I have always believed that you can never have enough nature in your life. The power to be in awe of the world is a real gift, and some places on our planet are so beautiful and have a unique ability to touch our souls and affect all of our senses. For me, such a place was the island of Madeira, a place where the mountains meet the sea.
My first stop in Madeira was its lovely capital, Funchal — a city of colorful buildings, gorgeous azulejos, kind people, and majestic views. One of the churches in Madeira, Igreja de São João Evangelista (from the 17th century), was one of the most beautiful churches I have ever seen. The interior, covered in ceramic tiles and gilded carvings, was a feast for the eyes. However, my favorite place in the city was the market, stocked with fresh fruit, vegetables, fish, and flowers. The mercado in Funchal is a place of vibrant colors, beautiful scents, and lively conversations. I love visiting local markets because, each time, I feel like I am staring at a painting by Paul Cézanne.
The other little towns in Madeira were lovely as well. The streets of São Vicente were decorated with hydrangeas, Faial was surrounded by both the ocean and the mountains, and the colorful fishing village of Camara de Lobos was immortalized in paintings by Winston Churchill. Not far from Camara de Lobos was Cabo Girão, one of the highest cliffs in the world. Looking 580 meters down into the ocean should have been terrifying, but I found the view into the deep blue ocean surprisingly tranquil.
One of the most spectacular views in Madeira was the Curral Das Freiras (Valley of the Nuns). It was once a hiding place for nuns during pirate raids and appeared as a surreal, hidden world, illuminated by the light of the setting sun.
Roads in Madeira are one of a kind. They are often bathed in sunlight and surrounded by white agapanthus and blue hydrangeas, but the sheer steepness can be frightening at times. I see them as serpentine lines that embrace the mountains with a sort of affection, the kind of roads that have the power to offer the most remarkable views.
The sights from mountain trails towards Pico Ruivo or Pico do Arieiro are also magnificent. There is nothing quite like wandering through the mountains, walking among the clouds, reaching the ‘top of the world,’ feeling the wind in your hair and fresh air on your face, and looking at the beautiful world that lies below.
The dramatic coast of Madeira offers some of the most breathtaking views. I couldn’t resist anytime I found a sign on the road that read “Miradouro” (viewpoint)..
Madeira is a place that influences all the senses. I will not forget the smell of its flowers, the beautiful scenery, the sound of ocean waves, or the taste of sweet Madeira wine. Some places make you fall in love with the world all over again, and, for me, Madeira was definitely one such place.