Madeira IslandMarch 4, 2019 in Portugal ⋅ ☀️ 16 °C
We were excited to leave the busy-ness of Lisbon and head to the lovely Portuguese island of Madeira for one week of hikes and sightseeing in nature. We had heard that the island had a lot of beautiful natural places to visit and the weather is pleasant.
Our taxi from our Rossio area apartment to the airport, terminal 2, cost €11, which we thought was a good price. We got to the airport a little earlier than required for an inter-country flight but didn’t mind waiting a bit. Of course, the plane was an hour late due to high winds in Madeira. Oh, well. We are not on a tight schedule.
The flight was a fairly short one - an hour and a half. Madeira is actually the largest of a group of small islands, two of which are inhabited and two are not. They are located in the Atlantic Ocean about 560 km (350 mi) off the coast of Morocco. I read somewhere that they are roughly at the same latitude as Bermuda.
Anyways, we landed safely and everyone on the plane started clapping. Well, we learned why.
This airport on Madeira’s east coast is known for being one of the world’s most challenging airstrips for approaches and landings. The airport’s runway is often buffeted by Atlantic winds, while its proximity to the mountains and ocean present yet more difficulties. Pilots scheduled to arrive here must undergo additional training, studying the approach in detail. The Madeira Airport is the only airport in the world to have wind limits which vary according to its direction. This means that the airport is closed if the wind is at 21 knots.
The airport’s runway, supported by columns that lift it 70 metres above the ocean, extends out over what was once a beach. The highway runs under the runway. The airport is named after Madeiran football player Cristiano Ronaldo.
When we exited the airport, a rep from the car rental company, FunchalCarHire, was there to meet us. We got an upgraded Opel Corsa diesel car for a great pre-negotiated price with all the insurance included. They had been highly recommended and the car is great.
A few stats. Madeira Island is 34 miles (55 km) long, has a maximum width of 14 miles (22 km) and a coastline of about 90 miles (144 km). It rises in the centre to Ruivo Peak which is 6,106 feet (1,861 metres) above sea level. The population was 254,876 in 2017.
We are staying in an apartment in the small seaside city of Canico, 6 km from the capital city of Funchal. We can see the ocean from our balcony and it is in a good location for exploring.
For our ukulele friends - In the 1880s, the ukulele was created, based on two small guitar-like instruments of Madeiran origin, the cavaquinho and the rajao. The ukulele was introduced to the Hawaiian Islands by Portuguese immigrants from Madeira and Cape Verde. Three immigrants in particular, Madeiran cabinet makers Manuel Nunes, José do Espírito Santo, and Augusto Dias, are generally credited as the first ukulele makers.Read more