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Clare
Clare

Day 2: Funchal

It was a bright sunny day when we woke up in Madeira this morning.

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We explored the breakfast buffet in the hotel, which turned out to be quite extensive, then set out to walk into the centre of Funchal.

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We began by following the promenade which we'd explored a little of in the dark last night.

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It was lovely walking by the sea in the sunshine.

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It was surprisingly warm and humid though and I was soon regretting my decision to wear long trousers!

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The hotel we're staying in is located around 4km outside of Funchal, so it took us the best part of an hour to walk into the centre of town.

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Funchal is the sixth biggest city in Portugal, with a population of around 106,000 people.

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Several thousand extra people were being added to that population count today, thanks to these two large cruise ships sitting in the harbour.

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Madeira is more built up and touristy than the Azores but some things feel similar, like these patterned cobbled streets.

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Also these bright, white buildings.

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This one, in the centre of town, was the cathedral.

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It had a lovely patterned tiled roof.

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We made our way through various squares and side streets until we reached the bottom station of the cable car, which runs from sea-level Funchal up to the suburb of Monte in the hills above the town.

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There was a seriously long queue for the cable car when we arrived. Luckily, it was gondolas so the line moved quite quickly and we were soon high up above Funchal.

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It felt noticeably cooler up here than it had at sea level.

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We stopped for a quick drink, then made our way towards the Monte Palaces Tropical Gardens.

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This is a large botanical garden, high on the hill above Funchal. 

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As well as plants and trees, it's full of beautiful Portuguese tiles.

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And some quite odd sculptures!

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We followed a display of tiles which was illustrating the history of Portugal.

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This one marked the building of the famous Belém Tower...

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...while this one showed the Spanish Armada.

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This part of the gardens had an oriental theme.

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There were lots of large pots...

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...and a little waterfall.

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There were also these rather scary-looking statues...

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...and some more pretty tiles.

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The gardens were fascinating but situated on a slope that led firmly downhill.

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We kept making our way downwards, conscious of how much uphill we were going to have to get back to the gondola station.

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After a while we caught sight of a pool below us.

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To our surprise we found that it was home to several flamingos :o 

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Although there were obviously a lot of people here from the cruise ships, the gardens were big enough to swallow them up so it never felt too crowded.

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And although it's November, we still found some colourful flowers in places.

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When we reached a viewpoint at the end of the gardens, we could look down towards Funchal and the sea. The cruise ships looked smaller from up here!

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This part of the gardens was dedicated to flora of Madeira and we found some examples of traditional houses from the village of Santana.

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We also found some banana trees!

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So many bananas :o 

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At this point we had to turn around and begin the long climb back up towards the exit.

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We travelled back down into Funchal via the cable car (which still had a long queue, this time to get down!) and then began the walk back along the sea towards our hotel.

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It's been a fun day in Madeira and I'm looking forward to seeing some more of the island tomorrow :)

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