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Tag Archives: madeira

These are the photos I (Chris) took and posted on Facebook. The series was started in March of 2013. There is no theme – just something random and visually interesting. We gave each photo a title and noted where it was taken (to the extent we could remember).

#11 –  the sky  –  Madeira


#12 –  complexities  – Milano


#13 –  creature  – Boston


#14 –  stormy  – Christchurch, UK


#15 –  “Meet our Graduate Students”  – Las Vegas

meet our graduate students

After A and F’s wedding, we had a day to look around Funchal, the main city of Madeira. Our hotel is on the western side of the city. The Workers’ market is situated on the east end of the town center in the area of Santa Maria. The market was built in the 1930’s in the style of Art Deco with a hint of modernism.


It has several levels: the higher level sells fruits and flowers, and the lower level sells meat and fishes. There was a wide range of exotic fruits on offer, some of which I have never seen before – e.g., those that look like a cob of green corn.

We have been to Tokyo’s Tsukiji fish market several years ago and there were lots to see. So I (Chris) went to explore Funchal’s fish market, after all this market is located in the middle of the Atlantic.

Warning:  Graphic images of dead fishes below.


As it was around midday when we visited, the market was winding down with most of the stalls emptied or closed. They kept the old scales on display and put an electronic one in the middle.


The market sells both dried and fresh fishes.



They seemed like the same species of fish but some displayed a rich orange coloration – I wonder if the grey varieties and orange varieties taste differently.


The most recognizable fish is the black scabbardfish which is an economically important species for Madeira’s fishermen. It is on all the menus and we had it for lunch while touring the island. As shown, some had been skinned to remove that ink black exterior which was not appetizing.
According  to Wikipedia,

The black scabbardfish, Aphanopus carbo, is a bathypelagic cutlassfish of the family Trichiuridae found in the Atlantic Ocean between latitudes 69° N and 27° N at depths of between 180 and 1,700 m. Its length is up to 110 cm, but reaches maturity around 80 to 85 cm. The black scabbardfish is a fish with a body that is extremely elongated, with body depth 10.8 to 13.4 times in SL. The snout is large with strong fang-like teeth. Pelvic fins represented by a single spine in juveniles but entirely absent in adults. Color is coppery black with iridescent tint. The inside of the mouth and gill cavities are black.

My apologies in case the image of this pile of fish heads and guts startled you. The black scabbardfish  has to be the ugliest fish I have seen – downright nightmarish.


The big eyes suggest that these fishes live in a very dark environment (i.e., deep ocean). I imagine there are few organisms living near the bottom of the ocean, therefore when the black scabbardfish encounters a prey, it needs sharp teeth to pierce and capture the prey with one bite. It has a dainty tail fin but given the ribbon-shaped body, the tail fin is redundant.

I think these are tunas – rather small. We have seen much bigger bluefin tuna – see our earlier posts here and here.


Never saw a moray eel in a market before. This one was more than 3 feet long!


Local limpets (a general name for any shellfish whose shell is not spirally coiled) are on many menus and I had a few in a dish. While they looked attractive, particularly the iridescent interior, the taste was unremarkable.


Portugese bacalhau!


Well, I visited the Funchal market as if I was on a zoology field trip. But if I had a kitchen and time, this place has many interesting ingredients for cooking experiments.

To follow where we went and where these pictures were taken, use this map of Madeira. Recap: the main city is Funchal where we were staying on the south side of the island (see post on our hotel). In an earlier post, we had pictures of Pico de Ariero, one of the peaks in the middle of the island. Our bus took us from the peak to Santana on the north shore and continued along the shoreline to Sao Vicente (see last post).

In this post, we are posting pictures taken on the way from Sao Vicente to Porto Moniz located at the north western tip of the island. Most of Sao Vicente is hidden in the valley just behind the beach near where the main north-south cross-island thoroughfare ends.

We continued heading west towards Porto Moniz at the northwestern tip of the island in the bright yellow bus from Windsor Tours.

We stopped at another view point near Seixal. The city was visible in the background.

A waterfall splashes directly into the ocean. The old cliff side road is still visible. We used a 2-lane highway-tunnel to get through this area.

Near Seixal on the northern coast of Madeira.

Rocks and cliffs. In case you are wandering, the green bars in the sky were reflections of the interior lights (not to be confused with the birds) – many of the photos shown here were shot on a moving bus.

It must be so scenic to sail around these rocks and look at them at sea level.

Porto Moniz.

This was the turnaround point where we began to head back to the other side of the island.

Porto Moniz is famous for its natural swimming pool. Too bad we did not have time to jump in.

Continuing with the day trip around Madeira … after Pico de Arieiro, the bus took us north to reach the other side of the island (relative to the main city of Funchal) and started to climb again as it headed west.  See the cliff on the right  ? Remember that there were houses on top.

