Vacation in Madeira and Lisbon Portugal!


Traveling to Madeira took all day since it is five hours ahead of us here in the USA. We left at 2:00 pm for our 6:40 pm flight on Wednesday, June 6, 2018 and arrived in Lisbon, Portugal on Thursday, June 7, 2018 at 7:30 am. We had to stop in Lisbon to change flights to travel to Madeira which was another 1 1/2 hour flight.

After all this traveling we were exhausted and didn’t know what day or hour it was! Sigh! We wanted to go to sleep and stay there for the day but alas, we could not do that. We needed to get into the new time and day and plug along.

This was our first trip to Madeira where my grandparents were born. I have always wanted to come here to walk where my ancestors once did. It was a special feeling to be close to them. I love the shushing sound of the Portuguese language that was familiar to my ears having grown up with it. I still never learned the speak Portuguese but can recognize and understand  a little (un pecuniaho).

Once we made it to our destination, the gorgeous island of Madeira, we noticed the beautiful painted tiles in the airport corridors.

The above two paintings on the walls of the airport are of the good luck rooster which can be seen often painted on dishes. We have a couple of trivets with roosters on them from our first visit to Portugal back in 2002.

Here is a little information on this island. Madeira is a Portuguese island which has an area of 740.7 km. It’s total population is 262,456. It is the top of a massive shield volcano that rises about 6 km (20,000 ft) from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean. Oops my cousin, Birgit, corrected this stat – she said it is 1865 km at its highest point, Pico Ruivo. I guess Wikipedia is not always right.

Our guide told us Madeira has a sub-tropical climate which is evident by the eclectic mix of tropical plants, palm trees and cacti everywhere.

Also, please notice the lovely walkway all in tiles done by hand by talented workers. Everywhere you look you will find walkways like this and even the streets are all in cobblestones and tiles.

The photo below is of the flower known as the Pride of Madeira. We were told that this plant only blooms in June. Lucky for us that we got to see it. It’s beautiful!

Madeira capital is Funchal which means fennel due to the abundance of the fennel plant on the island. This fennel plant produces wiry greens that can be used to make soup of funch which was something my mother made often. It’s delicious and has a mild taste of the fennel seed without being overpowering. I don’t particularly like the taste of licorice but this is pleasant without the harshness.

Madeira was first settled in 1424 according to Wikipedia. Our guide told us it was discovered in 1419. Cruise ships often visit the capital of Funchal since it is a popular destination for many especially for New Year’s Eve. But it is a fascinating and enjoyable place to visit any time of the year.

Here are some gorgeous scenic pics to enjoy.

Our hotel, Porto Mare, was breathtakingly beautiful as you can see from these photos. It had two pools, a garden area and an enormous bird cage housing colorful parakeets. Our room was a spacious suite with an expansive balcony that offered an incredible view. All the rooms are like this. We are not rich and never have stayed in a place like this before. It made me feel like I was though!


Views of the ocean on our visit to Funchal. The weather usually is high 80’s to 90’s but the island was experiencing cooler weather due to a front that was coming from the Azores, another Portuguese island. We needed sweaters or a light jacket at night. I needed a sweater or jacket also the time. But that’s just me – always cold! I thought the weather was perfect for sightseeing and walking around. I don’t like getting all sweaty.

We took a whale and dolphin watching cruise out of Old Funchal harbor. It was a pleasant sail on a catamaran that had plenty of cover to prevent sunburn. I was ecstatic when we saw a juvenile whale who was playing with our catamaran as he glided in front under and alongside us. We were in the middle of dozens of dolphins that cavorted along our flanks and jumped out of the water to show off their skills to us. It was an incredible sight to see. Here are some photos my husband took.

Here are some professional ones and a photo of us being buffeted by the winds but happy.

Of course we ate heartily and enjoyed the delicious food and wine in all of Madeira. Here are some samples. The food was delicious everywhere we went. But we did have three excellent restaurants in our hotel where we dined each night. A couple of these restaurants we liked so much that we went back a second time. There was an Italian (Il Basilico), Portuguese (Alfama), a Mediterrean (Med) and also a buffet (Atlantida) with plenty of excellent food to choose from. I highly recommend you stay at the Porto Mare Hotel for the beautiful rooms and grounds, the friendly and helpful staff, and the fantastic choices of food. It will delight all your senses!

While we were in Funchal, Madeira, we dined with my cousin, Walter and his son, Eddie. We had a lovely visit and dinner together catching up. We hadn’t seen each other for over forty years. We were young back then. Sigh!

Here are some views of the Old Funchal. There are two Funchals – the new part where our hotel was located and the old. I loved visiting the old part. It was like stepping back in time.

We went on three tours altogether. One with a tour group of 14 people. We met some lovely travelers from England. We took two other tours with a private taxi-cab driver, Angelo Gomes. He was kind, accommodating, and thorough as he drove us around the island. I will share more photos of where we went in another post. If you ever get this way call and tell him I sent you. Here’s our handsome guide’s info:

Angelo Gomes – Taxi 1270-Funchal – Tel 00351 919912578


A special thank you to our travel agent, Faye Sell, of Martinelli Travel of Londonderry, NH, for arranging this memorable trip for us.

