A June 2004 trip
to Madeira by Holiday Jo
Quote: When we decided to travel to Madeira we were concerned that we would not fit in, we are in our late twenties. Our worries were unnecessary, we had a fantastic time and would recommend it to anyone, any age group.
Another highlight of my holiday was the Saturday night fireworks. June in Madiera is carnival month and tourists and locals alike gather at the harbour at 2230 on a Saturday to watch the fireworks displays. Each week a different country displays their fireworks to music whilst you stroll along the street markets and eat the delicious and extremely fattening pastries.
Do not restrict yourself to eating only at the hotel or the harbour area. If you just walk for 10 minutes to the old town of Madiera you will immediately find a few small rows of restaurants where the food is fantastic and at very reasonable prices. Just politely tell the tourist restaurants that you walk past that you may come another night and keep walking to the end of the town.
Spend a day at the Lido near funchal harbour, as there are no beaches on the Island you will find plenty of places to sunbathe and have easy access to the sea here. It is relatively cheap and if you have children with you there are plenty of things to keep them entertained, such as the putting green and tennis courts.
If you are traveling into Funchal, I would not suggest driving into the City. Like most European Cities the traffic is chaos and it would certainly be quicker by foot to go from one end of the city to the other.
Public transport is easy to use and very cheap, so if your hotel is slightly out of the city just get a timetable from your resort and the bus will take you direct to the harbour. However, hold on tight as the drivers tackle the bends in the roads at high speeds.
Hotel | "Pestana Grand Hotel (#6695)"
Also nearby is the Lido; you just follow the sea front for about 15 minutes and you will get to this local and tourist attraction. There are inflatables in the sea which you can rest on and they also have slides attached to them for the more adventurous.
Also within the complex are tennis courts and football pitches which will keep you occupied if you tire of relaxing by the pools.
A 10 minute bus ride away is the City of Funchal and the harbour. We went in to this area every evening for our meals as we found the Old Town delightful and during the day we wandered the many shops. Also near the Old town is the local market which is a delight to walk round. You will be approached by most of the stall owners to try some of their fruits; there is no pressure though so take them up on their offer.Best Things About the Resort:Pestana Grand was by far one of the most luxurious hotels I have been to and at the end of a hard day's sunbathing there was nothing nicer than visiting the hotel spa. All the water contains minerals and you can just relax in the pool and be massaged by the high power jets. You are provided with a towel and most people wander down to the spa in the dressing gowns that are provided in your room.
Our Studio apartment was also fantastic; we were lucky enough to have a balcony overlooking the sea and on the hot evenings it was nice to sit out and watch the locals walk along the promenade.Resort Experience:Fantastic! Luxurious! Relaxing! All these words sum up the way I felt about this resort. I would certainly return and hopefully next time It will be for 2 weeks.
Our hotel room had 2 twin beds pushed together and a separate living area with TV. If you cook quite a bit on holiday then you may find the kitchen too small, but it was certainly ample enough for our usage. Our bathroom was marble tiled and had a large sink area. On the balcony were 2 wicker relaxing chairs that overlooked the sea.
There are 3 restaurants in the hotel: Morroccan, local cuisine and a la carte. All of these were relatively expensive but the food was delicious. Breakfast is served every morning in the buffet area and costs approximate 14 Euros.
In the hotel grounds contain the largest seawater pool on the island with more than enough sun loungers for everyone. If you find the sun too hot you just need to call one of the pool attendants to set up an umbrella for you. There is also bar service around the pool and an outdoor eating area which serves lunchtime snacks.
My only negative comment would be about the evening entertainment. 4 out of 7 nights there was a pianist. Although the pianist was very good, this did get slightly boring after a while. I would have preferred to have had more local entertainers. However, the service was fantastic: all the waiters and waitresses were very polite and could not have been more helpful. You could ask them anything and they would go out of their way to help.
Within the complex there is also a small shop that sells Newspapers, snacks etc but if you wish to do a grocery shop there is a large store about 5 minutes walk away.
I would recommend this hotel to anyone, any age. You will not be disappointed.... promise.
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 25, 2004
Pestana Grand Hotel
Ponta Da Cruz
351 291 707400
Restaurant | "Le Jardin"
Once seated, the service was fantastic and whatever you choose to eat you get to view prior to it being cooked. I chose the local fish 'scabbard'or 'espada' whilst my partner had the speciality 'steak skewer'or 'espatada'. Both meals were delicious and served with fresh vegetables, we refused a starter as at most restaurants you are given a local garlic bread before your meal.
At the end of our meal we were surprised at how reasonably priced it was, as we had chosen a relatively expensive bottle of wine to accompany our meal. Definitely worth a visit!!
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on June 18, 2004
The Old Town
Attraction | "Toboggan Ride"
To get to the top of Monte you take the cable car from the Old Town in Funchal. It costs 9 Euros per person one way. You can get a return ticket but the toboggan ride is not to be missed. Riding up in the cable car is also very pleasant you soar above the houses of Funchal and can get a beautiful view of the harbour.
Once at Monte make sure you stroll around and visit the gardens and chapel. Have a look in the gift shop underneath the cable car station as they do some very reasonable lace Items. When you have finished looking around Monte walk to the front of the chapel where the toboggans await.
Each toboggan fits two people and costs 10 Euros per person. The toboggan is small and made of wicker, with two wooden runners on the bottom so you glide across the cobble stones. Two men in straw hats hold onto a rope so they can steer you down the narrow streets. The lighter you are in weight the faster you go and I really struggled to stop myself screaming round some of the tight bends.
Your ride finishes half way down the hill and you are met by a photograph seller who magically has a picture of you in the toboggan coming down. This costs a further 10 euros but Is worth having as a momento of your trip.
To get down the rest of the hill you will need to jump in one of the many taxi's awaiting your arrival and this costs approximately 7 Euros.
Definitely a experience not to be missed!!!
Member Rating 5 out of 5 on June 29, 2004
Wicker Toboggan Sled Ride
Kettering, United Kingdom