In this photo, the houses on the cliff were at about the same elevation as our tour bus – but we were separated by a valley.

The picture below is not taken from a plane but from the bus about 8 minutes after I took the picture above. You may recognize the same string of houses that are built on a cliff. That’s how far the bus had climbed!

In the above photo, the eastern tip of the island is clearly visible. The landscape is beautiful and dramatic.

Santana is one of the bigger village/city on the north shore. We stopped there to visit the traditional small thatched triangular houses – they were a bit touristy but cheerful.

From Santana, we went along the shore in a east-to-west direction.  We stopped at  Beira de Quinta – one of the most beautiful view points.


Beira da Quinta overlooks Arco de São Jorge which is situated on a plateau next to the ocean.

The view at Beira de Quinta is stunning – even having a wide angle lens on the camera, it was not possible to capture the vastness of open space that was in front of us here – the open Atlantic Ocean on the right, and on the other side an arc of a mountain sits behind a plateau, casting a shadow on half of the plateau with terra-cotta roofed houses.

Looking further west.

After the view point, the bus descended onto the plateau and continued along a road that runs along the cliff. Our destination for lunch is at Sao Vicente, located roughly in the middle of the north shore.

The restaurant  is situated right by the ocean at the base of a cliff and it has a gimmick.

The dining room rotates very slowly – about one revolution per hour so that all the diners have a chance to be seated at the waterfront.

For lunch, we were served fried  black scabbardfish fish (I think) and fried banana, and Madeira wine of course.

Pictures of the trip continue in our next post.

One day before A and F’s wedding and after most of the guests had arrived from mainland Europe the night before, A’s parents arranged a day trip for all the guests to see the island. A tour bus came by the hotel in Funchal, the main port and city, to pick up all the visiting wedding guests – the bride and groom came along with us – so it became a party bus.

Some of the pictures may appear blurry or patchy. That is because many were taken in the bus on the move through glass that might be reflecting some interior lights.

Our first destination was Pico de Arieiro which is the third highest peak on the island  (1818 m, 5965 ft).

The road was winding and narrow, and the bus had to skirt right against the barrier when there is a vehicle on the other side. As we gained elevation, there were no trees to block our view. The passing scenery was great as was the illusion that we were about to fall off or fly off.

We think Madeira and the Spanish Canary islands are to Europeans like the Hawaiian islands are to mainland Americans. However, Madeira is much closer than Hawaii to the mainland, and it is in fact closer to the African continent than to Portugal (same latitude as Casablanca I was told).

At the top of Pico de Arieiro, there is an observatory, a gift shop and a small exhibit about local birds.

There is a path that leads northwards towards Pico Ruivo (1861m, 6106 ft), which is I think the highest peak in the island.  That path has a daily average of 1000 tourists trekking on it, according to Wikipedia. It looked fairly easy – we could have done it if we had more time.

On the day, the weather was fine with partial cloud coverage of the surrounding peaks.  Supposedly on a clear day, one can see both sides of the island as well as the neighboring island of Porto Santos; but on a cloudy day, the place can be completely covered by mists with zero visibility.

Madeira reminded me specifically of the big island of Hawaii. Both are volcanic in origin and each has an observatory at the top of the mountain. The difference is that Mauna Kea in Hawaii was  4,207 m (13,803 ft) and the air was so thin that it was hard to breathe at the top.

After the bus came down from Pico de Arieiro,we went through Ribeiro Frio (“cold river”), an area that is designated a UNESCO world heritage nature site due to the prehistoric wild Laurisilva forest. A trout farm is located here, however we did not stop as there were too many people.

After many more hairpin turns, ascents and descents, the bus took us north towards the shore. We passed the town of Faial.

The tour continues with our next post.

Last month (October), we came to the Portuguese island of Madeira to attend a wedding of Sue’s friend.  Her friend, A who is from Madeira was marrying F from France.

A’s family is in the travel business and they put together a wonderful package for the bridegroom’s family and guests who came to the island. All visitors stayed at the CS Madeira Atlantic Hotel & Spa.

The bulk of the hotel and rooms are on top of the cliff while the spa and pools are right next to the ocean.  There are several elevators that take guests up and down the cliff.

A water aerobics class had just started in the pool.

The hotel was rather quiet as it was not yet the peak season. The atmosphere was very relaxing – the pool and spa services were at our disposal.Neither the ceremony nor the reception was held at the hotel. Because the place is so spread out, it would feel a bit impersonal. For us, the arrangement was great because we had a chance to make new friends and be part of the party for the entire stay.

There is a dive site near the rock just offshore.

The hotel has two infinity pools.


Madeira is a subtropical volcanic island but surprisingly it has no beaches. The hotel built these jetties (see photo below) that allow guests to access the ocean – one can just jump off – it is not very deep as the bottom is just visible but deep enough for diving in head first.


More pictures of the island will be posted soon.