Faye can be reached at

There is so much more to share with you about this magnificent island that I will do another post or possibly two to put in all the points of interest for you. If you have never been to Madeira before you have to check it out one day.

Thank you for stopping by to read about this fabulous trip.

Oh, by the way, I read five books while I was on vacation. Without any social media and writing to get in the way it was an enjoyable time well spent reading some good books. I will post the rest of my reviews on Goodreads if you care to check them out.


Reading is good for your health!

Blessings & Hugs,


About jjspina

Janice is an multi-award-winning author with 41 books: 20 children's books for PS-Gr 4, 12 middle-grade/preteen, two young adult books, written under Janice Spina, and 6 novels, and a short story collection written under J.E. Spina. She is also a writer of poetry, blogger, avid reader, reviewer and a copy editor. Janice has always loved writing and started very young writing poetry, then stories. Her books have received 33 Book Awards and a few finalists awards. All Janice's books are available on, Kindle, B&N and other online book sites. One of her sports' poems was published in The Lawrence Eagle Tribune in October of 2008. She is currently working on book 3 of a YA fantasy series an and book 2 in an angel series. There will be six books in all in this series. She hopes to work on a series of four books in a crime/mystery genre that will be offsprings of her thriller, Hunting Mariah. There are books in the works about a dog for ages YA. Her hobbies are crocheting, sewing, walking to keep fit, hula hooping, tap dancing, going to the movies with her husband, and spending time with her five grandchildren. Janice loves to hear from readers and appreciates reviews. Sign up on her blog for a copy of her newsletters under Contact Me. She lives in New Hampshire with her husband who is her illustrator and cover creator.
This entry was posted in flowers, Madeira Island, Memorable vacation, Portugal, Sea views, vacation, Whales and dolphins, Writing, book reviews and publishing, poetry, children's books, YA and novels and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

37 Responses to Vacation in Madeira and Lisbon Portugal!

  1. So beautiful. Thank you for sharing. Keep them coming.

  2. mihrank says:

    this is so great journey and adventure, thank you for sharing….

  3. What a lovely trip, Janice. And so cool that you got to meet your cousin who you hadn’t seen for 40 years. You must have had so much to catch up on. Did you manage to stay awake the first day? Jet lag is awful. It usually affects me for weeks after I return.
    Looking forward to hearing more about the holiday and seeing the photos.
    Hugs to you.

    • jjspina says:

      Thanks, Hugh. Oh boy I know what you mean. I am still out of it and 😴. Hope to get back to my old self soon. Wait s minute, I’d much rather have a young self! Ha 😘🤗

  4. Sounds like you had a wonderful time there. The experience with the Whale and dolphins sounds especially wonderful to me.

  5. Mary Smith says:

    It sounds wonderful, Janice. I’ve often wondered about visiting Madeira and you make it sound a gorgeous place.

  6. dgkaye says:

    Janice, thank you for sharing your beautiful trip! The photos are gorgeous, as is the tilework and the beautiful ocean. I must say, that national flower looks a lot like a lupine. 🙂 ❤

  7. wolfpug says:

    First, WELCOME HOME!! SO glad you had some fun time! Thank you for sharing the beautiful pictures.

  8. The Owl Lady says:

    Looks like a lovely place, I’m glad you had a great time! I love the pictures especially the one of you and your hubby. @v@ ❤

  9. I love love love this post! So much joy and beauty shared by two gracious hearts. Cheers to you both. Amazing! 🙂

  10. Reblogged this on Smorgasbord – Variety is the spice of life and commented:
    Janice Spina has been on a trip to Portugal and on to the island of Madeira where her grandparents are from.. Apart from meeting up with a cousin she has not seen for 40 years, Janice and John toured the Island and even went whale and Dolphin watching.. What a beautiful place and some wonderful photographs and descriptions.. looking forward to more. #recommended

  11. Carol says:

    It looks beautiful Janice pretty tiles, dolphins and whales what an experience…Also lovely to catch up after so much time with your family…A beautiful tour thank you for sharing 🙂 xxx

  12. macjam47 says:

    Welcome home. What a wonderful vacation! It must have been difficult for you to leave. Your photos are lovely and give us a real sense of your stay. The food looks delicious.

  13. willedare says:

    One of my friends just returned from 10 days in Portugal with his family. They loved traveling there (and said it was quite affordable, too, compared to other European destinations…) I do not travel very often; so it was a pleasure to read about your trip and see so many pictures of Madeira. What a beautiful culture of natural beauty + works of art everywhere (even to walk on)! Like the hotel you stayed at, your blog post has delighted all my senses!

    • jjspina says:

      So happy to hear you enjoyed reading about my trip. I hope one day you get there. Portugal is a wondrous place to travel across, so much to see and do. I loved visiting Porto, sailing on the Douro River, visiting Sandaman Winery, walking around Cascais by the ocean, visiting the gorgeous Algarve with its views, and so many other memorable sights. We visited first time in 2002 but I was not online then to record it all. Sigh.
      Thank you for stopping by. 🤗

  14. Pingback: Recipes from Janice’s Kitchen Corner – Portuguese Seafood Stew! | Jemsbooks

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