Madeira, Portugal :: Sprague Adventures


 Several months ago, Ben and I realized that he wouldn't be able to take off enough time to warrant a trip back stateside. We had been planning to go in February, so when plans had to change, we got creative. We asked my 'rents if they'd be willing to meet us in the middle...of the Atlantic. While it's not exactly the middle (my parents suffered the brunt of the travel) we settled upon a pretty little group of islands called Madeira.

And oh, pretty she was. 

We rented a 4 room AirBNB and made a trip out of it. My dad, lucky for us, has some extensive mountain driving experience. We were all thankful for his skills since the car we rented was a) stick shift b) a van. and c) going up incredibly steep and narrow roads. Plus we often found ourselves travelling on roads less traveled. At one point the signs warning of 'falling rocks' were quite literal. They failed to warn us about free range cows. As my mom kept joking " we prayed for an adventure!"

All that to say, the trip was a delight and most certainly an adventure.

Our first day we hiked up to a fortress, to only discover it was closed. Lucky for us we had a plan b. We drove out to Cabo Gir√£o, a lofty sea cliff overlook and were left with some amazing sites, a nice lunch, and tired toes.

The following day we decided to head up to Pico de Arieiro, fortunate that we chose to do this on the second day because by the fourth day the roads were closed due to weather. The sights were breathtaking. at one point we thought we were experiencing some fog  as we drove, only to realize we were just driving through a literal cloud. so fun. 

The drive down  made as all a little sick feeling, so when we happened upon the tropical gardens (a bit by accident!) it was an easy decision to go and visit. SO MUCH GREEN greeted us. Before we went into the tropical gardens, we saw people being pushed in wicker baskets down a  steep 2 km. It's a bit of a tourist attraction, but the more we watched people experience the Monte toboggan, the more we were tempted to join in. My dad was all in (the daredevil he is) and when we hesitated, our Eowyn had the saddest face a little girl ever did make. And so, we decided to go for it. It was super cool. Probably the most interesting way to travel I will ever experience. The men that pushed the baskets down wore shoes with thick rubber for braking. It was a little scary, but super fun as we glided along tiny steep hills. Elias had a curious face the entire time. Eowyn squealed.

We were getting good at road-tripping, so we decided to venture and explore more of the island. We went up to the north of the island where lava pools in Porto Moniz were. Essentially, as the lava from the island cooled some time ago, it made natural pools of water. They now have them as a place you can go swimming in the summer. We just went to see what they looked like and enjoy the drive there. While the weather was making a turn towards hail and strong winds, it made for some breathtaking waves. 

We tended to eat out for lunch and eat dinner back at the place we were staying. We learned that when eating out, it would be slow.  Knowing that this was the culture, we went with it and learned to enjoy our Bolo do Caco and each others company. Sometimes our meals would take the better part of two hours. Good conversation was had and our kids learned how to be a bit more patient.


During our trip we had major thunderstorms and wind for two of the days. So, we decided to visit the whale museum to wade out the storms. After the museum, we grabbed lunch and happened upon this beach just as the sun shone for a few minutes. Eowyn got her feet (and shoes, and socks) wet, and
Elias tried to eat rocks. A pretty much perfect occasion considering the weather.

We spent the last two days of our vacation visiting Funchal and visiting with each other. It was such a sweet time. I forgot to charge my camera those last few days, but to be honest, it was kind of nice just walking leisurely, eating ice cream and enjoying the city and parks. My Parents flew out Sunday night, and we followed them Monday morning.

What a lovely trip it was. Missing  you, Dad and mom, already. So glad to have happened upon this place. Madeira, you're so lovely.

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