of that, I really wanted to return to see the wilder parts of the island. So I booked three back-to-back trips, each with a different focus, with Naturetrek for this month. The middle one did not attract sufficient numbers, so was cancelled, so I decided only to do the first and longest one, called ‘The Floating Garden’.
Madeira is a small island, about the size of the Isle of Wight, but it has a number of different ecologies, all based on the volcanic geology that made the island a very recent 7 million years ago.
We were 15 with two leaders, and travelled around – when not on foot within the capital, Funchal, in two minibuses. But this first day, once we had settled in to our very nice hotel, the Residencial Pina, – noting that it was going to be a steep hike up from the waterfront – and had a bite of lunch, we set off for an exploration of the centre of the town.
Once at the municipal gardens I decided to peel off and do my own thing.
It was nice to be back in roads I recognised, though I didn’t stay very long, and made my way back up to the hotel.
We walked down again in the evening, after a briefing on our next day’s activities, and ate at the very good (all the restaurants we ate at were very good, though some were not as good as this one at handling our need for separate bills) Restaurante dos Combatantes, right by the municipal gardens. Some returned by taxi, and some of us walked back up. I could see I was going to be much fitter by the end of the seven days!