Madeira and its doors

April 28, 2022 • 10:00 am

We will have two posts on Madeira based on our one-day visit. This one gives a brief overview and then shows the artistic doors of the island’s capital city.

We have landed in Funchal on the southern part of the island of Madeira, which itself is Portuguese. (With a population of about 100,000,, a cute town, a market, and access to a lovely botanical garden, Funchal is the island’s largest city and its biggest tourist destination.)

Click on photos to enlarge them.

The cruise tracker shows us here:

A larger perspective:

Through my cabin window: another gorgeous day:

Here’s Funchal from the Botanical Gardens about 500 m up the mountain (more on the plants in the next post). The Gardens also houses the still-occupied mansion of the Blandy family, which got rich making Madeira wine  (If you’ve drunk Madeira, you’ve undoubtedly had their wine.)

See our ship way below? (Go to next photo)

Our ship (arrow) which is dwarfed by a regular cruise ship:

We were told that when the city was seedier and a haven for sailors, prostitutes, and other such trade, the city fathers decided to encourage people to paint their stores and houses as a way of restoring respectability. Funchal is now plenty respectable and prosperous, and the doors are lovely. Here are a few:

A restaurant with a well fed customer. Can you spot the cat?

Also on a restaurant: a traditional drink for returning sailors made with rum, honey, and sugar. We were told it was served warm, so it would be a hot toddy.

A Berber, presumably from Morocco:

Cats are in many of the door paintings:

A DUCK STORE! I would have gone in, but we were on a tour:

The Duck Store had two duck doors:

A salacious mail slot:

A bookshop with book-y doors:

Can you spot the cat?

These are my two favorites. There were many more doors, but no time to photograph them!

I almost forgot dinner last night. Le menu:

I didn’t feel like eating baby cow, and I’m not much of a piscivore, so I did what one reader suggested the other day: ordered the sirloin steak, which is always available. First, though, a spinach salad:

Sirloin steak ordered rare but cooked medium rare, or even a tad more. It was okay but next time I’m going to order it “mooing”. It’s hard to cook such a thin steak rare on the inside and cooked on the outside.

Sticky date pudding with spun sugar ornamentation. As usual, this was the best course:

27 thoughts on “Madeira and its doors

  1. Great doors! Though…
    – the ‘salacious’ one seems to have the mail slot more in the belly button area than the salacious area
    – in your ‘spot the cat’ door, the bunny looks like he had a few too many Madieras

    Am very jealous – the Canaries and Madeira are places I’d love to visit.

    1. I am so thankful for Jerry’s travelogue. When I was reading the Aubrey/Maturin chronicles I took pleasure in tracing the voyages of the duo in an atlas and always wondered why I could never find Madeira. It was because I was looking for it in the Mediterranean Sea, maybe confusing it with Majorca, or perhaps with no excuse whatsoever..

    1. From the opposite side, there was a line in Spender that stuck with me, in your best Geordie accent: ‘a little rare’, a good vet would have that back on its feet

  2. Having been to Funchal years ago I especially remember the aircraft landing on what has
    to be one of the scariest runways in the world.

    1. I’ve landed at that airport after repeatedly circling in blinding rain. When we touched down the regular travellers cheered and clapped their hands. An innocent I had no idea. There’s a safe one now built with EU money.

      My favourites in Madeira are the cable car up to Monte, and a back street fado bar in the old town – electrifying.

    2. PCC(E) is heading to Gibraltar. The airport there is truly scary! A short runway with water at both ends, a sodding great rock to one side (which causes severe wind turbulence) and banned airspace (Spain) the other. Oh … and the main road to the Rock crosses the runway!

  3. If I recall, you mentioned that the chef is Indian? I would have tried the vegetable korma (though I wish it were offered with lamb),

  4. Out of the doors you photographed, my 2 favorites are your 2 favorites. I also loved the “Duck Vader” on one of the duck doors.

    Did you like the strawberries with the spinach salad? Looks interesting.

  5. My wife and I visited Funchal in November 2019 and loved it. We were on cruise also and so our time was limited but we definitely want to go back for a longer visit. Enjoy!

  6. … and I’m not much of a piscivore …

    That surprises me a bit, boss. I’ve found a fondness for seafood to be a leading indicator of a sophisticated palate.

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